Skip to Content

5 Real Reasons Why Dogs Are Smarter Than Horses (2023)

Are Dogs Smarter Than Horses

Predators and prey seem like they’re worlds apart. 

But you’ll be surprised about dogs and horses. 

In reality, these 2 animals have a lot of similarities.

However, most people think that dogs are smarter than horses.

But in what clever ways do Fidos outwit Ponies? 

I’ll guide you to the real answers.

Continue reading to find out:

  • 3 fun facts about pups and ponies.
  • Amazing similarities between horses and dogs.
  • 5 real reasons why dogs are smarter than horses (must read #1 and #3).
  • And a lot more…

5 reasons why dogs are smarter than horses

#1: Dogs are predator animals 

Even as your furry friends… 

Dogs still have some of their wild instincts. 

And remember, they’re predator animals. Meanwhile, horses are prey. 

But how does that make pups smarter than ponies? 

For one, most Fidos have a great sense of smell

And this helps dogs make more clever plans. It’s unlike horses that rely more on their eyesight.

Plus, hunters must outwit their prey. Cause if they can’t do that, these pups will starve in the wild. 

Due to this… 

Dogs have a more critical way of thinking

And that’s just a natural trait for predators. 

But of course, this doesn’t mean that ponies are slow thinkers. You see, horses are also quick on their feet (pun intended.

By that, I mean ponies easily come up with ways to avoid their foes, like:

  • Bears.
  • Wolves.
  • Coyotes.
  • Cougars.
  • Mountain lions.

Now, when ponies run into these 5 predators… 

Vets say that horses have 2 reactions. And it’s fight or flight

That’s why ponies can be so cautious. With that, they’re not easy prey.

Anyways, if you look back to the list above… 

You’ll find wolves, which are the wild cousins of dogs. 

And here’s 1 interesting research about them:

Wolves rarely hunt horses. After all, Fidos know these ponies aren’t easy prey.

Now, see how these 2 animals avoid each other? 

It just shows that they’re both clever. Especially when it comes to the topic of survival.

#2: Fidos can learn 165 words or more

Dogs Are Smarter Than Horses Because They Can Learn 165 Words Or More

Fun fact: Most dogs can learn 165 words or more. As for horses, they could only master 10 to 15 terms. 

So while both animals are impressive… 

Let me tell you what makes Fidos win this round:

You see, there’s a clever pooch named Chaser. And experts say she’s the only pup to learn 1022 words. 

But some might say that Chaser had enough time to train for this feat. 

So let me add what this study found: 

Even without training, most dogs can learn up to 89 words

After all, these pups are masters of reading humans. 

That’s why they can pick up terms just by listening to you. 

And here’s something more remarkable: 

Science states that some dogs can instantly learn words. 

But how did they figure this out? 

Well, there’s a project called Genius Dog Challenge. And they tested the Fidos who joined the show. 

Basically, they gave the pups new words to learn. However, the experts only said the terms 4 times. 

But surprisingly… 

A few doggos instantly learned the new words. 

With that, the professionals said: 

Some pups are geniuses. And that’s a rare gift in dogs. 

But let’s not forget about horses. 

You see, just like Fidos, scientists say:

Ponies respond to your emotions instead of words 

That means it doesn’t always matter what you say to these animals. Instead, it’s all about how you speak to them. 

Plus, research also reveals: 

Just like dogs, horses can tell if you’re mad. And they judge it by your tone of voice.

For example, try saying “Very good” in an angry way. In that case, the pony might get nervous. 

But if you tell them the same words in a happy tone of voice… 

Then you can expect a calm reaction from a horse.

Impressive, right? 

They might not understand the human language. But dogs and horses can read your emotions instead.

Check out also: 100 Words Dogs Understand + How To Teach Your Dog

#3: Dogs got domesticated longer than horses 

For the longest time… 

You and I know that dogs are called “Man’s best friend.” 

But what about horses? 

Fun fact: Humans tamed ponies around 6,000 years ago, scientists say. 

And now, let me tell you why this info matters.

Since we just recently befriended horses… 

Ponies haven’t fully adapted to us humans. 

I mean, try comparing them with dogs. For one, studies say that Fidos became our friends 20,000 to 40,000 years ago.

So just imagine all that time spent together. 

It’s no wonder most dogs understand you so well. 

Now, as the saying goes… 

“The early bird gets the worm.” 

That’s why Fidos have the advantage of time or experience.

Thanks to that, pups are more familiar with your: 

  • Words.
  • Emotions.
  • Tone of voice.
  • Body language.
  • Facial expressions.

So with their years of experience around people… 

It’s easier for dogs to please their hoomans. 

But let’s not stop here. 

Despite being late to the party, experts add:

Horses are also sensitive to your emotions

Just like dogs… 

Research states that horses also have the “left-gaze bias.” 

That means they look at you more with their left eye. And they mostly do this when you seem angry.

Plus, in another journal:

It says that 89.5% of horses prefer getting close to smiling humans.

But when someone has an angry face on… 

The heart rate of ponies shoots up, based on a report.

Why does this matter, you ask?

I’m telling you this info, so you can be the judge of who’s smarter. 

After all, when it comes to emotional intelligence… 

A horse might catch up to a dog’s level.

#4: Dogs can communicate better with humans 

Is your pooch vocal? You know, like talkative Huskies. 

Well, that’s just 1 of the many ways dogs communicate with you.

In fact, scientists found 19 gestures that Fidos often use. And experts call those actions: 

Referential signaling. 

To be specific, let me list those gestures below:

  • Licking.
  • Pawing.
  • Nudging.
  • Shuffling.
  • Crawling.
  • Jumping.
  • Chewing.
  • Toy flicking.
  • Rolling over.
  • Head turning.
  • Head rubbing.
  • Raising 1 paw.
  • Giving their paw.
  • Lifting 1 back leg.
  • Standing on hind legs.
  • Moving their head forward.
  • Head resting on you or an item.
  • 1 paw relaxing on you or a material.
  • Front paws resting on you or an object.

And if none of these signals work for your pooch… 

Then that’s the only time your dog starts barking

Now, it’s amazing how Fido’s body language says a lot. 

But what about horses? 

Vets say that ponies also do the same as dogs. Though, horses aren’t as advanced as pups. 

So instead of using so many signals… 

Horses mostly rely on their voice to talk to humans

And ponies do that by making noises like:

  • Sighing.
  • Whining.
  • Snorting.
  • Groaning.
  • Nickering.
  • Squealing.
  • Screaming.

If you count that, it makes a total of 7 horse sounds. Or make it 8, if you add their usual neighs. 


That shows why dogs are smarter in human communications.

You might also like: Do Dogs Try To Talk To Humans? 3 Interesting Answers

#5: Pups learn tricks faster than horses

With training and patience… 

Most dogs can learn plenty of tricks. And some of them learn pretty fast, too. 

Moreover, if you look at this journal

It seems that horses aren’t quick learners like Fidos. But ponies do learn by watching how humans act. 

That said, let me tell you about Clever Hans. He’s a famous horse from the 20th century. 

Now, this stallion surprised the world back then. 

I mean, it’s not every day you’ll see a horse that can do mathematics. And that’s exactly what Hans trained for. 

Anyways, here’s the mind-blowing part… 

The truth is, the horse didn’t know how math works. Instead, Hans just studied his hooman’s reactions. 

For example, when someone asks Hans a question… 

He looks into his trainer’s eyes. Then, Hans uses that to guess the answers. 

And that’s how this smart horse solved math problems. 

Fun fact: This historical feat coined the term “Clever Hans Effect.” Today, experts also use it when testing how intelligent dogs can be. 

So, even if horses aren’t quick learners like Fidos… 

At least they’re smart enough to read their hoomans. And their trainers don’t even notice it. 

Moving forward, another study states: 

Pups react fast when humans point at something 

And surprisingly, horses also do the same. 

But the thing is, there’s a lack of research about this in ponies. Especially if you consider what I said in reason #3:

It’s only been 6,000 years since humans tamed horses. Compared to dogs, that’s still a short timeframe. 

Thus, you can’t be so sure about a pony’s capabilities (for now.)

But what scientists do know about horses is: 

Horses have long-term memories

That’s why they can recall tricks for 7 years or longer. 

Wanna know what’s even cooler? 

Even if ponies didn’t get any further training…

Horses will still remember the tricks they learned. Gee, I can’t even recall my lessons from school. 

Now that’s the clever trait of ponies. 

And this shows that at the end of the day… 

Both dogs and horses are wise in their own ways.