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Modern dogs have bigger brains than ancient breeds: study

Modern dogs have bigger brains than ancient breeds: study

After spending thousands of years with humans, dogs are attuned to human expressions and their brain has evolved to work with human behaviour. A new study has found the brains of dogs have been growing bigger to keep up with us.

According to researchers in Hungary, modern brains have bigger brains than their ancient ancestors. "Modern dog breeds that are genetically more distant from wolves have a relatively larger brain size compared to ancient breeds that are thousands of years old."

This evolution is likely influenced by urbanisation and spending time in a more complex social environment. Experts think that it is not due to the roles dogs play in a human-dominated environment or the life history characteristics of the breeds.

"Different dog breeds live in varying levels of social complexity and perform complex tasks, which likely require a larger brain capacity. We hypothesise that the selective pressures on the brain can vary within the dog species, and we may find differences in brain size among breeds based on the tasks they perform or their genetic distance from wolves," said Niclas Kolm, a researcher at Stockholm University.

Experts already know that the 400 dog breeds we currently have evolved and developed relatively quickly. They also show great diversity. Scientists are keen on studying dog anatomy and behaviour because they exhibit rapid changes within a species.

This is crucial for researchers focusing on why and how the human brain grew to its current size because it is unusually large for the body size.

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