The Chihuahueño, the Spanish word for Chihuahua, is cited by several sources as having the biggest brain in the dog world relative to its body. If this is scientifically verifiable, we’ve not yet found the source, but it’s tempting to deduce that any breed described as “saucy” in its breed standard has to have a fair amount activity going on in its noggin.
That said, research published in Frontiers in Neuroanatomy supports the argument that dogs in general may be smarter than some critters, namely cats, if neurons are anything to go on. Dogs have more than twice as many neurons in their cerebral cortex as does the domestic cat (around 530 million cortical neurons compared to the cat’s 250 million). Since a brain relies on neurons to process information, the more neurons an animal has in its cerebral cortex, the more information it can process, and the more robust its mental capabilities are. By this standard, dogs have the potential for more complex and flexible behavior than cats. This is not a news flash to anyone who’s ever owned a determined cat.
The study adds that this wasn’t just a case of a dog having a bigger brain. A Golden Retriever’s brain has more cortical neurons than an African lion and even a brown bear (also included in the study), even though both of the latter have much bigger sized larger cerebral cortices than the dog. It would seem that a dog packs more neurons into a smaller space.
So maybe that Chihuahua’s brain is pretty special, after all. Two things are for certain. The Chihuahua just might have the world’s biggest personality for its size, and nothing is better at being a cat than a cat.
Image: “Meditating Chihuahua” by John LaFree