We often come to realize that a pet can really understand what we are saying. Even it is difficult to say what dogs actually understand, it is very clear that they can learn orders, associate words with sounds and learn the meaning of some lexical structures.
Could this mean that the smartest dog breeds would be able to use language? Scientists think that this is possible, theoretically. Studies have shown that Collies are very intelligent, these dogs having a rudimentary ability to learn language, comparable to the linguistic intelligence of an up to 3 year old child.
However, the comparison with a small child seems problematic, because the latter does not only master words, but also correctly associates the groups of words. By the age of 2, children already have the ability to process, learn and use the language grammatically correct. Considering grammar as a game of rules, we should remember that dogs can learn to recognize the pieces of a game, indicate, group them and even anticipate the next move.
It seems that most dogs are able to recognize certain concepts. But that is as far as they go. In fact, language does not only mean having a vast vocabulary, complex concepts or the ability to understand and imitate. Even if having linguistic notions is a sign of intelligence, what we do with these notions defines the idea of language.
Moreover, humans can talk without waiting for a reward, can have complex conversations, can express and describe imaginary, untouched things. We can decipher messages from the language of the environment, we can send encoded messages. There is no study to reveal such abilities among dog breeds.
Every species on the planet has the ability to communicate in a way or another. Dogs, like humans, can conceptualize the means of communications, but only humans can work with these concepts. We can turn them into sounds, talk about them and create new ones, thus setting a standard for the idea of language.