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Who’s Smarter? Big Dogs versus Little Dogs

According to a new study published in Animal Cognition, bigger dog = bigger brain = smarter pup.

Researchers at the University of Arizona used data from over 7000 dogs representing 74 breeds. The data came from the citizen science website where dog owners can test their dogs cognition with instructed game-based activities. The user data is submitted to the site, permitting researchers to access it.

The researchers compared brain weight and size to function. Overall, large dogs performed better than small dogs on tests of short term memory and cognition.

For example in one test of self-control, a treat was placed in front of the dog. The dog was instructed not to take the treat while the owner covered their eyes or turned away. Large dogs waited longer than smaller dogs before snagging the treat.

To test short term memory, owners placed treats under over turned cups and waited a set amount of time before releasing their dog to get the treat. Smaller dogs had more trouble remembering where their owners hid the treat compared to larger dogs.

However, brain size was not correlated with social intelligence, inferential or physical reasoning ability.

Previous studies of brain size versus cognitive ability have historically been performed in primates. The team at University of Arizona is interested to further investigate how cognition evolves. Brain size is clearly related, but how is the question.

So, what say you, who’s smarter – big dogs or little dogs?

Link to the article here:

Photo by Charles ?? on Unsplash



Dr. Christie D’Andrea