Top 10 Dumbest Dog Breeds

Mary Simpson
by Mary Simpson
Some pooches aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer. There’s no shame with being or owning any of the canines on this dumbest dog breeds list.

Is it politically correct to call any critter “dumb”? Let’s call this list of dogs the “not-so-bright” pack! I mean let’s face it, not all pooches (or people) can land within the top IQ percentile and there’s nothing wrong with that… in fact according to author and psychologist Stanley Coren in his book The Intelligence of Dogs, we can’t just broad-brush a breed, we need to be looking at three types of intelligence when ranking our clever canines:

  1. The first is instinctive which means he can perform tasks that are part of his natural make-up such as hunting or herding. E.g. the family cat can expect to be corralled.
  2. The second is called adaptive and that means he learns to independently problem solve based on past experience with the issue. E.g. the cat scratches so he stops corralling the cat.
  3. The third is known as working and obedience intelligence and it means he’s able to learn when being taught by humans. E.g. he’s taught to (and actually does) leave the cat alone before he is scratched.

Of course, it should come as no surprise that cognitive studies exist and similar to those conducted on young children, they help determine which dogs are clever little guys and which are well, not so much… So which breeds land at the very, very bottom of the super-smart list?

Basset Hound

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. (Photo credit: Ewa Studio/Shutterstock)


He’s not dumb, he just doesn’t want to do it. This headstrong pooch won’t take commands from anyone he deems unworthy and we’ll pretend that means he actually understands what you’re asking him to do, but has taken the position to refuse your request. The simple truth is, he needs a good strong pack leader he can respect… so it’s not him, it’s you. (Photo credit: Sheryl Lynch/Shutterstock)


Ahhh another scent hound who believes the nose knows and he’s stubborn to boot. This super easy-going pooch just does his own thing when and where he wants and he wears the badge of “difficult to train” proudly. He’s an ideal family addition but time and patience will be needed as this hound has a single purpose – tracking that scent versus pleasing you. (Photo credit: eAlisa/Shutterstock)


This little guy with the big personality can best be described as the inspiration for the phrase “small dog syndrome”. Dominating, disobedient, disorderly and loving it. While he gets a bum wrap because he doesn’t play by the rules, this independent thinker is capable of wrapping any human around his little, well, claw. So, who’s the dumb one now? (Photo credit: swapan banik/Shutterstock)


This mournful looking pooch with a face only a mother could love is far too focused on tracking down the bad guys to want to fetch a ball, roll over or offer tricks for treats. With more than 230 million scent receptors that can follow a trail for miles this mutt’s schnozzola is in constant overdrive. Now you want him to learn a new skill? Sheesh! (Photo credit: Kuznetsov Alexey/Shutterstock)

Chow Chow

This dog has no time to learn silly tricks, he’s too busy elbowing his way to the front of the pack. Yes, this alpha-dog-wannabe is not only headstrong but ambitious and if you aren’t a strong pack leader that he can respect and accept, he’s isn’t going to play nice or for that matter play at all. With a reputation for being stubborn, this purple-tongued pooch isn’t dumb, he’s just highly selective. (Photo credit: Bokstaz/Shutterstock)


He’s excessively clean and tidy and it’s suggested this handsome boy acts more like a cat in his fastidious approach to living, than a dog. So, no surprise that like a cat he refuses to fall into that people-pleasing mode that humans love so much. He doesn’t want you training him unless he feels you’re worthy and this can present as being unable to learn and brand him as not-so-smart. Would you ever imply this of a cat? I think not! (Photo credit: Kim Christensen/Shutterstock)


This loveable bully is just a good-natured plodder. He’ll never win awards for knowing how to herd and track a scent, and he’ll never be a contender in agility or learning how to dock-dive. But what he lacks in street smarts he makes up for in loyalty and a determination to make you happy. So, while it’s classed as “lifelong training”, what it really means is you’ll be revisiting lessons learned again and again and again…. (Photo credit: Ammit Jack/Shutterstock)


Do still waters really run deep? Just because this non-barking dog has nothing to say doesn’t mean he isn’t thinking all the time. On the other hand, it doesn’t mean he is. This energetic little guy is just another independent pooch that gets the not-too-clever brand because he’d rather look out the window than be trained and prefers to save his voice for only important matters. (Photo credit: Verbitskaya Juliya/Shutterstock)

Afghan Hound

She’s got both beauty and brains… unfortunately she’s also a diva which means she won’t be trained unless you talk real nice to her. Yes, this pooch is emotionally high maintenance and has even been described as neurotic. Add to this an independent nature and you’ve got the proverbial dog’s breakfast when it comes to how she learns best. Dumb, never! Just too many other things to worry about. (Photo credit: David Raihelgauz/Shutterstock)

Tips for Training Your ‘Not So Smart’ Dog

Do you have a dog that falls on this list? Is your dog not listed, but you can’t help but feel like he SHOULD have been on there? You dog doesn’t have to be the smartest pooch on the block for you to train him effectively. However, you may have to make some small changes to how you approach the training process to encourage your dog and keep him invested in learning.

  1. Go slowly and be patient. It may take longer for your dog to catch on to what you’re teaching, but it can still be done. Be careful not to rush through his training. Even when you think he has mastered the command that you are working on, keep running it to start each training session to remind him.
  2. Be very clear when giving your dog a command as well as when rewarding your dog. Your command should be short and simple, including one or two words if possible. Speak clearly and avoid repeating phrases or changing your mind, switching gears in the middle of training.
  3. Remove any distractions when training. This could mean moving to a quieter area of your home, separating your dog from other pets, or putting any toys away before training begins. Many of the dogs on this list are easily distracted and you want to set yourself up for success.
  4. Keep your training sessions short and to the point. If you try to push on too long, both you and your dog while end up getting frustrated. That’s not going to help anyone. If you notice that your dog is no longer interested, cut your training session short and pick it up again later.
  5. Do you have a higher-energy dog? If so, you want to take the time to exercise and wear your dog out before you expect them to focus. This could be as simple as going for a walk or playing a game of fetch before you get started.
  6. The right reward will make all the difference! If your dog isn’t interested in training, a bland treat with no real smell isn’t going to provide him with much incentive. Instead, select a treat that he loves or even stick with small pieces of chicken or turkey. By increasing the value of the treats that you are providing, you’re giving even the most stubborn dog a good reason to put in his best effort.
  7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. No trainer or pet professional is going to look down on you for not being able to do it all at home on your own. Work with a reward-based trainer in your area that can help you learn how best to work with and encourage your dog.

Whether your dog is lazy, stubborn, or easily distracted, love them for who he is. Sure, your dog may never be the top dog in their training class or win an agility contest, but he can still learn basic obedience with a little patience and hard work.

Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

Sharing space with three seriously judgy Schnoodles and a feline who prefers to be left alone. #LivingMyBestLife

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