Are Cows Smarter Than Dogs? Facts About Both

Cows learn faster than dogs, have excellent memories and have excellent problem-solving skills. However, they are on-par with the intelligence of canines and are more emotional whereas the dog is more inquisitive. 

When it comes to farm animals, there is nothing like the cow. Let’s delve into the differences between the both.

The Science of Cow Intelligence

Scientists say that the cow is quite an intelligent animal that can remember things for quite extensive periods of time. Animal behaviorists say that cows form friendships and even hold grudges against other cows who had treated them badly.

They also say their level of intelligence goes as far as being able to recognize facial appearances/expressions. If you had kindly introduced yourself to a cow, after a long period of time that cow would still remember you.

They did various interactions with a cow and monitored how it responded to them. A cow’s cognition was also tested with a maze with food placed inside and the cow was able to find the food.

Their cognitive abilities don’t stop there either. A singular cow can physically remember you by recalling the activity that you last did together, by linking their past experiences and reacting in accordance with them.

Isn’t that a MOO-zing?

Are Dogs Smarter Than Cows?

Dogs are known to be a man‘s best friend. Dairy cows, however, are slaves to humans for their use in slaughterhouses, factory farming, and in the dairy industry for decades if not centuries now, and they don‘t get the love and recognition that they deserve.

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The first cow to ever be spotted was 10,500 years ago. This means they are quite sturdy and strong mammals and have developed differently over a long period of time. Scientists say that cows experience anxiety, and the evidence showed that the cow can experience emotions—reactivity in terms of fear, nervousness and discomfort, and social bonding associated with stress reduction—indicates that cows are conscious in this sense.

white dog and dairy cow with fence

This doesn’t prove that Cows are smarter than dogs. They simply do not have the same cognitive ability as the dog. Dogs are capable of learning tricks and they can do problem-solving puzzles. Whereas the cow is able to solve a logical puzzle but not learn tricks as easily.

Their animal intelligence stretches beyond experiments (maze searching and invisible displacement tests) and have been able to show their true animal behavior and cognition. Another study highlights that older cows retained what they had learned a long time ago so you really can teach an old cow new tricks!

On average, a Dog’s intelligence is measured at a 2 to 2.5-year-old child. To humans, having a dog would be like giving birth to Peter Pan who never grows up. However, with cows, their intelligence is measured at a 3-year-old child with a brain size of 400-500 kilograms.

They are extremely sociable creatures like dogs, and they can recognize up to 50 cattle members and assign them tasks based on their capabilities in the herd. These intelligent creatures are a social bunch and love to build strong bonds with other cows.

Cows also have a good sense of social hierarchy. This means that when cattle form together they all equally assess each other and even designate ‘Boss Cows’ and climb on the Cow‘s social ladder.

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Dogs however only have an alpha female/male hierarchy and the omega which is the lowest ranking of them all. There isn’t a level of skill required to climb up the dog’s social hierarchy Here it’s just muscle and a good growl!

Dogs however can recognize body language from both humans and other animals. The main communication that takes place with your canine friend will be through various facial expressions and body language from both beings.

Are Cows the Smartest Animals?

Cows as we have discussed are highly intelligent animals who are able to make quick decision-making when they recognize human faces as an example. This mammal in the animal kingdom definitely defines the art of intelligence and emotional intelligence beyond what we could have ever comprehended.

Cattle (also called bovines) have been an interesting source of research for some scientists. They have realized they can socially interact with each other but lack any real form of self-awareness, or at least as much as we can measure.

black dog and brown cow

They measured this by allowing a cow to deliver their goods and having a reward for it at the end. Most cows who were rewarded within the delivery showed that their excitement increased as there was a reward to praise the cow for their hard work.

In any case, you could say that the cow recognized itself as progressing and reaping a reward at the end. However, the study conducted did not find this evidence sufficient to declare that it was in fact the cow having self-awareness.

You would think that Cows were pretty smart and to a certain degree – they are! However, primates such as the chimpanzee are the smartest of all animals in the entire animal kingdom.

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Just like our canine friends the dog, who is known as man’s best friend the cows also love humans just as much. They enjoy being petted, stroked, and scratched behind the ear – just like a dog!

Conclusion – Who’s Smarter? A Cow or a Dog?

In short, cows seem to be a lot more emotionally intelligent than our canine friends. However, their ability to logically solve puzzles and so on doesn‘t stop there with the cows. They can solve most problem-solving puzzles and more!

Both are prey animals and they both interact with humans at a satisfactory level to communicate effectively. It is a profound discovery that cows and dogs operate similarly but also very different socially.

dog and cow playing ball
What a mooo-vellous animal!

It seems that cows are closer to human interactions that they form societies and different levels of status within them. Whereas Dogs just distinguish between Alpha and Omega beings.

Dogs are smarter because they are able to prove such sciences with evidence that has been produced over and over again with the same conclusive results. Whereas cows, the research is inclusive due to the certain methods conducted during each study.


Born in Malta but raised in Kent, the garden of England, Yasmin learned that the chicken was an important species to our natural survival. She became fascinated and compassionate about all things cow-related which led her to become Vegan for 3+ years. Today in 2022, she lives in Malta with a passion for all things that have naturally grown up on farms.

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