Dumbest Dog Breeds

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Intelligence comes in many forms. When it comes to our furry friends, some dog breeds just appear to be the dumbest out there.

These breeds have earned a reputation for being less than brilliant. With 200 breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club, surely some are smarter than others.

Every dog owner loves their pup. We likely think ours is the best breed of all. However, I can tell you that my dogs, while whip smart about some things, are incredibly stupid about other things.

Therefore, this article will highlight some of the dopier breeds in the canine kingdom, including how and why they got the distinction.

Clueless canines: Meet the dumbest dog breeds

When it comes to measuring dog intelligence, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what that entails. Intelligence in dogs goes beyond just training ability. Smart dogs possess problem-solving abilities, adaptability and learning capacity.

Friendly dogs are often mislabeled as dumb because they’re big goofs. On the other hand, high-energy working dogs like the Dutch Shepherd or Belgian Malinois are considered the most intelligent of breeds.

Understanding dog intelligence: dumb breeds

No dog should really be labeled as dumb. Because no dog truly is.

Every dog has its strengths and weaknesses. However, let’s explore some of the more goofy dogs that are sure to make your life a bit more entertaining and challenging just by living with them.

Interestingly, a few of the dogs on this list also appear in a roundup of dogs that don’t bark a lot.

Basset hound and bloodhound

Basset hound on the left and blood hound on the right. Photo credit: Canva.

The basset hound and all hounds in general often make the list of dumbest breeds. With their long ears and wrinkly, droopy faces, their appearance certainly does them no favors in avoiding the label. 

Bloodhounds can be used as bomb-sniffing dogs. They are incredibly adept at tracking and scent work. Because of this dedicated one-purpose mission, it can make them oblivious to other commands.

When they don’t listen, you might think they’re being stupid. However, their relentlessness in following a scent makes them easily distracted from anything else.

In a working situation, this can be a wonderful trait. As a pet in your home, this stubbornness can be extremely frustrating.

Hounds are notorious for being incredibly difficult to housetrain. So, if you can survive that lengthy process as an owner, you’ll be rewarded with a companion for life in a basset or bloodhound.


Bulldog. Photo credit: Canva.

Despite their muscular build and determined appearance, bulldogs are sometimes considered less intellectually inclined. With their short, squat face and protruding jaw, they certainly look the part as well.

While bulldogs can be great family protectors, like the hounds, they are not the easiest to train. The breed ranks low in being able to understand or listen to commands. 

Their short attention span requires brief but frequent and consistent training exercises. Without proper training, bulldogs tend to become stubborn and lazy. Eventually, they’ll act like they own the house instead of you.

Afghan hound and borzoi

Afghan hound, left, and borzoi, right. Photo credit: Canva.

One glance at the majestic appearance of the Afghan hound or borzoi and you may wonder how either of these breeds could possibly be considered in a list of dumb dogs. Looks are never the whole story though.

Borzoi and Afghans are both sighthounds that are very similar in appearance. Both have a reputation for being quite neurotic. They’re also independent and have been labeled as cat-like at times.

While most breeds will do just about anything for a treat, an Afghan or borzoi couldn’t be bothered. Acting too cool for school is their motto. That applies to training them as well.

An icy, aloof reaction is a more likely response from either of these breeds. And even though, in my opinion, the borzoi looks like a greyhound (one of the smartest dog breeds), they do not have the obedient, do-anything-for-a-reward typical dog mentality.

In Stanley Coren’s 1994 research for his book, “The Intelligence of Dogs,” Afghans were consistently among the lowest measured.

They are the kings and queens of the canine poker face — even with their long snout. That’s why many label Afghan hounds as air-headed and dumb.

These breeds require a good dose of patience from their owners. Be forewarned: it will oftentimes feel like you’re dealing with a difficult teenager rather than man’s best friend.

However, don’t let their icy exterior fool you, especially when off leash. The borzoi is one of the fastest dog breeds in the world.

Chow chow

Photo credit: Canva.

You probably know chow chows as the dog that looks like a lion. However, while lions may be king of the jungle, the chow chow finds itself on this list for one reason. They have a hard-headed nature that makes them almost impossible to train.

With a tendency to assert itself as dominant, this can lead to both a frustrating and sometimes dangerous situation inside your house without a strong alpha presence. 

Chow chows can be loyal companions. However, they require a very regimented and assertive owner to show them who’s boss.


Pekingese may be one of the most popular arm candy breeds out there and they know it. This breed gets away with a lot because of their smaller stature.

While they may be easy to walk on a leash because of this, their spoiled nature often shines–making them appear to be one of the dumbest dog breeds.

This over-pampered breed has a proclivity for stubbornness and independence. This can make training difficult.

Pekingese can also show hostile attitudes towards other pets and children. They’re a classic only-child breed. While this may work for certain types of owners, it can be a challenge in other situations.

When we used the Wisdom Panel Essentials DNA kit, we discovered our dog Sadie is part Pekingnese. Do you see it in her face?

My dog Sadie. Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

Beyond dumb dogs: Celebrating canine quirks

“While you’d expect that combining two smart breeds — a standard poodle and a golden retriever — would produce an equally smart dog,” says Sage Scott of EverydayWanderer.com, “our goldendoodle is quite the goofball. Although he should take to water like a duck, he doesn’t like to swim. If anything minor blocks his path, like a shoe in the hallway, he sees a locked iron gate and cannot pass through. And although he is a large breed dog, he believes he has corgi legs and is unable to hop in the car.”

As Sage’s anecdote proves, being a dog owner means appreciating all the quirks and charms that make them unique. While intelligence may be a hot topic, choosing a furry companion is not about finding the next Einstein in a fur coat.

The bonds we forge with our four-legged friends transcend intelligence. Instead, they encompass loyalty, love and companionship that cannot be measured by how easy it is to train a dog to walk on a leash.

So, while it’s great to keep the nuances of these dumbest dog breeds in mind, it’s also important to embrace their individuality. Bottom line: make sure you choose the best dog for your situation.

This article originally appeared on Food Drink Life.

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