While many dog owners like to think their pets are gifted, only a select few pooches are actually bright enough to be able to remember multiple object names.
Now, a new study led by researchers from Eotvos Lorand University has shed light on the personalities of these dogs.
Their findings suggest that one key personality trait makes gifted dogs stand out from typical pooches - playfulness.
Ádám Miklósi, co-author of the study, said: 'This study shows that there is a relationship between extremely high levels of playfulness and giftedness in learning object verbal labels in dogs.'
A new study led by researchers from Eotvos Lorand University has shed light on the personalities of gifted dogs. Their findings suggest that one key personality trait makes gifted dogs stand out from typical pooches - playfulness
Which breeds are brightest?
WebMD reports that the following are the most naturally intelligent dog breeds:
- Border Collie
- German Shepherd
- Golden Retriever
- Doberman Pinscher
- Shetland Sheepdog
- Labrador Retriever
- Australian Cattle Dog
Previous studies have shown that only a few dogs worldwide show the unique skill of learning multiple object names.
These dogs - called Gifted Word Learners - can learn names of their toys very quickly, and remember them for over two months.
In the new study, the team set out to investigate the personality traits of these dogs.
The researchers asked the owners of 21 gifted dogs from all over the world to fill in a Dog Personality Questionnaire.
'This is a validated questionnaire that reveals personality traits in dogs and has been already successfully used in several published studies,' said Borbala Turcsan, co-author of the study.
The results of the questionnaires were then compared to the results from the same questionnaire given to the owners of 144 typical dogs.
The researchers restricted the study to Border Collies, because most Gifted Word Learners belong to this breed.
'However, it is important to point out that the vast majority of Border Collies do not show this talent', said Dr Andrea Sommers, co-author of the study.
'And also that there are some Gifted Word Learners that do not belong to this breed', added researcher Shany Dror.
The results revealed that the only personality trait reported significantly more in gifted dogs was playfulness
The results revealed that the only personality trait reported significantly more in gifted dogs was playfulness.
While Border Collie is a breed that is naturally very playful, the gifted dogs were even more playful than the other dogs.
'However, it is important to note that this does not necessarily imply that playfulness is what makes this talent emerge,' said Mr Miklósi.
'We do not exclude it, but it could also be that the extreme playfulness in the gifted individuals is driven or perceived by the owners as a result of frequent playful interactions with their dogs, with named toys.'
Likewise, previous studies have shown that, in humans, the capacity to solve problems has been linked to playfulness.
For example, a 2013 study looked at the link between playfulness, creativity and maths skills.
'This study confirmed that playfulness enhances individual creative performance and that personal playfulness can predict and has a positive influence on creativity,' the team wrote in the study.
HOW DOES YOUR DOG CHANGE YOUR MIND AND BODY?
- Dogs have been shown to trigger the release of the 'cuddle hormone' oxytocin in their owners
- The chemical lowers your heart rate and blood pressure and relieves stress
- Our canines also cause our brains to disperse the 'pleasure hormone' dopamine
- This boosts your mood and long-term memory
- Eye contact and touch are potent triggers of oxytocin and dopamine
- This means social dog breeds like labrador and golden retrievers are more likely to illicit oxytocin release
- Breeds that are more independent of humans like Great Pyrennes may bring out a lower oxytocin response
- Dogs we perceieve as aggressive, such as bull dogs or German shepherds, initiate the fight-or-flight response
- This triggers the release of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline
- These chemicals raise blood pressure and heart rate and can suppress the immune system long-term