Story at a glance

  • A new study was published in Royal Society Open Science on Wednesday.
  • The study identified and followed six “genius dogs” that exemplified an ability to grasp and remember parts of the human language.
  • The dogs were able to remember and recognize the names of more than 28 toys.

A new study of six “genius dogs” has exemplified their ability to grasp and remember parts of the human language.

The new research, published in Royal Society Open Science on Wednesday, was conducted by a group of Hungarian researchers over the course of more than two years. Researchers identified six dogs worldwide who were able to learn and memorize the names of their toys.

The six “genius dogs” — Max (Hungary), Gaia (Brazil), Nalani (Netherlands), Squall (U.S.), Whisky (Norway) and Rico (Spain) — who were all border collies, were chosen by researchers after the dogs demonstrated an ability to recognize and remember the names of more than 28 toys, with some of the dogs able to remember more than 100 toys.

“These gifted dogs can learn new names of toys in a remarkable speed,” Claudia Fugazza, of Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest and who headed the research, told The Guardian. “In our previous study we found that they could learn a new toy name after hearing it only four times. But, with such short exposure, they did not form a long-term memory of it.”

To gain a better understanding of the dogs’ abilities, their owners were responsible for attempting to teach them six new toy names, and eventually 12 new toy names, in one week.


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“It turned out that, for these talented dogs, this was not much of a challenge. They easily learned between 11 to 12 toys,” said researcher Shany Dror.

Researchers found that the six dogs were even able to remember the toys and the names at both one and two months later.

“Dogs are good models for studying human behaviour as they evolved and develop in the human environment,” said co-author Ádám Miklósi of Eötvös Loránd University. “With these talented dogs we have a unique opportunity to study how another species understands the human language, and how learning words influences the way we think about the world.”


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Published on Oct 06, 2021