If you search on Google with the phrase “big dogs think they’re salon dogs,” hundreds of results will appear with links to this type of dog – big dogs of 60 to 90 pounds, sitting on (and usually crushing) an unpretentious human being.
And if you’re lucky enough to be the owner of a big dog, you probably don’t need a Google search to know that it’s a confusing (yet hilarious) reality.
On the other hand, small dog owners see the opposite situation: small dogs think they are large. It is a kind of Napoleonic complex; pet dogs think they are the guardians of the house, behaving as if they were tall, frightening and so threatening.
This paradox leads many to wonder: do dogs have any idea about their size?
A study conducted by Péter Pongr-cz at the University of Etvs Loron d in Hungary attempted to answer this question. The researchers investigated whether dogs could match a sound recording of a dog’s growl to the correct photograph.
They found that dogs often recognized the size of a playmate when they heard a grunt. In other words, they discovered that large dogs and small dogs growl differently and that the sound of grunting can be a size indicator for others.
Not convinced? A similar study conducted by Drs. Anna Taylor, David Reby and Karen McComb used stuffed animals of different sizes, associated with grunts, to conclude that dogs actually recognize size by the sound of a grunt.
But what about when dogs don’t growl? Can dogs visually recognize their size? Dominique Autier-Dérian, of the University of Paris, recently conducted a study to find out if dogs could distinguish their congeners from other animals. His results show that dogs certainly recognize other dogs, but he could not draw any conclusions about a dog’s ability to visually discern size within the species.