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Fascinating study shows dog breeds have distinctive brains

different dog breeds have distinctive brains © Unsplash

We all think our dogs are smarter than most and it turns out, you just might be right! An exciting new study has shown that different dog breeds have uniquely different brains.

By Natasha James, 5 Sep 2019

At first, this might not seem all that surprising to you, there’d be a whole lot of space in a Great Dane’s head if its brain was the same size as a Chihuahua’s after all! But we’re not just talking size. Different breeds' brains work differently and it looks like this could all be dependent on what specific tasks they were originally bred for.

The science behind the study

Researcher Erin Hecht, a professor in human evolutionary biology at Harvard University, has always been fascinated about how human evolution is affecting our canine counterparts. She teamed up with veterinary neuroscientist Marc Kent from the University of Georgia to find out whether human evolution is also affecting the evolution of the species we come into contact with.

Different dogs. Different skills.

With Kent’s input, Hecht and her team were able to analyse brain scans of lots of clever pooches (62 dogs from 33 different pure breeds) and see that different breeds see their brains in different ways. The research indicates that dogs like Golden Retrievers, who were bred to retrieve birds and other animals, have great spatial navigation and exceptional eye movement. In other words, everything they need to be good at retrieving! The findings continued to surprise across the breeds studied.

According to Hecht, the findings not only show the complex way that doggos' brains evolve, but also indicate that we could eventually use neuroscience to train pooches for complex missions such as rescue work.

However smart our dogs are, we know one thing for certain, they’re all very good boys and girls.