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Dogs As Intelligent As Average Two-Year-Old Children

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the buddy-the-dog-is-hiding-his-smarts dept.

Science 472

Ponca City, We love you writes "The Telegraph reports that researchers using tests originally designed to demonstrate the development of language, pre-language and basic arithmetic in human children have found that dogs are capable of understanding up to 250 words and gestures, can count up to five and can perform simple mathematical calculations putting them on par with the average two-year-old child. While most dogs understand simple commands such as sit, fetch and stay, a border collie tested by Professor Coren showed a knowledge of 200 spoken words. 'Obviously we are not going to be able to sit down and have a conversation with a dog, but like a two-year-old, they show that they can understand words and gestures,' says Professor Stanley Coren, a leading expert on canine intelligence at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Dogs can tell that one plus one should equal two and not one or three,' says Coren, adding that dogs 'can also deliberately deceive, which is something that young children only start developing later in their life.' Coren believes centuries of selective breeding and living alongside humans has helped to hone the intelligence of dogs. 'They may not be Einsteins, but are sure closer to humans than we thought.'"

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472 comments

Wolves (5, Interesting)

pantherace (165052) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004351)

Be interesting to see what a Wolf would be like as they tend to have a larger brain to body mass ratio.

Re:Wolves (5, Interesting)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004413)

That's an interesting idea.

And then - different breeds have different levels of potential too. Having been in contact with different breeds I have realized that there are those that are almost dumb as a brick while others are smart enough to figure out exactly when to sneak out and sneak back without being noticed and also realize when their master has confused right and left when they are given a command.

Re:Wolves (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29004683)

I thought it was common knowledge that dogs like a golden retriever were as intelligent as a two-year-old child. Some parrots like African Grays are comparable to a four-year-old child. Can I also release a "headline" where I repeat something that was already well-known and represent it as groundbreaking new information? That would be excellent trolling. Even better than if I said "dogs are as intelligent as average two-year-old children, unless the children are black. Then the dogs are as intelligent as five-year-old children. The dogs have one advantage though, they are more likely to know who their daddy is."

Re:Wolves (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29004735)

Like niggers and asians and white people. Obviously white people are the stupid breed among humans.

Re:Wolves (1)

jpstanle (1604059) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004441)

Be interesting to see what a Wolf would be like as they tend to have a larger brain to body mass ratio.

Compared to what breed? Certainly you can't make this blanket statement in reference to all dogs, as the domestic dog and the grey wolf are now considered by many to be the exact same species.

Re:Wolves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29004449)

They also tend to have large teeth. Now I remember that interesting species in HHGG that communicates by biting...

Re:Wolves (5, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004467)

According to TFA, wolves score lower than domestic dogs on the intelligence tests used. I suspect this may be an artifact of the test, since wolves are pretty damned smart in their wild behaviors. But unsurprisingly, domestic dogs have a kind of intelligence that responds better to tests designed by the same species that's been breeding and training them for the last several thousand years.

Re:Wolves (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29004803)

Hence the pitfall of fuzzy terms like "intelligence".

Re:Wolves (2, Funny)

LeinadSpoon (1602063) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004551)

The article says that Wolves aren't as smart and theorizes that living alongside humans has made dogs outperform wolves. It could also be that living alongside humans make dogs better at intelligence tests performed by humans. Perhaps we should get dolphins to design some intelligence tests to compare wolves and dogs and see who performs better on those.

Dogs vs Africans vs Europeans (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29004567)

Dogs have intelligence approximating the intelligence of a 2-year-old European or Japanese child. What is the comparison involving an African child?

Since African IQ is typically 20 points less (i. e., 20% less) than European IQ or Japanese IQ, we can roughly estimate that dog intelligence approximates the intelligence of an African who is 2.4 years old. 2 + 0.2 * 2 = 2.4 years.

Re:Dogs vs Africans vs Europeans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29004759)

Then again, africans can carry a coconut at least twice as far as their european counterparts, or so I'm told...

Re:Wolves (3, Interesting)

arcesilaus (1610567) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004579)

All domesticated animals have smaller brains than their wild counterparts. The Domesticated Silver Fox [wikipedia.org], which was created by the Soviets after decades of breeding, lost many of the characteristics of their wild counterparts. It would seem that domesticated animals do not require the intelligence of their wild counterparts. No one is going to keep an animal that will challenge its owner for leadership.

Re:Wolves (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29004685)

Um, neanderthals had a larger brain than us, so that would make them wild and us tamed. Tamed to whom?

Re:Wolves (5, Interesting)

garnkelflax (1306647) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004677)

I watched a program on Animal Planet a few years ago where they ran tests on wolves. They determined that wolves had no desire to 'please' (utilize) humans regardless of whether they were raised from pups or not. One of the experiments involved food locked in a large cage. The wolves would scratch at the cage and try to beat it to death forever. The domesticated dogs would sniff around, check the cage for a while, then go to a human with those big puppy eyes asking for help. Before our Labradoodle I thought a half german half dobie mix was about as smart as they could get. But this one's vocabulary is astounding. She is about 90 pounds of brain. Besides sit, lay down, poop, pee, high five, shake, roll over, play dead, wait with cracker on nose then flip and catch it, and all the other stuff.... She can bring you any toy you ask for or take it to any named person over 90% of the time. She will also take her toys to her toy bin when told to do so. She knows the names of the animals outside the house and will attack whichever you tell her to (squirrel, bird, chipmunk, bunny) She understands words like closer, farther, gentle. Her favorite toy is a battery operated fur-real poodle that she gently brings around the house and will bring to us when she wants it turned on. It is still working after 2 years. She will take a treat into her mouth and not eat it until you tell her to. Or drop it if you tell her instead. She will go to parts of the house you tell her to go (kitchen, living room, upstairs, downstairs etc...) She mimics human behavior constantly. One example, if you are moving branches to a pile from the yard she participates and gets it right. One time we were tearing up the carpet transition to the linoleum on one side of the kitchen. She immediately went to the other side and started tearing up the other one (didn't need to come up though). We have a toy elephant made for babies that you pull the fabric string and it shakes as the string goes back in. She plays with it every day like a baby would. Pulling the string and making it shake. She has favorite rocks outside that she places in different areas. When we go to the lake to swim she hunts for a rock, takes it out to where it is about 5 feet deep and drops it then goes diving for it. She will do this for hours. Tons of other stuff to. She kinda freaks me out.

Re:Wolves (2, Funny)

Caledfwlch (1434813) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004939)

Seems like the bumper stickers that say "My Goldendoodle is smarter than your honor student" are correct!

What good does this do us? (1)

Killer Orca (1373645) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004359)

We already have bomb and drug-sniffing dogs, does this additional knowledge mean that we will end up with dogs in other support roles? I'm also interested as to how one becomes a professor of canine intelligence, does this guy need to test wolves too?

Re:What good does this do us? (2, Funny)

sadness203 (1539377) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004379)

I foresee in my magic eight ball... In a not so distant future... dog answering help desk call, giving us good support. It's true, they are the man's best friend !

Re:What good does this do us? (5, Funny)

Lord Fury (977501) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004519)

Well 200 words is plenty to say "Hello IT, have you tried turning it off and on again?" and "Are you sure its plugged in?"

Re:What good does this do us? (3, Funny)

owlnation (858981) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004601)

I foresee in my magic eight ball... In a not so distant future... dog answering help desk call, giving us good support

I see you've called Dell's customer support then? Oh, wait... you said "good support"... sorry my mistake.

Re:What good does this do us? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29004385)

Hahah...I thought you were going to say "does this additional knowledge mean that we will end up with 2 year olds sniffing for bombs and drugs?"

Thinking Brain dogs for the terminally stupid. (5, Funny)

plover (150551) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004455)

does this additional knowledge mean that we will end up with dogs in other support roles?

How about a "Thinking Brain" dog for some of the terminally stupid people I have to deal with? The blind and deaf already use dogs, why not stupid people? Are you a stupid person who can't make a decision in the fast food restaurant? Dog orders you a cheeseburger. Are you so stupid that you can't decide if you should turn left or right at the stoplight? Dog tells you to turn left. Are you a dumb pedestrian who stops in the middle of the intersection to answer their cell phone? Dog drags you to the curb.

This would be GREAT!

Re:Thinking Brain dogs for the terminally stupid. (4, Funny)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004619)

"How about a "Thinking Brain" dog for some of the terminally stupid people I have to deal with? "

Enough dogs are afflicted with stupid humans as it is.

Enabling the stupid just makes empowered window-lickers.

Re:Thinking Brain dogs for the terminally stupid. (1)

plover (150551) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004695)

Enough dogs are afflicted with stupid humans as it is.

Yeah, but with or without dogs there are still going to be stupid people. At least with the dogs doing the thinking for them the rest of us wouldn't have to suffer as much.

Re:Thinking Brain dogs for the terminally stupid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29004815)

It also means their survival rate will increase. I don't think you have thought this through...

I sincerely apologize for the insult, but the way you propose short-term gains that will degrade long-term performance would not be misplaced in board meetings.

Re:Thinking Brain dogs for the terminally stupid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29004673)

And you could have those shock collars with a remote control. The shock collar on the dumb person, that is.

No. No other roles for dogs. (4, Funny)

denzacar (181829) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004483)

But there is some breakthrough work being done on training 2-year-olds to sniff for bombs and drugs.

Obama can tax dogs, too, to pay for more gov't (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29004709)

This is good news!

Obama now has another pool of taxpayers to tap!

Come on, you know he's a lying sack of shit trying to grow the Chicago political patronage machine nationwide and then worldwide. Whatever happened to that "middle class tax break" for "95% of the population"? Yeah - Obama LIED.

And you believed him.

Fools.

Ironically, capcha is "retiree". Something those of use who are going to have to pay for Obama's machine are never going to get to be.

Re:Obama can tax dogs, too, to pay for more gov't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29004915)

Come on, you know he's a lying sack of shit trying to grow the Chicago political patronage machine nationwide and then worldwide. Whatever happened to that "middle class tax break" for "95% of the population"? Yeah - Obama LIED.

Sort of like the Republicans over the last decade, right? I mean, with all of those WMDs in Iraq and tax breaks for companies outsourcing middle class IT and accounting jobs, the middle class did oh so well!

Actually... (5, Funny)

ratnerstar (609443) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004389)

...my dog is a lot like Einstein, in that her hair goes everywhere and she refuses to accept quantum mechanics.

Schrödinger dog? (4, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004451)

...my dog is a lot like Einstein, in that her hair goes everywhere and she refuses to accept quantum mechanics.

There's no reason we can't have a Schrödinger's dog too. Try it. Whether the dog survives or not, it'll have a far greater appreciation of quantum mechanics. Note: Do not put Schrödinger dog with Schrödinger cat. Experimental results may be random.

Re:Schrödinger dog? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29004721)

Note: Do not put Schrödinger dog with Schrödinger cat. Experimental results may be random.

Actually, if you put a SchrÃdinger dog with a SchrÃdinger cat together, they will form an *Entangled* state.

right to vote (0, Flamebait)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004399)

In a shock move by the GOP, they have announced that dog's deserve the right to vote!

Re:right to vote (3, Funny)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004435)

That would probably be a mistake; I'd expect most dogs to vote Democratic.

Cats, on the other hand, would be overwhelmingly Republican.

Re:right to vote (1)

JimboFBX (1097277) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004549)

That doesn't make any sense, cats are clearly democrats.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JT4mFkYp1Yw [youtube.com]

Re:right to vote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29004569)

If you've ever owned a cat, you know that they are most decidedly authoritarian; namely, they are the self-appointed dictator-for-life of your home.

Re:right to vote (1, Funny)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004663)

If you've ever owned a cat, you know that they are most decidedly authoritarian; namely, they are the self-appointed dictator-for-life of your home.

That's what he said, "...cats are clearly democrats."

Re:right to vote (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29004697)

and yet, history shows almost all authoritarian self-appointed dictator-for-life examples are from the "left".

Re:right to vote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29004829)

Dog's WHAT deserve the right to vote?

I've suspected this for a while (5, Insightful)

MR.Mic (937158) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004401)

I've suspected this for a while, which is why I get especially worked up over people who get their jollies tormenting and abusing animals.

It's basically like abusing a child, and is just as sick.

Re:I've suspected this for a while (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29004457)

I've suspected this for a while, which is why I get especially worked up over people who buy and sell "pets" as if they were property.

It's basically like enslaving a child, and is just as sick.

Re:I've suspected this for a while (2, Insightful)

Yosho (135835) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004807)

How do adoption agencies make you feel? Does it sicken you when they try to find a home for a child that nobody else wants?

Of course, on the other hand, how would you feel about an organization that picks specific people to breed in order to create children with the desired traits so that those children could be sold to the highest bidders?

Re:I've suspected this for a while (1)

LaskoVortex (1153471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004793)

I've suspected this for a while, which is why I get especially worked up over people who get their jollies tormenting and abusing animals.

These are the same people who abuse their children. They just don't make it public like they do with their pets.

Re:I've suspected this for a while (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29004951)

I've suspected this for a while, which is why I get especially worked up over people who get their jollies tormenting and abusing animals.

It's basically like abusing a child, and is just as sick.

This illness will exist as long as financial success is the measure of a man. If you cannot see the connection then you are part of the problem.

dog lover science. (5, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004405)

'They may not be Einsteins, but are sure closer to humans than we thought.'

I don't think so. You're comparing a fully-mature animal to one in its infancy. We've long known that animals can learn behaviors that mimick that of humans -- in some cases, their physiological parts are superior to humans (the eyes of a hawk, for example). But to say they're "closer to humans than we thought" -- that's a quotable designed to be eaten up by the popular press because a lot of people are dog lovers and will jump at the chance to say "Aw, see, old charlie here is almost human smart!"

I'm sorry to say that, no, Charlie is still a dog. A creature that has spent several thousand years being domesticated by humans -- I'd damn well expect it to be able to emulate certain kinds of human behavior and show types of intelligence other animals do not, that's exactly what domestication is supposed to do. But a dog does not have near-human intelligence. It doesn't even have remotely human intelligence -- it has simply learned behaviors that we can understand and manipulate to a far greater degree than other animals.

Re:dog lover science. (4, Insightful)

plover (150551) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004493)

A creature that has spent several thousand years being domesticated by humans -- I'd damn well expect it to be able to emulate certain kinds of human behavior and show types of intelligence other animals do not, that's exactly what domestication is supposed to do.

I don't know if that's a valid argument. Even after several thousand years, domesticated cats are no more useful now then they have ever been. They're hunters of domestic pests, no more. Dogs, on the other hand, have been bred for hunting, where they point, retrieve, and flush out game. They've been bred for herding, rounding up cattle and sheep on command. They've been bred for guard duty. They have learned a lot more than other animals given the same opportunity.

Re:dog lover science. (3, Insightful)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004833)

The difference between cats & dogs is that a dog wants to please you and the cat can't really be fucked what you think. It's just like people who think cats can't view things on a TV / monitor. I've seen cats chase mouse cursors but in general they don't care one bit because they know it's nothing good.

I've had a cat learn how to open a door via the knob without being taught. But it doesn't have hands so after it awhile it realised it doesn't have a hope in hell and doesn't try again. She knew how to open the small refrigerator too but again didn't have the strength and gave up.

I think dogs are the same. They don't care about the same things as us and for the most part they have what they need so where is the incentive to learn? People are like that too. The good life makes most living beings lazy and stupid.

Of course cats or dogs will never be as smart as an adult human but I think people are giving 2 year olds too much credit. They're not that smart either. The only difference is they want to be like all the other humans and therefore have more incentive to improve and they have the added benefit of being surrounded by other humans that have a load of knowledge already and want the child to improve.

Re:dog lover science. (4, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004495)

You're comparing a fully-mature animal to one in its infancy.

Profoundly retarded humans, such as adults who operate on a two-year-old level, still have what we recognize as human-type intelligence. They don't have as much of it as most people do, obviously, but they still think like humans as opposed to cattle, or hawks, or trout. So if dogs think similarly enough to us to score at all on human-type intelligence tests, then it's silly to say that their intelligence is "not even remotely human."

Re:dog lover science. (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004555)

But a dog does not have near-human intelligence. It doesn't even have remotely human intelligence -- it has simply learned behaviors that we can understand and manipulate to a far greater degree than other animals.

The thing is, you could say the same thing about a lot of people as well -- but that doesn't mean they aren't human.

Human intelligence varies greatly from one individual to the next, and so does canine intelligence, and the two ranges overlap somewhat. I won't try to speculate as to what the moral implications of that fact are, but they are probably significant.

Re:dog lover science. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29004603)

Hush, now! Every word you speak reduces their chances of more grant money.

Re:dog lover science. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29004739)

I was going to say "that's a pretty stupid argument" when I first read this comment, but I don't think doing so would be justified.

Instead, I'm going to say "that's not an argument at all, not even a stupid one".

Yes, of course Charlie is still a dog. Whoever said otherwise? Whimsical stuff like "closer to humans than we thought" aside (which is so vague a statement as to be meaningless, anyway; pretty much anybody can interpret it in their own way and feel that it's true), though, your argument seems to boil down to a) "no animals are intelligent other than humans" (that's the "mimick human behavior" part) and b) "they're only intelligent because us humans did it!" (the "domestication" part).

Needless to say, the two are not even mutually compatible: they cannot both be true at the same time, since you'd arrive at a contradictory statement concerning the actual existence of intelligence in non-human animals.

But it's not just that one is wrong, both are. The "animals aren't intelligent" part basically doesn't even pass the laugh test (neither after these tests not before), but the "we did it" part is just as wrong. Not only didn't we breed animals (dogs or others) to increase their intelligence, there is also no reason at all to assume that domestication would do this on its own. Why should it, after all? Some dogs are pretty intelligent - notably those who were bred to perform certain tasks with a relatively large degree of independent responsibility, such as sheep dogs etc., but others that only ever had to obey orders aren't. (And in fact, notice something? The *need* to think yourself rather than just follow orders leads to intelligence, not necessarily in an individual but in a breed or species. Given that, it's actually obvious why the opposite of what you're saying is true: domestication tends to make animals less intelligent, as the need to think independently will go away to a certain (smaller or larger) degree.)

That being said, I would also suggest you spend some time with a dog some day (an intelligent breed) and see for yourself; not because I want to give dogs *too* much credit that they don't deserve but rather because I think you could benefit from actually approaching them with an open mind and seeing things for yourself. If you're feeling uncomfortable with the idea, think of it as doing your own experiments in order to test others' hypotheses and theories; in other words, a very scientific thing that any geek should be able to support.

But I'm saying "I would suggest" on purpose, because quite honestly, I'm not convinced you'd actually manage to do it - that you would actually be able to shed your preconceptions and see things for yourself. And I'm not talking about already accepting the conclusion, either - I'm talking about a genuinely open mind, but based on your post, I'm honestly not sure you'd be able to do that.

Which is a shame, really. You don't even know what you're missing.

Re:dog lover science. (1)

LaskoVortex (1153471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004857)

Don't use your "reasoning" as an excuse to mistreat animals. I sense a certain animosity in your tone, as if this article somehow causes you to morally reflect on your actions and you don't like it. I hope next you aren't going to say "dog's are conditioned to squeal at stimulus that might cause humans pain, but they don't really feel pain like humans do", or something like that. If your sense of morality is threatened and it causes you angst (like it seems from your post), then you need to take a close look at your actions and attitudes. No one but you can alleviate your own moral suffering.

This is a crock (5, Interesting)

Latent Heat (558884) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004423)

PBS Nova had a show on the comparative skills of humans and the great apes.

One test was that the subject was offered a treat inside a cage -- a banana pellet for the ape, a Gummy Bear candy for the human child -- an a kind of toothed rake to retreive the treat.

In each case, the rake was handed to the subject tooth-side down, and the teeth were to widely spaced to make and headway retrieving the treat. In each case the subject, a chimp and a 2-year-old human, raked away to no effect.

Then the experimenter turned the rake over and demonstrated how the treat could easily be retrieved using the flat end of the rake. Then the rake was returned to the subject with the tooth-side-down position of the rake.

The ape went back to raking away to no effect. With respect to the human 2-year-old, however, not only did the 2-year-old achieve 1-trial learning that the flat side of the rake was the effective way to get the Gummy Bear candy, when the 2-year-old was shown this technique, the 2-year-old laughed out loud, as if to say, "Oh, that's cheating, but if cheating is allowed, I am certainly going to do it."

What I figure was the role of the laughter and the sense that the rake experiment was a joke is this: humor is connected with this type of reasoning and this type of learning. A lot of learning is a matter of figuring out the exception to the rule, what has to be un-learned in order to effect an outcome. So not only did the 2-year-old learn in one trial, the 2-year-old developed a mental model of how the rake was supposed to operate and then made a conceptual correction to that model, and thought the whole thing to be funny.

I don't know the equivalent experiment with a dog as dogs lack the hand dexterity of humans and apes, but the minute I see a dog respond with 1-trial learning to a related situation, only then will I believe any claim as to a dog have the intelligence of a 2-year-old human.

Re:This is a crock (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29004547)

PBS Nova had a show on the comparative skills of humans and the great apes.

I don't know the equivalent experiment with a dog as dogs lack the hand dexterity of humans and apes, but the minute I see a dog respond with 1-trial learning to a related situation, only then will I believe any claim as to a dog have the intelligence of a 2-year-old human.

Typically, captive wolves can learn in about 3 trials whereas 'smart' dog breeds take 5 to 10, although there will be more variance between individuals than between Canis lupus and C.l. familiaris.

Re:This is a crock (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29004701)

Anecdote, I know.
I've got a dog that took no time at all to figure out when *I* was cheating.

Take a puppy treat in one hand (and make sure the dog notices).
Pass the treat back and forth (visibly) between hands to make sure some of the smell stays in both hands.
Eventually, stretch out both hands.

Most common result?
Puppy goes for the hand where the treat was last seen.
If that hand is empty, the dog will immediately go for the second hand.

Next time you try the trick, the dog is pretty likely to sniff both hands first (though you may not notice it, what with their superior sense of smell) before settling on the correct hand.

Now for the interesting part:
First time i did the trick without having a treat in either hand, my dog *knocked me over* and went straight for the pocket where I kept the treats.

Re:This is a crock (4, Insightful)

ahabswhale (1189519) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004813)

How many children and apes did they test with? One of each is not statistically significant as intelligence varies wildly in both species. Hell, I know adults who wouldn't pass the test you describe above.

Re:This is a crock (1)

Deanalator (806515) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004933)

Maybe it was a smart kid, maybe it was a dumb chimp. Maybe being a teacher requires a special bond, and the chimp just didn't care. Maybe that kind of learning is done best with subjects before they hit puberty. There are many things that can be extrapolated from an experiment like that, so I wouldn't really treat it as some sort of scientific proof that animals are dumb, and there is something special/magical about the human brain.

'As Stupid As Two Year Old Kids' (2, Informative)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004475)

If you are child-less, and thus have little patience for the little monsters, you'd say that dogs *can* be as stupid and annoying as those screaming spoiled rotten two year old brats at McDonalds. Please, parents, stick them in that soundproof screaming chamber area with the playground equipment!

Dogs and kids tell a lot about their parents . . . (5, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004539)

I have seen some nasty, aggressive dogs. They tend to have nasty, aggressive owners. I have seen some nasty, aggressive children. They tend to have nasty, aggressive parents.

I have also seen well-behaved children and dogs. Guess what their parents are like?

Re:Dogs and kids tell a lot about their parents . (1)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004625)

Mod parent up! As a parent and a dog-owner, I find these statements to be absolutely on point!

Re:Dogs and kids tell a lot about their parents . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29004923)

I have also seen well-behaved children and dogs. Guess what their parents are like?

Someone only a submissive would want to date?

Rabidly involved, overbearing, constantly disciplining, and incapable of having fun unless it meets their selfish needs?

TFTFY (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004643)

If you are child-less, and thus have little patience for the little monsters, you'd say that dogs *can* be as stupid and annoying as those screaming spoiled rotten two year old brats at McDonalds.

Small children, screaming and running around restaurants and other public establishments are akin to dogs let loose.

Also, such behavior indicates that their parents consider their offspring to be what dogs are to most people - pets.

Academic elitists insulting our children (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29004489)

No one needs academic elitists from Canada telling them their own sons and daughters are no smarter than an average dog. My husband Todd showed me this article while we were playing with Trig, and I sat down and I thought to myself, boy, what's the world coming to, that if you could equate a puppy's intelligence with that of an unborn child, you could give the puppy a post-birth abortion?

And I'm telling you, when you put forth Americans in front of these scientists on Obama's health care panel, and they put your baby and an Ivy League-educate golden retriever on the scale, who do you trust they'll declare the victor? This is dystopian, this is an outrage, this is what we must fight, America!

--Sarah Palin

Re:Academic elitists insulting our children (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29004753)

You had me going until you used the word "dystopian". Damn you Cheney, you can't have another sock puppet!

Re:Academic elitists insulting our children (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29004779)

You almost had me fooled but I'm supposed to believe that Sarah Palin not only is on Slashdot but she managed to turn on a computer? I guess maybe if some one glued a Gummy Bear to the "on" switch? (see "It's a crock" post above)

Re:Academic elitists insulting our children (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004897)

Yeah but she'd have to be shown that she can mash the switch with the side of her hand instead of limply raking her fingertips across the general area.

As a beagle owner (1)

JimboFBX (1097277) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004501)

As a owner of two beagles I disagree that beagles are "unintelligent", which makes me question the validity of these findings. I dont even see a mention of how many dogs of each breed they used, you can't just grab one dog and generalize the breed based on it. One of the beagles I own is very human-like in some aspects. For example, I left some chicken nuggets out on a table in the McDonalds box half open. She tried to sneak out a SINGLE nugget and eat it, hoping that I wouldn't be able to notice the number discrepancy of the amount left over (there were six). In fact, she often tries to sneak things when she checks that you aren't looking. However, she always knows when my Fiance is gone for the weekend by the suitcase being packed with clothes. With no direct treat/reward there is no logical explanation except that the dog put 2 + 2 together.

Likewise, my other beagle know's the following tricks: Sit, Stay, Come, Lay-down, Roll-over, Stand-up, jump (touches his nose to my hand by jump, like a dolphin), shake, high five, *bang!* (play dead), gentle, and kennel.

What is different though is that beagle's are stubborn and their logic tends to be short fused or easily over-ridden by sense of smell and their garbage gut that is always hungry. As Cesar Millan puts it, dogs have a state of mind, and in the case of the beagle it is easy for it to *snap*. It doesn't mean they are unintelligent when in the proper state of mind though, but in certain states of mind they are very single-minded.

In contrast, I've grown up with three generations of scottish terriors and all three have exhibited behavior that shows them as less intelligent than beagles in pretty much every respect.

Re:As a beagle owner (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004571)

As a bulldog owner, I felt the urge to defend my breed too. ;) But stating that one breed is generally more intelligent than others doesn't mean your dogs, individually, are stupid. The breed ranking was based on surveys of obedience trainers, who probably have a pretty good feel for how different breeds act in general. Specifically, if they're rating intelligence by how well dogs respond to commands -- well, that's one particular type of intelligence, and it's worth evaluating, but there's a lot more to the way dogs think than that.

Re:As a beagle owner (3, Insightful)

hax4bux (209237) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004589)

Beagles are not Border Collies. I'm glad you enjoy your pets (and I'm not dumping on them).

There is a reason Border Collies, English Shepards, etc, are the norm on farms and ranches. They are quite clever and I think you would have to keep one to appreciate the difference.

I also have a Rhodesian Ridgeback just to keep the proselytizing missionaries away. Sweet but intimidating. I think he would quit breathing if it weren't for autonomous body functions, yet I have met owners who think theirs is borderline canine Einstein. No way.

Re:As a beagle owner (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29004635)

Yes, the tests are invalid because your favorite breed is at the bottom of the list. Typical human behavior. This is why we'll never rid ourselves of dogma (no pun intended), no matter how much we learn.

Re:As a beagle owner (1)

JimboFBX (1097277) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004723)

I never said beagle's were my favorite breed, I'm saying that it goes against my own personal experience quite drastically, and I bring up a common breed, scottish terriors, as comparison where I can say 3 for 3 the dogs I've lived with were pretty clearly not as intelligent as the beagles I own, and yet they are not on the "least intelligent" list. The article itself presents dog intelligence as if it doesnt even fully understand how a dog's brain works. Easily, a beagle presented with a treat in front of it will just gobble it up because it snapped into a non-logical state of mind, or possibly the beagle said "hey you removed a treat when I wasn't looking. Oh well, yummy".

Typical nerd behavior on the other hand is to constantly try to prove someone else wrong before considering they may be right. A better approach to things is to ask, "how can they *both* be right?"

Re:As a beagle owner (1)

Derosian (943622) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004741)

As a longtime terrier owner I would have to say while very willfull and active, they are some of the most intelligent dogs I've known. The American Staffordshire Terrier in particular is a very strong-willed and intelligent breed, but their temperament makes them hard to control, generally they just want to do what they want, and don't think they should listen to you. Anyway the point I am making is that how an animal behaves or how well trained it is isn't necessarily only dependent on intelligence, and I agree with your statement about beagles.

Re:As a beagle owner (1)

XcepticZP (1331217) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004881)

[...]you can't just grab one dog and generalize the breed based on it.

Then you go on to say...

What is different though is that beagle's are stubborn and their logic tends to be short fused or easily over-ridden by sense of smell and their garbage gut that is always hungry. [...] and in the case of the beagle it is easy for it to *snap*. It doesn't mean they are unintelligent when in the proper state of mind though, but in certain states of mind they are very single-minded.

So I assume using "two dogs" to generalize a breed is OK by your standards? That's what you're doing, and you should admit it. You probably jumped at the opportunity to put your oh so magnificently trained doggies on a pedestal, and forgot to bullshit-check your post.

Funny idea of average (2, Insightful)

heffrey (229704) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004505)

The average two year old understands 250 words? My two year old and all her same age friends know far far more than that. I also don't think that you get cleverer as you get older. You just learn more.

Re:Funny idea of average (1)

lyml (1200795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004633)

Ofcourse anecdotal evidence will vary wildly, the variance of the intelligence of two year old children is humongous. Some two year-olds are capable of fluent speech with several thousands of words while some are not able to speak at all.
It is also generally accepted that you get smarter as you age, the brain gets more neurons and a higher calculative capacity untill you max at around 27, after that the brain simply aquires more knowledge.

high bar (1)

jesser (77961) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004525)

'They may not be Einsteins, but are sure closer to humans than we thought.'

To be fair, not many humans are Einsteins either.

Not surprised (1)

Alan R Light (1277886) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004575)

We've known for years - or should have known - that at least some breeds of dog are pretty smart.

With recent discoveries about the importance of RNA and lateral genetic transfers, we may yet discover that dogs are our closest relatives.

Of course, other animals may also be smarter than we give them credit for, but these neotenous wolves have certain qualities in common with us that no other animals have, including an understanding of our body language - and, according to some studies, dogs may even have an ability to read our minds to some degree (look at the studies where the owner leaves home and then, though they are 30 miles away, the moment they turn around to come home their dog goes to the door to wait for them - also consider the use of dogs and cats to warn epileptics of seizures).

The value of life (3, Insightful)

HRbnjR (12398) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004581)

This makes me wonder how aborting a human life far less developed than a toddler can still draw so much debate, while relatively little concern is shown for the thousands of lost lives of unwanted pets euthanized every year in animal shelters.

Re:The value of life (1)

XcepticZP (1331217) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004927)

Because, like it or not, society has classified forms for life in a hierarchy. With the distinctions between levels purely made up. I bet you don't think twice when you swot that fly, or step on that spider, do you? Or how about rats? No one likes rats, but we love hamsters. The boundaries are clearly arbitrary.

Same goes for what sort of meat a person would consume.Would you eat a horse? How about a dog or cat? Some cultures eat both. Just makes one wonder about our pre-established opinions on these things. I'm not pointing a finger at you for anything, obviously. Just trying to make my point.

Obligatory joke... (5, Funny)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004613)

So a dog goes into the telegraph office and submits his message for transmission: "Woof woof woof woof woof woof woof woof woof."

The telegraph operator says, "We normally charge by the word, but if you like, I'll give you the tenth 'woof' for free."

To this, the dog responded, "But that, my good chap, would make no sense at all!"

Body Language included? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29004621)

I wonder how far beyond the 250 words body language takes their vocabulary? Or maybe it's included?

  I taught my dogs most of the basics using hand signals (Partly because they seem to pick up on this much better, it's how they communicate to each other, and partly to spare my friends and others at the dog park from having to hear me say "SIT" 37 times in a row..)

They also seem to be able to identify object not in front of them, using words ("Go find your BALL", "Go find a STICK" can be taught..)

Summary is Wrong (4, Insightful)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004725)

The statement "as intelligent as a 2 year old child" implies the ability to perform on par with a 2 year old with average mental abilities, or another child of different age with greater or lesser abilities, on an appropriate test of "intelligence" such the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (Revised).

Since those expected responses which are not verbal are written, obviously they'll score 0.

Since cognitive science seems to get further from a definition of intelligence the harder it tries to pin it down, even using the word is a problem. I quit believing in the concept when I saw a retarded child perform successfully (though slower, and with more effort)in a class of gifted children mostly because of the attention offered in the situation.

"Can perform successfully tests of some functions and display some cognitive abilities which when given to humans can be accomplished by more than half of 2 year old children" might be acceptable.

Besides, I've seen some dogs that were too stupid to live. And I've run and howled with some that I've trusted alone with my baby children. Who cares how smart a person they'd make? What matters is how smart a dog they are, and the smartest rarely need things like arithmetic.

For that matter, how smart is a 2 year old human on a dog scale of "intelligence"? After all, that's 21 in dog years. It's not 7 to 1, it's 10.5 to 1 for the first two, then 4 to 1 after.

Re:Summary is Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29004879)

So you deride the arbitrary metric of intelligence but discuss "dog years" .... haha.

So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29004731)

Two-year-olds are dumb. They can't even drive!

Were parents consulted on these FACTS??? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29004887)

quote dogs 'can also deliberately deceive, which is something that young children only start developing later in their life.'

Definition of deceive (Merriam-Webster) "to give a false impression"

I call ABSOLUTE bullshit on this one. I can GUARANTEE you that my children (and those of friends of mine that I have observed) have all shown this behaviour much earlier than two. I can recall that my oldest showed this behaviour at around 6 months. Let me give you an example,
- you set up a rug/mat for your child to play on. You put toys on the rug/mat
- your child tries to crawl off the mat - you put them back on. They now know the rule (but may not understand the driver)
- they will happily stay on the mat until you turn around - and then they will try to crawl off the mat
- when you turn around again, they stop and look up at you as if to say "I wasn't doing that"

I can name you many, many equivalences to this - throwing peas on the floor, wiping hands on pants, etc. I've even gone as far to have filmed them to re-inforce the behaviour differences between when I look and when I don't :)

Whist off-topic, I have a few other observations about behaviour of my eldest boy,
1. At around three months, he would "scan" his toys with his hands. Toys that had tags were "rejected". "rejected" means that he would purse his lips and snarl and throw the toy away. To this day, he is very particular about many things
2. At around 15 months old, I could say to him "can you please get your breakfast". He would fetch his bowl, milk, cereal and spoon without any further support

For the record, my youngest boy has shown no such aptitude. However, he taught himself to read upper case and lower case letters (using a kids computer) and learnt the alphabet song and to count to 20 well before he turned two.

AC

If only they could talk (1)

shashark (836922) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004889)

Hi there. My name is Doug. My master made me this collar so I may talk. SQUIRREL! ... Hi There.

Animal intelligence (1)

RepelHistory (1082491) | more than 4 years ago | (#29004949)

Perhaps they "understand" up to 200 words, but do they understand them in the same way a 2-year-old human learns language? It is possible they have just been conditioned to associate certain words with behaviors - if a human says "sit" and the dog sits because it knows that will get it a treat, that isn't the same as the dog understanding the concept of "sit." (See Operant Conditioning [wikipedia.org].) This is an ongoing debate among those who study animal intelligence.

For my money, the most interesting animal intelligence case study was Alex [youtube.com] the African Grey Parrot, whose species is believed by many to be the smartest non-human animal. His scientist keeper did a number of studies to demonstrate that Alex at least had some understanding of the concepts he was learning. Fascinating stuff.
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