Researchers in Hungary are testing the limits of canine ability – and they have found two new stars in border collies Max and Squall.
Every Wednesday, in a live-streamed online contest, two dogs from different countries are pitted against each other in the ‘Genius Dog Challenge’.
The latest contestants, Max in Hungary and Squall in Florida, US, had a week to train before being tested on whether they could identify six new toys by name and bring them to their owner.
Researchers in Hungary are testing the limits of canine ability – and they have found two new stars in border collies Max and Squall. Pictured: Border collie Squall and his owner Bobbie live in Florida, US.
Squall pictured being a good boy and balancing a plastic green sphere on his nose
Every Wednesday, in a live-streamed online contest, two dogs from different countries are pitted against each other in the ‘Genius Dog Challenge’. Pictured: Max and his owner Ildiko live in Budapest, Hungary.
The competition – with six contestants – is trying to find the world’s most intelligent dog to try to understand the limits of canine learning and what makes an animal gifted. Pictured: Max is through to the second round of the Genius Dog Challenge
There was some hesitation, with Squall at one point picking up the wrong toy but, realising his mistake, he swapped to the correct one at the last minute.
At the end of the eight-minute competition, the pair were neck and neck with six points each, meaning both are through to the next round.
The competition – with six contestants – is trying to find the world’s most intelligent dog to try to understand the limits of canine learning and what makes an animal gifted.
All of the dogs participating in the competition happen to be Border collies, and they come from Spain, the Netherlands, Brazil, Hungary and Florida.
The Genius Dog Challenge, which is live-streamed online, shows Max and Squall with their owners ready to be tested on their skills to remember the names of objects
The pair of border collies race to find the toy and bring it back to their owner
Most dogs struggle to learn a few names of new objects – but Max and Squall as well as the four other dogs are different.
‘Most dogs struggle at learning the name of even a few objects,’ Dr Claudia Fugazza, co-lead of the study and canine behaviour researcher at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, told The Times. ‘Even with intense training, they find it hard.’
There have been case studies of canine ‘Einsteins’ where dogs have the ability to learn the names of hundreds of objects. ‘We want to know what it is about these dogs that make them different,’ said Dr Fugazza.
The canine behaviour researcher decided to investigate the limits of canine learning and put out a social media post asking for exceptional dogs.
Most of those who applied did not realise that their dog’s ability to learn the names of multiple objects was a rare phenomenon.
Pictured: Dr Claudia Fugazza is with contestant and Border Collie Gaia and her owner Isabella, who live in Brazil
‘They hadn’t trained them, they’d just picked the language up. The owners had no idea that other dogs could not do this,’ said Dr Fugazza.
‘We have been searching for the past two years and a half for dogs that showed the ability to learn object names and we found that this seems to be a rare skill. While most dogs struggle to learn even only a few names, some rare individuals seem to be very talented at this and can learn multiple object names very easily.’
Adam Miklosi, also from Eotvos Lorand University, said that the achievement by the dogs in the competition was astonishing.
‘We have seen so many dogs, lovely dogs,’ he told The Times. ‘But they really have a problem to choose between even two objects.’
Miklosi was amazed by Max and Squall’s performance. He said: ‘These dogs were fantastic. And they were thinking, they were not just running and having fun … they were trying to make a choice.’