How Smart Are Deer? (EQ, Brain Size & Intelligence)

A lot of animals, over the years, have proved to be quite intelligent but none has measured up to humans. Of all mammals, humans are said to be the smartest. Having said that, there are some animals that display behaviors that make us wonder what goes on in their head. A deer is one of them. 

If you’re here, you’re probably asking the same question. So, how smart are deer? 

In this article, we will look at whether or not deer are smart and try to measure the level of their intelligence.

How Smart Are Deer

Are deer smart?

Deer are ruminant mammals belonging to the Cervidae family. Some species belonging to that family are White-tailed deer, mule deer, black-tailed deer, elk, moose, red deer, caribou, fallow deer, roe deer, pud, and chital among others.

Since deer are mammals, they can be said to be somewhat intellectual animals. They might not be as smart as you think but yes, they are quite smart. You see this intelligence playing out in how they search for food and various survival tactics they display in order to evade predators in the face of danger.

How smart are deer?

Deer are believed to have an EQ of 1, which indicates that they are averagely intelligent. So, they are actually smarter than most people give them credit for. They are intelligent enough to detect changes in the weather and have developed various means to survive in different seasons. 

For instance, they know where to find food and have a keen sense of smell to detect humans and food from miles away. Deer are also known to have acute hearing and good vision, which are all signs of smartness.  

Deer brain size

The brain is the controlling organ of a human being. The same can be said about ruminants such as deer. A deer’s brain measures around 4 by 3 inches, or the size of a person’s fist. 

A deer’s brain is where it assimilates and processes information gotten from other sensory organs in the body.

Most sensory information that can trigger a deer’s response is obtained through vision and auditory mechanisms. When this information is obtained, their brain quickly processes it and responds. This helps them in evading hunters and other predators.

What is the smartest deer species?

Based on research and the experiences of several hunters, the whitetail doe is tagged as the smartest deer in the woods. 

In fact, old does are the hardest to kill because of their keen senses and wariness, which is often seen in their swift, crafty movements and response in the face of danger. 

In case you don’t know, a doe is a female deer. Older female whitetails don’t just look out for themselves, but also for other deer. So, they’re always on high alert! 

How smart are deer compared to humans?

Deer brains are roughly 1/6th the size of human brains. While they have a heightened sense of smell compared to humans, they lack our capacity for critical and metacognitive reasoning. 

They seem to be very good at finding food and evading predators. But humans possess far more superior cognitive capacity. For instance, humans have languages but deer don’t. 

How smart are deer compared to dogs?

Even though deer are smart, they are not as smart as dogs. Several dog species, like huskies, are so smart that they can imitate English words spoken by their owners. This is something we don’t know deer to be capable of. 

Also, like deer, dogs can seek food and evade predators. It’s quite easier to train a dog compared to a deer. Besides intelligence, another reason for this is that deer are wild animals. 

Having said that, some dog breeds are not as smart as others, but in general, I will always bet on a dog’s intelligence over a deer’s.  

How smart are whitetail deer?

Also known as Virginia deer, whitetail deer is a medium-sized deer that is endemic to North America, Central America, and South America, as far south as Peru and Bolivia. It primarily occupies high mountain environments.

When we observe the level of smartness in a whitetail deer, there are a lot of characters that show proof that they do indeed have the ability to reason, take rational actions, remember, and react. If this were not the case, the lineage of deer would never have survived. 

Whitetail deer have very sharp senses of smell, vision, and hearing, which makes it difficult for hunters to catch them, as well as predators. More so, when a doe births, even for the first time, she takes care of the affair as if she herself had handled the delivery of babies before. 

Also if you miss a shot on a mature whitetail from your aim or startle the deer, it would be almost impossible to get it at the same spot.  The deer might continue to use the area around, but it will stay well away from that spot because it recalls the incident.

Are deer smarter than cows?

Cows are one of the smartest domestic animals. They possess adept problem-solving skills. They are as intelligent as a three-year-old child. 

Compared to cows and other domestic farm animals, deer are more intelligent. They are capable of adjusting to food shortages and can avoid hazardous conditions.

One of the things that distinguish a deer from a cow is their good sense of smell. They are thought to have an almost identical sense of smell to dogs. Their excellent sense of smell helps them to find food easily and escape predators.

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