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7 Surprising Reasons Why Pigs Are Smarter Than Dogs (2023)

Are Pigs Smarter Than Dogs

It’s a fact not known by many…

That pigs are on the list of smartest animals in the world.

And they even ranked a bit higher than our best friends, dogs.

So what are the reasons for it?

Keep reading to find out:

  • 7 scientific reasons why pigs are smarter than dogs.
  • If pigs and dogs can recognize their reflection in the mirror.
  • Which of them uses more sounds to communicate with others.
  • And so much more…

Why pigs are smarter than dogs – 7 reasons

#1: Pigs are ‘self-aware’ unlike dogs

What was your Fido’s reaction the first time they saw themselves in the mirror?

Like other dogs, your pooch may have stared at their reflection for so long. And then they barked or pawed at the mirror.

Now, why do they act like that?

Unlike us, dogs can’t recognize their reflection in the mirror.

So they assume there’s another Fido in front of them. And they might be thinking…

“Wait a minute. Who’s this new pooch I see?

And why are they copying my every move?!”

That’s why your dog’s confused and annoyed whenever they look in the mirror. As if your pooch sees a stranger.

On the other hand…

Pigs passed the ‘mirror’ test

Experts say they’re one of the few species that can recognize their reflection. Along with other animals and us, like:

  • Magpies.
  • Bonobos.
  • Orangutans.
  • Killer whales.
  • Chimpanzees.
  • Asian elephants.
  • Bottlenose dolphins.

So, how did researchers find this out?

First, they exposed 8 pigs to a mirror for 5 hours before the experiment

This is to familiarize the animals with the object. And also to see if they understand the concept of reflection.

Then, the researchers tested the pigs in a room with a hidden food bowl behind a wall. 

But the animals can only find it by using a mirror.

After only 23 seconds, 7 out of 8 pigs found the container with food.

And it proves that they can recognize their reflection in the mirror. Plus, pigs can use the information they see in it to find objects.

How’s this ‘mirror’ skill amazing?

Recognizing ourselves in the mirror might seem an easy task.

But did you know babies can’t do it until 18 months old?

Meanwhile, as young as 6 weeks old, piglets can already learn how to use a mirror. And they’ve also shown ‘self-awareness’ at that age.

“Why’s that?”

According to experts, it has something to do with a child’s development.

They say that if you want to recognize your reflection in the mirror…

You must first realize that you’re an independent being.

Plus, you should know ‘self-conscious’ emotions, such as:

  • Guilt.
  • Shame.
  • Empathy.

Learning these could take a while for a human toddler. So babies can’t also recognize their reflection like dogs at that age.

Now, you might ask…

“Why can’t dogs recognize their reflection?”

One theory is that canines have a better sense of smell than sight.

They mainly use their nose to ‘see’ the things around them. And they use it to identify people, animals, and objects.

So dogs don’t have much interest in looking in the mirror.

Instead, they’ll go crazy sniffing it or the ground.

That’s why experts say that Fidos can be aware of themselves. But not visually like pigs and us.


Dogs know their own scent

In a study, 4 canines sniffed 5 urine samples every trial. These include theirs and 1 container without any urine.

And the findings?

The dogs sniffed other Fidos’ urine samples longer than their own.

“What does that mean?”

Dogs are more curious about others’ smells. So they don’t pay much attention to their odor.

Thus, a Fido sniffing other dogs’ urine longer proves that they know their scent.

#2: Pigs are faster in solving problems

Both dogs and pigs can find a solution to a dilemma if they want to.

They can open the food drawer or fridge if they’re hungry.

Also, both animals can learn how to open a door if they want to go in or out.

However, one research found that pigs are faster problem-solvers than dogs.

Plus, they’re more independent than our furry friends.


The researchers studied 10 mini pet pigs and 12 family dogs. And made each animal solve 2 problems.

The first is an easy task.

Pigs and dogs had a transparent plastic container in front of them. And they only have to turn it upside down to get the food inside.

Meanwhile, the second problem is on the hard level.

The researchers fixed the container in place. So the animals can’t solve it no matter how much they try.

“So, what were the results?”

Based on the study, pigs solved the 1st problem quicker than dogs.

On the other hand, when both animals tried to solve the 2nd one…

Dogs looked and communicated with humans. As if they’re asking for help.

But pigs attempted to solve the 2nd task on their own.

Then soon, they realized that there wasn’t any solution to it.

So, it shows that pigs are smarter than dogs in solving problems. And that Fidos tend to go and stare at people to ask for help.

You might also like: My Dog Stares At Me (9 Burning Questions Answered + Tips)

#3: Pigs are better in mazes

Pigs Are Better In Mazes

Did you know that our brains are similar to pigs’?

A study says that a pig’s brain is close to ours in terms of growth, anatomy, and development.

Both of them grow similarly. But a pig’s brain develops faster than humans.

And that’s why experts prefer to use it over rodents’ when studying human brain disorders.


Based on doctors, pigs have ‘gyrencephalic’ brains like us.

“What does it mean?”

In simpler terms, it refers to brains that have many folds.

A human and a pig’s brains are like that. In contrast, rodents have a smoother surface.

So it’s ideal to use pigs as animal models to understand the human brain.

Now, because of this, scientists have done tests on pigs.

One is to determine their learning and memory.

To know this, they observed 2-week-old piglets in a T-shaped maze.

Then see if the young animals remember a new place. And also how fast pigs learn directions to get something.

At the end of the study, the piglets learned their way through the maze.

And they did it by using the clues they saw around them.

#4: Pigs use 20 sounds to communicate

Dogs understand over 100 human words.

But although they can’t speak it, Fidos can communicate with us by:

And the list goes on as far as 15 various sounds.

However, pigs also beat dogs in this game.

According to vets, pigs have 20 known vocalizations.

“But why?”

It’s because pigs communicate more through sounds. While dogs also use their bodies to talk to other animals and us.

“So what sounds does a pig make?”

Aside from the usual “oink” we know, pigs also grunt, squeal, and scream. And they have variations of these sounds based on their mood.

For example, pigs let out a short grunt when happy or excited. In contrast, they grunt longer to call someone.

One research even says that 411 pigs made 7414 sounds throughout their lives, from birth to death. 

Also, believe it or not, pigs bark when playing with other swine. But not in the same way as dogs do.

#5: Mother pigs ‘sing’ to their babies

Aside from the sounds mentioned above, pigs also talk to their kids by ‘singing’ to them.

Okay. You might be thinking of a lullaby here. Like what mothers do to their children to put them to sleep.

But when it comes to pigs, ‘singing’ to their babies has a different purpose.

“What is it for?”

Sows or female pigs ‘sing’ to their babies while nursing. And a study shows that they do it to regulate their milk.

While other people say that it can also be a sow’s way to tell their babies that their milk is flowing.

Watch this mama pig ‘grunts’ as she feeds her piglets:

On the other hand, dogs have maternal instincts, too, like other animals.

Experts think that ‘oxytocin,’ a.k.a. love hormone plays a role in it.

It’s because a female mouse has this substance in one part of their brain. While male mice don’t have it.

That’s why mother dogs groom and nurse their babies. And they also become protective over them.

So if you have many Fidos at home and one of them recently gave birth…

You’ll notice that the mother dog has become more aggressive. And she often snarls or growls at your other dogs.

Now, like pigs, dogs also talk to their puppies.


Dogs communicate by barking and body language.

But canines don’t do it while they nurse their babies. And they also don’t communicate with them about the milk.

#6: Pigs are easier to potty train

Most parents with pet pigs and dogs also say the former is easier to potty train.

You can often observe this trait inmicro mini pigs.’

They’re a special smaller breed that weighs 50 to 150 lb (23 to 68 kg). So mini pigs may fit in a litter box and use it like cats.

“But how can you potty train a pig?”

Based on anecdotal reports, you can housetrain pigs as early as 3 weeks old.

When young, they can use potty pads inside the house. Then they also set a specific area to be their toilet.

And that’s it.

Like magic, pigs can make a fast connection and learn where the ‘toilet’ is in the house.

Plus, you can potty train them without any treats, unlike dogs. (Although pigs appreciate pets and scratches from their humans.)

Then soon, pigs will learn to pee outside like dogs.

On the other hand…

Puppies are potty trained when 12 to 16 weeks old

Vets say that dogs control their bladder well at that age. So you can teach your puppy to hold their pee for a while.

“How about pigs?”

Piglets also have the same case.

They only have full bladder control until they’re 6 months old.

So young pigs also need plenty of potty boxes in the house until they learn to pee outside.

But the only difference between the 2 animals is that…

Pigs can associate the litter box or potty pad as their toilet faster than dogs.

Trivia: Hygiene is important for pigs. They set certain areas as their toilet. And they keep their living and sleeping places tidy.


According to experts, pigs are prey animals. So they don’t like to poop anywhere and leave their scent.

“But pigs love mud baths, right?”

Pigs don’t sweat as we do. So they only do mud baths to keep their bodies cool.

Last but not least…

#7: Pigs can control a joystick

Don’t have someone to play with in your computer game?

Well, a study suggests a pig might do.

“Wait a minute. Really?”

The researchers studied 4 pigs. And they trained the animals to control a joystick with their snouts.

Then, the next goal was for the pigs to move the cursor on the computer monitor using the joystick. And when they do, they’ll receive a reward.

“What were the results?”

On their first attempts, all pigs succeeded in controlling the joystick above chance.

The animals moved the cursor to touch a certain target on the monitor. And since it’s randomly placed, it proves that the pigs understood the task.

Plus, they have excellent motor skills. So they were able to use their snouts to perform a specific task.

“What about dogs?

Can they do it too?”

There’s no evidence yet that dogs can control a joystick too.

So we can say that pigs also won in this aspect.

But apart from the info above, both dogs and pigs are social animals.

They love playing with others. And both of them can differentiate others from one another.

Also, like dogs, a pig’s performance can be affected by:

  • Fear.
  • Stress.
  • Environment.

So in some cases, a dog may perform better than a pig. Especially if the latter grew up in a harsh environment.

What animals are smarter than pigs?

Animals smarter than pigs are orangutans and chimpanzees. But the list also includes elephants, dolphins, and octopuses.

If you’re curious about the ranks, here’s the list arranged from their intelligence according to experts:

  1. Orangutans.
  2. Bottlenose dolphins.
  3. Chimpanzees.
  4. Elephants.
  5. African Grey parrots.
  6. Octopus.
  7. Pigs.
  8. Crows.
  9. Pigeons.
  10. Rats.