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Are dogs smarter than cats? Science says...

Sorry, cat lovers!
Dog and surprised cat.
Dog and surprised cat.Alamy
/ Source: TODAY

Dog lovers now have confirmation of what they have known all along.

Sorry Grumpy Cat, it's science.

Dogs are smarter than cats, a new study by researchers at Vanderbilt University has found.

Golden Retriever Puppy
Dogs like this adorable golden retriever puppy are smarter than cats, a Vanderbilt University study has found. Alamy

The study found that dogs have twice as many neurons as cats in their cerebral cortex, which is associated with thinking, planning and complex behavior.

TODAY knows all about smart dogs after seeing our own puppies with a purpose, Wrangler and Charlie, complete their training to become service dogs. We also watched a group of Connecticut prison inmates train dogs to open refrigerator doors, turn on light switches and pick items off the ground so that they could help wounded military veterans. Plus, there is also the K-9 partners assisting law enforcement across the country.

German Shepherd Puppy
Dogs have twice as many neurons in their cerebral cortex as cats, the study found, making them better at complex tasks. Alamy

Dogs have about 530 million cortical neurons compared to 250 million for cats, the study found. Humans have 16 billion, so don't expect Spot to be doing your algebra homework.

"Our findings mean to me that dogs have the biological capability of doing much more complex and flexible things with their lives than cats can," associate professor of psychology and biological sciences Suzana Herculano-Houzel, an admitted dog lover, said in a news release.

Tabby striped cat sitting upright on a brown couch with a red pillow behind his back.
Sorry, buddy. Science says dogs are smarter, but that doesn't mean you're not cute. Alamy

"At the least, we now have some biology that people can factor into their discussions about who’s smarter, cats or dogs."

The Vanderbilt study follows one conducted by researchers for a BBC documentary last year that found dogs love their owners five times more than cats, so dogs are on a roll in the endless debate with cats.

The Vanderbilt researchers also analyzed the brains of a ferret, mongoose, raccoon, hyena, lion and brown bear in addition to cats and dogs. They found that domesticated animals like the ferret, cat and dog did not have a significantly different ratio of brain size to body weight than wild animals like brown bears, hyenas and lions.

“I would bet money on a large dog over a cat any time,” Herculano-Houzel said in a video accompanying the news release. "They have the biological capability of doing much more complex and flexible things with their lives than cats can."