Search on for World’s smartest dog

SPAIN is taking part in the search for the smartest dog in the world in the Genius Dog Challenge.

The ELTE University in Budapest has carried out research for two years and chosen six Border Collies from Spain, Hungary, Brazil, the Netherlands, Norway and the United States, which will be competing in public in their own countries in December.

The dog chosen from Spain is named Rico and is four years old. He has his own Instagram profile and knows the name of 30 objects.

The challenges will be streaming live over six weeks on YouTube and Facebook and will be testing the dogs’ capacity, amongst other things, to learn the names of the toys they are given.

They will be given six toys in the first round and 12 in the next round, with a week to learn the names.

The dogs and their owners will wait in a room to be told the name of one of the toys, then the dogs will go alone to another area where they will have to chose amongst several objects the one which was named.

The Head of the Ethology Department at the university, Adam Miklosi, has explained that it is hard for dogs to learn the name of objects, but the dogs which have been chosen, are capable of learning six to 10 words per week.

All the participants are Border Collies, a breed known for its intelligence.

This is all part of a project which began 25 years ago to analyse dogs’ mental capacities and which they use in their contact with humans, such as communication, affection and learning. The way in which these selected dogs learn the names of objects could help experts understand how humans learn to speak a language.

According to Miklosi, although many people believe that their dogs understand them, this is true in only 0.01 per cent of cases, they do, however, learn behaviour.

The select few, however, can learn full sentences.

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Jennifer Leighfield

Jennifer Leighfield, born in Salisbury, UK; resident in Malaga, Spain since 1989. Degree in Translation and Interpreting in Spanish, French and English from Malaga University (2005), specialising in Crime, Forensic Medicine and Genetics. Published translations include three books by Richard Handscombe. Worked with Euro Weekly News since November 2006. Well-travelled throughout Spain and the rest of the world, fan of Harry Potter and most things ‘geek’.