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How Many Words Can A Dog Learn? 7 Surprising Facts (2022)

How Many Words Can A Dog Learn

Talking to Fido is normal for many fur parents.

After all…

It’s amusing how these doggos respond to the words you say. 

Though, this might make you pause and wonder… 

“How many words can my pooch actually learn?” 

Well, you found the best doggie dictionary on the internet.

Continue reading to learn: 

  • 1 smartest dog breed that can quickly learn new words.
  • 3 easy tips on how to teach your pooch terms or phrases.
  • Truth whether dogs can learn more than 1000 words or not.
  • 7 surprising facts about how many words a dog can learn (#1 and #7 are awesome.)
  • And so many more…

How many words can a dog learn?

A dog can learn around 165 words or more if they’re trained. Moreover, some breeds learn terms faster than others, like Border Collies. Experts also found that dogs can understand unique phrases, not just words. With that, scientists conclude that canines have the vocabulary of a 2-year-old child.


7 facts about how many words a dog can learn


#1: Chaser the Border Collie, knows over 1022 words

As I briefly said above… 

Dogs can learn over 165 words. But only if they’re properly trained for it. 

And I also mentioned a certain dog breed. I’m talking about Border Collies. 

Now, meet Chaser. She’s a smart pooch that learned over 1022 words. 

And it’s not just your typical terms. Like sit, stay, or roll over. 

This time, Chaser learned the names of many toys. Not to mention, they all have unique shapes and textures. 

That makes the task harder for Chaser.

With so many details…

How could she remember all that?

Well, Chaser trained for over 3 years. But it doesn’t make this any less impressive.

And do you know what’s even more amazing? 

A few experts studied Chaser’s intelligence. Based on the results, they said: 

Chaser knows the difference between certain words 

You see, they gave her 2 sets of terms and they’re: 

  • Names of Chaser’s toys.
  • New commands to confuse her.

With that, the experts combined the 2 groups of words to test Chaser. 

Will she get confused? Or will Chaser find the toy and obey the commands? 

The answer: Chaser knew those 2 sets of words aren’t the same. 

Thus, she wasn’t confused at all. It’s like Chaser’s aware of how words truly work.

#2: Some Fidos can use talking buttons

There’s a new popular tool in the dog lover community… 

And I’m talking about the speaking animal buttons.

In case you’re not familiar with that, let me tell you how it works. 

These are buttons that record voices. That way, Fido can reach it with ease. 

So when your dog presses the button, it plays the recorded words. And it could be about anything. 

But its whole purpose is to teach words to your furry friend.

For example, let’s say you recorded the word: outside

When Fido presses that button, they’ll hear it. And naturally, you’ll respond to that. 

So, you’ll let your pooch go outside. And you can even reward them with a treat. 

Now, if you repeat this a few times… 

Most dogs will understand how the button works. And if they could really talk, they might say something like: 

“When I press this button, it says ‘outside.’ Then my fur parent opens the door. Now I get it.” 

That’s how your pooch can learn words with the help of a button. 

Though, some experts say that this has an issue:

Your dog’s just pressing buttons to get your attention 

This implies that Fido doesn’t know what the voice records mean. 

Moreover, scientists explained this further… 

Dogs don’t know what some of the words mean. But they do know 1 thing. 

And it’s the fact that you’ll always react when Fido presses a button. After that, dogs know they’ll get a yummy treat. 

Well, isn’t that right to a certain extent?

Though, not all fur parents believe in this. 

Some of them think that dogs can truly learn to talk with people. Especially with the help of the speaking buttons. 

Just look at Bunny, an internet-famous Sheepadoodle. And she learned 40 words using these buttons.

Watch how she tries to talk to her fur mommy: 

Read next:  Do Dogs Try To Talk To Humans? 3 Interesting Answers 

#3: Untrained dogs have an average vocabulary of 89 words

As I mentioned in fact #1… 

Trained Fidos could learn more than 100 words. But what about those who don’t get any practice? 

Well, they’re still quite amazing.

You see, science reveals: 

Untrained dogs can learn at least 89 words or less. 

Now, they might not master all those terms. But most of these Fidos would still respond to the words. 

That shows that your furry friend’s willing to listen. 

So if you have the time or if you want to… 

Don’t hesitate to teach your pup some new awesome words. 

For that, let me give you 3 easy tips to train Fido:

  • Reward them with praises.
  • Don’t forget to give them treats
  • Give them a head scratch or a belly rub.

Note: These are examples of positive reinforcement. With this, your dog learns that they’re doing a good job. 

#4: Fidos read your body language to learn words

The amount of words a dog can learn depends on 1 thing…

And I’m talking about the way you interact with Fido. 

You see, your pooch learns words from you. Or anyone who’s always around your pup. 

“Wait, how do dogs do that?” 

Well, they pay close attention to a few things. Namely, it’s your: 

  • Eyes.
  • Tone of voice.
  • Body language. 
  • Hand movements.
  • Facial expressions.

So, the more a dog can observe you… 

The more they might learn plenty of words. 

That’s why you should talk to your dog any chance you get.

Not only are they great listeners… 

But Fidos are also good at learning words from you. 

Moreover, as I said in fact #3… 

Dogs don’t even need training to learn terms or phrases. They just naturally pick them up. 

And your furry friend does this by simply listening to you.

Also, a study finds that Fidos has a skill called: 

Emotional contagion.

That’s what dogs use to know how you feel. And there’s a reason why this matters: 

Dogs associate words with your emotions

Dogs Associate Words With Your Emotions

This means Fido cares more about how you feel. 

Here’s an example to make it easier:

Talk to your pooch in a neutral tone of voice. And say something like: 

“Let’s go outside.” 

Then, watch Fido’s reaction. 

In most cases, they might not react at all. Even if they know what the words “go outside” means. 

But if you say the phrase in a happy tone of voice… 

Your furry friend would get all excited. 

And that’s why dogs learn words depending on how you talk to them.

You might also like: Do Dogs Understand Human Language? 7 Mind-blowing Facts

#5: Dogs learn words just like babies 

Like I said in fact #4… 

Dogs pay attention to many things about you. That’s how they learn words. 

And you know what that reminds me of?

It’s the fact they learn just like how babies would. 

So if you’ve taken care of kids… 

You’d know how these babies observe your body language too. 

Fun fact: Research says that dogs are as smart as 2-year-old kids.

Well, that sums up why Fidos are good at picking up words. 

Aside from this, many doctors also say: 

Most toddlers use around 200 words. Now, some of them might not speak yet… 

But these babies know what a few words sound like. And what they also mean.

Doesn’t that sound the same as doggos? 

Clearly, Fidos can’t speak your language. But they react to the words you say. 

Moreover, based on another study:

Dogs can’t hear phonetics

In this research, experts tried using 3 types of words. And those are terms that: 

  • Sounds familiar to the dog.
  • Fidos already learned about. 
  • Have no meaning to your pooch.

From this list, most dogs reacted to the 1st one. 

That means even if you say words like “trick” instead of “treat”…

They won’t know the difference. And they’ll just look forward to a yummy snack.

After this whole test, the experts say: 

Fidos process words like young babies do. So they can’t learn terms the same way as adult humans.

And that’s why dogs can only pick up short and easy words. 

Though, this doesn’t mean you should stop there.

In fact, it’s best to keep speaking to your pooch.

Even though they might not learn terms like you and I… 

Fidos can still process a few words they’ll hear from you.

Learn more: 7 Cute Reasons Why Dogs Like Baby Talk 

#6: Genius dogs might have a unique DNA 

Other than Border Collies… 

There are other dogs that can learn words rapidly. And here’s how scientists found out about it:

They tested the Fidos who joined a show.

Specifically, it’s the Genius Dog Challenge. 

And this is what the specialists did next:

The experts only said the new words 4 times. After that, the Fidos already learned what the terms meant. 

And not many pups can pick up words that fast. That’s why scientists say it’s a rare gift in dogs.

Due to this, they also suspect 1 thing:

These genius dogs might have unique genes. That’s what makes them different from other pups.

#7: Rico the Border Collie learns words instantly 

Following #6… 

Let me tell you about Rico. Another awesome Border Collie.

This clever pooch learned over 200 words. Now, that’s already cool.

And do you know what’s even cooler?

Rico can learn words instantly. But how did pros figure that out? 

This news journal explains what happened:

Experts gave Rico a new word. And he’s never heard it before in his whole life. Also, it’s the name for a new toy as well. 

Now, Rico has to find that item. 

Not to mention, this toy’s mixed with 200 other things. That would confuse an average pooch. 

But surprisingly…

Rico found the right toy. So that means he learned the word instantly. 

Plus, it shows how smart he can be. 

You see, experts call this skill: 

The process of elimination. 

Basically, Rico looked at a room full of toys he already knew. And he has to find a word that he doesn’t know about. 

So he didn’t focus on the familiar toys. Instead, he just looked for the new one.

Now that’s something not all dogs can do.

Moreover, experts also repeated this test a few times. Yet, the pup’s results are still the same: 

Rico had a 70% success rate at learning new words instantly

But wait, there’s more. 

Rico should return a month later. And it’s to test if he still knows the new words he learned.

Well, this is what happened next:

Rico still remembered those new words. Even if they only said the terms to him a few times. 

Wow, I can’t even recall what I had for breakfast yesterday. 

But this pooch can keep all those words in his memory? Awesome.


People also ask:


Can dogs learn more than 1000 words?

Dogs can learn more than 1000 words, but only some of them. 

The best example of that is Chaser, the Border Collie. Though she trained for 3 years to learn 1022 words, she’s still amazing.

Additionally, experts call this a rare gift in dogs.

That’s why the dog expert, Dr. Fugazza says:

They believe Border Collies have a special DNA. That’s why these pups can learn words faster than any dog breed.

Can dogs understand sentences?

Dogs can understand sentences. But not the same way humans do.

Let me explain.

Imagine learning a new language. At first, you start off with learning just a few words.

Now, let’s say you went to the restaurant. 

Then the waiter says a full sentence. And it translates to:

“Can I get your order?”

Though you don’t understand everything they said…

You do know the words: “Get” and “Order.”

So when you hear these terms, it plays like keywords in your head.

Then, you’ll get a lightbulb moment.

“Aha! They’re asking to ‘get’ my ‘order’. That was easy.”

See? It’s like reading between the lines. Except, you’re doing it to learn languages.

Now, dogs do the same thing.

Fido might not know some complex phrases. But they’ll react to the keywords they know by heart.