Dog IQ Test: Is Your Pup A Smarty Pants?

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Dog Training By Meg Marrs 8 min read September 24, 2021

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dog iq test

Is your dog a genius?

If you’re like most owners, you’ve probably thought to yourself about how smart your dog is (or, how loveably stupid he is).

Well good news – there’s now a way to evaluate the cleverness of your canine!

Why It’s Good to Evaluate Your Dog’s Intelligence

  • Create New Challenges For Bored Dogs. If your dog proves to be especially clever, this may reveal some insight into behavior. If your clever pup tends to get destructive when left alone, they might simply be bored. Challenging your dog through agility training, experimenting with new tricks, and providing your dog with puzzle-based toys may help alleviate that boredom.
  • Know What To Expect When Training. Evaluating your dog’s intelligence can also help you develop a more appropriate training plan for your dog. A smart dog breed with high levels of intelligence may be capable of learning more complex tricks and commands, while less brilliant canines may want to stick with basic commands.
  • Have Fun With Your Pup! Even if your dog isn’t the next Einstein, conducting dog IQ tests is a fun away to spend time with your dog and keep that brain power at work!

Scientists are even conducting research into whether smarter dog live longer than their less astute peers.

What Is A Dog IQ Test?

The most popular dog IQ test, and the one that inspired our own quiz below, is based off of a series of problem solving and memory challenges.

how smart is my dog

How your dog reacts and responds to these challenges helps to indicate their level of comprehension and general intelligence. Challenges include:

  • #1 Towel Over The Head. For this dog IQ test challenge, you’ll throw a towel over your dog’s head and see how long it takes him/her to get it off.
  • #2 Treat Under Towel. You’ll hide a treat under a towel on the floor and see how long it takes your dog to find the treat.
  • #3 More Challenging Treat Under Towel. In this more difficult version of the puzzle above, you’ll hide a treat under a towel inside of a gap that can only be reached by your dog’s paws, not his snout. See how long it takes him to get to the treat (using his paws).
  • #4 Hidden Cup Treat. In this memory test, you’ll hide a treat under a cup as your dog watches, remove him from the room, and see if he guesses the correct cup when he returns.

These challenges are what make up the standard dog IQ test, based off of psychology Stanley Coren’s book, The Intelligence of Dogs.

Are Dog IQ Test An Accurate Measure Of Intelligence?

Just as humans can be visual learners, auditory learners, or tactile leaners, there are different forms of intelligence for dogs as well.

Some dogs have instinctive intelligence, based off of skills that come as a result of their breed. For example, Wolfhounds and Greyhounds are sight hounds, and have natural abilities that will help them succeed at sight-based challenges. Beagles and Bloodhounds were bred for their elite noses, so they’ll be great an sniffing out answers for scent-based challenges.

dog intelligence

Learning intelligence, on the other hand, involves social learning, environment learning, task learning, and language comprehension. These skills can be taught and developed.

No type of skill or strength really indicates that one dog is more intelligent than another, just as it would be silly to label a pro math scientist as more intelligent than a renowned artist – it’s simply a matter of different types of intelligence.

Humans can be emotionally intelligent, mathematically intelligent, creatively intelligent, and much more! The same is true for dogs.

So while it may be unfair to claim that dog IQ tests are accurate measures of canine intelligence, they do help evaluate certain canine problem solving and memory skills, which can provide a good general assessment of doggy smarts.

Plus, they are tons of fun, so why not?

Ready To Take Our Dog IQ Quiz?

We’ve developed a quiz you can take with your dog to evaluate your dog’s IQ. For more detail on how to act out these challenges, scroll below, where we provide more detailed challenge walkthroughs.


Tips For Conducting the Dog IQ Test

  • Conduct With Owner. Dogs tend to perform better when their own owner is the one conducting the IQ test, as dogs can be nervous and less at ease around strangers or humans they don’t know as well.
  • Puppies Might Not Do As Well. Puppies are still learning and growing, and it will be difficult to accurately evaluate their intelligence when they are not at full maturity. Go ahead and take the test for fun, but for a more reliable results, wait until your dog is at least one year old.

1. Towel Over The Head

This challenge involves throwing a large towel or small blanket over your dog’s head to see how it takes him to get free.

  1. Let your dog smell the towel or blanket beforehand so he isn’t frightened of it
  2. Gently toss the towel over your dog’s entire head so that his head is completely covered. It should land in one smooth motion (try practicing with a chair beforehand to get it right)

Time your dog and score him based on how long it takes him to escape from the towel:

  • 30 seconds or less: 3 points
  • 31–120 seconds: 2 points
  • Tries but doesn’t succeed within 120 seconds: 1 point — and take off the towel for him!
  • Doesn’t try to get free: 0 points.

2. Treat Under The Towel

For this challenge, you’ll hide a dog treat under a towel and see how long it takes your dog to find it.

  1. Show your dog the treat beforehand, and place the treat on the floor while your dog watches
  2. Place the towel over the treat, then start the timer
  3. See how long it takes your dog to find the treat

Score your dog based off of how long it takes him to find the treat.

  • 30 seconds or less: 3 points
  • 31–60 seconds: 2 points
  • Tries but fails within 60 seconds: 1 point
  • Doesn’t try: 0 points

3. More Challenging Treat Under Towel

Next up is a more difficult version of the challenge above. This time, you’ll place the treat under a gap that your dog can only access with his paws.

  1. Create a gap that is low to the ground, that your dog can only reach with his paws (but not his muzzle). The under section of a couch can be used, or you can build your own gap with a wide plank and a pair of books (make sure to weigh down the plank so that your dog can’t knock it over).
  2. Place the treat in the gap and cover with the towel, as your dog watches on.
  3. Push the treat far enough underneath so that your dog can’t reach it with his muzzle
  4. Encourage your dog to get to the treat as you time him.

Score your dog off of how long it takes him to find the treat (if he gets to it at all):

  • Succeeds within 2 minutes (using its paws): 4 points
  • Succeeds within 3 minutes (using its paws): 3 points
  • Fails within 3 minutes, but uses paws: 2 points
  • Fails, only uses muzzle: 1 point
  • Doesn’t try: 0 points

4. Hidden Cup Treat

In the next dog IQ test challenge, you’ll test your dog’s memory by placing a treat under a cup and seeing if your dog can remember where the treat is.

Make sure to use non-smelly treats for the memory test – no cheating!

  1. First, help your dog understand that treats will go under the plastic cup. As your dog watches, place a treat underneath a plastic cup and tell your dog to find it. Lift up the cup to show your dog where the treat is.
  2. Repeat 8-10 times, until your dog learns that treats can be hidden under cups.
  3. Next, place three plastic cups (or buckets) upside down on the floor, about a foot apart.
  4. Place a treat underneath one of the cups as your dog watches on.
  5. Bring your dog out of the room for 30 seconds, then bring him back.
  6. Urge your dog to find the treat!
dog intelligence test

Score your dog based on how fast he finds the treat.

  • Checks under the right cup on the first try: 2 points
  • Finds it within two minutes: 1 point
  • Doesn’t find it: 0 points

Dog IQ Test Scoring

Score the dog’s results. Add up all your dog’s points and see how he did:

  • 11–12 points: Canine Einstein, Doggie Genius!
  • 8–10 points: Smarty Pants Pup
  • 4–7 points: Your Average Dog
  • 1–3 points: Loveable Airhead
  • 0 points: Is It A Dog, Or a Stuffed Animal?

Dog IQ Test: Examples of The Quiz In Action

In this YouTube video, one owner tests her Australian Shepherd. You can watch this to get a better sense of how to act out the challenges.

Understanding Your Results

If you have found out your dog is leader of the pack in the smarts department, you might be psyched!

However, don’t be bummed if your dog isn’t the genius canine you may have expected. Remember that it’s not really entirely fair to measure your dog’s intelligence based on these IQ tests, just as it’s unfair to evaluate humans with IQ tests (there are simply way too many gray areas and different levels of intelligence, for both humans and dogs).

We know you’d love your dopey dog anyway, regardless of their IQ. Don’t stress it!

Dog IQ Test Study Guide: How to Improve Your Score

  • Use High Value Treats. Some dogs just don’t want to work as hard if you’re not using treats that excite them. Pump up your pup with high-value treats they’ll want to find – stuff like hot dogs, cheese, the good stuff!dog IQ toy
  • Treat-Dispensing Puzzle Toys. Boost your dog’s brain power with treat-dispensing dog toys that will challenge your pup. These toys contain hidden treats that are dispensed as your dog completes certain puzzle challenges.
  • Wait Until They’re Older. Young puppies under one year old won’t be mature enough to fully understand the test. You can still do the test as a fun game with your pup, but your results probably won’t be a good indicator of your dog’s intelligence until they are older.
  • Hide-The-Treat Games. Practice find-the-treat games with your dog to improve his skill. Start off hiding the treat under a table or inside of a box. As your dog succeeds, make it more challenging by hiding the treat in more difficult locations.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice. Keep practicing the dog IQ test challenges and you’ll see your dog improve.

Have you taken the dog IQ test with your canine? What were your results?

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Written by

Meg Marrs

Meg Marrs is the Founder and Director of Marketing at K9 of Mine. She is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! She loves iced coffee, hammocks, and puppy-cuddling!


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