Have you ever looked at your pooch and wondered just what’s going on in his head? From chasing his favourite plaything, to walkies in the woods, it might surprise you to learn there’s a whole other world going on in his canine brain…
Does size matter?
Dog brains are only about 1 tenth the size of their human counterparts (give or take) but that’s not to say your dog is 1 tenth less clever than you. It’s true that science has proven your pooch to be have the smarts to match a toddler however, the structure of their brain in relation to creating emotions has been shown to match analogous structures in humans.
Proof that intelligence can be measured in more than one way.
It’s all in the nose
A dog’s sense of smell is known to be much more sensitive than a humans; 10,000 to 100,000 times greater to be exact. But did you know that a part of this is down to your doggies brain? That’s right, your pals noggin allocates 40 percent more space in regards to analysing smells than us humans. So the next time you think you’ve got it bad when Dave from downstairs pops by for a cuppa with his ‘unique scent’, just think how Fido feels.
They have a way with words
Your pal has the brain capacity to understand the meaning behind new words. Yep, studies show that the average pooch can understand about 165 words. A portion of these are basic command words, such as ‘sit’ ‘stay’ and ‘fetch’ but as long as a word is tangible, there’s a high possibility that your dog might be able to understand it.
So be careful next time you feel like confiding in your partner about Rex’s bad breath. He just might be able to understand you. Check out Chaser, the Clever Border Collie if you need hard proof. His extensive vocabulary reaches just over a 1000 words.
Gregory Berns, a neuroscientist at Emory University, USA, was the first in his field to use a technique, which looked at the brains of awake and unrestrained dogs.
In a 2012 experiment, Berns and his team were able to highlight that the same brain regions that become alert in expectancy of a reward in humans also light up in dog brains when they expect none other than a frankfurter.
Talk about a hot dog!
From canine to canine
In the same way that not all human brains are made equal, the same can be said for your four-legged friend.
A 2010 study from the University of South Wales concluded that breeding is having a fundamental impact on the dog’s brain. Scientists here were able to show that selective breeding of domestic dogs is not only dramatically changing the aesthetics of said animal but is also responsible for mega changes in the canine brain.
One such finding was that the brains of certain short-snouted breeds have rotated forward as much as 15 degrees, while the brain region controlling smell has relocated. A significant step into looking at the future of the domestic dogs grey matter and how their functions might be affected by such breeding.
Over and snout.