Dogs are known for being man’s best friend, loyal companions that are meant to be by our side, and in our homes. Horses can also be our best friend in a different way than a dog. The question is, are horses smarter than dogs?
However, you cannot write the history of mankind without horses, as without them, we would have not achieved as many feats.
Both animals are incredibly well-loved by most people and have a huge place amongst humans. But which one is smarter?
It’s hard to compare intelligence across different animal species, as intelligence can manifest in different ways. It’s hard to claim that one or the other is the smartest because they both have different strengths and weaknesses!
With that said, all we can really do is compare them both, contrasting where they excel, and what makes them smart in their own way. So let’s get right into it!
How Do We Define Intelligence?
If we’re going to debate about whether horses are smarter than dogs, or vice versa, then we have to figure out how we are going to be defining intelligence. After all, it can present in so many different ways that it can be hard to compare the intelligence of one creature to another.
Is intelligence being able to solve some maths problems? Could it be solving puzzles? Is it being able to survive on its own without the help of humans? What does intelligence look like in an animal?
We could go down many routes. But we are going to look at intelligence as different base abilities, such as being able to adapt to the surrounding area, being able to make decisions and optimize life, being able to understand and retain information or knowledge, and being able to connect in a social environment or with humans.
Mainly, we will focus on how intelligence presents in both horses and dogs, and then we will compare their emotional intelligence and social skills, as well as their knowledge retention and understanding of concepts. So…let’s move on to all that!
Intelligence In Pray VS Predator
One of the most important things to look at, when debating whether horses are smarter than dogs or not, is how intelligence presents in both animals, as they can’t directly be compared.
The main difference, is that horses are prey animals, and dogs are predators, and this massively shapes and affects how their behavior is, and how they react to their environment and surroundings.
Traits Make the difference
For example, as a prey animal, horses have a very strong instinct of self-preservation, and are always on high alert, watching out for dangers. If something goes wrong, the horse’s instinct is to run away. However, they will also alert other members of the herd as they do so.
Their food is simple enough to obtain, as they just sort of munch on grass that they find…everywhere.
Many animal behaviorists agree that prey animals have a more alert type of intelligence, in which they learn to survive by predicting the patterns of predators. And their observation skills can go a long way too!
Dogs, on the other hand, are predator animals. As such, they act mainly on instinct and have a very proactive approach to solving problems. If something goes wrong, a dog’s instinct will be to fight and approach head-on, which can sometimes be the stupider thing to do.
With food, predator animals have to go out hunting, meaning they have to work for it and have to be smart about how they go about it. They need to conserve energy, learn when and where to strike, and predict the patterns of prey animals.
So as you can see, both animals can have amazing skills and strengths, but they manifest in completely different ways because their instincts take different approaches to life in general. In some situations, the horse would be smarter, but in others, the dog would prove far more intelligent. So it truly depends!
Emotional Intelligence And Social Skills
Both horses and dogs are highly sociable animals, so how will their emotional intelligence compare? Horses have a slight advantage in that they are herd animals, and therefore most of their instinctive survival depends on how well they can read the reactions and feelings of those around them.
However, dogs are notoriously one of the best pets and work extremely well with others when properly trained.
reading human emotions
Both horses and dogs are very good at reading human emotions, and understanding their owners. However, dogs do so by spending almost every waking moment with humans, and horses can do so instinctively, with no need for training or spending time in close quarters.
This is why we would argue that horses are smarter than dogs when it comes to managing social interaction, and emotional intelligence.
Horses are able to pick up on body language and small cues in a human’s reaction to things, and they can very quickly understand what is going on around them based on other creatures they see nearby
For example, you know how they say that horses can smell fear? They can pick up if you are uncomfortable, and if you are afraid then they will take it as a sign that they should also be afraid and alert, as something is clearly wrong.
Dogs, while they are definitely emotionally intelligent, need a lot more training and have to spend time in social situations. If a dog was to be alone in the wild, it would not be as emotionally intelligent as a horse in the same situation.
Knowledge Retention In Horses VS Dogs
When it comes to knowledge retention, many people will quickly assume that dogs have the upper hand. After all, dogs are notoriously good at training and can learn plenty of tricks and commands pretty quickly. From a simple “sit” to more complex tasks.
In fact, dogs are even trained to guide blind people, or to perform security missions!
However, horses are also easily trained and are trained in equal measure. From dressage tricks to the many competitions that they take part in, horses work very hard to be in sync with their riders, so that there is mutual understanding and tasks can be performed to the best of their abilities.
Their knowledge retention is pretty equal, basically. But what we will say, is that on average, dogs are faster to train.
So…are horses smarter than dogs? What is the conclusion?
We can’t confidently say that horses are smarter than dogs, or vice versa, as both animals showcase great signs of intelligence in different areas of their behavior.
Horses take the lead in social skills and emotional understanding and are equal to dogs in training. But dogs have predatory skills to show off. So…yeah, it’s pretty much a draw!
Essentially, both horses and dogs are incredibly intelligent and are amazing. A win-win.