Ah, dogs. We all love our furry friends, and most owners of the happy animals would probably say that their dog is pretty smart. According to a recent review of animal cognition studies, however, dogs may actually not be as smart as we thought. They do, however, have a special set of skills that set them apart from other animals.
Aren’t Dogs Smart?
Scientists have been studying dogs for years; but for a while, when they were more focused on studying primates, dogs got put to the wayside. Then scientists started focusing on dogs so much that one scientist recently noted that canine intelligence was probably oversold with all the research that went on. So yes, our pups are smart, but their “unique” intelligence may have been a bit exaggerated.
What Are We Comparing Dogs To?
Dogs can be put into three different groups, and scientists have compared them to other animals in those groups. Our canine friends are carnivores, domesticated animals, and also social hunters that work together to take down prey (at least, their ancestors were). Scientists did various cognition tests to compare the intelligence levels of animals within each group.
Perhaps surprisingly, dogs didn’t really stand out in any of the three groups. Raccoons proved to be better at puzzle-solving, for example, and hyenas responded better to cues from other members of their pack. Even dolphins scored higher in tests of self-consciousness than dogs did. But the way dogs did perform made them stand out for a whole different reason.
A Not-So-Very-Particular Set Of Skills
Even though dogs didn’t outscore other animals in any individual category, what’s interesting is that dogs were able to perform relatively well across multiple categories, which other animals in the three groups were not able to do. Dogs are also currently the only animal that fit across those three groups specifically, which makes them and their skills even more unique.
What’s So Important About Canine Intelligence?
Apart from just learning how to better understand our canine companions, who perform such important jobs from sniffing out bombs to even sensing upcoming seizures, studying dogs’ intelligence and learning how they think could actually lead a lot of other important discoveries. Since dogs are so comfortable around us, we can study them with a lot more ease and learn more about animal cognition in general.