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Scientists are looking for ‘Einsteins of the dog world.’ Is your pet smart enough?

Hint: your dog must have superb memory skills.
Dog shakes after swimming
A dog shakes off after swimming in the Adriatic Sea on a beach dedicated to dogs in Crikvenica, Croatia. (Darko Bandic | AP)

A border collie named Rico wowed researchers back in 2004 when he revealed he understood and memorized more than 200 words after hearing them only once. 

This process of learning something new with minimal exposure is called “fast mapping,” and it’s typically used to describe how babies and children learn how to talk. 

But Rico proved canines are also capable of such skill, and surely, he wasn’t and isn’t the only dog genius in the world.

Now, scientists are on a quest to find more “Einsteins of the dog world” — and they need your help. 

If your furry friend can identify 20 or more objects by name, researchers from the U.K. and Germany want you to email them at

The citizen science project, named “Finding Rico” after the genius border collie, launched Oct. 18 and is designed to understand how common this level of intelligence is among dogs and the mechanism behind it.

“Despite all the research since [2004], we still do not know what makes some dogs truly exceptional,” Juliane Kaminski, director of the Dog Cognition Centre at the University of Portsmouth in England, said in a news release. “Rico was clearly one of the most exceptionally gifted dogs, but we know there are others out there who are as gifted. 

“We hope this citizen science project will inspire people to work with us to test their dogs’ intelligence and to establish how common such superb skill really is.”

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