Friday, March 4, 2016

How Do Dogs Recognize Other Dogs?

How do dogs recognize each other, especially when their shapes and sizes are so different? For instance, how do they know that all the animals at the dog park are dogs?

Afghan and Pug

Researchers says they use visual cues.

Dogs have the largest morphological variety among all animal species.  (If humans had as much size variation we would stand between 3 to 12 feet tall, and weigh between 30 to 500 pounds.)

Two hundred pound Great Dane and three pound Yorkie
The researchers wanted to know if the vast variety of shape and size presented a challenge to dogs trying to recognize their own species.

They found that dogs form a visual category of dog faces. And they group those pictures of very different dogs into a single category, despite diversity. In other words, from Pug to Greyhound, Chihuahua to Great Dane, dogs immediately know a dog when they see one.

Scientific American has a really good article about the research.

Or read the journal article:

Visual discrimination of species in dogs, Animal Cognition, July 2013, Vol 16, Issue 4, pp 637-651