Are Grumpy Dogs More Intelligent Than Happy Dogs?

Dogs that have grumpy faces are somehow adorable. We’ve seen pictures of these pooches pasted across the internet and on social media. They’re the ones that get so many likes and thumbs-up responses. A grumpy face doesn’t necessarily mean that a dog has a mean personality though. Why are we attracted to dogs with grumpy faces? The answers might surprise you

Grumpy Dogs

According to The Guardian, grumpy dogs tend to be smarter than happy dogs. Studies conducted on dogs with a grumpy appearance and a grumpy attitude confirm that the intelligence levels tend to be higher. The happy dogs will follow you from room to room wagging their tails and begging for attention. On the other hand, a grumpy dog is the one that tends to ignore its owner, bark t the least irritation, and respond with a curt and sharp attitude. He’s not a tail-wagger unless you give him good reason and a grumpy dog can be difficult to please but is there an upside to the situation?

The study on grumpy dogs

A researcher and expert on dog and human interactions from the Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest explains the findings on research into the intelligence of grumpy dogs. The characteristics that you find in grumpy dogs suggest that this is an animal that thinks things out before taking any kind of action. They’re more serious-minded and do not tend to make assumptions. It’s a higher order of cognitive processing that is a maker of higher intelligence.

How the study was conducted

According to TVNZ, researchers put a treat behind a wire fence that was shaped in a V. The purpose of the test was to determine how the dogs would solve the problem to get to the treat. What happened in the test is that the happy-go-lucky dogs would smash straight into the fence in an attempt to get the treat. The grumpy dogs took a step back to assess the situation, then ended up taking the longer route that led directly to the dog treat on the other side of the fence without the need to try to fight the fence to get through. The results of the study were based on the amount of thinking and problem solving that the two different personality types put into the situation to get to the reward.

Inferences from the study

The inferences made from the Hungarian research study on grumpy dogs are that they possess a greater set of problem-solving skills and they’re deeper thinkers. A second inference is that grumpy dogs would be easier to train because of a higher intellect. It further suggested that dogs that tend to bark when it’s feeding time, and that are easily irritated by their owners are smarter, but is this the case?

Expert agreement on the matter of grumpy dog intellect

According to the New York Times, some experts agree that the dogs that snarl and growl, and throw attitude show signs of a higher intellect and higher order of cognitive processing. They tend to make more logical decisions when problem-solving. They are the ones that guard their food and are suspicious of other animals near the dish at feeding time. They let others know how they’re feeling and don’t mind hurting your feelings if you’re getting in their way or cramping their style. That goes for humans and other animals equally. But is this kind of attitude a sign that they’re smarter?

According to Herald-Mail Media, all dogs can eventually figure out how to get to the treat that was hidden behind the V-shaped fence, but there is another angle to consider. Most dogs respond to cues from strangers and it could be that the ability to accept the cues that were given. It took the happier dogs longer to accept the cues from the strangers administering the test but does this necessarily mean that they are less intelligent, or could it possibly be that they tend to be more distracted than the grumpy dogs.

Differing points of view

Although the study yielded some points worth considering, not all experts on dog behavior agree with the findings. Some suggest that all dogs love to learn new things. Going back to the original Guardian piece, the author of the report commented that there are also drawbacks to being grumpy. It’s much about attitude and although it could easily be inferred that the grumpy dogs were more intelligent than the happy ones, it’s not an exact science for measuring intelligence. What about emotional intelligence? Does the grumpy dog get everything she wants from being irritable or does he get more reprimands from his owner when he is being mean? What about the happy dog that loves to please its owner? Some happy dogs train very easily and they’re more fun to be around.

Final thoughts

There is evidence that suggests grumpy dogs think at a lighter level than happy dogs, at least when it comes to getting a doggie treat from behind a wire fence. The results of the research are compelling in suggesting that grumpy dogs are smarter than happy ones, but without further investigation into the matter, we’ll have to leave this as a maybe. Experts lean towards believing that grumpier dogs likely are more intelligent, but some have enough doubt that they can’t fully endorse the conclusion yet. Either way, it’s an interesting study and it’s generated a lot more questions about dog intelligence and if personality traits are indications of the level of intelligence a dog possesses. More studies comparing ease of training may help shed more light on the matter

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