Approximately how many words can a dog understand?

Are they able to put two ideas together? Like when my Tiffy is looking for a toy or her bone, I will say"go get the bone, look in the kennel" She goes to the kennel but doesn't look for the bone. Is that too much for her to understand at once?

Asked by ♥Tiffy♥ on Jul 3rd 2008 in Commands
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i think dogs understand alot more then people give them credit for. i could have a conversation with Charley and i swear he understands everything im saying. i could tell charely to go out in the yard and get your ball and he'll go out the doggie door and come back with his ball.

Member 509586 answered on 7/3/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


I agree, they understand a lot!
Sometimes Alex or Abby like to steal bites of each others food, and i will say"eat your food" and they know exactly what I mean... even though they they will try to steal a bite every other day!

Member 497436 answered on 7/3/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer

Gray Dawn Treader

The average dog understands about 60 words I think. The dog that currently plays Lassie knows over 200 words, and those are just Lassie's commands!

Gray Dawn Treader answered on 7/3/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


My guess is that they are understanding only the words in a sentence that are repeated frequently. For instance, when you say "Go get the bone, look in the kennel," the pup probably understands "go," "bone," & "kennel." The other words are probably meaningless. I don't think there is a way to know if they understand the complete sentence unless you are a dog clarvoint.

Member 646668 answered on 7/3/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 2 Report this answer


I think a dog can understand as many words as you teach them to understand. If you train them with a specific word then they will understand it! They def. don't understand sentences..it just seems like they do because they hear the key words. It's fun to think they understand everything we say though..since they are like our children.. and I def. talk to my dog and cat as if they understand everything i say :) But I think that's good because even if dogs dont "understand" everything you say.. I still think they like when you talk to them, regardless. Lily is a VERY attentive listener :)

Lily answered on 7/3/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


I think dogs have an unlimited vocabulary, but it takes a lot of training to teach them THIS word means THAT. Which is why most dogs don't know that many words. Their owners don't have the patience or the dog just doesn't want to learn!

Tiffy doesn't know what "bone" is- but I'm sure over time she will learn!

Member 409208 answered on 7/3/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer

Jumpin' Jack Flash Red

Oh my Jack understands EVERYTHING we say to him. His Daddy broke his ankle and when he came home Jack was so excited he was jumping all over the place. I said, "Jack! B careful, Daddy has a booboo on his foot." Jack stoped and very slowely stepped over his ankle. He is SO smart and we communicate a lot. Infact, he gets frustrated that I dont understand him! But he always understands me. Now who is smarter! Our Ginger just got the looks in the family. She know "you want..."and outside. Thats all.

Jumpin' Jack Flash Red answered on 7/3/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


National Geographic had an article last year about a Border Collie named Rico who has been studied by the Max-Planck Institute in Germany. Rico knows over 300 words. His vocabulary and understanding includes knowing about 200 toys, items, and people by name, and fetching them or going to them on command.

That said, the average dog has less understanding of words / language than Rico does.

Dogs do not understand our language per se. They can be taught specific words - for example, sit for sitting down. The dog's understanding of sit is "put your bum down - NOW". If you'd taught him "pickle" instead of "sit" for the *same* action, he would understand that "pickle" means "sit your bum down".

If you ask Tiffy to look in the kennel, she understands kennel, which probably means go to the kennel to her. You need to introduce the words "find" or "search" for the action and "bone" for the bone. When she understands those, you can ask her to FIND BONE. She'll get it eventually.

Abby answered on 7/3/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 3 Report this answer


yeah they are. my aunt's friend has an aussie and it can understand the phrase "walk two and a half blocks, then jog at 72nd street". and more phrases like that. it's pretty amazing.

Joey answered on 8/20/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer