Washington: Size might matter after all, for a new study shows that bigger dogs may be smarter than their smaller counterparts.
According to Discovery News, researchers in New Zealand have hypothesized that a wider set of eyes in big canines gives them better depth perception. As a result, they can more easily discern the direction a person is pointing.
William Helton of the University of Canterbury and colleagues put 104 dogs to the test -- 61 large dogs (greater than 50 lbs) and 43 small dogs (less than 50 lbs).
The dogs were first briefly trained to retrieve food from a bowl. Then, while a dog was being held by its owner, two bowls with food were placed in front of the dog at the same time.
After making eye contact with the dog, the researcher pointed with an outstretched finger for less than a second toward a bowl, then refolded his arms. The dog was then released and allowed to go to a bowl. The test was repeated 20 times for each dog.
Helton found that larger and mid-sized dogs were clearly better at making the correct choice than the little dogs. The smaller dogs were definitely less able to follow the pointing cue.
The results are published in the September issue of the journal Behavioural Processes.