Some dogs have a gift for learning new words say researchers

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According to a new study published in Royal Society Open Science some dogs can learn up to 12 new toy names in one week.

Not only that, but they also can remember the new toy names for at least two months.

The dogs presented their exceptional skills as part of the Genius Dog Challenge, a series of live broadcasted experiments, which went viral over social media.

“We know that dogs can easily learn words that are linked to actions, such as “sit” or “down.” But very few dogs can learn names of objects,” explains Shany Dror, leading researcher, from the Family Dog Project, Eötvös Loránd University.

For more than two years, the researchers searched the world for dogs that had learnt the names of their toys.

They found six:

  • Max (Hungary),
  • Gaia (Brazil),
  • Nalani (Nederland),
  • Squall (Florida),
  • Whisky (Norway),
  • and Rico (Spain).

All six qualified to participate in the challenge by proving to know the names of more than 28 toys, with some knowing more than 100.

In this study, the researchers challenged the owners to teach their dogs the names of, first, 6 and, then, 12 new toys in only one week.

The researchers were amazed by the dogs’ performance, easily learning between 11 and 12 toys.

The researchers also tested the dogs one, and two months after they had learned the names of the new toys and found that they still remembered those.

Why study gifted dogs?

“Dogs are good models for studying human behavior as they evolved and develop in the human environment,” explains Prof. Adam Miklósi, head of the Department of Ethology at Eötvös Loránd University and coauthor of the study. “Moreover, gifted dogs are especially interesting because they show that also among other species there are individuals that are uniquely talented. With the help of these dogs, we hope to better understand the factors that contribute to the development of talent.”

For a brief video explaining more about the research, check out this youtube link:


Featured photo:


Max is a talented dog, who participates in experiment at Ethology Department at Eötvös Loránd University •credit to Cooper Photo  •credit must be given


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