Cats vs Dogs Who is smarter?

Do you share your life with a dog, a cat or both? When it comes to who is smarter, who do you think wins the cats vs dogs debate?

How Do We Measure Intelligence?

It can be difficult to measure the intelligence of animals, since they can’t sit down to take a standardized test. However, this is not the only way we can measure intelligence. Both dogs and cats can demonstrate their smarts by learning how to interact with us or their environment to their benefit. We can also look at biological differences, such as brain structure, to better understand the capabilities of each species.

Anatomical differences

Dogs and cats share a similar brain structure to us humans. The amygdala helps recognize and respond to threats. They also have a hippocampus, which is involved with learning and memory. One big difference is the variation in frontal lobe size. The frontal lobe guides movement and vocalizations. In humans, this area takes up about 25% of the brain, in dogs 10%, and in cats, about 3%.

Comprehending Human Language

Dogs cannot understand human language to the extent that we do. However, they can learn to associate specific words with outcomes that are significant to them. A study in Canada reported that dogs can understand about 89 words on average. There have been exceptional cases where a border collie learned to recognize over 1,000 nouns in her 15 years of life. Another case was a dog named Rico in Germany, who learned the names of around 200 items. This goes to show, if the work is put in, dogs can learn to identify an impressive amount of our language.

On average, cats can learn bout 35 words. Even though this seems less impressive than the dog’s 89-word average, cats have much more variety in their vocalizations. They can make about 100 unique sounds, while dogs have around 15. Variation in vocalization can show attempts at communication with us. Maybe humans aren’t as great at learning species-specific language. How many dog or cat words can you understand?

Interacting with Technology

Both dogs and cats have shown that they can interact with computers. Using touch screens is an impressive feat, and dogs and cats can do just that. Studies have shown that interacting with touch screens can help maintain cognition in older animals. It can also help increase their memory skills.

CBARQ and FEBARQ tests

If you’re interested in seeing just how “smart” your pet is, you can complete a questionnaire to compare your pet’s trainability compared to others of the same breed. You can find the test for dogs here and for cats here.

Increasing the Intelligence of your Dog or Cat

Having your furry friend engage in mentally stimulating activities can help increase their investigation, deduction, and memory skills. Scheduling daily training sessions can also help sharpen your pet’s skills. Work on new behaviors and use positive reinforcement to make the experience fun and exciting for your pet. Speak to your trainer about pet enrichment to get more ideas of how to keep their brains in tip-top shape!

Results Are In!

Given the information we have, it is safe to say that both dogs and cats are much smarter than we give them credit for. Both of these beloved species have demonstrated that they can learn a lot given the proper training regimen. Stay in tune with your dog or cat’s body language and vocalizations to try and understand them better. Who knows, they might surprise you with what they have to say!


If you’d like help better understanding your furry companion, reach out to our trainers to help get you on the right path! 786-299-1552