Purebred Dogs Sitting on a Grassy field somewhere in Slovakia.— Pexels
Purebred Dogs Sitting on a Grassy field somewhere in Slovakia.— Pexels

In a study of 13 different breeds, the Belgian malinois was discovered to be the most intelligent dog, reported Daily Mail.

By giving 1,000 dogs three behavioural and seven cognitive tasks, researchers evaluated the canines. Tests included determining if the animals could navigate a transparent V-shaped barrier to get to a food reward that they could see as well as their ability to comprehend human gestures. 

By giving dogs an impossible task like trying to acquire food in a sealed box, the researchers also looked at how autonomous dogs were and how soon they sought out humans for assistance.

With 35 points out of a possible 39, the malinois, which is frequently used as a police dog or a security dog, won. With 26 points, border collies took second place, followed by the German breed Hovawart in third place.

“The Belgian malinois stood out in many of the cognitive tasks, having very good results in a majority of the tests,” The Sunday Telegraph quoted Dr Katriina Tiira, from the University of Helsinki in Finland, as saying.

The study’s co-author, Saara Junttila, a PhD student at the University of Helsinki studying canine cognition, added: “Most breeds have their unique strengths and shortcomings. For instance, the Labrador retriever excelled at interpreting human motions but struggled with spatial reasoning.”

The chosen canines have to be eager to work for food and restrained in their aggression toward humans. Due to the possibility that younger dogs’ cognitive features may not have fully developed and that older dogs may experience cognitive decline, the researchers focused on animals between the ages of one and eight.

The smartDOG tests were administered to them between March 2016 and February 2022.

One of the experiments involved showing the dog two food bowls. The first was empty, while the second contained food but was covered. It was intended to test the animal’s ability to locate the food in the other bowl.

Data showed that there was no difference in performance between the dog breeds for this job, despite the team’s claims that this test would be the best indicator of general intelligence.

Three activities, each assessing a different facet of canine cognition, did, however, highlight the differences between the breeds.

One required the dog to navigate a transparent V-shaped fence in order to reach a food reward it could see. It sought to gauge one’s capacity for problem-solving.

By having the dogs react to five different human gestures — constant pointing, brief pointing, pointing with the foot, pointing at something while facing another way, and following a gaze — the researchers were able to measure how well the dogs could read human gestures.

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