Suppose that there is a species of dogs that are much more intelligent than humans and can speak. The humans know that the animal is smarter too. The only reason these animals can't rule over humans is because of their physical limitations (no aposable thumbs). They can learn faster, they are more creative, and they could build better technology if they had humans to actually implement it. They are easily able to communicate with humans because they can learn and speak languages.

How would humans treat these dogs? Would we be hostile to them because they could be a threat or would we work with them?

Note: the dogs have only shown signs of being peaceful, but humans are paranoid


As with all things of this nature, you're going to get a spectrum of human responses. Some people will fear the dogs no matter what. Some people will love them, some will want to enslave them, and it's likely that a majority will be neutral.

However, there are several factors that will shift that spectrum and change the relative proportions of those opinions.

  1. History. As David Mulder stated, if the dogs have been around for a while then their history will impact how they're viewed, and you can make this work however you want. If they've been historically benevolent, it's hard to imagine more than a small fringe that's against them.
  2. Lab-created. Lots of humans have disproportionate reactions to anything lab-created as unnatural, so if that's the source you'll get a lot of knee-jerk hatred.
  3. While this is normally a visual phenomena, I suspect that you might get an Uncanny Valley effect if the dogs act almost, but not quite, human. This would give you a percentage of humans with an instinctive revulsion against the dogs.
  4. If the dogs are cute (or at least photogenic) more people will like them. You'll get a more positive response from intelligent Golden Retrievers than say, German Shepherds.
  5. You will get a more positive response if you avoid "attack" breeds, like Pit Bulls (I know most of that is BS, but we're talking about general trends and perceptions here, not reality).
  6. If the dogs are that intelligent, they will value positive PR and will take active steps to control their perception by humanity and make it as positive as possible.

Realistically it all depends on how the dogs have shown up. Honestly, you can design such a relationship in any way you want it. If they have been there for all of history then they can both be masters using machinery they had humans design in the far past or simply live along side or even be the slaves of humans. If they were created in a lab there would probably a lot of fear towards them and they would probably be kept locked up in various huge companies that would exploit their intellect. And if they just suddenly appeared out of nowhere they would probably be eradicated as a threat (taking human history into account). But still, if you want to build a world where they suddenly appeared and became the best human friends then that's possible as well (just give them a common enemy and there you go), it's all possible and the question is far too broad to give any serious advice.


While there would certainly variations, I think for the dominant treatment there would be only three possibilities:

  • Enslavement. If we can keep control over the dogs despite their intelligence, then the dogs will effectively be enslaved. Note that this is true even if those dogs are loved: We love dogs as pets; we don't usually love straying dogs. An intelligent pet would effectively be a slave as well.
  • Competition. If neither species can dominate the other, the end will be that both species treat each other as equals. Humans would appreciate the dogs' superior intelligence, and the dogs would appreciate the humans' better dexterity. Of course that does not mean that this would be true in every individual relationship; after all, human slaves existed through all of history. However in the whole picture, there would not be one species that enslaved the other. All in all, dogs and humans would compete against each other in the same way humans compete against each other.
  • Dominance. If the intelligent dogs were sufficiently intelligent that they can control the humans, they most probably will do so. In that scenario, the world would be ruled by the intelligent dogs, with the humans fulfilling whatever role the dog society assigns to them. If the dogs are very intelligent, they will be able to do so in a way that the humans don't even notice that they are dominated by the dogs.
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    $\begingroup$ Your last sentence brings to mind multidimensional beings that present as mice in our reality and conduct experiments on us... $\endgroup$ – Rozwel Mar 21 '15 at 14:07

Humans are rarely uniform in our approach to life, and I think that would include our treatment of dogs who are much more intelligent than humans. And instead of typing "dogs who are much more intelligent than humans" over and over again, I'm going to call them "peabodies."

It seems likely (because you don't say otherwise) that the peabodies have been around a long time -- more recently than humans, I'll assume, because dogs in general are a more recent development. But I think we would've encountered them before, say, the bronze age, though not necessarily on all continents.

Those who cooperated with the peabodies would likely prosper a lot better than those who didn't. Considering that for a lot of our existence, getting our next meal was often a problem, I think there'd be a lot of advantage toward cooperation. Those who used the peabodies' brainpower would tend to reproduce better and defend themselves better than those who didn't. And the peabodies wouldn't make very good slaves -- those unhappy with their lot would only have to hold back in inventing, and, of course, they'd know it.

Of course there would be exceptions, because humans of any stripe can be irrational. When Benjamin Franklin invented the lightning rods, churches considered them blasphemous. But when church towers kept getting hit by lightning and structures protected by lightning rods were kept safe, the lightning rods won. We're a species with a certain frequent self-defeating perversity to our thoughts, yes, but we're not, generally, idiots.


the dogs have only shown signs of being peaceful

They're canines, ergo hunters and predators. Thus, your caveat is fundamentally flawed.

Anyway... without bipedalism and opposable thumbs, they can't use tools (thus no writing, controlling fire, etc, etc, etc), they aren't a threat to us.

Did they become intelligent before or after the split from wolves? IOW, are wolves intelligent, too? I can really imagine super-intelligent wolves being a significant threat to Stone and Bronze Age man. The "fear of forest" which engendered the story of Peter and the Wolf would have been magnified 1000x fold, and we'd have done our best to exterminate them -- which we would have, because of range weapons and poison -- ASAP.

If the intelligence came when they were dogs, I can imagine them knowing their limitations, latching on to us, and reminding us at every turn that they're no threat. Culturally, this would have changed the course of religious development (do intelligent dogs have a soul?), and limited the settlement of the north (super-intelligent beings typically not liking to be used as beasts of burden).


These dogs would very quickly be in charge of the world, beginning around the time that humans first learn to herd animals rather than hunting them.

Humans would probably start the war (the dogs are taking their livestock), but the dogs would retaliate by attacking human settlements, killing all the adults and taking away babies which they would "domesticate". Their newfound pets would allow them to overcome their lack of opposable thumbs.

Fast forward 20,000 years and we have cities with the more intelligent dogs being at the top and humans being second class citizens.


If these uberdogs lived and evolved along with us since the dawn of the species, then they were competitors, just like humans treated other humans as enemies for resources and territories. If there were another predatory species available at the time, we would have domesticated that for protection.

During history, there would be two parallel civilizations, with benefits and problems on both sides. We would have furry slaves and they ape slaves. After all, if we can enslave our own peers, nothing will prevent us from doing the same with another sentient species.

Dogs as we know them in their many breeds will not exist. A quality of us as sentient species is the size of the skull, which makes pregnancy a tough affair for women. It would be the same with the Homo Canem. The reproduction rate wouldn't allow a selective breeding -not to mention that a sentient species is already versatile enough to work tools and do everything we need from them as slaves. And when the slavery will end in favor of better regimes, they will make for useful allies/citizens. At best, there will be a series of ethnic groups best fit for a given environments.

In modern times, an open-minded human neighbor will ask the canine family from the other side of the street to join them for a grill party -and make that steak so blue that it makes me happy, man!


Re created in a lab: what if they were created to be our leaders? Or at least the administrators, with human top-leaders telling them what to do.

This would be done to remove the self-destructive traits that bother us in large groups. Why dogs? It was unthinkable to manipulate the genes for the brains/minds of humans, both for ethics and the real fear of creating our replacement as a species. Dogs, as you see from the diversity of breeds, have a very flexible genome. And, what better to not become a monster AI but to love us unconditionally?

  • $\begingroup$ This answer also misses the point. The question is not "why dogs" but "what would be the results". $\endgroup$ – Philipp Mar 21 '15 at 12:30

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