World’s brainiest dog who learnt English grammar and a 1,000 words dies

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dog border collie cleverest chaser john w pilley wofford college

BRAINY: Chaser was known as the cleverest dog (Pic: SUPPLIED)

While many dog owners struggle to teach their dogs how to sit and heel, Mr Pilley taught his super collie to understand 1,022 nouns.

His work with Chaser broke new ground in our understanding of animal intelligence.

Dr Pilley, a professor emeritus of psychology at Wofford College, South Carolina, was given her as an eight-week-old puppy by his wife Sally.

They would spend up to five hours a day “studying” for three years.

She said that Chaser could remember the names given to 30 balls if he was given them, and their relationship to each other.

Ms Pilley Bianchi continued: “She learned the theory of one to many and many to one, which is learning one object could have many names and many names can apply to one object or one person.”

Chimps and dolphins are often thought of as the cleverest animals after humans but collies have left them in the shade.

Dolphins can understand around 30 words while chimps have managed to learn a few hundred.

dog border collie cleverest chaser john w pilley wofford college

MEMORY: Chaser could understand over 1,000 words (Pic: DOG)

His techniques included showing Chaser an object, saying its name up to 40 times, and then asking the collie to find it.

Dr Pilley published his findings in 2013 that explained how Chaser understood sentences containing a prepositional object, verb and direct object.   

He died last year aged 89 and Chaser was being looked after by his wife and their daughter Robin.

Another daughter Deb Pilley Bianchi said: “What we would really like people to understand about Chaser is that she is not unique.

“It’s the way she was taught that is unique. We believed that my father tapped into something that was very simple, he taught Chaser a concept which he believed worked infinitely greater than learning a hundred behaviours.”

dog border collie cleverest chaser john w pilley wofford college

BOND: Dr Pilley spent a lot of time teaching Chaser (Pic: SUPPLIED)

dog border collie cleverest chaser john w pilley wofford college

BORDER COLLIES: They are known for their intelligence (Pic: GETTY)

Greg Nelson, a vet at Central Veterinary Associates, in Valley Stream, New York said we now understand dogs have a language of their own.

He said: “People have always been under the belief that animals respond to commands based on a rewards system – learn limited commands and tricks then get a treat.

“They do have a language among themselves, spoken and unspoken.

“It’s apparent that they can understand the human language probably in much the same way as we learn a foreign language.”

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