A DOG IQ test has been developed by scientists who say it could pave the way for breakthroughs in our understanding of the link between intelligence and health.
Experts have discovered that dog intelligence works the same way as human intelligence, so clever canines who perform well in one task tend also to do well in others – just like their human masters.
Dogs don’t smoke, don’t kid around with recreational drugs – lots of things that muck up our findings in humans can be much better studied in non-human animalsDR ROSALIND ARDEN London School of Economics
Recent studies have shown that brighter people tend to live longer, and so scientists believe if they can prove the same is true in dogs they can use them to study long-term health problems such as dementia.
Dr Rosalind Arden ofthe London School of Economics, which carried out the study with Edinburgh University, said the discovery could have “far-reaching implications for understanding human health and disease and canine health and disease”.
She said: “We asked the question, if a dog is good at one test does it tend to be better than average at the other test? And we found that yes that’s true.
“This is the first step in trying to develop a reliable dog IQ test, and that has implications that aren’t obvious at first.”
Scientists put the intelligence of 68 working border collies to the test by devising a series of cognitive tasks.
One involved getting to a food reward they could see behind a barrier – they had to work out to go around the barrier rather than dig under it.
Another involved offering two plates of food and assessing if the dogs learnt to go to the bigger portion, while a third task examined how many times a dogs followed a human pointing gesture.
Those that performed well in one of these tasks tended to be above average in the others too.
Dr Arden said scientists have known for some time that brighter people tend to live longer. But this can be tricky to investigate because our lifestyle choices – whether we smoke, and how much we eat, drink and exercise – have a major impact on our health.
Dogs offer a good insight because they are “basically teetotal”, Dr Arden said.
“Dogs don’t touch pipes, don’t touch cigars, don’t kid around with recreational drugs – lots of things that muck up our findings in humans can be much better studied in non-human animals,” she said.
Dr Mark Adams, research fellow at the University of Edinburgh, said: “This is only a first step, but we are aiming to create a dog IQ test.
“Such a test could improve our understanding of the connection between dog intelligence, health, even lifespan, and be the foundation of ‘dognitive epidemiology’.”