Arguments between cat and dog owners as to which species of the two is the smartest will never end well, such is the passion of these respective pet owners. But before we go too much further, neither species is the smartest of all the domesticated animals. The unlikely winner in the intelligence stakes is the domestic pig which displays the largest number of intelligence traits according to most scientific research. But that’s another story!
Science tells us that dogs have twice the number of neurons in their cerebral cortexes than cats have, which could suggest that dogs are twice as intelligent as cats. Dogs not only follow directions but are brilliant readers of human body language. They are capable of understanding subtle gestures, facial expressions and even human moods, being equivalent to a 2-year-old child. As well, dogs are able to tell if you are sad or happy. Our canine companions are capable of understanding nearly 250 words and are able to count to 5! In tests they have even been able to perform simple mathematical calculations.
With more than 220 million olfactory receptors in their noses, the nose of a dog is 1 million times more effective than the human nose, which only has 5 million receptors. Therefore dogs are being taught to detect cancer in humans as well as identifying explosives, drugs and other noxious substances, even hunting down escaped criminals. They have also been trained to withdraw money from ATM’S for their disabled owners. Dogs can detect the sex, age and condition of other dogs by simply smelling their urine. Dogs don’t sweat like humans, their noses evaporate fluid from them which helps them keep cool. Their hearing is vastly superior to that of humans. With ears that are able to rotate they can maximise and pick up sound waves that we humans cannot. Dogs also have 3 eyelids. The third acts as a windscreen wiper for clearing away dirt from the eye.
How have dogs become so smart? 10,000 years of domestication has given the dog a unique opportunity to becoming adept at reading human instructions and moods. And that makes them canine psychologists!