12 Amazing Dog Brain Facts

1. A Dog’s Brain is the Size of a Tangerine

The brainpower, or the ability to engage in higher-level thinking, is not as developed in dogs as it is in humans. This means that a dog’s brain is about the size of a tangerine. The size of the brain is often associated with its capacity for higher thinking in relation to the body.

Disclosed in the Intelligence edition of Popular Science, a research study unveiled that the proportion of the human brain to body is 1:40. Among all types of canines, the proportion stands at 1:125, suggesting that dogs possess considerably greater cognitive abilities in comparison to other creatures (with the proportion for great white sharks being 1:2,550).

2. A Dog’s Cerebral Cortex Differs From a Human’s

Dog playing with puzzle toy

The primary component of the brain is the cerebral cortex, which exhibits certain resemblances but also significant structural and functional distinctions in the brains of both humans and dogs. The composition of the cerebral cortex stands as the most prominent deviation.

Dr. Gregory Berns, a neuroscientist at Emory University, was the first to conduct fMRI scans to see inside the brain, which is a form of imaging that measures brain activity while the subject is active.

According to Berns’ book, a neuroscientist who loves dogs, the largest part of the canine brain, the cerebral cortex, is radically different from that of humans.

3. Dogs Have Emotions—Just Like We Do

Based on a study conducted in 2015, when a canine and a human engage in eye contact, this interaction generates feelings of love and fondness. This interaction triggers the release of oxytocin, a hormone that induces similar chemical reactions and hormonal changes in the brains of both humans and dogs.

Simply a sense of dread as they anticipate your response is what you might perceive as a canine exhibiting remorse when caught engaging in misconduct. Nonetheless, dogs lack the capacity to undergo more intricate emotions. They also experience enthusiasm, trepidation, fury, anguish, and suffering, much like humans.

4. Dogs Can Experience Depression

Why is it that medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) help with post-traumatic stress syndrome, anxiety, and depression? They are prone to experiencing these emotions just like us, which is why they are also used as anti-anxiety medications for dogs.

According to a study cited by Dr. Jill Sackman, a veterinarian and the owner of Animal Behavior Consultants of Michigan, who holds a PhD in molecular and cellular biology, Prozac was found to be beneficial in alleviating anxiety and depression symptoms in dogs.

She states, “partiality’ ‘positive’ and possess they Prozac on are canines when displaying that research demonstrate that such studies exist. People, just like dogs, have serotonin, which is an important neurotransmitter in the brain.”

5. Dogs Do Not Make Plans

Sackman says that despite a dog’s ability to experience a wide range of feelings, including sadness and happiness, let’s not get caught up in the emotions and live in the moment.

She asserts, “They lead abundant emotional existences.” “However, there is no substantiating proof indicating their inclination to arrange forthcoming occasions–abilities that necessitate the prefrontal cortical advancement seen in advanced primates.”

6. A Dog’s Brain Is Wired to Respond Positively To Rewards

Dog giving high five

Additional studies conducted by Berns demonstrate that positive stimuli elicit a comparable response in the human brain, specifically in the region associated with hand signals linked to rewards in a dog’s brain.

Both dogs and humans have dopamine receptors that are rich in pleasure sensation. The nucleus caudate plays a role in learning by storing memories and processing. All of this comes down to the nucleus caudate, which is part of the basal ganglia in the brain.

Berns wrote an article in Smithsonian Magazine which mentions that the nucleus caudate, a part of the ancient reptilian brain, belongs to the reward system that all mammals, including humans and dogs, have in common.

7. A Dog’s Brain Is Dedicated to Analyzing Smells

Teams utilize trained dogs to conduct search and rescue operations for drugs and explosives. These dogs have a remarkable ability to detect scents and associate them with specific memories, thanks to the dedicated part of the brain responsible for olfaction. Dogs possess an incredibly strong sense of smell.

In his book, Berns describes the distinctions in how humans and canines perceive odor.

He states, “There is no human counterpart to this particular region of the brain.” “When examining the dog brain from the dorsal perspective at the eye level, the olfactory bulb resembles a spacecraft. The section of the brain responsible for smelling, known as the olfactory bulb, is significantly larger in the dog’s brain,” he states. While the dog’s brain may initially appear to be a miniature version of the human brain, there is one region that is noticeably more prominent in dogs.

8. Dogs Can Recognize Human Faces

Dogs have developed their own guide to recognize human faces and understand visual and emotional cues, using behaviors which evolved through their brains’ evolution. Furthermore, dogs use smell more than humans to recognize.

Laura and her team found that dogs have a knack for recognizing human faces by studying brain scans. They specifically designed the bilateral temporal cortex, a region in the brains of animals, to recognize faces of the same species. This research was conducted at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

When exposed to human faces instead of pictures of common objects, the brain scans revealed heightened neural cell activity in the temporal areas.

The study affirms that dogs have an exceptional talent for distinguishing between two humans, even if they are both well-known to them. Additionally, they possess an astonishing capacity to perceive subtle yet significant cues in a human visage.

9. Dogs Can Dream

Dogs participate in everyday tasks such as pursuing squirrels and vocalizing at the mail carrier, thus it can be inferred that dogs fantasize about regular activities. Dogs possess the ability to dream, implying that the electrical activity patterns in human and canine brains share similar stages.

Neuroscientists Matthew Wilson and Kenway Louie from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) studied the activity of neurons in the hippocampus of rats, which suggests that dreaming serves as a function of the brain.

The hippocampus is crucial in the encoding and formation of memories because it is more complex than a dog’s brain, making it reasonable to conclude that they dream as well as rats.

10. Dogs Are as Smart as a Two-Year-Old Child

Dog and toddler look out window

Mathematics in mathematics or young children aged three or four, and they can outwit a three or four-year-old in mathematics. Canines can acquire a vocabulary of up to 165 words, which is equivalent to that of a two-year-old human, and scientists, such as Dr. Stanley Coren, have conducted evaluations in both linguistic and numerical domains to assess children’s abilities. These studies have concluded that dogs possess intelligence comparable to that of a toddler.

Coren expresses in his book “How Dogs Think, Understanding the Canine Mind.” It appears fitting that we bestow the same to dogs, assuming we acknowledge two-to four-year-old humans with awareness and logical thinking, thus, without any evidence suggesting otherwise.

According to Dr. Sackman, it is crucial to educate them in fresh abilities, intellectually enhance their lives, and enhance interaction with their companions. Utilizing brain teaser activities and puzzles is vital in order to maintain dogs mentally stimulated since they possess the capability and enthusiasm.

11. Dogs Are Smarter Than Cats

A study published in the journal Neuroanatomy in Frontiers in 2017 concluded that dogs are smarter than cats based on the higher amount of neurons present in their brains, which allows them to exhibit more complex behavior and plan and think at a higher capacity than animals.

Humans possess approximately 16 billion neurons, whereas dogs exhibit more than double the amount of neurons in comparison to cats (530 million vs. 250 million cortical neurons). This research involved the enumeration of neurons in the brains of various animal species.

12. Dogs Might Experience Brain Freeze

It’s delightful to see dogs slurping up a bit of dog-friendly ice cream on a hot summer day, which could cause a temporary headache and make them quickly eat cold foods.

Sackman states, “‘Freeze brain’ refers to phenopalatine ganglioneuralgia (discomfort in the sphenopalatine nerve).” “However, we cannot confirm this with certainty.” “It is logical to anticipate that both dogs and humans may experience comparable feelings when consuming a cold or icy delicacy, given that they possess analogous neural formations on the upper part of their mouths.”

Blend them in with typical treats or offer your canine frozen treats in small amounts to avoid nerve tingling. Canines might not be aware to cease eating when they encounter brain freeze, whereas we do.