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Is Your Vocabulary Larger Than Your Dog’s?

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The word ‘vocabulary’ is defined as “all the words known and used by a particular person.” And while most of us assume that our vocabulary is rich, robust, and perfectly capable of effective communication, it isn’t always the case.

For the sake of this article, let’s change the definition of vocabulary slightly to include not only a person but any sentient being that understands a language. In this case, a dog. Man’s best friend and a truly loyal and faithful companion many people cannot do without.

However, it is also true that while we love our furry friends deeply, we hardly ever consider them equal to or greater than us in the ability to think logically and communicate effectively. But could this assumption be incorrect? Dogs do seem to take orders well, and they’re pretty good at barking them too!

Let’s take a look at why man’s best friend might also be man’s best competition when it comes to vocabulary.

Canine vs Human Vocabulary

Most people know the phrases only too well – Who’s a good boy? Sit! Fetch! Rollover! Of course, there are countless variations of “I love you,” “you’re the best,” and other positive affirmations too. But most people don’t think about how many words or phrases a dog knows.

According to a 2021 Canadian research initiative, dogs know up to 215 words and phrases. Yes, that’s right, 215. The average seemed to be around 89 words, which is incredible when you think about it. It’s also the average for an 18-month old baby.

The reason for this high number, much higher than any other non-human mammal, is primarily due to their close relationship with human beings. And while a direct comparison with human vocabulary might seem a little unfair based on this fact, the question must still be asked – Does your dog have a better vocabulary than you?

According to the stats, the average adult English-speaking person has an active vocabulary of around 20,000 words and a passive vocabulary of about 35,000 words. In defense of canines the world over, it must be said that these stats might show people to have a better vocabulary than dogs, but please do bear in mind who came up with the statistics. And until we see a study carried out strictly by dogs, the verdict is not in yet!

The Importance of a Good Vocabulary

Besides ensuring that you remain smarter and more expressive than your dog, developing and maintaining a good vocabulary is very important.

Effective communication and expression are skills that benefit every aspect of your life. From your relationships to your professional life, and just about every interaction you have, the better your vocabulary, the better you can express yourself.

Let’s look at some of the many benefits of increasing your vocabulary.

1- Perfect Comprehension

Whether you’re studying, working, or both, comprehension is essential. Unfortunately, many people read through instructions or study material without fully grasping the nuances and details of what they need to be learning due to a limited vocabulary.

Increasing your vocabulary will help you take all the information in as intended. As a result, you’ll improve your grades and performance and make the most of your opportunities in the workplace and the classroom.

2- Effective Writing

Comprehension is essential, but without the ability to write effectively, your ideas and thoughts are yours alone. Increasing your vocabulary is guaranteed to improve your writing skills, which is vital for students and opens up many doors in your professional career.

No matter what job you do, you will need to express yourself via the written word at some stage, and the more words you know, the stronger your expression will be.

3- Accurate Articulation

You’ve been there before – The frustration and annoyance that comes with not being able to express your true feelings.

Besides the adverse effects of a limited vocabulary on studies and the workplace, your personal life can also be severely impacted.

Increasing your vocabulary gives you freedom – The freedom to speak your mind, express your inner feelings, and, importantly, to have no regrets about not sharing your true feelings and opinions.

4- Real Confidence

Let’s face it – When you can express yourself clearly and accurately, you feel better about yourself. It’s a positive attribute, and it can open many doors in your career and personal life.

Being expressive and eloquent helps develop absolute confidence, which can improve your life in every way.



Kossi Adzo is the editor and author of He is software engineer. Innovation, Businesses and companies are his passion. He filled several patents in IT & Communication technologies. He manages the technical operations at

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