Jilian J. Bandelaria 6-Mary Mother of the ChurchScience News#1 August 31 2010
SIZE MATTERS IN CANINE SMARTS
All larger dogs appear to be better at following pointing cues from humans than smallerdogs, which makes them appear smarter.It's possible that bigger dogs appear smarter not just because they are bred for takingorders, but because their wider set eyes give them better depth perception. As a result,they can more easily discern the direction a person is pointing.This latter hypothesis was tested by researchers in New Zealand, who think there mightbe something to it."We do know that dog breeds are different," said William Helton of the University ofCanterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand.Human breeding has created dogs with huge physical differences, like shorter snouts formore powerful bites. Even the internal structure of dogs eyes can vary among somebreeds, he said.But can something as simple as the distance between the eyes is a factor too?To see if all larger dogs in general were better at discerning human pointing cues, Heltonand his colleagues put 104 dogs to the test -- 61 large dogs (greater than 50 lbs) and 43small dogs (less than 50 lbs).The dogs were first briefly trained to retrieve food from a bowl. Then, while a dog wasbeing held by its owner, two bowls with food were placed in front of the dog at the sametime. The experimenter then stood six to eight feet away from the dog with folded arms.After making eye contact with the dog, the researcher pointed with an outstretchedfinger for here are theories galore about why some dog breeds appear to be smarter thanothers, but new research suggests that size alone might make a difference.Less than a second toward a bowl, then refolded his arms. The dog was then released andallowed to go to a bowl. The test was repeated 20 times for each dog.