One study suggests that they are also some of the most intelligent animals humans can own. Results of the study have revealed that dogs can have a special connection with their owner.
The study was conducted by researchers from Eotvos Lorand University in Hungary.
Study results have found that dogs can recognize their owners after only listening to their voices.
Andics Attila, one of the scientists who worked on the study, explained that it was the first to show "that dogs can tell apart their owner's voice from many others." Additionally, it showed how dogs make use of some of "the same voice properties as humans do to recognize who is talking." (Related: Study suggests dogs bring people closer, help humans get along better.)
Earlier studies have suggested that dogs can recognize their owners. But prior to the recent study, it was unclear if dogs could identify them by voice or if they relied on other senses like vision or smell.
To confirm, the scientists invited 28 pet owners and their dogs to play hide-and-seek in the lab. The pet owners hid behind one of two hiding places and a stranger was instructed to hide behind the other.
Next, both the owner and stranger read out recipes in a neutral tone from their hiding places. The dog was ordered to choose one from a distance.
The game had several rounds and included the voices of 14 different strangers. Some of the strangers had voices that were more similar to the dog owners' voices while others were more different.
To make sure the smells didn't help the dogs identify their owners for the last two rounds, the scientists played their voice from where the stranger hid and vice versa.
According to the results, the dogs found their owner in 82 percent of cases, even after the voices were swapped. The scientists think that this suggests that dogs did not use their noses for the task and that they recognized their owners based on their voices alone.
The research team also revealed what it was in the owners' voices that helped dogs to correctly identify them.
If the owner's and the stranger's voices differed more in pitch and noisiness, the dogs were able to recognize their owner's voice. But timbre and other sound properties did not help the dogs.
Anna Gabor, who led the study, said that human sound may be generally characterized by the following properties: pitch (higher or lower), noisiness (cleaner or harsher) and timbre (brighter or darker). If two voices differ in "a property that matters for dogs," it would be easier for them to make decisions, concluded Gabor.
Another study suggests that other animals can match or even exceed dogs' intellectual abilities.
For example, dolphins and chimps "show clearer evidence of motor imitation" than dogs, reported the study authors.
Chimps are more likely to show evidence of deception or empathy. And unlike dogs, chimps can use tools.
Pigeons may be better than dogs at recognizing patterns, and birds have much better navigation skills.
But dogs are unique because they have the ability to perform well across these different categories.
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