How and why the dogs have become the new chimpanzees for cognitive scientists?

J. Topál, Kiss Orsolya

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


As a result of its special domestication history including developmental socialization and adaptation to the human environment, the domestic dog (Canis familiaris) proved to be comparable with the apes for modelling human social cognitive abilities. The dog besides many other capabilities is sensitive to human visual cues, attached to his owner, capable of making itself understood without using language, understands the intentions of the owner, cooperates with humans during everyday activities, and shows "baby-like" characteristics in its social communication skills. Surprisingly, the scientifc research of the dog's behaviour did not start until the late 1990s. The turning point of scientifc interest was primarily due to a new approach that allowed researchers to investigate specifc aspects of dog-human interactions, the exceptional social sensitivity of the dog, and the role of communication signals in learning. Here we review the most important motivations and moments of this process, which - in a relatively short time - has gained wide-spread interest, and has the potential to answer the questions regarding the functionality of human behavioural components, and can also be used to model the early state of human social evolution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)591-607
Number of pages17
JournalMagyar Pszichologiai Szemle
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2017


  • Comparative cognition
  • Dog
  • History of science
  • Social behaviour

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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