People who think dogs are exceptionally intelligent are barking up the wrong tree, new research shows.
Scientists reviewed evidence that compared the brain power of dogs with other domestic animals, other social hunters and other carnivorans (an order including animals such as dogs, wolves, bears, lions and hyenas).
The researchers, from the University of Exeter and Canterbury Christ Church University, found the cognitive abilities of dogs were at least matched by several species in each of these groups.
The study examined more than 300 papers on the intelligence of dogs and other animals, and found several cases of “over interpretation” in favour of dogs’ abilities.
“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.” Paper. (open access) – Stephen E. G. Lea, Britta Osthaus. In what sense are dogs special? Canine cognition in comparative context. Learning & Behavior, 2018; DOI: 10.3758/s13420-018-0349-7 More.
Doubtless, but then chimpanzee and gorilla intelligence is probably greatly overrated too, though the drivers are different. As far as some people are concerned, intelligence tests will always be unfair to apes and KoKo the gorilla will always be “able to talk.”
We are not really objective judges.
Note: The same researchers were going to do a hit on cat intelligence but something very bad happened to them in the middle of the night and all their data disappeared amid a monstrous yowling noise so … cf “Tales from the UD News Virtual Coffee Room” 😉
See also: A top anthropology finding of year show humans cognitively closer to dogs than chimps
Is the octopus a second genesis of intelligence?
Are intelligence tests unfair to apes?