Smart Dogs

Study Reveals How Smart Dogs Really Are By Identifying Faces from Photos

We’re learning more and more about dog intelligence, with new studies and research emerging all the time about how bright our four-legged friends are. We’ve all got stories about how smart our dogs can be and how they’re able to outsmart us even on our best days, but sometimes it’s nice to have a little outside proof to back it up.

New Test on Dog Intelligence Confirms What Many of Us Already Knew

Last month, I read a story about new research from Dr. Dominique Autier-Dérian from the LEEC and National Veterinary School in Lyon in France. Using visual cues alone, Autier-Dérian and his colleagues determined that dogs could actually pick out the faces of other dogs among a sea of faces of humans and other domestic or wild animals.

In other words, dogs recognize other dogs.

This may be a massive “duh” moment for those of us in the know, but it is interesting to see this type of test put some facts behind it.

The test done in France on dog intelligence is actually the first of its kind to test the ability of dogs to discriminate between species and actually formulate a “dog” category in their minds.

The research will be published in the journal Animal Cognition online.

We already know, of course, that individuals from the same species connect socially. These connections require us to recognize who is and who isn’t from the same species, although with some people you never can really tell. Research tells us that some species recognize their own species’ more easily than others.

To make matters more interesting on the dog side, their species is among the most varied on the planet. More than 400 breeds of dogs have been registered alone, making it the largest morphological group we know of. Would this diversity create problems when it comes to dogs recognizing the dogs? Or is Fido really that smart after all? As the research revealed, Fido really is that smart.

How The Research was Done

Researchers used a line-up of nine dogs and showed them pictures of faces from various dog breeds to go with faces of other species, including people. The dogs were exposed to various stimuli, including images of dog faces, images of non-dog species from about 40 different species, and images of human beings. In total, the dogs were shown over 144 pairs of pictures.

The researchers observed whether or not the dogs could make a choice from any type of dog (remember, there are over 400 breeds) from the other species’ presented. They also saw that dogs could group all dogs together into a single category, holding them apart from other species.

So what does this tell us? Dogs can form a “visual category” of dog faces and can group images of different types of dogs into a single “dog category.” In the study, all nine dogs could group the images of the dogs into the same single dog category.

This study reveals a great deal about dog intelligence and how much our four-legged friends are capable of. The next time your dog looks like he or she is thinking things through, he or she may really be grouping you into your very own “human category.” Imagine that.