Our smart pets

This Saturday, February 26, the Salon de l’Agriculture opens. The largest farm in France opens its doors to visitors until 6 March. Cows, horses, goats… These are not the only protagonists of this show. There are also pets, such as cats and dogs. This meeting is an opportunity to focus onintelligence of our favorite animals for which some preconceived ideas persist.

dog and cat returning from vacation

Animals are no longer considered mindless beings. Numerous scientific works underline the existence of a animal intelligence. In the 1960s, primatologist Jane Goodall’s observations had completely challenged our common view of animals and their cognitive abilities, particularly those of chimpanzee.

Today theintelligence of dogs is clearly recognized by their actions and their integration into certain medical programs, namely the support of visually impaired people orautistic children. Their skills are such that some dogs are part of training programs. breast cancer cell detection.

What does science tell us about animal intelligence?

Who has never seen a video that demonstrates the feat of one of our four-legged friends like A cat who manages to open a door oa dog waiting hidden behind a wall to scare his master?

Thousands of videos circulate on the net and reveal animals capable of performing gestures and adopting behaviors that are sometimes close to human ones. However, several scientists question the fact that the the works on animal intelligence that refer to human intelligence are ultimately biased.

guide dog

Indeed, recent work demonstrates thisthere is no animal intelligence, but several. On the occasion of the World Animal Intelligence Day, held on February 5, Sabrina Krief, lecturer at the National Museum of Natural History, explained: “It is not necessarily our intelligence that is the most efficient. For example, migratory birds have much more important capabilities than locating in space.“.

Each animal has intelligence with some degree of variability. For Emmanuelle Pouydebat, research director at CNRS and specialist in the evolution of animal behavior, “there is such diversity in these skills that […] there is no point in comparing or classifying“.

Animals would therefore have a specific intelligence, different from ours. And who meets us daily?

Are dogs smart?

Most dogs are perceived by society as intelligent beings. Scientists Juliane Kaminski, Julia Fischer and Josep Call were the first to publish research gifted dogs specifically about a dog named Splint.A test was set up to prove that Rico, a Border Collie dog, had the ability to do this understand 200 words and memorize them for several weeks.

While not all dogs are as gifted as Rico, they all have a own intelligence. Emmanuelle Pouydebat indicates that to measure the intelligences of animals “there are very cognitive and sometimes quantified things (degree of memorization, learning, understanding, anticipation, etc.), but also more ecological things related to adaptationlike the ability to adapt to a new environment. That’s why dogs are able to do some actions while others are not .

female dog owner

In a book called The intelligence of dogspublished in 1994, determined by researcher Stanley Coren three types of intelligencein dogs:

  • innate intelligence : it is specific for each breed;
  • adaptive intelligence : the dog adapts to its environment to solve problems;
  • working intelligence : refers to the ability to learn and obey human beings.

Some dogs would therefore have different intelligence depending on their genetics..

Are some dog breeds smarter than others?

In a 2019 study, researchers from several universities suggested this large dogs would be smarter than small ones . The small dogsthey have a harder time remembering the location of a cake hidden under a cup or resisting the urge to eat forbidden food.

For some specialists 51% of canine intelligence is related to genetics . This then explains why one breed is favored for a particular action over another. For example, the Labrador has the privilege of accompanying the blind on a daily basis german shepherdsthey are the majority among dog teams.

Dogs with some intelligence are as follows:

Among the dogs they have good learning skillswe distinguish:

As for the little dogs cross breed, called bastards, would be no less intelligent than thoroughbreds. No studies have shown that this type of dog was less capable than the others. Some researchers even believe they have more developed skills than purebred dogs.

Are cats less intelligent than dogs?

In a study from Vanderbilt University, published in 2017, scientists concluded this dogs are smarter than cats . For this, they relied on the number of neuronscontained in the cerebral cortex of our pets. They counted 500 million for the dog and 250 million for the cat. The number of neurons was established as a reflection of an individual’s intelligence.

So, would cats be less intelligent than dogs?

Definitely, nothing confirms it . The domestication of the catcaused some cells in their brains to disappear, but without reducing their capabilities. On the contrary, this domestication allowed them to develop a highly significant intelligence in reasoning, memorization and observation.

Cats also have the ability to develop sound-based mind maps. This is what emerges from a study published in 2021 in the journal PLOS and conducted by doctoral student Saho Takagi of the University of Tokyo. The various tests revealed that cats can detect a human presence by sound even when in another room and beyond. No matter where its owner is, the cat immediately knows which room it is in simply by sound.

They map his location from his voice, which attests to socio-spatial cognition […] It turns out that they mentally imagine the invisible presence of their human companion“, Explains the doctoral student.

This ability also challenges a widely held idea that cats are more indifferent than dogs!

In summary, our favorite pets are no more stupid than others! Each of them has their own intelligence.

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