Dogs can recognize their species among several other animal species on a computer screen, a new study has found.
Dogs pick out faces of other dogs, irrespective of breeds, among human and other domestic and wild animal faces and can group them into a category of their own, according to the research by Dr. Dominique Autier-Derian from the LEEC and National Veterinary School in Lyon in France and colleagues.
Individuals from the same species get together for social life. These gatherings require recognition of similarities between individuals who belong to the same species and to a certain group. Research to date has shown that in some species, individuals recognize more easily, or are more attracted by images of, individuals belonging to their own species than those belonging to another species.
Autier-Derian and team studied this phenomenon among domestic dogs, which have the largest morphological variety among all animal species. Indeed, more than 400 pure breeds of dogs have been registered.
They explored whether this large morphological diversity presented a cognitive challenge to dogs trying to recognize their species, when confronted with other species, using visual cues alone.
On a computer screen, the researchers showed nine pet dogs pictures of faces from various dog breeds and cross-breeds, and simultaneously faces of other animal species, including human faces.
Overall, the dogs were shown more than 144 pairs of pictures to select from. The researchers observed whether the nine dogs could discriminate any type of dog from other species, and could group all dogs together, whatever their breed, into a single category.
The results suggested that dogs could form a visual category of dog faces and group pictures of very different dogs into a single category, despite the diversity in dog breeds. Indeed, all nine dogs were able to group all the images of dogs within the same category.
"The fact that dogs are able to recognize their own species visually, and that they have great olfactory discriminative capacities, insures that social behavior and mating between different breeds is still potentially possible," the researchers concluded
Their work has been published online in Springer's journal Animal Cognition. (ANI)