Researchers found previous studies on the canine brain sought to prove how clever dogs are

By Kelli Bender
October 03, 2018 03:43 PM
Pug dog making skeptical confused face
Credit: Peter A. Kemmer/Getty

Science is here to hit you with a harsh truth: your dog probably isn’t as intelligent as you think he is.

According to, researchers at the University of Exeter and Canterbury Christ Church University recently compared the intelligence of canines to other species that are considered social hunters — bears, wolves, hyenas, etc.

The researchers, led by Professor Stephen Lea of the University of Exeter and Dr. Britta Osthaus of Canterbury Christ Church University, conducted these comparisons by reviewing more than 300 papers that focused on the intelligence of canines and other animals. The papers assessed the sensory cognition, physical cognition, spatial cognition, social cognition and self-awareness of animals.

After this giant cram session, the researchers found that the cognitive abilities of dogs often came in the on the lower end when compared to those of other similar species.

But what about all the studies that came before this one that celebrate the canine brain?

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“During our work it seemed to us that many studies in dog cognition research set out to ‘prove’ how clever dogs are,” Professor Lea told

Lea went on to say that dogs often get the published win when they do well in cognitive studies, but in most cases there are other species who do just as well, if not better, in the same study. These animals just don’t get the same good press.

Overall, the researchers believe it is dogs who suffer the most from these inflated claims, not the egos of their owners.

“We are doing dogs no favor by expecting too much of them. Dogs are dogs, and we need to take their needs and true abilities into account when considering how we treat them,” Dr. Osthaus told the site.