Tag Archives: intelligence

Smart Dogs

There have been a few articles recently about the finding that dogs are about as smart as two-year-old, human children. They have a similar level of vocabulary and mathematical ability, and they can deliberately deceive – something that children only learn to do later. So that’s where dogs stand today.


Here’s a question I have been considering for a while: how long would it take to selectively breed dogs with human level intelligence? I’m not considering transgenic dogs or gene-splicing. Genetic mapping for mate selection is OK. What are we talking about, here? I imagine it would be a logarithmic curve: quick at first as we collected all the smart genes in one dog, then slow as we wait for mutation to produce a breakthrough.

But if we don’t look for anything but intelligence – that is, let the breed characteristics fall where they may – how close could we get and how fast?

Let’s say we have a pool big enough to get to human level intelligence in 200 years. That’s probably quite optimistic – about 100 generations. What are the ethical implications? Moral implications? Did we just create a creature with a soul? Was that morally right or wrong? Are we morally obligated to do this, if it is possible?