Canine Consciousness and Capabilities
by Stanley Coren
This book delves into the canine mind. It addresses such questions as: how smart are dogs? do different breeds vary in their level of intelligence? how do dogs manage to communicate with people so well, and understand our spoken commands? do they feel emotions the same way we do? can they remember the past, or anticipate future events? Coren breaks down dog smarts into three categories: instinctual intelligence, adaptive learning ability, and obedience work. There's a chapter of simple tests you can give your dog to assess his problem-solving abilities or IQ, discussion of the very specialized abilities different breeds have, an evaluation of which breeds perform certain tasks better (watchdog, guard dog, etc) and a list ranking 79 popular dog breeds by intelligence. Another author I read just before picking up this book criticized how Coren ranked the breeds, but I thought his explanations made good sense (and of course it's just a general guideline). I found particularly interesting the explanation of how dog breeds have evolved to be so specialized, and learned many interesting facts about dogs in history. For example, did you know that English sheepdogs were bred to have no tail because it exempted them from the tax of livestock, defined as "animals born with tails"? The one thing I didn't like about this book were the awkward drawings sprinkled throughout the text (my brain kept redrawing them and feeling annoyed). But the plates of engravings in the middle are quite lovely and more than make up for that. Alongside Dogs: A New Understanding by the Coppingers, The Intelligence of Dogs is wonderful, comprehensive reading about the mental abilities of our canine companions.
Rating: 4/5 ........ 271 pages, 1994
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