Dogs aren’t really that smart

” Dogs are smart, but they can hardly speak!”

Growing up in a family that likes dogs, I watched my family praise dogs from an early age. One day, I suddenly found that my family praised the dog’s intelligence more often than I did. As a result, when I was young and sensitive, I couldn’t help thinking, am I not as smart as a dog?

Recently, finally a study said:Dogs, in fact, are not as smart as we think..

A study published in the journal Learning & Behavior found that dogs’ cognitive ability is quite average compared with other carnivores, domestic animals and group hunting animals. ” There is no case to show that dogs have superior cognitive ability,” the authors said.【1】

Are dogs smarter than other animals?

Dogs have always been an excellent research object in the field of cognitive research. Because of the universality of dogs and the long history of domestication, we have been able to use a large number, simpler methods, lower costs, easier interaction … to conduct a large number of studies on the cognition of dogs.

However,Studies comparing dogs with other animals are much less. In order to evaluate dogs’ cognitive ability, researchers think they should be considered comprehensively. Therefore, they compared dogs with other carnivores, group hunting animals and domestic animals. The fields of comparison are also quite extensive, such as associative learning, sensory cognition ( smell, taste, vision, hearing, etc. ), spatial cognition, social cognition, etc.

Researchers analyzed more than 300 pieces of research data, and after comparing dogs with other animals, they concluded:Dogs’ cognitive ability is not outstanding.. For example:

Regarding associative learning, researchers have not found any evidence that this ability is limited to dogs.

Dogs can navigate in a narrow space, however, other animals in the control group will do the same.

In terms of sensory cognition, we all know that dogs’ noses are very sensitive, but the noses of other carnivores and domestic animals are no less so. Among them, pigs may have stronger sense of smell than dogs; And horses can identify their own kind by the smell of excrement.

To the disappointment of dog lovers,Dogs are also relatively average in perceiving and using human AC signals.. According to the domestication hypothesis, domesticated dogs are very sensitive to human cues, especially when facing gesture signals. However, the researchers found that other animals can also use this skill, and it is bottlenose dolphins and grey seals that can see human gestures most.


” of course we are not saying that dogs are stupid,” said Stephen E. G. Lea, author of the paper.【2】In a comparative context, dogs have the same skill level as other animals. ” Our focus is more to sayWe haven’t realized that many animals are actually very clever.. “

As soon as the report about the above research was published, WeRateDogs, a well-known pet blogger on Twitter, immediately forwarded his statement ” withdraw” and other dog lovers also said: I don’t listen, I don’t believe …

Then why do dogs look hot and smart to us?

This is partly due to the lack of appropriate comparisons. It is too easy to study dogs because they are really very cooperative. “The human environment is the natural environment of dogs, but this is not the case for most animals.” Davenas Buchsbaum, chief researcher of the Canine Cognitive Laboratory at the University of Toronto, said.

In fact, ” every species has its own unique wisdom,” said Leya, the author of the paper. However, because animals are studied differently and with different degrees of ease, we only saw the cleverness of dogs in the past but neglected many other animals.

In addition to the research of scientists, we have never heard of people around us praising dogs in our living environment from childhood to adulthood. In the occasional contact with dogs, we may also feel it ourselves – dogs are really smart. Dogs will look at and interact with you affectionately. When you are unhappy, it will lie quietly beside you. A trained dog can understand many instructions you give. Moreover, dogs can be qualified for the second pair of eyes of the blind. Through stable and good directional walking ability, guide dogs can bring great help to the life of the blind. Dogs on TV programs are also magical, such as remembering the names of thousands of toys …

What we have seen and heard above will certainly affect our judgment, but in fact,We tend to overestimate dogs’ cognitive ability, which is also related to ourselves.. When people are asked to evaluate certain characteristics of themselves ( e.g. intelligence ), people tend to score higher than average. However, this thinking method will be further extended, thinking that their children are better and their dogs are smarter. This psychological tendency is calledThe Houbigant Lake Effect.【3】

An earlier survey asked dog owners if they were willing to accept a price of one million US dollars to sell their dogs. As a result, 56 % of them said they would not sell them. A study published in the journal Basic and Applied Social Psychology explains that this may be becauseBeauty is in the eyes of the master.They look at dogs too well.【4】

Not the smartest, but a good dog

What’s the use of other animals being smarter? Will they stay with us all their lives?

No, I don’t think so.

As the first animal domesticated by human beings, dogs have lived with human beings for thousands of years, and our friendship is everlasting. Moreover, the company given by dogs may bring you unexpected benefits. The study found that,Dog company is good for your cardiovascular health.. Dog owners have a lower risk of heart disease and death from cardiovascular diseases. The benefits of owning a dog are even more obvious to single people. Scientists believe that there are two possible explanations: first, the companionship of dogs reduces the social and psychological pressure brought by isolation and depression; Second, walking dogs can increase exercise.

Dogs will spend a lifetime studying you, trying to analyze what you are doing, what you are saying, trying to become a part of your life. It is really rare for human beings to have such loyal friends, even if some studies say that dogs are really stupid, so what.


  1. Lea S E G, Osthaus B. In what sense are dogs special? Canine cognition in comparative context[J]. Learning & behavior, 2018: 1-29.
  4. El-Alayli A, Lystad A L, Webb S R, et al. Reigning cats and dogs: A pet-enhancement bias and its link to pet attachment, pet-self similarity, self-enhancement, and well-being[J]. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 2006, 28(2): 131-143.
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Hello, I am a website editor. I've edited more than 10 websites in the last five years. My hobbies are health, life and website technology. For me, writing an article is part of my life.All articles on the page are based on scientific confirmation, not individual speculation, and more source comments will be added in the future.Thank you for reading!

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  1. 28/07/2019

    […] Dogs aren’t really that smart […]

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