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Yes, Your Dog Understands What You’re Saying

A man sits with a dog in a window.
Kiselev Andrey Valerevich/Shutterstock.com

Let’s be honest. If you have a dog, you’ve probably talked to it. Whether it’s gibberish or a full-blown conversation, we all do it. Turns out, our pups might just understand.

According to new research published in Applied Animal Behavior Science, researchers at Canada’s Dalhousie University found that the average dog understands 89 words and phrases.

To discover this, the team surveyed 165 dog owners who reported on the words and phrases their pets understand. The researchers also collected information on the respondents’ dogs’ breeds, ages, sexes, and training backgrounds. After the information was collected, the researchers compiled it learning that the average dog understands roughly 89 words—but there were some other interesting findings.

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In examining the surveys, researchers found that Australian Shepherds, Border Collies, German Shepherds, Bichon Frises, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, and Chihuahuas were some of the most responsive breeds. When it came to pups that didn’t quite catch on, beagles and boxers topped that less impressive (but still very good girls and boys) list.

While 89 was the average number of words and phrases, some dogs recognized up to 215, and others understood just 15. Regardless of how many words the different dogs recognized, though, some were more popular than others. Command words like “sit,” “come,” “down,” “stay,” and “no” were all commonly recognized as were ones that related to specific events like “breakfast,” “dinner,” “ball,” and “treat.”

If you’re prone to chat with your dog, there’s a chance you might be helping to expand their vocabulary. After all, some dogs are smarter than a two-year-old.

[Via Martha Stewart]

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is an Atlanta-based writer who has written about everything from whether Crisco is a good moisturizer to how to KonMari your space. Her work has appeared in Bustle, My First Apartment, and Make It Grateful. Read Full Bio »
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