What are the least intelligent dog breeds? Here are the top seven loveable airheads.

January 21, 2024

Not all dog breeds are blessed with great intellect. Some pups, bless their furry hearts, are more “party hard” than “ponder deeply.” Indeed, the dogs on the list below of “least-intelligent breeds” may not remember where they left their squeaky toys, but they are equally as loveable to have by your side as any other pups, reports Study Finds.

How were the ‘dumbest’ dogs discerned by Study Finds? The researchers contacted ten expert sources for their opinions. Their seven top choices are described below:

1.  Afghan Hounds, those silky stunners with flowing locks, wear their hearts on their fluffy sleeves (and everywhere else fur permits). While not known for their puzzle-solving prowess, they bathe their humans in boundless affection and goofy grins—proving love doesn’t need an IQ test.

The EditWorld Animal Foundation notes, “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.”

However, Dogster raves that— despite the common misconceptions—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.

2. Basset Hounds, with their droopy eyes and soulful sighs, are champions of snuggles and masters of melting hearts. Although not known for mental acuity, their floppy ears and silly smiles 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 who are strongly guided by their noses. 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.”

PetGuide.com agrees that instinct in Basset Hounds is strong: “In fairness, all scent hounds are a slave to their noses. 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. 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 United States, 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.”

The 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. Bulldogs: 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.”

5. 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.”

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. Borzois’ 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 beautyand 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.”

The World Animal Foundation says that, 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 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.”

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.”

Research contact: @StudyFinds