A new Hungarian study has suggested that similar to humans, dogs can discern when someone is speaking a foreign language.
The researchers studied MRI scans of dogs as they were read to from books in two different languages. They noticed that the dogs recognized the language in which their owners speak. Despite the fact that no commands or words they would be familiar with were spoken, their brain scans showed clear recognition compared to the foreign language.
Interestingly, they noticed that older dogs and long-nosed dogs seemed to understand the most of their familiar language. They are not sure why long-nosed dogs seem to understand more. But older dogs have been around listening to their family for many years so their understanding is much broader than a young dog.
What is clear is that your dog is absorbing everything you say and do. Even without explicit training, they can recognize a familiar language from a total stranger. For guard dogs on alert, this may influence their suspicion of strangers who are speaking a foreign language.
This study reported by NBC News may open the door to greater understanding of the canine brain.