A Bulldog laying on its back

A Bulldog sleeping on its back (Photo by WilleeCole Photography on Shutterstock)

Sadly, not all dog breeds are blessed with great intellect. Some pups, bless their furry hearts, are more “party hard” than “ponder deeply.” Breeding for specific jobs (like sniffing truffles or chasing sheep) didn’t always include mastering commands. So, instead of Einstein reincarnated, you get a goofy grin and a tail wag for every trick. No shame, though! Who needs astrophysics when you can drool and snore with abandon? Just don’t ask the dogs on our list to remember where they hid the squeaky toy. They’ll probably end up chasing their own tails in circles. The least intelligent dog breeds may not score high on an IQ test, but they are equally as loveable to have by your side as any other pups.

Unlike their wild ancestors, today’s dogs are far removed from fending for themselves in the wilderness. A recent study reveals that two in three dog owners say their dog would never survive in the wild without them. Depending on how pampered your pooch is, they should count themselves pretty lucky to have you.

Unless you are choosing a breed for a working role, we normally pick out our next pet based on how cute and cuddly they are. Even dogs who lack in intelligence make amazing companions. Considering how much puppy love we share with our furry friends, any of the breeds on our list below would be perfect to bring home.

Every dog breed has its own unique strengths and quirks. The least intelligent dog breeds on our list were the most mentioned across 10 expert sources. Though they may not be the most trainable breeds, they bring plenty of furry fun to their humans. So, celebrate their differences and focus on the happy tail wags, not the empty trophy shelves! Let us know your favorites in the comments below!

Dog reading book during daytime photo by 2Photo Pots on Unsplash
Dog reading a book (Photo by 2Photo Pots on Unsplash)

The List: Canine Experts Rank the Least Intelligent Dog Breeds

1. Afghan Hound

Afghan hounds, those silky stunners with flowing locks, wear their hearts on their fluffy sleeves (and everywhere else fur permits). While not known for puzzle-solving prowess, they bathe their humans in boundless affection and goofy grins, proving love doesn’t need an IQ test. World Animal Foundation praises, “In fact, Afghans are often considered the dumbest dog when it comes to ‘obedience intelligence’ or its ability to learn new commands from humans. During testing, researchers determined that it took them repeating new commands an average of 80 times before the Afghan Hound caught on.”

brown and black long coated dog
Afghan hound Photo by Julio Bernal on Unsplash

Dogster raves that despite the common misconceptions of stupidity, Afghan Hounds are merely independent. “Afghans are sighthounds, which means they were bred to hunt using their extraordinary speed and eyesight. Like many sighthounds, Afghans can be aloof, which means they can be a little standoffish and reserved, especially with strangers,” they say.

Canine Journal exclaims that these dogs have highly developed brains and are commonly misunderstood. “Most people who are familiar with the silky coated Afghan hound will readily admit that they can be one of the most neurotic breeds. The independent nature of these dogs makes them extremely difficult to train; however, they are also affectionate dogs that love to be included in the family pack. Afghans are sensitive dogs which can add to the difficulty level of training them when combined with the high levels of independence,” they add in their review.

2. Basset Hound

Basset Hounds, with their droopy eyes and soulful sighs, are champions of snuggles and masters of melting hearts. Though not known for mental acuity, their floppy ears and goofy grins make them experts at stealing treats and winning over anyone with a soft spot for furry goofballs. Hepper Blog says, “Basset Hounds are scent hounds that are strongly guided by their nose. If they pick up an intriguing scent, they will follow it, regardless of what else they are doing. This means that a Basset will generally ignore commands if they smell something good. They are also quite sedentary and would prefer to move as little as possible, and they are notorious for being difficult to train because it takes a lot of repetitions for them to learn a new command.”

Basset hound lying on sofa Photo by Apostolos Vamvouras on Unsplash
Basset Hound lying on sofa (Photo by Apostolos Vamvouras on Unsplash)

TrueDog describes that the Basset Hound’s focus and tenacity can come across as idiocy. This isn’t always true. “Originally the breed bred in France for tracking small game, bassets were bred for their sense of smell, not for their intelligence. People often think that they are not very intelligent because they don’t have the same energy as hounds and can be easily distracted by scents rather than commands. But basset hounds excel at what they were bred for: searching for even the tiniest of trails,” they write.

PetGuide.com agrees that instinct in Basset Hounds is strong: “In fairness, all scent hounds are a slave to their nose. They are so in tune with what they’re busily sniffing out that trying to get their attention to teach them anything is close to impossible. While this boy is a gentle and amazing family pet, he does have a rather large learning curve when it comes to housebreaking and all that sit, stay, give-a-paw stuff.”

3. Basenji

Basenjis, despite their adorable yodel and playful antics, aren’t known for their intellectual prowess. Independent and curious, they often have their own agenda, which may not always align with ours, earning them their “lovable moron” reputation. Oodlelife comments, “Not as popular in the U.S., 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 one of the most dim-witted dogs in the canine world.”

A Basenji licking his lips
A Basenji licking his lips (Photo by Hannah Lindahl on Unsplash)

It is important that this breed gets strong socialization and companionship early in life or you can risk them developing undesirable behaviors. The Daily Mail adds, “Basenji is not known for its obedience, and would sooner be found burning off energy and causing havoc by chewing furniture when left to its own devices. The ‘cat-like’ Basenji has high energy levels, does not like being left alone and can often be highly destructive.”

World Animal Foundation says that the Basenji’s stubborn dedication to hunting instinct can come across as being stupid but refutes this stance: “The Basenji is another on the top list of dumbest dog breeds bred for hunting, as evidenced by its penchant for taking off after prey, no matter what it’s doing at the time. The drive to catch the smaller animals, typically cats, squirrels, chipmunks, and the like, is so innate that it will disregard any other commands while in pursuit. In this respect, it’s super smart.”

4. Bulldog

While “dumb” isn’t an accurate descriptor, some adore bulldogs’ playfully stubborn streaks and comical drool-fest moments, finding their goofiness endearing and distinctly bulldog-ish. Their goofy quirks and laid-back charm often stand in stark contrast to more high-energy breeds, offering a comforting, low-maintenance companionship many find delightful. Terribly Terrier claims, “Looks can be deceiving, but in this case they’re pretty much spot-on. These (literally) thick-headed dogs really are as dumb as they look. That doesn’t stop people from loving the breed though – in fact, it’s part of the charm.”

couple of bulldogs sleeping
Two Bulldogs (Photo by Piero Nigro from Unsplash)

World Animal Foundation relates “intelligence” is often merely a label used to describe obedience. “Looking at the English Bulldog is sure to elicit at least one ‘aww!’ statement. They’re notoriously cute dogs that have an endearing underbite that you just can’t look away from. They’re also one of the most popular dog breeds. In general, the English Bulldog tends to be a bit stubborn, which means it’s slow to pick up on new commands and learn new tricks,” they add.

Dogster also mentions the Bulldog’s famous stubborn streak: “The term ‘bullheaded’ fits the Bulldog to a T. For this reason, Bulldogs can be difficult to train, but dumb? You only have to look to one of the famous skateboarding or surfing Bulldogs to see that they are definitely capable of learning. Bulldogs are also labeled as lazy, but clearly some enjoy more vigorous activities than lying on the couch.”

5. Chow Chow

Chow Chows’ fluffy lion mane, wrinkled teddy bear face, and perpetual blue tongue create an irresistible paradox: regal goofballs who seem lost in perpetual daydreams, melting hearts with their cuddly aloofness and perpetually surprised expressions. Terrier Center explains, “A lot of the dumbest dogs are fun-loving and happy-go-lucky, but not the Chow Chow. These deeply suspicious guard dogs are downright intimidating – mostly because you have no idea what’s going on in their heads.”

a brown dog standing on top of a pile of leaves
Chow Chow puppy (Photo by Łukasz Rawa on Unsplash)

Terrier Center writes of some of their frustrations with this breed: “These massively fluffy dogs are loyal, if slightly aloof companions. Trying to train them can be a bit of a nightmare, though, and once they’re trained, they can often be frustratingly stubborn to work with.”

Oodlelife states that they prefer to overlook any questions of intellect in favor of uniquely good looks. “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?”

6. Borzoi

Borzoi’s regal elegance hides a mischievous streak – their long, slender faces morph into comical expressions as they swipe treats or zoom off with socks. This playful contrast between graceful beauty and sneaky antics tickles human funny bones and warms hearts. According to Dogster, “Yet another sighthound, the Borzoi is an independent freethinker. This breed can also be stubborn — training a Borzoi is an exercise in patience. Borzois seem to do best with frequent, short training sessions rather than hour-long classes. In the house, they are generally very well-mannered, calm, clean and quite affectionate, especially with their special people.”

Curled up Borzoi dog photo by Karolina Wv on Unsplash
Curled up Borzoi dog (Photo by Karolina Wv on Unsplash)

World Animal Foundation says with this breed, we have a case of willfulness rather than lack of smarts: “The Borzoi kind of resembles an Afghan Hound in that it’s tall with long flowing fur and known for its graceful, gentle nature. Like its Afghan counterpart, it’s a sighthound, which means it exhibits the same traits — this is one of the independent breeds and is very stubborn. Training the Borzoi requires a lot of patience because of those two traits. For this reason, it ranks low on the intelligence scale.”

The Borzoi craves a capable handler. “Where most dogs are driven only to please their families, the borzoi is not as driven and forces its owner to work hard to train them. Once a dog owner has proven to this breed that they are capable of strong leadership, they are always rewarded with companionship and loyalty,” notes Canine Journal.

7. Pekingese

Pekingese are lovable loaves baked with fluffy fur and stubborn charm. Their flat faces, waddling walks, and snorting snores melt hearts like butter. Snuggle up to their squishy rolls and forget fancy tricks – these cuddly companions offer warmth, devotion, and a symphony of snorts as their contribution to world knowledge. Hepper Blog says, “The Pekingese was bred as a companion dog and was primarily bred for the Chinese Tang Dynasty. Unfortunately, the breed still believes itself to be part of the elite. As such, it can be very difficult to convince a Pekingese that it should follow orders. It will expect to be pampered and it has a strong stubborn streak so no amount of convincing and cajoling will work.”

Pekingese dog
Pekingese dog (Photo by Vianney Cahen on Unsplash)

World Animal Foundation talks about some common behaviors that make some consider these dogs lacking in the intellect department: “What lands the Pekingese on the list of dumbest dogs is not its lack of intelligence but rather the traits it exhibits. For example, it’s a stubborn dog that will learn only what it wants to learn, and this applies to potty training, too. They’re often difficult to housebreak, as can be common with some of the smaller breeds.”

Dogster adds that these affectionate dogs need training early and with consistency. “Can you blame the Peke for enjoying the easy life? Pekingese are also stubborn and difficult to housebreak. This doesn’t make them dumb, but it does make for some training challenges. Start training early and be consistent.”

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About Alan Corona

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