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Are Bird Dogs Really Smart?

Canine intelligence is a tricky issue, but it's certainly possible our four-legged hunting partners sport more mental bandwidth than we think.

Are Bird Dogs Really Smart?
Bill Buckley Photo

When we talk about positive attributes of our bird dogs, we almost always go down a familiar route.

Stops along the way will include strong prey drive, a good nose, health, perhaps size and color, and sometimes intelligence. Dog smarts are highly subjective and prone to extreme levels of owner bias, but there are canines in the world that seem to demonstrate intelligence at a level that proves (somewhat) they are capable of complex thinking, and better yet, learning.

A couple of border collies have made the nightly news circuit in recent years for learning over 1,000 words. Some are said to understand complex nouns, complete with modifiers. That’s not nothing, and while...

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