New study suggests some dogs are geniuses

A new study published in Scientific reports on Thursday, December 14 suggests there is a unique group of dogs considered geniuses.

Researchers at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary, noted that dogs that “have a vocabulary of object labels” also known as “Gifted Word Learner” (GWL) dogs.

However, there are few studies on this phenomenon, and they always involved a small sample of one or two dogs.

So, for this study, researchers studied 41 GWL dogs and recruited them via a online application on their Genius Dog Challenge website.

The online application asked dog parents if their pet knew the names of dogs or objects and whether they had been deliberately trained to know these names.

Additionally, the online application required dog parents to submit a video demonstrating their dog’s abilities.

Beagle dog catching a toy indoors in a bright interior
Przemek Iciak / Shutterstock.com

In the video, the dog parent has to stand outside the room and ask their dog to retrieve a certain object at a time from at least three objects/toys.

The researchers sifted through the online applications they received and conducted a Vocabulary Assessment Test (VAT), which was essentially the original test, but with the researchers’ online presence.

After that, the researchers finally chose 41 dogs that knew at least five toys. And among these dogs, 23 dogs knew the names of 20 or more toys, six knew about 15 toy names, five knew 14 to 10 toy names, and the remaining seven knew about 5 names.

Researchers looked for a common denominator between these dogs. Is it their race? Their life story? The experience of their owner? Their training?

And even though 52 percent of the participating dogs were Border Collies, researchers noted that GWL Border Collies are more playful than typical Border Collies. They also wrote, “We note that even among Border Collie players, learning object labels is a rare ability.”

The researchers also said: “Clearly, owners play a role in facilitating GWL dogs’ ability to learn object labels, as dogs would not be able to learn toy names without their owners providing them with toys and spending time time to play with them.”

However, the researchers pointed out that the study results suggest that an owner’s training skills are not what drives a dog to develop such skills, otherwise we would find many GWL dogs in multi-dog households. .

Close-up Portrait of a Female Pitbull Puppy Looking at a Tennis Ball and Waiting to Play Fetch
JA Dunbar / Shutterstock.com

In fact, 74% of dog owners in the study said they didn’t intentionally train their dogs to learn toy names.

“They noticed that their dog had learned toy names, probably during spontaneous play interactions. With this realization, owners began intentionally introducing their dogs to more toys.

Additionally, the majority of owners noted how easy this spontaneous learning seemed for their dogs. And most of these GWL dogs can learn new toy names in less than 30 minutes.

With all this data, researchers concluded that GWL dogs exhibit uniform characteristics, such as learning many toy/object names in a short period of time, that make them a unique group of dogs. And that they are not intentionally bred by their owners to become what they are.

“Although our findings on GWL dogs should not be generalized to the broader population of typical family dogs, they confirm previous findings on GWL dogs, increasing their validity and suggesting that what was found with a GWL dog specific could be extended to other GWL dogs. the researchers wrote.


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