The Genius of Dogs Book Summary - The Genius of Dogs Book explained in key points
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The Genius of Dogs summary

Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods

Discovering the Unique Intelligence of Man’s Best Friend

4.2 (94 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

"The Genius of Dogs" by Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods explores the intelligence of dogs and the evolution of their special bond with humans. Discover the groundbreaking discoveries made through years of research into our furry friends' capabilities.

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    The Genius of Dogs
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    A dog’s intelligence is grounded in its survivalist skills. Picking humans as companions was genius.

    If you’ve ever seen a dog perform a series of complicated tricks, you know that these four-legged creatures are clever. But just how clever are they, and how can we measure dog smarts?

    Animal intelligence is different than human intelligence, and is better measured in how well an animal has managed to survive and reproduce over time.

    Interestingly, many mammals today are in decline, endangered or teetering on the edge of extinction – but not dogs.

    So how do we evaluate the genius of dogs? A genius can excel in one area of cognition, but remain average or lacking in another. While dogs may not be all-round geniuses, they can be considered specialized geniuses when compared to other closely related species.

    Another signifier of genius is the ability to make spontaneous inferences, which humans do all the time.

    For example, if you’re driving toward an intersection and can’t see the traffic light, yet notice a car entering the intersection from a side street, you infer that your traffic light is red. Dogs too have the ability to infer information from their surroundings, as there are few allowances for trial and error in nature.

    The lasting relationship between humans and dogs throughout history is based on our shared intelligence.

    Initially, people thought early humans raised wolf cubs as companions, animals that evolved into what we know today as dogs. Yet why would our ancestors take cubs away from wolves, wild animals that were intensely feared?

    Humans didn’t need the help of wolves to hunt; in fact, keeping wolves as part of the human “pack” would mean we’d have to hunt more, as a wolf needs up to five kilograms of meat per day to survive. What’s more, wolves are incredibly possessive of their food, and a hungry wolf is a dangerous wolf!

    So the wolf-cub-to-dog theory didn’t make sense. How then can we explain why ancient human graves, from some 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, also included buried puppies?

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    What is The Genius of Dogs about?

    The Genius of Dogs (2013) uncovers the remarkable intelligence of man’s best four-legged friend. By first examining human intelligence, the authors go on to explain exactly what makes dogs so smart, which talents they have in common with humans and other animals, and what sets them apart.

    The Genius of Dogs Review

    The Genius of Dogs (2013) is a captivating exploration of the remarkable intelligence of our canine companions and why they are so unique. Here's why this book is definitely worth reading:

    • Packed with fascinating scientific research and anecdotes, it reveals the astonishing abilities and emotional depth of dogs.
    • Written by experts in the field, Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods, the book offers a comprehensive and authoritative look at the cognitive abilities of dogs.
    • With its warm storytelling and personal experiences, the book is engaging and relatable, making it far from a dull scientific read.

    Best quote from The Genius of Dogs

    Relative to other animals, it is the ability of dogs to understand human communication that is truly remarkable.

    —Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods
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    Who should read The Genius of Dogs?

    • Dog owners or anyone considering adopting a dog
    • People interested in animal behavior and cognition
    • Veterinarians or anyone who cares for or works with dogs

    About the Author

    Brian Hare obtained his PhD from Harvard University and is an associate professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University. His research has been cited in articles published in The New York Times, TIME, Wired and National Geographic.

    Specialising in animal intelligence and behavior, Vanessa Woods is an Australian scientist, author and award-winning journalist. She has written for The Wall Street Journal, BBC Wildlife and The Huffington Post.

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    The Genius of Dogs FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Genius of Dogs?

    The main message of The Genius of Dogs is that dogs possess remarkable cognitive abilities and have a unique bond with humans.

    How long does it take to read The Genius of Dogs?

    The reading time for The Genius of Dogs varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just a few minutes.

    Is The Genius of Dogs a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Genius of Dogs is definitely worth reading if you're interested in understanding the intelligence and behavior of dogs. It offers fascinating insights and research findings.

    Who is the author of The Genius of Dogs?

    The authors of The Genius of Dogs are Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods.