World’s Smartest Dog Trained To Recognize 1,022 Nouns Dies Aged 15

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World's Smartest Dog Trained To Recognize 1022 Nouns Dies Aged 15chaserthebordercollie/Instagram

Training a dog is hard work. Drilling the simplest of commands, like ‘sit’ and ‘stay’, and nervously letting your pup off the lead to practice their recall. 

Putting all other good boys and girls to shame was Chaser, a stunning Border collie who remarkably managed to learn more than 1,000 pronouns.


John W. Pilley, a professor emeritus of psychology at Wofford College, was experimenting with teaching dogs the names of objects when he was given a black-and-white Border collie as a gift by his wife Sally.

Inspired by Border collie farmers, Dr. Pilley set about training Chaser. As reported by The New York Times, for around four or five hours a day he would teach Chaser new objects. He would show her the object, say its name around 40 times, hide it, and then ask her to find it.

Unbelievably, this seemingly simple technique saw Chaser learn 1,022 pronouns, with the aid of 800 cloth animal toys, 116 balls, 26 Frisbees and various plastic objects.


Chaser was known in the media as the ‘world’s smartest dog’, and even appeared on CBS’s 60 Minutes with Anderson Cooper and his human, Dr. Pilley.

Check out this video of Dr. Pilley and Chaser below:

Dr. Pilley published his findings in 2013, explaining that Chaser learned pronouns using ‘sentences containing a prepositional object, verb, and direct object’.


Dr. Pilley wrote:

We propose that Chaser’s understanding of our three elements of grammar sentences represents a giant leap in her referential understanding of language.

Chaser died on Tuesday, July 23. After Dr. Pilley died last year at the age of 89, she had been staying with Sally and their daughter Robin.


Pilley Bianchi, another daughter of Dr. Pilley, said on Saturday, July 27, that Chaser’s health had been declining.

As reported by The New York Times, she said:

The vet really determined that she died of natural causes. She went down very quickly.

Chaser had been undergoing treatment for arthritis but had no other known conditions. She was buried in the family’s back-garden, alongside other beloved dogs and some of Dr. Pilley’s ashes.


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Topics: Animals, Dogs


The New York Times and 2 others
  1. The New York Times

    Border Collie Trained to Recognize 1,022 Nouns Dies

  2. Jennifer Kim/YouTube

    60 Minutes October 5, 2014 Anderson Cooper Chaser Smart Dog Segment

  3. Chaser the BC/Instagram


Cameron Frew
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