Dogs can 'effortlessly' learn names of their toys, study finds

Dogs can 'effortlessly' learn names of their toys, study finds
Dogs can 'effortlessly' learn names of their toys, study finds

Dogs can 'effortlessly' learn the names of their toys, a new study finds – but most likely if they're a Border Collie. 

In a sample of 40 dogs, seven (or 17 per cent) were able to learn the names of their toys – like Turtle, Squirrel and Mickey Mouse – after three months of training. 

Amazingly, one of the dogs, a Border Collie, was able to recognise the names of a whopping 37 toys. 

But the ability to learn toy names is relatively rare in dogs, and only apparent in a number of 'gifted' individuals, the study authors say. 

They also found that both puppies and mature dogs had the ability to learn toy names, which was a surprise because puppies generally have greater neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain to change and adapt.  

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Pictured, Gaia, a Border Collie involved in the study, owned by Isabella Imiguel in Brazil. Researchers found Border Collies were the best learners

Pictured, Gaia, a Border Collie involved in the study, owned by Isabella Imiguel in Brazil. Researchers found Border Collies were the best learners

The study has been conducted by researchers at the Department of Ethology, Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary, as part of their 'Family Dog Project'. 

Eötvös Loránd University is behind the Genius Dog Challenge, an online competition where pups around the world to prove themselves the smartest.  

'Many studies before us have proven that dogs can learn words that refer to actions, such as sit, down, come,' study author Shany Dror told MailOnline. 

TOY NAMES LEARNT BY GIFTED DOGS 

Gaia (Brazil) - 37

Max (Hungary) - 21

Oliva (Brazil) - 21 

Squall (Florida) - 19 

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Whisky (Norway) - 16 

Nalani (Nederlands) - 16 

Rico (Spain) - 11

All the above were Border Collies.

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'But we noticed that very few studies reported on the ability of dogs to learn toy names; therefore we were interested in specifically testing this area.'  

The dog that named 37 words was a three-year-old Border Collie called Gaia from Brazil.   

While 37 is a lot of names to learn, it doesn't compare to the achievements of the world's 'most intelligent dog' called Chaser, who knew more than 1,000 nouns

Chaser, who died in 2019, was also a Border Collie, which has been commonly referred to as the cleverest dog breed. 

American Kennel Club says: 'Dog experts widely agree that the Border Collie is an intelligent workaholic. 

'They are capable of learning a remarkable number of words and commands, and they are happiest when they are put to work every day.' 

For the study, the researchers devised an intensive three-month-long training programme aimed at teaching the 40 dogs the name of at least two toys. 

Oliva, a Border Collie owned by Mariana Cordivola in Brazil. Sadly, Oliva passed away before the end of the study

Oliva, a Border Collie owned by Mariana Cordivola in Brazil. Sadly, Oliva passed away before the end of the study

WHAT DOG BREEDS WERE INVOLVED?  

In the puppy group, there were 15 dogs, all from Hungary.

Nine were Border Collies. Other breeds included: 1 Border Terrier (named Kesu),1 King Poodle (named Rigo), 1 Toy Poodle (Monk), 1 Australian Shepherd (Scotch), 1 Schipperke (Taz), 1 Kelpie (Benhur).

In the adult group, we had 19 dogs, 9 of which were Border Collies.

2 Vizsla (Lena and Liza), 2 Whippets (Enzo and Winston), 1 Schnauzer (Langos), 1 Weimaraner (Zader), 1 Mudi (Donci), 2 Mongrels (Pixi, Csipesz), 1 Labrador poodle Mix (Lujza).

The remaining six dogs were 'gifted' Border Collies that already had a vocabulary of toy names when the study began.

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This is because two is the minimum amount necessary to be able to assess whether dogs can tell the items apart based on their names.  

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