Do Dogs Know Other Dogs are Dogs?

Posted: Feb 2, 2016 in February 2016

Pavlov is riveted by rabbits, smitten with squirrels, captivated by cats. Regardless of size, shape or appearance, she always seems to know a dog is a dog; not one single case of mistaken identity. I always assumed this was based largely on her keen sense of smell.


Researchers in France were kind enough to explore the question of whether dogs can identify other dogs based upon appearance alone. Their findings were published in Animal Cognition. Two of the subjects were purebred (one Labrador Retriever and one Border Collie). The remaining seven subjects were mutts. All nine dogs were able to differentiate between never before seen dog faces and non dog faces (humans, cats, rabbits, cows, sheep, gerbils, reptiles, birds, etc.) regardless of whether the images were displayed in profile or head on.  In spite of the vast variety of dog appearances, this study demonstrated that dogs can differentiate between dogs and non-dogs based solely on appearance.