Are we truly more intelligent than our pets?


Are we truly more intelligent than our pets?

As humans, we have a rather large superiority complex which leads us to believe that we are far more intelligent than all other living creatures. However, this may not actually be the case. Many studies have shown that with the correct training, the average pet can complete many tasks just as well as any person can, if not better. Their boundless intelligence is often overlooked because they do not communicate in the same way that we do, and thus has prevented many people from truly understanding their true nature and incredible wisdom. By discussing the intellect of three extraordinary creatures, I hope to be able to further your understanding of your furry friends. 


Man’s best friend is one of the most clever house pets and is even capable of understanding and deciphering emotions. As adult dogs, they are able to use their phenomenal emotional intelligence to relate to their owners. As a result, they are able to develop incredibly strong relationships with people. As puppies, they may not understand what gestures of affection truly mean, but this quickly changes as they grow older and form deeper bonds with their owners. They are soon able to associate these gestures with their owner’s happiness and love for them, highlighting their innate ability to learn. Dogs also have the ability to comprehend about 250 words. However, some greatly exceed the 250 word limit. For example, The Behavioural Processes Journal February 2011 issue featured a study of a border collie named Chaser, who showed that he could understand up to 1022 words!


Pigs can navigate mazes, recognize and express emotions, and comprehend symbolic language. Remarkably, piglets develop their understanding of reflection earlier than people do. There are even piglets as young as six weeks old that are able to locate food when they see it in a mirror. On the other hand, it takes human babies several months to comprehend reflection. Pigs also share quite a few similarities with humans. They share the ability to experience a vast range of emotions and also have the capacity to retain significant knowledge over extended periods of time. Finally, pigs in a Purdue University study was able to play a multilevel version of a game that vaguely resembled Pong using a joystick. This observation not only further demonstrates their intelligence but also displays their shockingly comprehensive understanding of abstract symbols. 


Even though they are not technically pets and are only allowed to be owned by licensed wildlife rehabilitators, ravens are undoubtedly clever and oddly similar to humans. Despite the fact that they have not had a common ancestor in 320 million years, ravens have proven that their intelligence is on par with giant apes and humans. Their sophisticated intellect has developed independently of ours and has surprisingly ended up in the same place. Swedish scientists have even proven that ravens are able to form memories, and remember and identify human faces. Lastly, it has been proven that ravens are able to discuss their ideas with other ravens, and even think about their future. 

The overall intelligence of our pets

Although most pets do not actually possess the same level of “normal” intelligence as humans do, they definitely have much better instinctual intelligence. We know this because they do not have to be taught very much at all and are already born with most of the skills that they require. Even basic tasks as simple as walking have to be taught to young children whereas most animals are merely able to get up and start walking. Unfortunately, the large number of differences between the intelligence of animals and humans will forever prevent us from truly discovering the species with the most intelligence. However, if we are in fact the most intelligent beings on the planet, it is still crucial to remember that we are not the only ones in existence, and that we never will be.