A dog knows a dog when he sees one
Despite all we’ve done over the centuries to manipulate their shapes, sizes and appearance — even though Chihuahua, shar-pei and Afghan hound don’t much look like members of the same species — a dog knows a fellow dog when he sees one.
And, though we commonly give the dog’s nose all the credit, they can do so using visual cues alone, according to new research published in the journal Animal Cognition.
As summarized by Science Daily, the study by Dr. Dominique Autier-Dérian from the LEEC and National Veterinary School in Lyon in France, is the first to test dogs’ ability to discriminate between species and form a “dog” category — an impressive feat given the huge variability within the canine species.
Autier-Derian and his team explored whether — with 400 breeds and the greatest morphological diversity of any species — dogs have trouble recognizing other dogs as dogs.
On a computer screen, the researchers showed nine pet dogs pictures of faces from various dog breeds and cross-breeds, along with faces of other species, including humans.
The results showed all nine dogs recognized members of their species, strictly by looks.
“The fact that dogs are able to recognize their own species visually, and that they have great olfactory discriminative capacities, insures that social behavior and mating between different breeds is still potentially possible,” the study’s authors concluded. “Although humans have stretched the Canis familiaris species to its morphological limits, its biological entity has been preserved.”
(Image: Springer Science+Business Media)
Posted by jwoestendiek February 18th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, appearance, breeds, categories, cognition, diversity, dogs, morphological, pets, recongition, research, science, shape, size, study, variability, visualization