How Different are Fido and Rover's Learning abilities?
The study investigated cognitive differences between different dog breeds, including learning ability, memory, problem-solving, social cognition, and inhibitory control. The researchers tested 13 different breeds of dogs, including Golden Retrievers, Labradors, and German Shepherds, and found significant differences in their cognitive abilities.
The study found that breeds differed in their ability to understand human gestures, solve spatial problems, and show inhibitory control in a cylinder test. Some breeds also showed more persistence and directed behavior towards humans in an unsolvable task. Additionally, breeds differed in their behavior towards unfamiliar people, activity level, and exploration of a new environment. However, no significant differences were found in memory or logical reasoning ability.
Overall, the results suggest that breed differences mainly emerge in tasks measuring social cognition, problem-solving, and inhibitory control, and these traits may have come under diversifying artificial selection in different breeds. In other words, different breeds of dogs have been bred to have different traits, and these differences are reflected in their cognitive abilities.
The study highlights the importance of considering individual dog breeds rather than grouping them together based on function or genetic relatedness when studying cognitive abilities. The findings could help us better understand how dogs think and behave, and may also have implications for understanding the heritability of cognitive traits in other animals, including humans.
You can check out the full study here