Which dog holds the record for knowing the most words?

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While many would insist that their dog is the smartest or the cutest or knows the most words…that distinction goes to Chaser, a Border Collie.

Border Collies have been ranked as the all-time smartest breed and are also on the easiest-to-train list. (In fairness, this breed also goes on the “most-difficult-to-train” list—but that’s ONLY because this breed is so smart it picks up the most subtle changes in command intonation, then gets confused and seems unresponsive.

According to Fox News, Chaser knows more 1,000 words—1022, to be exact.

Here’s how this played out: Two South Carolina psychologists, Alliston Reid and John Pilley, wanted to test if there was a limit to the amount of words a Border Collie could learn….so they taught Chaser the names of hundreds of toys, one by one, slowly and patiently, for three years.

While Border Collies are an especially smart breed, Pilley told Fox News that the research doesn’t allow them to conclusively call it smarter than, say, pit bulls or dachshunds. But, he said, there is agreement among breeders that the Border Collie, known for its herding instinct, is especially attuned to learning words because they’ve always listened to the farmer.

Pilley, though, stressed that the training technique, more than anything else, resulted in this incredible feat. For instance, the trainers would place one object at a time down, and then say the word over and over again—sometimes for months–as opposed to some who placed several objects at one time.

Then, Pilley and Reid would regularly test Chaser on her vocabulary by putting random groups of 20 toys in another room and having her fetch them by name. Chaser, now 6, never got less than 18 out of 20 right, in 838 (!) separate tests over three years.

She learned common nouns that represented categories, such as “ball,” and she learned to infer the names of objects by their association with other objects.

Chaser’s feats are chronicled in the journal Behavioural Processes.

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