Dognition: Way beyond the IQ Test

We’ve been hearing a lot of people referring to Dognition as an “IQ test for dogs” (here’s looking at you, Conan!). Calling Dognition an IQ test conjures up some pretty funny images. Dogs squinting over Scantrons with No. 2 pencils, solving word problems and math equations. If we were giving dogs a traditional IQ test, the scores probably wouldn’t be very high.

This is because we think about intelligence differently these days. When we look at the intelligence of animals, we start with how well they’ve been able to survive as a species. By that measure, dogs are the second most successful mammal on Earth, right behind humans. They’ve learned how to get another species (us) to take care of their every need, to feed them, play with them, and let them sleep in our beds.

At the same time, they’ve become more effective and cheaper than technology in a whole range of jobs, from sniffing out drugs and bombs to helping people cope with debilitating diseases.

Instead of telling you whether or not your dog is “smart,” we want to help you discover how and why your dog is so successful. As a species, dogs are geniuses because of several key abilities mimicking those of human infants. But what’s your dog’s particular genius?


If you’ve ever taken a standardized test, you know that there isn’t much nuance to the score you get. IQ tests, like most other standardized tests, measure a very narrow aspect of intelligence. You’re either smart or not smart.

A more sophisticated and modern way to evaluate intelligence is the cognitive approach. While a traditional approach views intelligence like a coffee cup that might be full, empty or somewhere in between, the cognitive approach sees intelligence as composed of different flavors of cognition across multiple dimensions. With this approach, we can learn how intelligence varies from species to species, and even from individual to individual within a species. This allows us to understand and appreciate the genius of dogs.


Dognition assesses five core competencies of canine cognition: empathy, communication, cunning, memory and reasoning. These areas of intelligence have been the keys to dogs’ survival as a species; when we say that all dogs are geniuses, this is what we’re talking about. But unlike an IQ test, we won’t just assign numbers and say “this dog is a genius,” and “this dog isn’t a genius.” We’ll show the specific way in which your individual dog is a genius. It will look something like this:



Dognition is far more than an IQ test. Our comprehensive report will provide you with a dog’s-eye-view of the world. We’ll tell you how your dog’s cognitive style compares with other dogs, and even with other species. You may discover things about your dog that surprise you, while scientifically confirming suspicions you’ve had all along. We believe that all dogs have a unique intelligence — and by understanding and celebrating it, we can help dogs and their people live much more fulfilling lives together.

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