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The 10 Dumbest Dog Breeds

We round up the dog breeds that are undeniably more decorative than smart.

 |  Aug 1st 2012  |   308 Contributions


Editor's note: Please don't take it personally if we tease your dog's breed in this article. The opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of Dogster.com.

When we use the terms “dumb” and “animal” together, it’s usually to indicate that an animal can’t speak for himself. But with the exception of a few breeds, such as the Basenji, dog owners know very well that dogs do speak (especially that yippy dog down the hall who you can't believe hasn't gone hoarse yet), albeit in a different language.

But there’s the other definition for “dumb,” which we tend to use to indicate the waiter who forgot your coffee, the driver passing you at 80 mph, or the dry cleaners who lost your favorite sweater. For humans, “dumb” is often used in the place of a more descriptive and harsh adjective, something perhaps you don't want your children to hear.

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Pekingese and fruit by Shutterstock

Keep in mind that dogs don’t care if they’re deficient in the upper story, and that we judge dogs’ intelligence based on our own concept of “smart” or “stupid.”

So What Makes a Dog Breed Dumb?

  • Difficulty in Training: The No. 1 guideline people use to determine if a dog is wanting in the brains department.
  • Bad Memory: If your dog forgets your neighbor every time he comes over, he’s not just a bad host, he’s a dumb dog.
  • Sense of Direction: If your dog can’t figure out how to get around obstacles, such as the furniture that’s been there for five years, it’s a sign that he’s a bit dim.
  • Inability to Distinguish What's Real: If your dog can’t distinguish between chasing a squirrel and chasing shadows on the wall -- not too bright.
  • Ability to Zone Out: The longer your dog just sits and stares at a wall (and especially if he seems happy about it), the more likely it is that your dog is incapable of doing an agility course.
  • Inadaptability to New Situations: A dumb dog usually has more trouble adapting to a new environment than one with a modicum of brains.
  • Confusion About Who’s In Charge: If a dog is lacking in intelligence, he’s more likely to assume he is alpha, and it takes much persuasion to change this.

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Why Some People Want a Dumb Dog Breed

Dumb dogs are for the people who just want a furry pillow with eyes, don’t intend on having the world’s greatest search canine, or want a dog for certain characteristics that go along with being dim. Many dumb breeds share similar desired characteristics such as cheeriness, cuddling ability, lap warming, patient temperaments, unquestioned devotion, and a desire to always be by your side. Not that smarter breeds can’t have these traits, but a dumb dog tends to be a happy-go-lucky guy who is attuned to you.

Why Some Dog Breeds Are Dumb

There’s a place for dumb dogs in the canine world, and there’s a reason they’re dumb. A pack is a hierarchy with the alpha at the top and authority trickling downward. The slowest canines in a pack are useful in that they don’t usually challenge that authority and provide a consistent demeanor. Breeds that are considered dumb were made that way by humans. These are mostly dogs bred and inbred to be companions to royalty long ago and dogs bred to have one particular trait, such as strength or tracking, which does not require intelligence. 

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Top 10 Dumbest Dog Breeds

  1. Cavalier King Charles SpanielThose big, slightly buggy eyes may look deep, but there’s nothing at the bottom of the well. These are very sweet companion dogs whose history of being inbred, as much as the royalty who kept them, helped create this deficit of brains. They are super cheery and affectionate, and we love them regardless.
  2. Rottweiler: How the Rottie gets on some of the top 10 intelligent breeds lists is a mystery. This breed is known for having trouble concentrating and learning commands. You’re also lucky if your Rottie remembers who you are. But these dogs are also very loyal and affectionate.
  3. Beagle: This breed has won at Westminster, so it’s clear it can prance around a ring on a lead very well. But the Beagle’s learning capabilities are limited, with the exception of using his sense of smell. This is put to use to find contraband in the Beagle Brigade, the troop of dogs who work airports. This is a very, very sweet breed who is devoted to his family.
  4. Basset Hound: This breed can be trained to track scents, but has little ability to adapt to situations and learn new things. He is actually a happy, friendly soul with comical antics.
  5. Pekingese: This breed is dumb and stubborn, a sometimes exasperating combination for the owner. These dogs also tend to think they’re in charge. But the Pekingese is also a loyal and excellent companion. 
  6. Borzoi: This catlike, noble breed is rather like the stereotypical pretty face -- very good at looking good but unable to do simple math. He is loyal and stately, and he makes a good pet for those who want a stable dog and something pretty to look at.
  7. MastiffThis antiquated breed is sensitive as well as dumb. Training takes great patience. He does make a wonderful guard dog and family companion.
  8. Chow Chow: This ancient breed is both stubborn and stupid. He is very hard to train and often does not understand the concept of “owner equals alpha.” Perhaps some of it is due his chagrin about his use as a food source at one point. This breed is really a formidable-looking love muffin.
  9. Bloodhound: Like the Beagle and the Basset Hound, this breed excels at using his nose. Unfortunately, he’s not adaptable to other tasks, and just try taking him out of his home. He is a good companion dog for owners who utilize his scenting specialty, and can make a good family dog.
  10. Bulldog: This bully breed is feisty and funny but not so bright. He’s prone to bullying and can be very tough to train. Aficionados, however, see his good characteristics such as his loyalty, guarding ability and affectionate nature.

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Borzoi hounds by Shutterstock

Dumb dogs are affectionate, trusting, and funny. The cartoon 2 Stupid Dogs, which ran in the early 1990s, captured the dumb dog’s life. These dogs were indeed stupid, their dumb antics getting them into a lot of trouble. But, these cartoon canines were lovable and, perhaps, more importantly, accessible. Not everyone wants a smart but snooty Poodle or an intelligent but distant Border Collie. There’s plenty of room for the dumb dogs of the world (and plenty of dumb people to go with them).

What do you think? Is this list totally off the mark Let us know in the comments! 

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