Dognition: How smart is your pooch?

6th February 2013

Ever wonder how smart your dog is? A new web-based, citizen science initiative called the 'Dognition project' aims to revolutionise our understanding of man’s best friend.


The project aims to gather data from different breeds of dog to determine whether they have different levels of intelligence and to gauge the specific personalities of each owner’s pet.

Dog lovers simply download an app that asks them about the behavior of their canine. For example: "Does Benjy ever 'intervene' in an argument between other members of the household?". The app also suggests a series of tasks and games that assess five dimensions of canine intelligence: empathy, communication, cunning, memory and reasoning.

These tests are developed by Prof Brian Hare’s Canine Cognition Centre at Duke University in North Carolina. Users rate their dog’s performances, and the data is then sent to the university for analysis.

The hope is that with a large enough sample, Hare’s research team will be able to reveal cognitive strengths and weaknesses in individual breeds. This might help owners to better understand why their dogs behave the way they do, as well as allowing them to adapt to their pet's specific personality.

If you’d like to learn how smart your own dog is, visit  

Written by Declan Knittel

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