How Dogs Are Man's Better Friend

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It’s a claim that’s sure to put the cat among the pigeons.A study into character, intelligence and usefulness shows dogs are better pets than cats – but only by a whisker.In the ‘great pet showdown’ experts compared 11 traits from brain size to environmental impact by looking at research published in scientific journals. Dogs came out on top in six categories to cats’ five.

Staff at New Scientist magazine first listed the areas where cats fared best. These included having bigger brains in proportion to their body size.Cats’ brains also contain more cells, with about 1.4million more devoted to complex functions such as memory and attention than dogs’ brains.

The cats’ second point was awarded for being more popular, with 204million living in the top ten cat-owning nations compared to 173million dogs in the ten countries where canines are most in vogue.Felines also get more attention from humans, with blissed-out purrs actually disguising a call to be noticed that their owners find irresistible.Although dogs can vary the length, range, pitch and frequency of their barks, they cannot compete with the attention-seeking of cats.It is a similar story when it comes to senses. Cats can see in lower light than dogs and have a far wider hearing range and a keener sense of smell.

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They are said to be ‘greener’ pets because their smaller appetites equate to a smaller ecological footprint – the area of land required to farm their food. Even a small dogsuch as a chihuahua has a bigger annual footprint than the average cat.ut in the other six categories examined – many of which related to how the animals interact with humans – dogs had the edge.

Dogs have a longer shared history with humans, and may have been domesticated as long as 135,000 years ago. Cats are relative newcomers to our homes. Similarly, dogs have a greater ability to bond with their masters.

Even four-month-old puppies choose a human companion over another dog, research has shown.Dogs scored a third point for their superior powers of understanding.One study found that a border collie called Rico had mastered the meaning of more than 200 words.Dogs can also follow human gestures, such as an outstretched finger or a nod of the head to find food.

While this may not seem impressive, chimps struggle to do it. The ability to perform roles such as being a guide dog for the blind meant dogs were rated better than cats when it came to their problem-solving abilities.And they are also said to be easier to train.

With the scores tied at five-all, the deciding point was awarded for usefulness – with dogs coming out on top.Dogs, studies show, help cut human stress, while taking them for walks keeps their owners fit and helps them meet new people. New Scientist says: ‘Dogs can hunt, herd and guard.

‘They can sniff out drugs and bombs; they guide blind and deaf people, race for sport, pull sledges, find someone buried by an avalanche, help children learn and possibly even predict earthquakes.’And in a conclusion bound to set tongues wagging, it adds: ‘Cats are good if you have an infestation of rodents

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(source)

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