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November 23, 2010

Scientists claim dogs are cleverer than cats

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by Darren Allan

Traditionally, dogs have been seen as loyal but perhaps a little dim in comparison to the clever cat that generally does its own thing, coming back for cuddles and food when it suits.

But apparently dogs can outfox cats in terms of their grey matter, according to scientists at Oxford University. How have they come to this conclusion? Well, it wasn’t through a bark and meow filled bout of animal Mastermind.

The key to the dog’s intelligence, the boffins reckon, is the fact that it has evolved as a more social animal, as opposed to the loner cats.

A report in the Daily Telegraph says that it’s precisely because cats are less social, that they’ve evolved a smaller brain. Living within a group requires more use of your noddle as you have to constantly interact with other members.

Apparently there’s a definite link between brain size and social activity, the study found in its wide ranging look at over 500 species of mammals, both living and extinct.

Head of the research, Dr Susanne Shultz, told the Telegraph: “All dogs are quite good at solving problems, which gives credence to the traditional image of the cunning fox which is a member of the same family. Dogs descended from wolves which appear to have the biggest brains as they live in large family groups.”

Of course, a bigger brain doesn’t necessarily mean that an animal is literally cleverer than another species. Cats can be pretty cunning, as owners will no doubt attest…

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