Dogs could be smarter than cats, says study

A new study has confirmed something that dog lovers everywhere may have already realised - dogs have the brain power necessary to make them smarter than cats.

People reports that research published in the journal Frontiers of Neuroanatomy found dogs' cerebral cortexes have twice the number of neurons - the cells responsible for thought - than cats.

For the study, researchers examined the neuronal density and brain sizes of eight species - dogs, cats, bears, lions, hyenas, ferrets, mongoose and racoons.

Dogs came out far ahead of cats, with twice as many cortical neurons. On average, the dogs had 530 million to cats' 250 million.

However, brown bears were in the same league as cats, coming in with the same number of neurons, while racoons had surprisingly more neurons than their small brains suggested.

It's not quite time to celebrate dogs' win over cats though. Researchers say, even though their findings might lead people to the conclusion dogs could be smarter, more testing needs to be done.

"While our finding of larger numbers of cortical neurons in dogs than in cats may confirm anecdotal perceptions... that dogs are easier to train and therefore 'more intelligent', cat owners would probably protest and rightly so," said lead researcher Suzana Herculano-Houzel.

"Any argument about their cognitive capabilities, at this point, will be largely a matter of opinion, until direct systematic comparisons of cognitive capacity are performed across these and other species."