This is heartbreaking news: your best friend isn't as bright as you think he is, finds new research.
According to a new paper published in the journal Learning & Behaviour, dogs aren't smarter than other animals.
After analysing more than 300 existing studies on animal intelligence, lead author Stephen Lea, from the University of Exeter, set out about comparing dogs to equivalent species.
“Dogs are special, but they’re not exceptional,” says co-author Britta Osthaus, a senior lecturer in psychology at Christ Church University in the UK.
“They’re smart, but they’re not stand-out smart.”
Dogs fit into three classes: carnivorans - meat-eaters, social hunters and domesticated pets.
Osthaus and Lea compared dogs to other species in those three categories.
They chose wolves, wild dogs and hyenas, cats, dolphins and chimpanzees and horses and pigeons.
Interestingly, results from testing found that these animals matched or exceeded dogs' abilities to problem-solve as well as social intelligence.
“They’re the only species at the middle of these three categories, so they are rather special,” continues Osthaus. However, in each of the three categories, “you will find other animals or other species that will do as well as dogs, or maybe even better.”
“We like our dogs to be very clever, and we like them to be appreciated,” adds Osthaus. “We need to take into account that dogs are dogs. We need to be fair toward dogs, to know what their limits are, so we don’t expect too much.”
“If we know a lot about the cognition of pigs or goats, then we need to look into their welfare and how we keep them.
“If they have needs for social interaction and for mental stimulation, then we need to provide that.”
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