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Views and opinions: It is questionable if animal IQ benefits around humans


I used to have this theory, now debunked, that postulated if you added up the IQ of a person with the IQ of their dog, the total would be exactly the same in every case.

For example, if you add up the IQ of a sheepherder with that of their border collie, the total would be the same as if you added up the IQ of a smart lady and her Pekingese purse dog or Dandie Dinmont (a breed, by the way, that missed the meeting where brains were handed out). If the border collie is the Albert Einstein of the dog world, then the Dandie Dinmont is Curly of “The Three Stooges.”

I developed this theory mostly because my highly intelligent grandmother had the dumbest dog on earth, a Chihuahua that bit me above my eye when I was a kid. My theory was debunked, however, when my smart friends Shanny and Dustin started breeding border collies.

One of the problems with my theory was I could not put an accurate number on the IQ of dogs. About the closest thing we have for an IQ test for dogs was developed by Stanley Cohen, who wrote the book The Intelligence of Dogs.

In trying to quantify the intelligence of dogs, Stanley found he only had to repeat a command five times and 95 percent of the smartest dogs would get the message. But with the dumbest dogs he had to repeat a command 80 to 100 times, and even then only 25 percent of the stupid dogs would get the message.

(Interestingly, I've performed the same test on teenagers and got the same results.)

After further experimentation I found that my theory works on some species but not on others. For example, it works with dairymen and their cows because dairymen are highly intelligent, yet the cattle they raise are dumber than a doorknob.

Holsteins don't recognize their own offspring at birth and their life consists of making the same walk to the same spot in the same milking parlor two or three times a day, and they do this without protest or variation until they have nothing left to give and are sent to the butcher.

Compare their boring lives to that of PRCA or PBR bucking bulls, who live like rock stars, eat the best food, stay in the best accommodations and see the world – and all they have to do is buck eight seconds every few days. Talk about smart cattle!

Yet the folks who own them are smart, too. I can only deduce that my theory doesn't hold true with beef cattle. Without starting a breed war, I'd say the smartest cattle I've ever raised were five purebred Brahma bulls I raised from calves.

I swear, they knew what I was going to do before I did. If there was a MENSA for cattle it would be filled with Brahma. According to my theory, Brahma breeders should be dumber than a watermelon but I've found them to be among the smartest of us all.

My theory also falls apart when you consider the renegade cattle of the Southwest that are able to hide from cowboys every year come roundup time. Talk about sneaky smart! If they had fingers they could beat me in a game of chess or checkers.

Almost invariably these Southwest mavericks have a little Brahma or Longhorn blood, two of the brainer breeds of cattle. Theoretically, that means the cattlemen who own them should be dumber than a post, but that's definitely not the case. Anyone who can make a living and thrive in America's great Southwest has to be highly intelligent to even survive, let alone prosper.

Going all the way back to Charles Goodnight, John Chisum and Oliver Loving, the Southwest has always been home to intelligent cattle and cattlemen.

I'm not too proud to admit my earlier theory was incorrect. After further testing by hanging around Holsteins and renegade cattle that may only see a human once a year – and that's from long distance – I've developed a new theory. This one, I think, will hold up better to increased scrutiny.

Lee's New Theory of Intelligence simply states: "The more a human or animal is exposed to human contact, the dumber they get." I think you'll find this holds true for cattle, New Yorkers, sheep, movie stars and Congresspeople.


The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World. Readers may log on to to order any of Lee Pitts’ books. Those with questions or comments for Lee may write to him in care of this publication.