Find The Hunt of Her Life on: Like it on: Join us on:

The Ruff Report: Hey dummy, your dog is smarter than you think

Your pet is not such a dumb dog after all, because the average canine can count, understand 165 words, solve complex problems and is clever enough to deliberately deceive people and other pets, a leading researcher says. 

 The Hunt of Her Life: A book about a rescue dog that will touch your heart

A dog's intelligence level is on par with a 2-year-old child, and they are more like humans and other higher primates than previously thought, according to Stanley Coren, a psychologist and professor at the University of British Columbia.

"Their stunning flashes of brilliance and creativity are reminders that they may not be Einsteins but are sure closer to humans than we thought," Mr. Coren states in a media release.

Story continues below

A book about a rescue dog
that will touch your heart

THE HUNT OF HER LIFE, is a nonfiction book about Samantha, an unwanted rescue dog who the author adopts at age 2. This beautifully designed  full-color deluxe book, by longtime newspaper journalist Joseph A. Reppucci, contains more than 60 vibrant color photos of dogs to help illustrate the compelling and uplifting story of Samantha - a pretty tricolor bird dog who uses her warm personality to win people over and build a new family after being put up for adoption by a hunter because she is gun-shy and afraid to hunt. Learn how she uses her special bonding abilities with people to help her eventually make a transition from the hunting fields to family life. While reading the The Hunt of Her Life, you will travel with Samantha and the author along a trail filled with surprising twists, sudden turns, mystery and even what some call a miracle. And when the journey is finished, you may never look at people and their pets, motherhood - and perhaps even God - in the same way. The Hunt of Her Life is must reading. It will take you on a captivating journey - a trip like no other - that will touch your heart.

 Story continues here

Mr. Coren, who has authored more than a half-dozen books on dogs and their behavior, presented his findings about dogs recently at the American Psychological Association’s 117th Annual Convention.

 The average dog can learn 165 words, including signals, and some dogs can learn as many as 250 words, Mr. Coren says. "The upper limit of dogs’ ability to learn language is partly based on a study of a Border Collie named Rico who showed knowledge of 200 spoken words and demonstrated 'fast-track learning,’ which scientists believed to be found only in humans and language-learning apes."
Dogs also can count up to four or five and have a basic understanding of arithmetic, Mr. Coren said. They will notice errors in simple computations, such as one plus one equals one or one plus one equals three.

Mr. Coren examined four studies that looked at how dogs solve spatial problems by modeling human or other dogs’ behavior using a barrier-type problem. Through observation, Coren said, dogs can learn the location of valued items such as treats, can find better and faster routes to go to a location such as favorite chair, can learn how to operate mechanisms such as latches, and can understand the meaning of words and symbolic concepts by listening to people speak and watching their actions.

During play, dogs are capable of deliberately trying to deceive other dogs and people to get rewards, Mr. Coren said. "And they are nearly as successful in deceiving humans as humans are in deceiving dogs."

According to Mr. Coren, dogs can differ in intelligence by breed. They have three types of intelligence:

  • Instinctive, which derives from what the dog is bred to do.
  • Adaptive, which involves how well the dog learns from its environment to solve problems.
  • Working and obedience, which is the equivalent of "school learning."
Data from 208 dog obedience judges from the United States and Canada shows the differences in working and obedience intelligence of dog breeds, Mr. Coren said.According to the data, the most intelligent dogs are: Border Collies, first; Poodle, second; German Shepherd, third; Golden Retriever, fourth; Doberman Pincher, fifth; Shetland Sheepdog, sixth; Labrador Retriever, seventh; Papillon, eighth; Rottweiler, ninth; Australian Cattle Dog, 10th; Pembrook Welsh Corgi, 11th; Miniature Schnauzer, 12th.

The Borzoi, Chow Chow, Bull Dog, Basenji and Afghan Hound are at the bottom of the intelligence rankings.


The Ruff Report is a column that appears on, a blog written by Joseph A. Reppucci, a retired editor from The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, Massachusetts. Mr. Reppucci worked as a reporter and editor on major daily newspapers in the Boston area for more than 30 years. He is the author of the book, The Hunt of Her Life, a heartwarming story about his once-in-a-lifetime rescue dog. Find it on 


So easy to read. You choose the topic!

 Adoption | Food | Health Rescue
Safety and Behavior | Surveys and Studies

Like MySetterSam on Facebook

Book sets signed by the author available here!

THE HUNT HER LIFE BOOK SERIES: Order your set signed by author Joseph A. Reppucci! The Original will touch your heart and the Sequel will lift your soul. *The Hunt of Her Life signed book series sets are only available to U.S. customers.

Signed Set
*The Hunt of Her Life signed book series sets are only available to U.S. customers.

Holiday discount Book Sets

THE HUNT HER LIFE BOOK SET (unsigned) is offered for a limited time each year at a special holiday discount rate of 25% off. The discount applies to orders received from November 1 through December 24.

Find The Hunt of Her Life on Amazon

Get the Original Book | Get the Sequel Book

The ORIGINAL book is currently listed at 56% OFF on Amazon. Order the Original and Sequel and qualify for free shipping!