They can sit, lay down, rollover, shake hands and perform many other tricks on command, but those abilities don’t necessarily make your dog smart.
A study in the journal Learning & Behavior compared the ability to take commands and the problem-solving skills of dogs and other carnivores and domestic animals to see if man’s best friend had special qualities or unique skills lacking in other species.
Researchers used existing behavioral data on wolves, cats, chimpanzees, pigs, dolphins and pigeons and compared it to data on dogs. Behavior data such as “sensory cognition, physical cognition, spatial cognition, social cognition and self-awareness” was used.
“There is no current case for canine exceptionalism,” researchers concluded. “Dog cognition is, no doubt, unique, because the cognition of every species is unique.”
The study doesn’t say your dog isn’t smart, just that it isn’t “exceptional.”
That doesn’t mean your dog doesn’t excel in some areas. The study found while they’re not great at interacting and understanding objects around them, known as physical cognition, some canines appear a little above average in social cognition, scientists said, particularly when following commands from humans.
But the bottom line?
“When a broad-enough set of comparison species is considered, there is no current case for canine exceptionalism,” according to the researchers.