Dogs aren't as clever as we thought, new study claims

Must See 05/10/2018

Dogs aren't any more intelligent than most other animals, new research has found.

In fact, they're not really any more clever than cats.

Researchers at the UK's University of Exeter and Canterbury Christ Church University looked at more than 300 scientific papers analysing animals' abilities, and found dogs were matched or surpassed in almost every category.

"During our work it seemed to us that many studies in dog cognition research set out to 'prove' how clever dogs are," said Prof Stephen Lea of the University of Exeter.

"They are often compared to chimpanzees and whenever dogs 'win', this gets added to their reputation as something exceptional. Yet in each and every case we found other valid comparison species that do at least as well as dogs do in those tasks."

Take smell, for example. Dogs are prized for their olfactory abilities, which are put to good use in law enforcement and border security. But the researchers found their sense of smell can be overridden by something as simple as a human pointing in the opposite direction.

The new research, published in journal Learning & Behavior, detailed other animals that have comparable skills.

"Cats can discriminate their own from others' kittens by smell... Among domesticated animals, the pig's olfactory abilities are outstanding and might even be better than the dog's, and pigs can also discriminate between familiar and unfamiliar people's smell. Horses can identify [other horses] based on faeces' smells.

"So the olfactory performance of dogs is not that extraordinary among two of their comparison groups, carnivorans and domestic animals."

Dogs' whiskers are less sensitive than those belonging to cats and seals, and their ability to tell humans' faces apart is about equal to chimpanzees, pigeons and sheep.

When it comes to sound, yes, dogs can hear really high notes - but when it comes to understanding what's been said they're apparently not significantly better than cats or ferrets, and lag well behind chimpanzees and bonobos.

No dog has ever been recorded spontaneously deciding to use a tool, so they're behind crows, apes, elephants, otters, alligators, octopuses, crabs and even some ants in that regard.

For more head to Newshub.