Clever canines: Are dogs really smarter than cats?

canine smarter
Rens Hageman
Rens Hageman

If you're an animal lover, the chances are you like cats, dogs, guinea pigs and all sorts of other pets. You may even share your home with a few of them.

However, the debate over whether our canine friends are smarter than their feline counterparts goes on as vigorously as ever with dog lovers saying their pets must be more intelligent simply because they are easier to train. Cat lovers on the other hand, say their pets are smarter because they tend to “train” their owners and are much too clever to let anyone train them preferring to be doing other important things.

Dogs have larger brains

Research carried out at Oxford University back in 2010 established that dogs have larger brains than cats. Their brains are more developed too which means they are smarter. The study explained that dogs are more social by nature and therefore evolved to have larger brains so they could survive. At the other end of the scale, cats are characteristically more aloof and solitary creatures by nature, as such they had less need to develop a social aspect in their lives in order to survive.

Researchers explained that being “social” equals having to develop “smart” behaviours, this in turn means certain animals have more developed brains, hence dogs are smarter than cats. Other animals with more “smart brain power” include dolphins, horses, monkeys and even camels because they are all social by nature.

Dogs are like two-year old kids

A dog's intelligence is comparable to that of a 2-year old kid and they are more than capable of learning anything up to 165 words. Our canine companions can also count up to five and they boast great problem solving skills. Dogs can, as any owner knows, get quite creative when they need or want to whether they’re being well behaved or very naughty which best selling dog author Stanley Coren believes is much the same as in people. Dogs just love to please, which is part of their need to be social. They’ll watch what their owners do and take it all in because they want to learn what makes people happy when they live in the same environment.

Studies into a dog's behaviour established they are a lot more focused and always ready for a new challenge that humans send their way, literally lapping up the experience with relish. However, cats are clever too, but not in the same way. They are not as trainable as their canine counterparts, but this is not to say they are not intelligent, because as any owner will testify, their pets often outsmart them and get what they want very easily. Cats have evolved to be extremely adaptable which is why they are such good “survivors” in the wild.

However, domestic cats survive in other ways which includes finding the warmest spot to snuggle up and knowing when food bowls are about to be filled with some of their favourite food. However, cats if left to their own devices are perfectly capable of fending for themselves which is something dogs find hard to do. For thousands of years our feline companions have learned the art of survival and they have done so extremely well in many harsh environments. Cats also have very good memories which means although not as easy to train, it is possible, with more cats taking part in agility than ever before! Feline agility really took off in the States a few years ago and over recent times, it has taken the UK by storm too.

The most intelligent dog on the planet

The most intelligent dog on the planet is a Border Collie called Chaser owned by John Pilley. This very smart dog learned to recognise around 1000 toys by name and could find 9 of them on command, proving that this lovely breed are one of the smartest on the planet.


For years people have argued over which of the most popular pets in the world are the smartest. Dog owners claim their pets are more intelligent and cat owners say their pets are far too clever to put up with being trained. However, research has established that dogs have larger and more developed brains than their feline counterparts and they are therefore more intelligent. But this does not mean cats are dumb - quite the contrary, they are just smarter in other ways which includes knowing how to wrap their owners around their little paws when they want something!

6 of the smartest dog breeds

Pack Leaders always want to believe that their dog is the smartest on the block, and while this may be true, a smart dog can come in many forms. Of course, a smart dog is just potential without a human willing to put in the time and effort to train and channel the dog’s intelligence. While all dogs are trainable, it’s important to understand your dog’s inherent abilities in order to know how to motivate him and bring out his natural intelligence.

Here is a list of the 6 smartest dog breeds. Is your dog one of them?

1. Border collie

The Border collie is energetic, affectionate, and - of course - smart. A Border collie dog is a true working dog excelling in sheep herding, athleticism, agility, and cuddling. Border collies are also known for their “herding eye,” an intense gaze used to stare down and herd other animals.

2. Poodle

The poodle is the seventh most popular dog breed and for good reason. Poodles not only are very smart, but they’re also proud, active dogs, with the added benefit of being hypoallergenic. Because of their high intelligence, poodles can be easily trained to track, hunt, retrieve, and obey. In fact, poodles are the national dog of France where they were first used as retrievers.

3. German Shepherd

It’s no surprise that a German shepherd is the second most popular dog breed because they’re courageous, confident, and smart. They are excellent all-purpose workers and are used in a number of specialized situations as police dogs or service dogs. German shepherds don’t always give affection lightly, but they are fiercely loyal family dogs that are great with kids.

4. Golden Retriever

Golden retrievers are intelligent, friendly, and devoted sporting dogs. Goldens take their jobs to heart and try to be the best at what they do, whether it’s hunting, serving as a seeing-eye dog, working in search-and-rescue, or simply being a loving companion.

5. Doberman Pinscher

Besides strength, endurance, and speed, Doberman pinschers have the smarts necessary to retain training in order to be an in-demand police dog or war dog. There is even a bronze Doberman pinscher statue titled “Always Faithful” at the National War Dog Cemetery in Guam to honour the dogs - mostly Dobermans - that were killed in service during the Second Battle of Guam in 1944.

6. Shetland Sheepdog

The Shetland sheepdog is basically a miniature working collie. They are playful and intelligent herding dogs that love to learn new tricks and play with kids. Shelties are affectionate and loyal with their families. But they’re also great watchdogs because they are reserved towards strangers and have a tendency to bark at people.

(Article source: Various)

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