New study claims dogs are 'not exceptional' and people are outraged

New study claims dogs are 'not exceptional' and people are outraged

When it comes to our pets, we like to think that they're beyond criticism and that they're the best and brightest animals in the world ... despite all evidence to the contrary. Take my own dog for example. I know that the little guy has roughly the same IQ as a parsnip. If you take his ball and hide it under the rug, then he'll be completely bamboozled and assume it's disappeared. He's not bright - but woe betides anyone else who suggests that he's stupid. That's guaranteed to get me mad.

However, this week canine lovers on social media were outraged, by a new scientific study which claims that the intelligence of dogs is "not exceptional" and that the cognition of your average doggo is much the as many other species. The study was published in the scientific journal Learning and Behaviour, and was titled: "In What Sense are Dogs Special? Canine Cognition in Comparative Context.

Authors Stephen Lea and Britta Osthaus noted: "Considering the social hunters, again it does not appear that dogs are exceptional. As noted above, among the noncarnivoran social hunters we find two taxonomic groups, the chimpanzees and bonobos, and the bottlenose dolphins, whose cognitive capacities are clearly superior to those of dogs on some tests (e.g., in self-consciousness); and although dogs do better than chimpanzees at others (e.g., using the behaviour of other animals, especially a human, as a cue), this ability seems to be widespread among carnivorans, and some other carnivorans perform better in these tasks than dogs."

They added: "In the present state of our knowledge, we are led to a simple conclusion: When a broad-enough set of comparison species is considered, there is no current case for canine exceptionalism ... On the basis of the evidence we have reviewed here, those circumstances are sufficient to account for the nature of dog cognition: It is what we would expect of cognition in a domesticated socially hunting carnivoran."

However, dog lovers were quick to defend their pooches, and when social media users shared the study, they were hit with significant backlash. For example, one Twitter user wrote: "As several have noted: only one species has trained another to supply its food, housing, health care, transportation, breeding, exercise, family and affection needs, be its Gigantor The Space Age Robot and PICK UP ITS POOP. Dogs are not just geniuses they are THE geniuses. [sic]"

However, others seemed more supportive of the study. One person added: "There's a lot of outrage in the replies to this tweet. But not from me. My dog is so dumb, if brains were dynamite, he wouldn't have enough to blow his nose. But he's cute, so I keep him around ..."

So what do you guys think? Personally, I think that people are overreacting. The study didn't say that dogs are dumb; just that, comparatively, they're not exceptional.