It’s true when they say that some dogs are “smarter” than others, but we need to clarify that intelligence comes in many forms. There is instinctive intelligence, adaptive intelligence, working, and obedience intelligence. So it all comes down to what your chosen definition is.
Border Collies, Poodles, German Shepherds, Dobermans and Australian Cattle dogs were listed in the top 5 in a survey done by 208 obedience judges. Some would say that golden flowing locks of the Afghan hound counteract the fact they were voted “least trainable”. The universe has a justice system. Rounding out the least trainable were the Basenji and the Bulldog. I can speak from personal experience when I say that the Bulldog is not un-trainable, but rather they would prefer to not do anything.
The average dog can learn up to 165 words while some “super-dogs”(canines in the top 20%) can learn up to 250 different words. A Border Collie, named “Chaser”, knows more that 1000 words, ruff-ly the same amount as a 3 year old child.
Dogs can understand the basic concept of space in that they are able to form a mental picture or map of the space around them, given some helpful landmarks (fire hydrants and trees). Time on the other hand is a much more difficult concept to grasp, especially when you have paws. Dogs understand that things happen in a particular order, like “mom will remove her shoes before I get my treat”. “Lose the shoes Lady!!”.
Communication is a dogs’ strongest type of intelligence. Not only do they “talk” to one another, but they have also managed to train humans in the manner to which they would like to be cared for (more treats, fluffier beds!).
A dogs’ brain is similar to that of a human’s, meaning when they are challenged, the stimulus will forge new neural pathways making your dog smarter. So challenge your pup, no matter how young or old they may be because the old adage of old dogs not able to learn new tricks is complete non-sense. In fact, teaching your dog new things and exposing them to new stimuli might actually help to keep them more alert and energetic as they age.