There is only one Mozart, and only one Einstein. Geniuses come along once in a while, among human beings – but did you know it’s the same with dogs?
Click start to play today’s Word Search, where you can spot different breeds.
Many dogs we know and love are smart – they can read our facial expressions and understand what we say. But some canines are extraordinary.
The “smartest dog in the world” is Chaser, an American border collie who could remember 1,022 nouns and identify them – they were the names of each of her toys. Another border collie, named Rico, lives in Germany and practices ‘fast mapping’ – the ability to learn the names of new things with the speed and intelligence of a three-year-old child.
According to a July 2021 report in the National Geographic, there are a handful of other similarly gifted dogs around the world. But researchers set to find out just how often a special dog comes along, in a study published in the journal Scientific Reports by Hungary-based dog research organisation Family Dog Project.
The scientists recruited dog owners worldwide through social media, then asked them to play fetch with their pups while teaching them the names for two separate toys. Whenever the dog would learn its name, the owner would introduce another toy. Of the 34 animals, only one dog passed the test – a border collie named Olivia. She learned 21 names in two months!
Researchers think border collies are likely so good at learning names because they are bred to herd sheep – a task that requires them to focus on herders’ whistles and verbal cues.
The study has implications for further research into the origin of talent. Because such variation in intelligence also occurs in people, scientists think dogs could now provide insight into why some are more gifted than others – is it dependent on genetics, environment or practice?