‘Genius dogs’ can learn names of more than 100 toys, study finds

While your dog may follow commands like sit or get excited when you mention the word walkies, they will not remember the names of toys or other everyday items.
A study of six genius dogs revealed that some dogs have remarkable memories and a great grasp of human language.

Hungarian researchers spent over two years searching the globe for dogs that could recognize the names of various toys. While most can learn commands, most dogs are unable to recognize the names of their toys.

After proving that they could name more than 28 toys (some more than 100), Max (Hungary), Gaia(Brazil), Nalani, Netherlands), Squall/US), Whisky/Norway and Rico (Spain), Max (Hungary), Gaia [Brazil], Gaia (“Brazil”), and Gaia (“Netherlands”) were all eligible for the cut. The Genius Dog Challenge was a series livestreamed experiments that they were invited to participate in.

The research team was led by Dr Claudia Fugazza from Etvs Lornd University, Budapest. These dogs are gifted and can learn new names for toys at a phenomenal rate. We found that dogs can learn new names of toys after only hearing them four times. They did not retain the name for long-term memories despite being exposed to it only four times.

Their owners were given the task of teaching the dogs six names and then 12 toys.

When the toys were being tested, the dogs were able to recall the names of the toys.

This was no problem for these dogs. According to Dr Shany Dror, a professor at the same university, they learned 11-12 toys in no time. This learning rate is comparable to human infants when they first start stringing words together at 18 months.

When the toys were given to the dogs, they could recall the names two months later. Royal Society Open Science published the research.

All the participating dogs were border collie herding dogs that were originally bred to help sheep. While this makes them responsive to their owners' behaviour, only a small percentage of the breed can remember the names of their toys.

This talent is not limited to border collie dogs. Dror stated that the Genius Dog Challenge has allowed us to find dogs from other breeds such as a German shepherd, pekingese, mini Australian shepherds and others of mixed breeds. Separate research suggests that some yorkshire terriers might be capable of doing it.

The researchers hope to understand better the relationships between owners and animals by studying these animals.

Professor dm Miklsi from Etvs Lornd University said that dogs are excellent models for understanding human behavior as they evolve and develop in the environment. We have the unique opportunity to study the human language and how it influences our thinking.

Fugazzas team still wants to find exceptional dogs for future experiments, even though the challenge is over. If owners believe that their dogs know multiple names for toys, they can register them on the challenge website.