See Spot See

FRIDAY, March 1 (HealthDay News) -- It's a dog-see-dog world. With no sniffing involved, dogs can recognize the faces of other dogs among the faces of humans and other animal species, according to a new study.

Researchers in France found that dogs could pick out fellow dogs and put them in a group of their own, regardless of their breed. They did this through visual cues alone, revealed the study, which relied on computer screen images to test recognition.

The study was published online Feb. 14 in the journal Animal Cognition.

Previous research has shown that some animals are more attracted to members of their own species, according to a journal news release. However, the study authors noted that domestic dogs have the largest morphological variety among all animal species, with more than 400 registered pure breeds of dogs.

To test their ability to recognize their own species, nine pet dogs were shown 144 pairs of pictures of various dog breeds and cross-breeds along with 40 different animals and humans.

All nine dogs were able to form a visual category of dogs despite the wide diversity in the breeds they were shown, according to researchers led by veterinarian Dr. Dominique Autier-Derian, of the LEEC and National Veterinary School, in Lyon.

"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," the study authors wrote.

More information

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has more about animal cognition.

SOURCE: Animal Cognition, news release, Feb. 14, 2013

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