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Dog spots the dog: Dogs recognize the dog species among several other species on a computer screen

Date:
February 14, 2013
Source:
Springer Science+Business Media
Summary:
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. They do that using visual cues alone, according to new research. Their work is the first to test dogs' ability to discriminate between species and form a "dog" category in spite of the huge variability within the dog species.

Apparatus. a, b The dog sits in front of the experimenter, on a line between the 2 screens. c When hearing an order, the dog expressed his choice by going to a given screen and putting his paw in front of the chosen image.
Credit: Image courtesy of Springer Science+Business Media

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. They do that using visual cues alone, according to new research by Dr. Dominique Autier-Dιrian from the LEEC and National Veterinary School in Lyon in France and colleagues.

Their work, the first to test dogs' ability to discriminate between species and form a "dog" category in spite of the huge variability within the dog species, is published online in Springer's journal Animal Cognition.

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. The authors 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. They exposed the dogs to diverse stimuli: images of dog faces; images of non-dog species from 40 different species, including domestic and wild animals; and humans. Overall, the dogs were shown more than 144 pairs of pictures to select from. The authors 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 suggest that dogs can 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 authors conclude: "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. Although humans have stretched the Canis familiaris species to its morphological limits, its biological entity has been preserved."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Springer Science+Business Media. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Dominique Autier-Dιrian, Bertrand L. Deputte, Karine Chalvet-Monfray, Marjorie Coulon, Luc Mounier. Visual discrimination of species in dogs (Canis familiaris). Animal Cognition, 2013; DOI: 10.1007/s10071-013-0600-8

Cite This Page:

Springer Science+Business Media. "Dog spots the dog: Dogs recognize the dog species among several other species on a computer screen." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130214103703.htm>.
Springer Science+Business Media. (2013, February 14). Dog spots the dog: Dogs recognize the dog species among several other species on a computer screen. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130214103703.htm
Springer Science+Business Media. "Dog spots the dog: Dogs recognize the dog species among several other species on a computer screen." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130214103703.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

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