Forget the Smartest… Which 10 Dogs Are the, um, Dumbest?

Much has been written about the smartest dogs, so it stands to reason that there would also be designations of the “least intelligent dog breeds.”

Much has been written about the intelligence of dogs, lists of the smartest dogs, the most trainable dogs and so on.

It stands to reason that there would also be designations of the “least intelligent dog breeds.” It is with some apology to owners of these specific breeds that we present this compilation “Bottom 10” list, based on tests developed to measure canine IQ.

However, no matter how “dumb” these dogs are — or are perceived to be by some jerk with an IQ test — these animal companions aren’t any less lovable or loyal.


10. Basset Hound

Basset hound
Photos: Llima/Flickr

Never known for a razor-sharp response or detailed attention to training, the basset hound is nevertheless a faithful friend and most lovable breed.

Floppy ears, droopy jaws and a stoic expression bring smiles to anyone within sight of this whimsical hound. Not only do basset hounds provide love and companionship to their owners, but the breed has a nose that is a top-of-the-line model. Often used for tracking and scent detection, basset hounds excel at sniffing out the prize.

With a basset hound an owner never worries about her precious pup getting lost in a crowd. A basset’s baleful bark and mournful howl is distinct and can be detected for long distances. This breed may not own the award for a sharp intellect but certainly wins many hearts for its devotion and sweet, affectionate nature.

9. Beagle

This “least intelligent dog breed” designation may create some fighting debates. Come on, Snoopy is a beagle and he can fly a plane! Perhaps Charles Schultz chose a beagle for his famous comic strip because of the lovable personality and the happy, friendly demeanor of this breed.

Easy to care for, beagles are tireless playmates, non-confrontational and always eager to please. For beagle owners, the exposure to perpetual happiness is priceless.

8. Mastiff

Who needs a lot of smarts when you have all that brawn?

Despite the ability to win a smack-down, the mastiff is most likely to kill an opponent with kindness. One of the largest breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club, the mastiff is a gentle giant. Mastiffs are typically very loyal, family-friendly animals, gentle and docile. Attractive, regal and charming attributes make the mastiff the true Miss (or Mr.) Congeniality of the dog show circuit.

7. Pekingese

This breed originated in China some 2,000 years ago. The pekingese was so revered in ancient China that only royal families were permitted to own one. No puppy mill problems were apparent in those days; the penalty for stealing a pekingese was death — end of story!

Owners should be prepared: The pekingese owns its human, not the other way around. This little diva loves nothing more than curling up on a comfortable lap to be dutifully worshiped. While their tiny toes are not well suited for jewelry, these royal descendants still expect a kiss-the-ring reverence!

Don’t Miss: Pekingese Breed Profile

6. Bloodhound

This large dog breed is noted nearly exclusively for its extraordinary scent ability. Bloodhounds are used by many police, military and rescue organizations to detect people, and they can locate their prey “dead or alive.”

Reputed to be a “solitary, silent, tracker,” when the bloodhound does speak, he means to be heard. The distinct bay of the dog is unmistakable and demands attention. As for intelligence, well, Walt Disney caught the demeanor of the breed for one of his most beloved characters — Pluto!

5. Borzoi

BorzoiThe Russian name “borzoi” translates to “fast,” and this breed is known for its athletic ability and independence. While the borzoi may have the ability to run a marathon, the dog is content to lie on the sofa and enjoy the creature comforts of home. Borzois make the perfect housemates. They demand little, speak rarely and are overall contented companions.

Borzois do tend to wear their feelings on their sleeves — make that paws — and will sulk for hours if offended. Luckily, it doesn’t take diamonds to beg forgiveness; a yummy treat will suit this beautiful animal just fine.

4. Chow Chow

The “puffy lion” nickname perfectly describes the chow’s appearance and character. Chows are known for their fierce, protective nature.

Chows may be credited more for their intuitive skills than analytical intelligence. Sigmund Freud employed a chow in many of his therapy sessions. Freud documented his belief that the dog could accurately assess a patient’s mental state. Too bad Freud’s chow didn’t publish his own summaries.

3. Bulldog

From mascot to mattress salesman, the bulldog’s gruff, cartoon-like appearance makes him a walking advertisement. The breed’s characteristic wrinkled face, hanging jowls and natural curled pigtail make up the lovable, distinct physical appearance of the Number 3 dog on the “Least Intelligent Dog Breeds” list.

The bulldog may wear a “sourpuss” expression, but the breed is actually very friendly and gregarious. This breed’s reputed low maintenance requirements, docile nature and friendly attitude make the bulldog the intelligent choice for many pet owners.

2. Basenji

Dog enthusiasts who subscribe to the notion that dogs should be seen and not heard may migrate to the basenji, often referred to as the “barkless dog.” Do not be misled by the reputation; this dog can still make himself heard. The actual sound the basenji makes is termed a “barroo” and is often thought to sound more like a yodel than a bark.

Basenjis are the canine escape artists: They love to climb and are capable of scaling high fences to gain freedom. Basenjis are considered aloof and are typically one-person dogs. The lovable, faithful basenji gives its heart for life. What dog lover can resist the call of his or her basenji — even if it sounds like, “Yodaladiewhooo!”

1. Afghan Hound

At the top of the “Least Intelligent Dog Breeds” list is the quintessential diva of dogs, the Afghan hound. One look at this gorgeous creature and you can almost hear her thinking, “Don’t hate me because I am beautiful.”

When an animal looks this good, why would it need to demonstrate any other skills? The Afghan’s fine, silky hair and aloof, dignified manner make the breed synonymous with wealth and privilege. Afghan hounds are very high-maintenance with daily grooming needs. They are prized for their looks, competitive presence in the show ring and as print cover models. Nothing says, “Yes, I am special” like a long-haired, elegant, regal Afghan hound. Maybe an Afghan hound is the real secret subject of Carly Simon’s famous song!

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