Just as people vary in their problem solving abilities, so do dogs, even within one breed. This is significant because in humans there is a small but measureable tendency for people who are brighter to be healthier and live longer. So if, as our research suggests, dog intelligence is structured similarly to ours, studying a species that doesn’t smoke, drink, use recreational drugs and does not have large differences in education and income, may help us understand this link between intelligence and health better.A link between intelligence and health? Interesting. But more on that in a moment. First thing's first, how exactly do you test a dog’s IQ? Sixty-eight Border Collies that were super curious to find out their IQ level participated in a three-part test that took roughly an hour; the same amount of time a human IQ test takes. [bp_related_article] The first part of the test focused on navigation, timing how quickly each dog could get to food that was behind different barriers, the second part judged their ability to determine the difference between quantities of food, and the third part determined their ability to follow a human pointing to an object. Just like their human counterparts, dogs that did well on one task often did better on all the tasks. Even more interestingly, dogs that did the tests faster actually did them more accurately! It’s pretty cool that dogs have measurable IQs, but why study it in the first place? In humans there is a small but significant tendency for those who are smarter to live longer, healthier lives. Since dogs share this same intelligence structure (and, as Dr, Arden pointed out, don’t drink, smoke, or have huge variations in education or income) they are the perfect species to participate in future studies on the link between intelligence and health. In addition to having a similar intelligence structure as us, dogs are also one of the very few animals that reproduce many of the key features of dementia. When combined with this newfound understanding of their intelligence, this could mean big things for the study of the disease. If we can understand why dogs develop these key features, maybe we can figure out why it happens in humans and test potential treatments for it. Now that would be pretty amazing. Just another way that man’s best friend is helping us live better lives!
Featured Image via Angela Driscoll/Kinloch sheepdogs/PA Wire via Mirror