World's Smartest Dog Knows More Than 1,000 Words

This forum is all about training and behavior. Everything from potty training to working titles!

Postby Marinepits » December 23rd, 2010, 2:00 pm

Damn those border collies! lol ... ows-words/

video that's included in article:


If you thought Rover or Sparky was smart, think again: Chaser just took him to school.

A border collie named Chaser has learned the names of 1,022 individual items -- more than any other animal, even the legendary Alex the parrot. But it's all in a day's work for these researchers.

Psychologists Alliston Reid and John Pilley of Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., wanted to test if there was a limit to the amount of words a border collie could learn, so they taught Chaser the names of hundreds of toys, one by one, slowly and patiently, for three years.

"We put in a lot of work on it," Pilley said in a conversation with While border collies are an especially smart breed, he said, the research doesn't allow them to conclusively call it smarter than, say, pit bulls or dachshunds.

"We can't say anything definitive about this, but there is agreement among breeders," he said, citing decades of breeding for herding that makes the dogs particularly attuned to learning words. "The hypothesis is that they do have a special propensity to language, they listen to the farmer."

Pilley stressed that the training technique more than anything resulted in the incredible skills of the dog.

"In the first experiment where we talk about the learning of proper nouns, the procedure we use is one where she was taught in a way that she couldn't fail," Pilley said. "We would place the object right on the floor, somewhere the dog couldn't miss."

Then after a period of several months, Pilley and Reid would work with a different object, slowly training the dog on each one.

"Most people when they try to teach a dog, they put too many objects on the ground. That's called simultaneous training," Pilley explained. "Our method was a successive technique."

The pair regularly tested Chaser on her vocabulary by putting random groups of 20 toys in another room and having her fetch them by name. Chaser, now 6, never got less than 18 out of 20 right, in 838 (!) separate tests over three years.

It takes 16 plastic tubs to hold all the toys.

Watch Pilley give Chaser some impressively complex commands -- combining three verbs with three nouns -- in the video below. She understands the verbs “nose,” “get” and “paw.” Her reward is playtime with “Blue,” a little ball she chases across the room. For a whole collection of Chaser videos, click here.

She learned common nouns that represented categories, such as “ball,” and she learned to infer the names of objects by their association with other objects.

Rico the border collie, from the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany, was previously top dog — he had a vocabulary of about 200 words. Chaser’s feats are chronicled in the journal Behavioural Processes. ... archtype=a

Never make someone a priority in your life when that someone treats you like an option.
User avatar
Proud Infidel
Posts: 15621
Location: New England

Postby fenella » December 24th, 2010, 7:19 am

I want Chaser. More than that, I want my job to be that of a researcher teaching dogs cool tricks!
User avatar
Hyper Adolescent Bully
Posts: 286
Location: Maryland

Postby CinderDee » December 24th, 2010, 7:41 am

Very impressive!
User avatar
I'm The Bug Whisperer
Posts: 3414
Location: Forever in my heart...

Postby iluvk9 » December 24th, 2010, 7:57 am

And all I want is for Lenny to COME INSIDE when I ask him. :rolleyes2:
I'm Cougarific!
Posts: 14900
Location: New York

Postby Hundilein » January 15th, 2011, 11:36 pm

This is in the city where I live. I actually almost got to meet Chaser, but I had to work. Maybe next year, as they've done a demo the past two years for a month long class at Wofford that includes time volunteering at the shelter. That's why I got invited to go to the demo. It's really pretty cool stuff and I'd love to learn more about it.
Sarah and Renee - aka wild child
User avatar
Loyally Bully
Posts: 660
Location: Gone to Carolina in my mind

Postby airwalk » January 16th, 2011, 12:21 am

iluvk9 wrote:And all I want is for Lenny to COME INSIDE when I ask him. :rolleyes2:

You just haven't found "his word" yet....
User avatar
I live here
Posts: 3791
Location: Oregon

Postby plebayo » January 16th, 2011, 2:15 am

Oregon is trying to make Border Collies the state dog... They dominate everything :p
Seth, CGC & LiLo
♥♥Sofie - Always in my heart. ♥♥
User avatar
Mrs. Dr. Kildare
Posts: 943
Location: Oregon

Postby iluvk9 » January 16th, 2011, 9:25 am

airwalk wrote:
iluvk9 wrote:And all I want is for Lenny to COME INSIDE when I ask him. :rolleyes2:

You just haven't found "his word" yet....

Oh, I found it. And it is not fit to print. :mad2:
I'm Cougarific!
Posts: 14900
Location: New York

Return to Training & Behavior

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users