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I must be a sucker for punishment for starting this thread, but I have decided that my skin is thick enough and I know you folks will be gentle with me and not tell me what you really think *wink*.

I have seen this stated once in this forum, and that's ok, and I also have seen the same thing stated in a poodle forum I've been lurking on.

Kind of surprised me to be honest. Not insulted on my dog's behalf, just curious. I have always had the impression that Willow is quite intelligent, and many people over the years have remarked so. I lived with her dam and her sis for 3 years. Her dam seemed very intelligent to me, though she was reaching that dull and lazy age. Her sister Sky did not seem all that bright to be honest. Actually, she needed a bit of help when first born and had a heart murmur too. I don't know if it is fair to use her as an example. There was something about Sky that made me wonder about oxygen deprivation.

We all know there are individuals within breeds, but generalizations are useful sometimes. It's also hard to compare different types of intelligence, and breeds were developed for different purposes. As a generalization, Goldens usually do not come out on top, but they do usually rank high enough.

Perhaps it is their biddable nature. People make jokes about cats being smarter than dogs because of this. Perhaps it is just that people on dog forums are a different sort than the general public. To the general public Willow is a genius. To people on a dog forum a Golden is about as sexy as a mini van- dependable, useful- but ordinary. I get that.

So, shoot folks! Y'all know I'm gonna love my dog anyway! :p
 

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It's all about the individual. Period.

I have worked with some wicked awesome goldens. Drivey and intelligent. I ran into one with his "parents" a little while back and I just about piddled because I was THAT excited to see and talk about him. His owners were just blushing with pride.

And then there's the handful of...special goldens I've worked with. The girl I work with now is as dumb as it gets. Scatter brained rapid fire barker.

I think a lot of it has to do with popularity. This girl I'm working with is so obviously poorly bred.

Oh, and one boy I worked with...he just melted my heart. And I never say cheesey crap like that. I called him my self-appointed therapy dog. I have no interest in owning a retriever of any type but these two boys I told you about could come home with me any day of the week.
 

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Every Golden I've met has not been "dumb". They were all intelligent in their own way.

It seems to me, however, that their happy, giddy, exuberant personality (which is what I LOVE about the breed) kinda over-rides their smarts sometimes.

...although two different Goldens I know - from two TOTALLY different litters are scared straight of boxes (empty boxes, shoe boxes, moving boxes...you name it) for some unknown reason. I don't think it is because they are not intelligent, I just think they are ....sensitive....?
 

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There are some pretty stupid dogs out there, and yes, some of them are Goldens. :p

Seriously, I don't think as a rule the breed is unintelligent. I wonder if people have gotten so used to thinking about some of the really drivey herding breeds as super-intelligent doggie geniuses that a more laid-back breed like a Golden seems dumb by comparison?

Although the whole idea of "intelligence" in dogs is kind of a weird one to me anyway. Usually it seems like people are using qualities of human intelligence to evaluate dogs, which doesn't make any sense to me.
 

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I really don't believe that there is any such thing as a "dumb" dog. Dog aren't humans, so our human levels of intelligence don't apply to dogs. Calling a dog "dumb" is anthropomorphizing IMO. So there are no dumb dogs, only dogs with different KINDS of intelligence. And if a trainer can't figure out how to train a certain kind of dog then that just makes them a dumb trainer! :biggrin1:

BTW, if Goldens were "dumb," then why would there be so many Goldens competing at a high level of Obedience training?
 

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I had a golden I got from a shelter when I was about 20 years old. He was friendly, outgoing, and if you want to rate him on the human scale.....he was fairly intelligent and beautiful. In all honesty.....and don't anyone misunderstand me, Irish setters are beautiful too.....and I have met a few of them......but as far as the ones I have met......they were about as smart as a box of rocks..........but may be excellent hunters!....... I would take a Golden over one of them any day!

Not trying to start a war! No dog is actually dumb,.......just a little different than others in it's abilities as individuals.
 

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Having had two wonderful Goldens (and it's hard to imagine a dog easier to train), I feel I can comment with relative impunity. :wave:

I know of breeders (of various working breeds) who refer to Goldens as the "dumb blondes" of the dog world. I would humbly disagree. It's not that they're "dumb" per se, and of course this does vary from individual to individual, but simply that, generally speaking, Golden Retrievers are not "thinking dogs"...

I may have mentioned it already on the forum, but at least one service dog group in the US uses Goldens and Golden/Lab crosses for that very reason - in their own words, that they do not think...

They do learn quickly, although not as quickly as, for example, a GSD or Poodle. And once they learn something, they simply, and happily obey. Other breeds ("more intelligent", according to members of this group), learn as quickly or more so, but tend to think and scrutinize situations far more.

Looking back at our own Goldens, and the many I've known since - yes, I would tend to agree that they are not nearly as intelligent as they are often made out to be (apologies, Dr. Stanley Coren)...

But their sweet dispositions, eagerness to please, and ease of training, make their actual doggy I.Q.'s seem quite irrelevant. :bounce:
 

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Although the whole idea of "intelligence" in dogs is kind of a weird one to me anyway. Usually it seems like people are using qualities of human intelligence to evaluate dogs, which doesn't make any sense to me.
Agreed ^^^^
I have no idea where my dogs would fall on the scale of intelligance. I never think about it. I'm a sucker for a dog that likes to please, is fairly easy to train, has an even temperment...
Those are traits that many GR's have. Thats why they're often used as Guide Dogs :)
 

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I think its pretty dumb of us humans to try and rate a dogs intelligence.
 

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Like others have said, dog intelligence is not the same as human intelligence. Not to mention intelligence is a subjective word. It's easy to put a classification on a word like "large" because we can give measurable quantities to describe that. The popular way to measure dog intelligence is through commands. You can take a measure of how many repetitions it takes a dog to learn a command. You could measure how many total commands a dog understands. These things are all difficult to create a controlled test environment though. You would need to measure a very large sample from each breed in order to even come close to having reasonable results. Not to mention some dogs respond better to different training techniques...Or perhaps all this tells us is which breeds are most willing to obey.

All I know is I have a sheltie who remembers everything and can get into anything. If you put something into a gym bag and it interests him he will open the zipper and pull it out. This is not measurable, but I would consider him smart for that.

Then again, everyone thinks their dog is smart :)
 

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I have found that generally the better bred Goldens seem to be more intelligent. I honestly believe that all the BYB that exist have ruined the Golden; many of the dogs that come out of those breedings do seem to be "mentally challenged"; maybe not dumb per se, but they just seem to be missing something.
 

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I always tell people they don't want a smart dog. . .smart dogs get into trouble, they drive you crazy. Willow was a smart dog (and she was a Lab--another supposedly "dumb" breed!). She would worry about things; we always said she was an "overthinker". Miracle is a smart dog, too. For example, she likes to jump the fence and run around the neighborhood by herself. So every time someone takes her out, they have to stand by the part of the fence she jumps over and keep her from jumping. So she'll run around the yard like she never jumped a fence in her life, but the second your attention is subdivided just a tiny bit (and sometimes Miracle will start something with the other dogs just to distract you), she runs past you and goes right over the fence! Basically, the way I see it is, "smart dogs" think for themselves. Sometimes that's not a good thing.

Toby is a dumb dog, but that's not a bad thing. He's funny and goofy and eager to please. It simply doesn't occur to him to do something other than what he was told to do. Of course, I think working with a really dumb dog--one who doesn't grasp the concept you're trying to teach--would be frustrating, but I do think a slightly dumb dog is somewhat easier to live with.
 

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I think its pretty dumb of us humans to try and rate a dogs intelligence.
I disagree. I do think it's dumb to try to make claims about some breeds being more intelligent than others without extensive, controlled research. I think you could spend a lifetime ranking breeds according to their intelligence, and then another lifetime changing those rankings because we've just learned something new about how intelligence is quantified. I do think there's a lot of value in researching different facets of intelligence and comparing them among breeds, especially when you start using molecular genetics... then we have the potential to get the neat types of information, like which genes are primarily responsible for affecting that particular intelligence skill. But even then I think it's unwise to interpret data like "Breed A consistently solves the puzzle faster than Breed B" as "Breed A is smarter than Breed B."

Okay, I changed my mind. I actually agree with you.
 

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Like others have said, dog intelligence is not the same as human intelligence. Not to mention intelligence is a subjective word. It's easy to put a classification on a word like "large" because we can give measurable quantities to describe that. The popular way to measure dog intelligence is through commands. You can take a measure of how many repetitions it takes a dog to learn a command. You could measure how many total commands a dog understands. These things are all difficult to create a controlled test environment though. You would need to measure a very large sample from each breed in order to even come close to having reasonable results. Not to mention some dogs respond better to different training techniques...Or perhaps all this tells us is which breeds are most willing to obey.
This definitely is why I don't agree with those articles that rate the most intelligent dogs through a command test. Some breeds, like English Bulldogs, have a different reasoning than other breeds. I find that they like to be more like "if I do this, how does this benefit me?" as opposed to "if I do this my owner is happy with me" and sometimes takes quite a lot of trial and error on training methods and rewards to convince one headstrong bully that it's worth it. Some won't be into a stranger giving them commands either so a control environment will fail some of them. I think though if they can understand that you're making them do a trick and the reward isn't good enough that makes them pretty sharp. Means they think for themselves and have some sort of reasoning.

I have trouble with basic commands and cannot do tricks with my male so if were talking in terms of "human gauged" intelligence, I have the village idiot. I've tried various methods. Recently click training meant I had a creature in my hand he has to investigate and chew on. My girl isn't far behind him in smarts but she knows how to love really well and is intuitive about human feelings and how to respond to them so shes a perfect friend. That's really all I want right now. Having a smart dog who needs a lot of mental and physical needs met is too much for this time in my life.
 

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my mum and my mother in law both have golden retrievers, my mums is 2 and mothe in laws is nearly 5.

my mums dog was bought from a reputable breeder, had all the health testing's, champion blood lines, top show dogs etc.
mother in laws dog has kennel club papers and thats it. no health testing etc.
there is no chance of the dogs being related anywhere at all.

both dogs ( castrated males) are scared of anything new, they were worse as smaller puppies, and have obviously got used to certain things, but some things are an absolute no go.
both dogs are lunatics around people, no amount of training as altered this (mines the same although he's not a golden!)

they are both wonderful dogs, but have these 'faults', i just assumed it was the breed.
 

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My experiences have been similar to what has already been said...some goldens I've met seem like they're not the sharpest tool in the shed, and others seem very intelligent. It's quite a popular breed for agility, at least in my area, so I know several personally. You'd think that this might bias my opinion, but even some of the agility goldens are rather ditsy. You know it's true when even the dog's owner freely admits it. From what I've seen, the better bred goldens seem to be a bit sharper than what I've seen coming out of rescues in the area, but my sample size is still a little low.

Intelligence is something I value highly in a dog, because I enjoy training. You can practically see it in Kit's expression, and she can learn anything that I can dream up. Because this is something I want in future dogs, I plan to stick with "thinking breeds" as someone put it (or mixes thereof).
 

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Discussion Starter #18
It seems that there are experiences at both ends of the intelligence spectrum. I have seen it myself. I was kind of just joking about Willow's sister Sky being oxygen deprived. Both dogs had the friendly, gentle nature and great with kids, but very different otherwise. They were sisters, but not littermates, and anyways, being byb there was a lot of inconsistency in the pups that Cinnamon (their dam) had.
I used to joke that Sky was an albino Irish Setter. She was even blonder than Willow and was high-strung, nervous, had this strange sort of energy that made it hard for her to focus. Even basic retriever stuff like swimming and retrieving a tennis ball was hard for her to grasp. From what I have read, no real experience with ISetters, it was the popularity of the breed at one time that did that to them. A lot of breeding going on means bad breeding is likely going on. I know this has been going on with Goldens too, and cancer has become a huge problem in the breed too.
Willow and Sky also had very different first years. Sky was on a chain for a lot of hours a day and then functioned mainly as a playmate for a young boy when off of it. No real training or being taught how to learn was going on. I came into her life when she was 2 1/2 and had no knowledge or skills to know how to get her attention.
Willow was at my side almost all of the time from the very beginning. I got her a year after it was ruled that I not work anymore and I'm not very social. She had a crapload of energy, but was also very focused. I dealt with her energy by involving her in absolutely everything I did. I set up opportunities for her to think and used things that came along as teaching experiences, I also never ran to her aid each time she had a little problem figuring something out. I'd give her time to figure it out, or just solve things half-way and let her take it from there.
I knew nothing about dog training, but my employment used to be with the handicapped and always teaching and encouraging them to think and be as independent as possible. I ended up treating my dog like I would a handicapped kid, which is kind of funny... For a person's first dog though, it worked well enough.
I don't think intelligence in dogs can be measured reliably. Jack is a sharp little man, but Jack would fail any type of obedience test horribly. He knows what you are telling him to do, he just rather grumble obscenities at you under his breath.
 
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