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Why are dogs more intelligent than cats?

  1. Jan 11, 2017 #1
    My dog seemed to be more creative and has more emotional reactions.. my cat seemed more dull.. what is the exact simple reason? What part of brain a dog has that a cat doesn't have (or not developed)?

    Have you met a cat more intelligent than a dog?
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  3. Jan 11, 2017 #2


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    Please post sources.

    I had cats that taught themselves how to use the toilet and to turn on the water faucet when they were thirsty, and to open doors. Things my dogs never did. So post sources proving dogs are more intelligent, what does your research show?
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2017
  4. Jan 11, 2017 #3
    it's from personal experience.. my cat is just so dull.. he looked at you and nothing.. but my dog not only looks at you.. he can get near to you and comfort you when you are sad.. are you saying dog and cats are similarly intelligent? why don't we have more cats as pets then?
  5. Jan 11, 2017 #4

    This article comes down on the side of dogs with some caviates. Your personal experience is not a basis for deciding. There are many breeds of dogs and what one might judge as intelligence is known to vary among breeds. Domestic cats show less variation and less emotional dependence on their human hosts than dogs. IMHO, dogs look at their owners as "pack leaders" while cats look on their owners as "meal tickets". Despite the article, I don't think it's a settled question.
  6. Jan 12, 2017 #5


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    We do.

  7. Jan 12, 2017 #6


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    Obviously the individual animals vary. Some cats seem dull but some others seem smart. Some dogs are dull but other dogs are smart.
  8. Jan 12, 2017 #7


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    This question is not well phrased, because intelligence is not just a linear scale. If one group is better at one class of problems and another group is better at a different class of problems, then which one is more intelligent? It depends on how heavily you weight the ability to solve the one class of problems over the other.

    For example.... Chimpanzees show much more ability to reason abstractly and manipulate objects based on that reasoning (of course we humans are the absolute undisputed all time super champions at this) than dogs do. However, dogs are incomparably better than chimpanzees at understanding and reacting to human emotions and body language. We may say the chimps are smarter because as tool-makers and abstract thinkers ourselves we tend to weight their abilities more highly, but if you've ever played poker for stakes higher than you can afford to lose at.... You'll have a lot more appreciation for the intelligence of dogs.
  9. Jan 12, 2017 #8
    I don't think it is intelligence per se, I train dogs. Dogs have been selected for traits to assist with human tasks. Dogs are also selected in some breeds for so called bidability and submissiveness.

    Dogs that did not meet these requirements were simply shot. Multiply this by hundreds of dog generations and you get herders, retrievers, hunters, guardians........

    Cats have never had to work so they have never had the selection pressure dogs have had for thousands of years.

    My herder does not know why it feels compelled to compulsively herd. My retriever could never herd.

    Most vertebrates are equally trainable from chickens to whales and the same principles are used.

    I even see rats now being used instead of detection dogs.

    The modern dog has far less selection pressure and the valuable traits are being lost hence breeds like the most iconic service dog in the world, the german shepherd, are becoming extremely dull, stupid and useless. Incidentally they are also becoming physically crippled.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2017
  10. Jan 12, 2017 #9


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    Dogs are more submissive, cats are more assertive. You can tell a cat to do something and he'll look at you like you've lost your mind.

    Over the last month, I've read two very, very sad stories of fires where infants were found dead where in one instance a cat had died trying to protect the infant from the fire by covering the infant with it's body when even the infant's parents had left the house and the same where the family dog had done the same for an infant. Both the cat and dog could have left and saved themselves but had chosen to stay covering the infant in hopes they would be saved in time. :cry:
  11. Jan 12, 2017 #10


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    Because you lost to them?

  12. Jan 12, 2017 #11
    Before I started this thread. I thought responses would be "It's obvious because dogs have more developed brain than cats".. and I wanted to know what exact brain parts more developed in dogs.. perhaps the cortex.. but then it seems you folks think they are similarly developed? I didn't know that.

    But since they are different species. How do their brains (dogs and cats) really differ?
  13. Jan 12, 2017 #12


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    You will need to start a new thread in biology and furnish sufficient research and sources to start a discussion on such a topic, you cannot just start such a topic without doing your own research and providing sources first.
  14. Jan 13, 2017 #13
    I agree you would want to do some initial research for yourself to start a good topic; without that it's not much more than a gossip thread. But I wouldn't just look at "brains" - behavior is probably more relevant, and that's primarily what folks who study intelligence look at.

    Reading up on the literature would show you some interesting metrics. For example, the whole "Theory of mind" business, relating to social cognition, is very interesting for comparing relative "intelligence" - it's been used to evaluate human social/intellectual development but also w/ animals, e.g. self-recognition in a mirror has been tested with many species. And plain old problem-solving tests (*"How do you get to the food cache??") have been used to evaluate corvids, wolves, etc. etc. It's a HUGE field. Cats and dogs are no doubt in there somewhere, though neither scores well on TOM tests; dogs are good at responding to human facial expressions but apparently this is rather different than having a well-developed TOM for other individuals. If you want really smart animals, look at the usual candidates: whales, dolphins, birds (esp. corvids and parrots, but perhaps some others as well), and primates. (EDIT: Yes, possibly pigs too, as mentioned by @Evo, below; and there could be others; e.g. more recent studies have shown songbirds to demonstrate much more in the way of complex learning than had previously been thought.)

    FYI, in humans TOM is also related to topics such as "folk theory of mind", which comes out of "folk psychology"; and thus related to attribution theory; etc. Such topics, like TOM, are related to social cognition, but not related to animal intelligence. So maybe you'd want to start off your lit search w/ "animal intelligence," and only later get into TOM for animals, as it is really a subset of animal intelligence research.

    An interesting aspect of dogs vs. cats is that wolves & other wild canids tend to be pack hunters, while the big wild cats tend to be solo hunters (with lions an exception); and pack hunting calls for social intelligence whereas solo hunting doesn't. Also it's well established that wild animals tend to be smarter than their domesticated kin, e.g. wolves are far better problem-solvers than dogs; probably because they must do more of this to get food, evaluate threats, etc. - see this 2013 article from Science. There is also at least some research, apparently, showing that feral populations of dogs may experience pressure that results only in smarter individuals surviving - see this 2010 article from Popular Science about someone researching packs of feral dogs in Moscow.

    Some links -

    Wikipedia, "Theory of mind in animals" - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_mind_in_animals

    Julian Paul Keenan et al, 2003, The Face in the Mirror: The Search for the Origins of Consciousness - pretty good pop-sci summary of TOM research & why it matters in investigating animal & human intelligence - https://www.amazon.com/Face-Mirror-Search-Origins-Consciousness/dp/006001279X

    Bertrand Malle, a researcher at Brown U. whose works I've read & who I've briefly talked with - "Folk Theory of Mind: Conceptual Foundations of Social Cognition," a chapter from a very interesting if now-dated 2006 book https://www.amazon.com/New-Unconsci...484294657&sr=8-1&keywords=the+new+unconscious - http://cogprints.org/3315/1/Folk_Theory_of_Mind_03.pdf

    Alvin Goldman, a chapter on TOM from the 2012 Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Cognitive Science - http://fas-philosophy.rutgers.edu/goldman/Theory of Mind _Oxford Handbook_.pdf.pdf
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  15. Jan 13, 2017 #14


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  16. Jan 13, 2017 #15


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    I still think cats are the smartest, they look at us like we are some kind of fools when we try to put them through tests, yet they do incredible things on their own. :oldbiggrin: But truly, pigs really are the smartest.
  17. Jan 13, 2017 #16
    Related to this, Edward O. Wilson has written rather movingly in his book Biophilia on how domestication of animals such as wild pigs tends to render useless their complex social intelligence; given that such intelligence is capable of being expressed only in their original social & physical environment. The passage below is from the chapter titled "Bernhardsdorp" (a rural village in Surinam):

    A tame peccary watched me with beady concentration from beneath the shadowed eaves of a house. With my own, taxonomist's eye I registered the defining traits of the collared species, Diocotyles tajacu: head too large for the piglike body, fur coarse and brindled, neck circled by a pale thin stripe, snout tapered, ears erect, tail reduced to a nub. Poised on stiff little dancer's legs, the young male seemed perpetually fierce and ready to charge yet frozen in place, like the metal boar on an ancient Gallic standard.

    A note: Pigs, and presumably their close relatives the peccaries, are among the most intelligent of animals. Some biologists believe them to be brighter than dogs, roughly the rivals of elephants and porpoises. They form herds of ten to twenty members, restlessly patrolling territories of about a square mile. In certain ways they behave more like wolves and dogs than social ungulates. They recognize one another as individuals, sleep with their fur touching, and bark back and forth when on the move. The adults are organized into dominance orders in which the females are ascendant over males, the reverse of the usual mammalian arrangement. They attack in groups if cornered, their scapular fur bristling outward like porcupine quills, and can slash to the bone with sharp canine teeth. Yet individuals are easily tamed if captured as infants and their repertory stunted by the impoverishing constraints of human care.

    So I felt uneasy--perhaps the word is embarrassed--in the presence of a captive individual. This young adult was a perfect anatomical specimen with only the rudiments of social behavior. But he was much more: a powerful presence, programmed at birth to respond through learning steps in exactly the collared-peccary way and no other to the immemorial environment from which he had been stolen, now a mute speaker trapped inside the unnatural clearing, like a messenger to me from an unexplored world.​
  18. Jan 13, 2017 #17
  19. Jan 13, 2017 #18
    Cats are a good argument against fine tuning and the anthropomorphic principle.

    The universe was thus finely tuned to create life to serve the every wanton needs, whims and gratuitous desires of cats.
  20. Jan 13, 2017 #19
    Isn't too much inbreeding responsible for much of this? And isn't there still a sort of "selection pressure" - for a breed to look a certain way?
  21. Jan 13, 2017 #20
    Inbreeding is misunderstood. You should discriminate line breeding from inbreeding. The only way to set traits and type is by line breeding within families.

    This will increase the frequency of recessives but can also be used to eliminate recessives. The only way to identify carriers is to inbreed, then culling should occur. If line bred animals don't carry recessives they can not spontaneously emerge unless you cross breed.

    Line breeding requires great knowledge of the lines. Modern breeders rarely posses this knowledge, they just breed whatever is convenient.

    Breeding for colour is the most destructive practice known, also the most common. Customers prefer certain colours, health and temperament be dammed. The wrong colour pups are usually culled even tho they might have superior health.

    Lots of genetically deformed dogs are bred to get preferred colours.

    Modern dog breeding is typically barbaric, it happens because buyers are ignorant.

    If the PF allows it I can produce more info on why your dog is most likely from a puppy farm and is a genetic disaster.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2017
  22. Jan 13, 2017 #21
    EDITED: Just read your revised post; that's very helpful.

    Inbreeding in dogs seems to get blamed in casual conversation among lay folks as a cause for many health problems, including bad hips. However here's an article from the Institute of Canine Biology outlining causes & prevention of hip problems which seems to say other factors are more important: http://www.instituteofcaninebiology...ant-things-to-know-about-canine-hip-dysplasia
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2017
  23. Jan 13, 2017 #22
    Read my edited post. Without line breeding breeds as we know them do not exist. Careless linebreeding causes genetic nightmares, but equally so does careless crossbreeding. They are both bad when done poorly.

    The deal is you test extensively for health over generations before you pair two dogs. Most don't do it because it costs time and money and brains.
  24. Jan 13, 2017 #23
    Member warned about posting misinformation
    If dogs are overfed, can they be as fat as pig?

    I also wonder why pigs don't bark.

    What purpose why dogs exist.. and pig? (evolutionally speaking?) I mean gorilla exist to climb trees. How about dogs and pigs?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 14, 2017
  25. Jan 13, 2017 #24

    jim mcnamara

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    The existence of a species or the non-existence of a species has nothing whatever to do with a purpose. Evolution does not work that way at all.

    Humans have the ability to ascribe meaning to almost anything. Especially when there is
    no real meaning possible like 'a lucky pair of socks'

    In the past this behavior helped us survive. Here is a story and some background.
    (Note to math types - simplified this A LOT, so no apoplexy required, please)

    Beta is the probability of Type II error in any hypothesis test. It tells us if we are
    incorrectly concluding no statistical significance. Saying something is false when it is really true

    Alpha is the probability of Type I error in any hypothesis test - wrongly claiming
    statistical significance. Saying some thing is true when it is not true.

    Tiger chow:
    This dumb but essentially correct story helped a lot of my students to get Type I and Type II.

    Have you ever seen faces in clouds? Are there really faces up there or is this a construct
    of some hard-wiring in the brain?

    Long time ago, two people are walking home. They see a bush way up ahead. Person A says:
    'It kinda looks like there is a tiger behind that bush'. Person B says: 'I dunno, but that is
    the shortest way home'. Person A and B go their own chosen ways. Most of the time B gets home,
    but sometimes winds up as tiger chow. Person A is much less likely to be tiger chow.
    Long term people behaving like Person A contributed more offspring to the gene pool.
    Person B is committing Type II errors long term. And not around to have and raise kids.

    Type II == tiger chow! Type I is more harmless. Why we see faces when there are none
    most times. Or get that creepy uneasy feeling in some places.

    I just answered this very same kind of question two minutes ago... :smile:
  26. Jan 13, 2017 #25
    Every overfed animal will increase stored fat levels. How does that imply barking, non-sequiter.

    Gorillas exist to climb trees???

    Do trees exist to be climbed by gorillas?

    Does wool exist to grow sheep?
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