Eckhart Tolle said, “When the dog looks at you, the dog is not thinking what kind of a person you are. The dog is not judging you.”
If only people were the same.
People judge the slightest things, even dogs. While people often comment things like, “That dog is the happiest,” or “This dog is the rowdiest,” some can be even more straightforward and say “Your dog is not the smartest.” It can be upsetting to hear something like that about your best bud. And it can also cause you to look into your dog’s intelligence.
Just like men and women, not all dogs are created equal. All dogs are good at something, and although some may be brighter than the others, all dogs are a testament that love is a four-legged word.
Hounds are bred for hunting, and this is an activity that needs dogs to have a keen sense of smell and high stamina to chase their prey for hours.
So it’s surprising that hounds are counted among the dumbest dog breeds. This is a significant contradiction because a hunting dog has to be smart, strategic, and resourceful.
The culprit behind why hounds are labeled as such is their nose. The very same nose that they use to track a scent is also why they become stubborn.
When hounds are following a scent, they’ll let their noses lead the way. They forget about everything else. Whatever the circumstance may be, once a hound catches a scent, you can say goodbye to your dog being obedient and loyal. Hounds will pursue where their noses lead them.
No dog should be labeled “dumb” because all canines have their unique strengths and weaknesses.
But if you’re still wondering whether your dog is counted among the not-so-brightest breeds, here is a list of both popular and rarer breeds of dogs that are deemed dumb.
Nothing can beat the regal presence of an Afghan hound. The breed is slim, swift, and stylish. When you go for a walk, your dog will get all the “oohs” and “awws,” and you, as the owner, might just be a walking and invisible pole.
You can’t find another breed that is as confident as the Afghan hound. They are naturally calm, majestic, and independent.
Other dogs will act crazy and silly just for a single treat. Afghan hounds don’t and won’t. Some breeds will jump through hoops; Afghan hounds don’t. They will not just roll over for some belly rubs or play dead for some cuddles.
Unfortunately, this self-assurance is also what has made this breed too independent and resilient for its own good. If you try to give directions to an Afghan Hound, you will be met with an icy and aloof reaction. This often leads to the conclusion that Afghan Hounds are not able to comprehend anything you say.
Regardless of whether you give him a compliment or a command, your Afghan Hound will always give you a canine poker face. You might even start questioning the hearing capabilities of your dog because of his habit of just glancing at you and pretending not to hear anything you say.
This Afghan Hound behavior has led to this breed being labeled as being air-headed.
Not as popular in the US, Basenji is a hunting dog that originated from Africa. Basenjis are best described as quiet dogs.
People who rarely talk for whatever reason are often labeled and assumed to be “dumb.” This is the same reason why Basenjis are tagged as the second dim-witted dogs in the canine world.
Basenjis are barkless dogs. They can’t bark mainly because of the way their anatomy is designed. A Basenji’s larynx is 100% flat compared to other dogs, and because of this, they are unable to produce that solid, long dog bark.
If you live a “library lifestyle” and think that this breed would be perfect for you, you’d be very wrong because Basenjis can make other noises to communicate with you. You might not be a fan of a typical dog bark but wait until you hear a Basenji’s sound — a cross between a yodel and a chortle.
Now, the reason why this breed is included on this list is because of its many similarities to a cat. Felines are generally accepted to be untrainable and living in a world of their own. Basenjis can be described the same way. This breed grooms like a cat and shares a similarly playful and curious nature.
Basenjis enjoy their independence too much and are not keen on following directions. Obedience is foreign to them, even in exchange for snacks or cuddles. Training Basenjis takes a lot of patience and time, and usually, the results of any training are minimal to zero. Despite repetitive actions and commands, you’ll usually end the day with nothing but frustration.
Basenjis are also known for stirring plenty of trouble — another personality reminiscent of cats. They can be aggressive towards smaller animals and have apparent displeasure towards strangers.
Despite being in the same household, don’t expect your Basenji to like your spouse the same way he may like you.
Aesop once said that “good things come in small packages.”
When you have a bulldog, this quote becomes “good things come in thick-headed and brave packages.”
Bulldogs are well-loved for their ability to bravely protect you and the rest of your family if there is any threat or any form of adversity. It is also a breed that is lovable and friendly.
Unfortunately, a bulldog is perceived as one of the dumbest dog breeds because of its disinclination to comply with and comprehend any instruction. Add in their goofy and dopey appearance, and they just fit the bill of being “dumb” quite nicely.
However, bulldogs are very docile and utterly submissive to their owners. They love to please their owners. So when it comes to any form of proper training like obedience training, a strict and regular schedule needs to be implemented for your bulldog to become productive.
Consistency in training, patience in repetitive actions, and positive reinforcement are essentials to successfully training a bulldog. If you miss out on any of these, you will end up with a stubborn bulldog who won’t bother to move the slightest inch to follow your command.
When it comes to Chow Chows, talking about their level of intelligence is sometimes beyond discussion. They are dogs who look like lions and have blue-black tongues.
Anyone will be happy to disregard their IQ and focus on their adorable and unique physical appearance. What else can you ask for?
But to be fair, Chow Chows are part of this list because they have a mind of their own. This breed is rather stubborn, hard-headed, and too serious for their own good. Canine Journal describes Chow Chows as “dominant dogs that can be impossible to control without a strict, strong and devoted alpha.” Chow Chows will even take over as alpha of the pack and dominate if given a chance.
If you really think about it though, you wouldn’t describe a Chow Chow as dumb but as an independent thinker. They appear stubborn because Chow Chows are resolute in following their own mind. Instead of following you, Chow Chows can refuse to obey you and your authority if they feel like they’re better off doing whatever they have in mind.
This behavior, though, is not an indication of their lack of loyalty to you. They just need to see you first as someone strong and worthy enough to follow. So, you have to make sure that you are a strong and patient alpha who can address the trust issues of your fluffy canine and lead him.
Another dog that has a feline-like personality is the Borzoi. You can’t question the personal cleanliness and grooming skills of Borzois. They always look impressively clean. However, this vain personality and self-obsession are also why this breed doesn’t respond to training.
Like cats, Borzois also have complete disregard for training, which is also why they’re on this list. Another reason why a Borzoi is assumed dumb is that Borzois have this attitude of deliberately acting stubbornly. Yes, they can be canine snobs, especially if they are not too confident in your leadership skills.
Borzois need to be led with authority and by using short, frequent training sessions. You can successfully convert this not-so-trainable dog into a well-mannered and manageable companion.
You might be surprised to see Bloodhounds on this list. Aren’t bloodhounds working as police dogs? Yes, these dogs are used for narcotics and search and rescue operations. They have an amazing nose that can track a scent for more than 130 miles.
So, their tracking skills are unquestionable, but the reason why they are on this list of dumbest dog breeds is that they’re too independent.
Imagine being asked to track a scent, followed by another mundane command. Bloodhounds will prioritize tracking the scent and leave you with the rest of your instructions.
These dogs can also be branded as a little aloof. You can’t expect your Bloodhound to be overly attached to you, but they will show their affection when they want to. They just have to maintain a serious and reliable persona.
You should also know, Bloodhounds may be on the lower spectrum of obedience intelligence, but they are the top dog in instinctive intelligence.
This dog knows that it is the best arm candy you can ever have. You don’t need any other showpiece if you have a Pekingese strutting at your side.
And because the Pekingese is expected just to be its naturally adorable self, they don’t make any effort to push themselves. They don’t have the initiative to be anything other than an expert lapdog, because even without any training, their owners tend to spoil them and give them all the luxuries in the world.
This over-pampering has also resulted in this breed being stubborn and too independent. Training is for other dog breeds, not for Pekingese.
While the breed is resistant to training, they also have a hostile attitude towards other pets and children. They are quite possessive with their owners and like to be the only one being pampered. You might even experience outbursts and tantrums from a Pekingese trying to get their way.
You might be a little disappointed that Snoopy made it to this list. But Beagles are usually called “empty-headed,” “thick-headed,” and “hard-headed.”
However, these descriptions are only applicable if your Beagle starts following its nose. Beagles will follow their noises to eternity. Even if you are confident in your dog’s training, you just have to watch helplessly as your Beagle starts to sniff and let his nose lead the way.
Their aversion to training when their nose is at work is the main reason why they are labeled dumb, but if there is no scent to track, you can take pride in having one of the best police dogs in the industry.
When it comes to muscles or brains, plenty of people assume that Mastiffs only have brawn. This impression is partly due to the lack of enthusiasm by Mastiffs in accepting their owner or alpha.
With its muscular form and imposing looks, Mastiffs only obey an alpha that it respects. So, if you are not this person, expect to be ignored all the time. It is this blatant snub toward most people that has led to the Mastiff being branded as dim-witted.
Mastiffs are very reluctant to follow any orders, but they are not untrainable. With Mastiffs, short and persistent training sessions with positive reinforcement work best. You have to show them you’re the alpha and that your dog needs to follow you.
Best known for their droopy ears and charming personality, a Basset Hound is considered dumb because they take longer than the other breeds to grasp and comprehend even the most basic commands.
They will eventually recognize and accomplish what you want them to do, but it takes time and patience. You can’t stick to one way of giving a command. You have to be creative in telling and showing them what you want them to accomplish.
Again, the Basset Hound is also a Hound so expect this breed to be easily distracted by its nose. Once the nose takes over, your Basset Hound will completely forget about you.
Dumbest Dog Takeaways
If you are brooding over your dog’s intelligence, it would be a good idea to read Stanley Coren’s The Intelligence of Dogs. And after reading the book, the next thing to do is stop comparing your dog with other breeds.
The average dog can understand 165 to 200 words, while some dogs can learn as many as 250 words. So what? Your dog’s intelligence (or lack of it) should not affect your love for your pet.
All dogs are smart and all dogs are bred for different skills.