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The Intelligence of Dogs: A Guide To The Thoughts, Emotions, And Inner Lives Of Our Canine Companions Paperback – March 1, 1995

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (March 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553374524
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553374520
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #474,131 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Psychologist and trainer Coren studies the psychological makeup of dogs in an attempt to answer many questions about canine emotions and intelligence.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"A comprehensive history of the dog...congenial  interweaving of anecdote and  analysis."--The Washington Post

Customer Reviews

I would recommend this book for any dog lover.
I have been reading the book and have found it to be very interesting and informative.
Unfortunately, the tests do nothing of the sort.
Susan Zyphur

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

154 of 171 people found the following review helpful By Susan Zyphur on August 15, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a trainer who has actually studied and researched dog behavior, I had trouble reading this book. On several occasions I put it down in disgust, unable to read another word. But, because I want to be widely versed in dog behavior - even if it's just the inaccurate garbage that my clients might be exposed to - I did read it in its entirety. I have trouble citing anything from this book that is factual and would make it worth reading, apart from perhaps the entertaining historical anecdotes. If you want to know about dog intelligence, the dog behavior professional should read "Applied Dog Behavior and Training" by Lindsay (all 3 volumes) to start. For seriously interested dog owners and /or professionals, I recommend "Dog Behaviour, Evolution, and Cognition" by Ádám Miklósi. For lighter reading, Alexandra Horowitz's "Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know" is very good. Both the latter authors are doing research in the field of canine cognition, and so actually know a thing or two about the subject (unlike Coren).

The dog owner should understand that the "tests" in this book mean absolutely nothing and may actually be harmful by labeling a dog "dominant" or "aggressive" when he is nothing of the sort. Here are the main problems I found with Coren's book:

* Excessive reference to dominance theory, including the terms "alpha," "pack leader," etc. Dominance theory was created based on faulty research in the mid-20th century, which has since been updated and has been mostly thrown out when referring to pet dogs. Your pet dog is not a pack animal - if it were, it would kill every intruder to its territory, including the mail carrier, guests, and dogs that come to visit for "play dates.
Read more ›
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49 of 56 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
"The Intelligence of Dogs" is the most practical book on dog behavior I have ever read. It contains two separate tests, both developed by the Seeing Eye people to prequalify their dogs. The tests are extensive, and quantify: problem solving ability, memory, biddability, aggressiveness/passivity, steadiness, and other important personality traits of a puppy or dog. I used this test to prequalify a stray border collie puppy before adopting her. After 3 years, I would rate the test results "highly accurate."
In addition, Coren describes the psychology and behavior of dogs in the wild, and how this can be used to better communicate with and train your dog. Works like a charm.
Never mind the controversial list of general intelligence of different breeds. The practical utility of the book is in testing and communicating with *your* dog...or a dog you are considering for adoption or purchase.
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41 of 50 people found the following review helpful By "pecdoc" on July 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
I loved this book! Its not because Stan Coren was my professor almost 30 years ago, or because there's a mixed Border Collie (Rank #1) / German Shepherd (Rank #3) savant sitting on my foot as I type. I loved this book because it is truly a celebration of the DOG. It captures the essence of that marvelous companion who unquestionably trusts us, undeniably loves us, and unconditionally accepts us wherever WE might rank on some psychologist's list. Coren eloquently captures the essence of our canine companions in his obvious affection for the subject matter.
The book's title, "The Intelligence of Dogs" should have been "The Intelligence of ALL Dogs," because some people seem to be hung up on "the list" and think the book is about "The Intelligent Dogs." As a psychologist myself, I know how people can focus on rankings and comparative lists, and in the process lose perspective of the whole picture. We get defensive because our Dalmatians were spotted 39th, and angry when our Afghans wagged the distribution's tail in last place. Know what? It doesn't matter. Don't throw the puppy out with the bath water; the rest of the book will balm you even though your Labrador retrieved only a 7 ranking. The canine history section alone is worth the price. But the real problem now is, how do I break the news to brilliance here that he was descended from a proto-cat?
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 9, 1998
Format: Paperback
Many of the criticizms of this book are unfair. The author quite clearly explains how the now famous or infamous (depending upon how you feel about it) was compiled. He also conveys that the list does not necessarily tell you that one breed of dog is "smarter" than another and many of the differences are explained. These critics are more likely reacting in a defensive way and did not thoroughly read the book or many of their suspicions would have been allayed. These were obedience judges and trainers who responded with their experience and insight to inquiries made by the author and a list was tabulated. If you want an intelligent and trainable dog, consider using the list as one of many criteria in your decision. One can make of the list what they will. The rest of the information in the book is of far greater value. Yes, there are some points that could have been covered in more detail, but then the author could have written a volume of encyclopedias on the subject of dogs and still not covered everything there is to know. I.e., there is a puppy personality test used to test the temperment and possible obedience potential of a puppy. One of the tests involved pinching a pup's ear between thumb and forefinger with increasing pressure to see how the animal reacts to pain. While shopping for Doberman puppies I performed this test several times and I could not get a single one to do much more than casually turn it's head. Does this mean that the dog does not feel pain and is therefore untrainable? Of course not. Maybe this particular breed has less sensitive ears, maybe it does not. I have no idea why this happened. The point is to be mindful that not everything falls into convenient catagories and there is no black and white; just shades of gray.Read more ›
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More About the Author

Stanley Coren, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, is a recognized expert on dog-human interaction who has appeared on Dateline; The Oprah Winfrey Show; Good Morning, America; 20/20; Larry King Live; and many other TV and radio programs. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with a beagle, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, and a Nova Scotia duck-tolling retriever, as well as his wife and her cat.