At A Glance
Many dog breeds are easy to train and deemed intelligent as a result. And the goofy ones that chase their tails, get distracted easily, and choose naps over anything else are considered dumb. Is that true, though?
Last Updated on: July 28, 2023
Intelligence is calculated by one’s ability to acquire and apply knowledge and command. This applies to our canine friends as well.
Dogs, like the Poodle, are among the most intelligent breeds because they are easy to train. Meanwhile, Hounds breeds and Bulldogs get the title for being dumb.
Hounds have a strong instinct to track, prey, and hunt and, as a result, are difficult to train. Similarly, the English Bulldog doesn’t require a lot of physical exercise and gets bored quickly, making training challenging.
However, that doesn’t mean they are dumb. In my opinion, dumb is a word too strong. I prefer stubborn or complex, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Many breeds don’t conform to basic “intelligence” levels. They include:
Hounds, a class of hunting breed, were developed to hunt prey at sight or scent. These dogs have classic drooping ears and a long snout for a reason. Their long ears trap scents in between, allowing them to track smells better than most breeds.
These hounds are the most regal and exotic-looking, with their thick, silky coat perfect for harsh climates. Standing 27 inches tall, the Afghan Hound is powerful, agile, and strong.
The breed is hard to train. Their impulse to hunt precedes their will to please. Afghan Hounds are also highly independent; some may call them aloof. However, when bonded with their human, they are one of the most loyal companions ever.
Low-slung Basset Hounds are often called muscular, heavy-boned, and charming. This breed can move effortlessly without a break when they want to track a scent. Their long snout and ears help them track scents from miles away with such accuracy.
Sadly, their need for independence makes it almost impossible to train them. They can follow a smell without being distracted for hours, often ignoring commands. However, consistency and positive reinforcement training at a young age can suppress their behavior.
A miniature version of Greyhounds, Italian Greyhounds makes perfect lap dogs. But just because they’re smaller, they are just as able as their larger counterparts. They are quick, agile, elegant, and graceful in equal measure.
Italian Greyhounds are sight hounds through and through, which can make training a tad difficult. Like the Greyhound, the breed can sprint tirelessly and obsessively when they sight prey. It’s best to start with short, basic commands and then move to complicated ones.
This breed is famous for its wrinkly, loose skin, and drooping eyes and ears. Bloodhounds, known as Sleuth Hounds, are among the best scent trackers. Their noses can track scents from miles away, regardless of the terrain and temperatures.
This is why training them can be hard. Nothing can stop them once they smell a scent they wish to track. Their stubborn behavior makes them seem aloof. They are extremely sensitive, so training without positive reinforcement is impossible.
These furballs are pretty, intelligent, and confident. The breed was developed in the Himalayas over 1,000 years ago. They’re unlike any other breed, and here’s why.
Lhasa Apso only please their humans when it benefits them. They can learn just about anything you want them to as long as you please them. They don’t like monotony during training, so change things up. They will also ignore you if you are too hard on them, so train cautiously.
The ancient dog of Malta has been around for centuries – some say they’re as old as the Bible. Their flowy, thick floor-length coat screams luxury and makes them look uber stylish as lap dogs.
But the breed is so much more than that. Maltese are incredibly alert and fearless. Moreover, they respond well to positive training methods but can be moody and stubborn when they wish to be.
These bear-lookalike dogs have a shaggy coat and robust build. Old English Sheepdogs, or OES, are strong, agile, and love children, making them perfect for families.
Additionally, their shrieking bark is not to be messed with, though. With a large breed like the OES, early training is paramount. They are highly trainable only as puppies and may not respond well to new commands as adults. So, be careful of what you teach them early on.
This toy breed has a regal lineage. The Pekingese is extremely low-slung, has fluffy, thick fur, and a lion-like mane. They have a charming and confident personality, making them perfect companions.
Pekes were bred to live in palaces where they could be independent. They also don’t follow commands easily because they are quite domineering. The breed is alert and quick to action in times of trouble, but don’t expect them to be friendly towards children.
The Barkless Dog, or Basenji, are compact dogs that are alert like hunters but poised like a cat. This unique breed can run – or trot – like horses despite their size and emote almost like humans.
But what makes them “dumb” is their cat-like behavior. They lose interest quickly and don’t always listen to commands when not in the mood. However, experts believe early socialization and training can help overcome this trait.
No Beagle owner will ever bad-mouth the breed; these canines are friendly and happy. Since they were developed as hunting dogs, they are strong, willful, and energetic as well.
So, what makes them dumb, you ask? Their constant need to take things slow and steady. Beagles refuse to conform to harsh training treatments and traditional training courses. You must get creative and use lots of positive reinforcement training when owning a Beage.
Considered one of the most beautiful dogs, the Borzoi has silky, long fur that makes it look regal. Without all the luxurious fur, anyone would confuse them for Greyhounds.
Like the Basenjis, many canine enthusiasts call Borzoi cat-like because they can be stubborn. Training them calls for ample patience, consistency, and variations. They don’t like monotony, so change things up and start drills early for better results.
Terriers were developed to hunt vermin. However, they became man’s best friend because they are alert and child-friendly. Most terriers have wirey fur and are smaller compared to other breeds.
Bull Terriers are playful, affectionate, and strong. Their gait, unique head shape, and muscular body make them stand out from the rest of the Terriers. Moreover, they have short, thick fur.
Bull Terriers have huge personalities and can sometimes come across as stubborn. They love playing and lead a daily active lifestyle. It’s essential to keep these factors in mind when training them. Training sessions need to be fun and engaging. Otherwise, they might get bored.
Once a farmer dog, the Lakeland Terrier is what you’d call a big personality. The breed is named after the Lake District in England, where it was developed.
Don’t be fooled by their innocent-looking faces. Lakeland Terriers are sharp, learn quickly, and get bored easily. This is why early training and socialization are paramount. In fact, the breed needs professional training over basic commands, as they don’t like basic, repetitive tasks.
They’re easily one of the distinctive-looking breeds with their shaggy fur that touches their floor. Skye Terriers have ears that almost resemble bat ears, and their mane only allows for the snout to peak out.
Although intelligent, these dogs are strong-willed. They’re also the calmest of all Terriers; however, they dislike harsh criticism because they are sensitive. So keep the training light and breezy, and watch how this furry friend gets eager to please you.
Although considered small, Sealyham Terriers are stronger than most breeds their size. Their white, weather-resistant coat needs frequent trimming. Besides their regular grooming needs, some find training them also to be a task.
This is because Sealyhan Terriers require firm but positive training. Training them is rather difficult since the line between firm and harsh is too thin. This breed is quite possessive about their food and humans, so correcting this behavior at an early age is more than paramount.
The Norfolk Terrier is a cute and cuddly breed that loves being a lapdog. Meanwhile, it is also fierce, bold, and always up for a challenge. Their folded ears make them stand apart from their cousin Norwich Terriers, who also have soft fur.
Norfolks are independent and love to challenge limits – even their owners’. As a result, early socialization and professional training are recommended. Training this breed when they’re older is not recommended, as they are quite set in their ways.
Dandie Dinmont Terriers are handy little Terries built for farm life, but they easily adapt to city life. Their silky coats in Pepper and Mustard colors and petite bodies make them look adorable. But don’t mistake them for calm cuddle buddies.
They are super hyper, alert, and confident. These very same qualities land them in trouble as well. They overestimate themselves and ignore their human commands in times of trouble. Early training can help bring this behavior under control.
Also known as Diehards or Scotties, Scottish Terriers have soft wiry coats, ears that are erect, and tails that always stand up in attention.
Like hounds, they have strong hunting instincts and don’t think twice before taking on prey twice their size. This aloof and bold behavior makes them hard to train. They cannot pay attention to any task for more than 15 minutes, so training sessions must be short and crisp.
These Tibetan watchdogs are small to medium-sized and look similar to Lhasa Apsos. And just like them, they are considered dumb because of their independence. Repetition is a big no-no. But once you develop a relationship with them, they will do anything to please you.
Tibetan Terriers, also known as the Holy Dog of Tibet, are also sensitive, so avoid harsh forms of training.
The British variation of Mastiffs, the Bulldog, is also called the English or British Bulldog. Bulldog breeds have distinct broad heads, thick folds of skin, and wide-set shoulders.
Although they look terrifying, they are far from that. They love lazing on the couch with their owners and lose interest easily. Training Bulldogs takes a lot of patience and love. Only experienced trainers and pet owners can take a challenge this difficult.
The French Bulldog is truly one of a kind with its bat-like ears and compact build. The miniature Bulldog doesn’t bark much but is alert and gets ready to defend its owner in the blink of an eye.
However, early training and socialization are necessary. They’re incredibly stubborn, but proper motivation and establishing a leader can calm the trait.
Large and muscular, Bullmastiffs are the perfect watch and guard dogs one can ask for. These dogs are large, alert, and intimidating intruders, but at the same time, they are docile with their loved ones.
Bullmastiffs are strong-willed. A lack of routine and training can help them stay put even in adulthood. First-time dog owners should avoid this breed, as training them is tedious unless done by a professional.
Undoubtedly, Mastiffs are tough, muscular, and brave. They’re the classic blueprint of what a watch or guard dog must be – it’s no wonder so many breeds are developed after crossing them.
That said, Mastiffs are considered “dumb” because they hate repetition and loud voices, making training challenging. They prefer naptime over long sessions, so you may want to keep that in mind when buying a Mastiff puppy.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels were so loved by the royal family that they got their name after King Charles II. They are known for their good looks, alertness, and agility. Moreover, they’re adaptable to various lifestyles, making them even more sought-after.
One thing that potential pawrents need to keep in mind, though, is that they are stubborn. They may refuse to follow commands when engaged in something they find far more exciting. So be prepared for occasional bouts of disobedience.
Infamous for being sassy, the Chihuahua has gained quite a reputation for having a big personality. It is extremely loyal, lively, and possessive. If not corrected, possessiveness could turn to over possessiveness.
The breed is brilliant, but owners must establish control at an early age. Once a Chihuahua starts believing it’s in charge, it can become quite bossy and stubborn.
The Chinese Crested is hard to miss with its hairless body, hairdo, furry paws, and floofy tail. These dogs are loving, playful, and super loyal to their owners. There’s really no reason not to have one join your family.
But if there’s one thing you need to ensure is how to talk to them. Chinese Crested don’t withstand harsh words or negative actions thrown in their direction. They may withdraw from you completely, so be gentle with them.
The Royal Dog of Madagascar, Coton de Tulear, is light-hearted and humorous. Although petite, the breed is strong and can even walk on its hind legs without any formal training.
Cotons love being entertained, even when under training. So, keep sessions short and lively. Moreover, they can be quite territorial, but early socialization and reinforcing manners can help curb this instinct. Once trained, Cotons rarely forget commands. This is one of the reasons why they make excellent show dogs.
Anyone who calls Chow Chows dumb hasn’t owned one. These ancient dogs of China are strong, have smooth or rough coats, and a lion-like mane. They are similar to cats when it comes to grooming. These dogs barely smell and love grooming themselves to look and smell presentable.
These bright canines are aloof and don’t easily become friends with everyone, coming across as disinterested. Chows don’t trust easily, and even the slightest harsh tone can set them off in the other direction.
These pug lookalikes have a curious expression at all times. Some even say they are feline-esque because they are graceful and quiet. However, their silky, fluffy coat says otherwise.
Japanese Chins can be stubborn; they only like to do what they want to. This can be challenging when training. They also lose interest in the blink of an eye, so keep sessions short but fun.
The Great Pyrenees easily camouflage in the snow thanks to their white, fluffy coats. This allows them to drive away predators who are staking a claim on their herd of sheep. These calm canines can spring into action whenever they sense trouble, but getting there takes a lot of training.
Pyres are independent and hate being bored. To keep themselves occupied, they go on missions by themselves. Without early socialization and training, they may lose interest and not follow orders or respond.
Pugs have been famous for all the right reasons. They are charming, adorable, and always happy. These canines come from a long line of Chinese Emperor companions and are also mascots of Holland’s royal family.
But if left alone for long periods, pugs can be destructive. Early socialization can help prevent bouts of separation anxiety. They are also sensitive and don’t take criticism or harsh words well, so always tread lightly around them.
Saint Bernards are one of the most-loved breeds among many canine enthusiasts. They’re charismatic, charming, and muscular. Unlike most large breed dogs, the breed has a friendly expression that makes them seem like gentle giants.
Dogs as big as Saint Bernards always need early training and socialization. Because they are so huge, they may end up hurting someone unintentionally. So, it’s best to teach them commands while they’re young.
Also known as Little Lions, Shih Tzus epitomizes the saying, “All good things come in small packages.” They are tiny, mischievous, and great for people with children. They easily adapt to various lifestyles and love cuddling with their owners occasionally.
It’s no secret that Shih Tzus are amusing. They do what they want, so when training, keep that in mind. Ignore any unwanted behaviors and only praise them when they do something nice. You must also keep harsh words to the bare minimum, as they are sensitive.
They look like pugs, except for the beard, and even act like them! Brussels Griffons are often called “almost human” because of their expressions and facial features. Despite their size, they are strong and bold.
Griffs are sensitive; negative words or actions affect them gravely. They also bond easily with their owners and need constant contact. Leaving them alone can cause anxiety and destructive behaviors.
Petit Basset Griffon Vendeens were originally developed as rabbit-hunting hounds. These loud canines love socializing and exhibiting their skills. But getting to that point takes some time.
Because they are so intelligent, they have a mind of their own and may tend to disobey commands. When training your puppy, stay one step ahead and make sessions fun and diverse. Have nummy treats handy to keep it encouraged and motivated.
This breed descends from a long line of Japanese hunting dogs. Once upon a time, Akita Inus were almost extinct until canine enthusiasts started to standardize and breed them. Today, they are one of the most sought-after breeds.
Given their natural instincts to hunt, Akitas get bored quickly of long training sessions. They need mentally stimulating exercises and regular physical workouts to stay fit.
Meet Paul, a devoted dog dad to the delightful French Bulldog, Cofi. With a flair for humor and a deep understanding of Frenchie quirks, Paul brings a lighthearted touch to his writings. His relatable stories and practical insights are a blend of laughter and valuable advice and resonate with fellow dog owners.
Through his words, Paul aims to celebrate the joys and challenges of being a dedicated pet parent, reminding you that life is simply better with a four-legged, snorting sidekick by your side.