Some of the finest canine minds of their generation are competing in the "Genius Dog Challenge"—and they're all from the same breed. Researchers in Hungary say that after searching the world for smart dogs and spreading the word on social media, they have recruited six border collies, from Spain, Norway, Hungary, the US, the Netherlands, and Brazil. The Guardian reports that in challenges that will be livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube weekly at 1pm Eastern starting Nov. 11, the dogs will be tested on their ability to remember the names of new objects. Canine behavior researcher Claudia Fugazza, one of the scientists leading the project, says that while dogs belonging to other breeds have been shown to remember the names of objects, the rare ability seems much more frequent in border collies.
The dogs will be asked to learn the names of six new toys in a week, then 12 the next. Each livestream will feature two dogs until all six take part in the Dec. 16 final. Fugazza tells the New York Times that the contest is being presented as a fun challenge, but it is also part of some serious research into how some dogs are able to learn the names of numerous objects. "We don't know the origins of this exceptional performance," she says. "And we think that dogs are an extremely good model for studying this." She says one contestant, Norwegian border collie Whisky, learned the names of at least 100 objects without any unique training. Fugazza says the contest is being livestreamed in the hope of getting the attention of the owners of other exceptional dogs. (Read more dogs stories.)