What qualities would land a dog breed on the list of “the dumbest dogs”? According to experts, “the dumb dog” phenomenon does not exist – it is a question of deciphering what a dog is good for so as to harness its potentials, and appreciate its actual intelligent quotient. Like humans, dogs differ in terms of capability and intelligence. While some breeds are adept at responding fast to instructions, there are still others that excel in herding, hunting, as well as sniffing out things. Still, it’s no secret that certain breeds are simply harder to train than others. They may be innately intelligent and smart, but their stubbornness always seems to get in the way. That said, even these dogs can be trained with the correct methods, coupled with lots of patience and consistency. Which dog breeds are these?
No dog breed looks as aristocratic and elegant as the Afghan hound. With its long and silky coat, this regal-looking canine has a flair of nobility and aristocracy that is rarely seen in other large dog breeds. It’s no wonder then that his dog can rarely – if ever – be seen following its human master around the house like most family dogs do. No, this dog marches to the beat of its drum – it doesn’t seek or need anyone’s approval. That said, they’re highly loyal to their family and most are also very affectionate, however, they’re not great with children as noise and quick and sudden movements tend to startle them.
This dog ranks highly on the list of the least trainable dog breeds in the world not because they’re unintelligent (they’re actually very smart!) but because they’re aloof and independent. You may have to be more creative than usual when training your Afghan hound, but with patience, consistency as well as lots treats, you can certainly do it!
A hilarious handful, the Basenji is both smart and mischievous. Unfortunately, its cat-like sense of independence also makes it a really stubborn hound to train, so early socialization and training classes are an absolute must. Thankfully, they’re not impossible to teach as long as one uses consistent and positive-training techniques from puppyhood. However, they are prone to losing interest quickly, so fun and interesting lessons are highly recommended.
The Basenji is smart; no question about that. But its level of independent-mindedness is what it makes it so difficult to train. It is a great explorer and a great climber, too, so physically demanding training lessons are also a good idea. This dog will try to please you for as long as you can keep it interested, but even the best training classes won’t work on all Basenjis – they’re highly independent and will pick and choose when to obey (like cats!).
Being the favorite companion of Chinese Emperors and members of their royal court, the Pekingese has grown an ego that is quite a bit larger than the dog itself. Because of this, the Pekingese is best known for its opinionated, “respect-my-authority” attitude. Training it to follow your commands is usually met not exactly with resistance but that why-should-I-follow-you look.
Strong-willed, stubborn, and self-important, this breed can be difficult to housebreak. They’re not dumb, mind you, they just don’t care for your rules. Thankfully, they can be trained with firm but kind consistency. They respond well to reward-based training techniques and praise, so always have treats ready to hand. And if you can somehow convince your Pekingese that training lessons are actually their idea and not yours, that would be even better!
Contrary to popular opinion, Bulldogs are not ferocious dogs; instead, they’re devoted, good-natured, and easygoing. Sure, they courageous and determined as well, but you’ll rarely see this adorable pup starting a fight out of nowhere. While friendly and eager to please, they’re not particularly easy to train. This is mostly because they’re stubborn (0r shall we say bull-headed!) and lazy, so they end to ignore commands and pleads unless they involve napping on the couch.
On a more serious note, the Bulldog may not be the brightest or easiest to train pup around, but lovers of the breed agree they’re not impossible to train. The key is to make the training sessions fun and full of praises and treats. That’s the best way to this cuddly and amiable hound.
Known for its teddy bear-like coat, the Chow Chow is a dignified and strong-willed breed of dog. They are known to attach themselves to only one person in the family despite showing affection for the whole group. This Chinese Han Dynasty dog was primarily bred for hunting game birds, although their working genes have drastically changed over time.
Chow Chows are actually quite smart, however, they’re not easy to train. This is due to their dominant personality and stubborn streak – they’re simply not fans of authority. Thankfully, you can teach your Chow Chow good behavior (and perhaps a trick or two as well!) if you take a calm, firm, and kind approach to training. Treats, praise, and fun lessons are all recommended, and so are early socialization classes. This all said, if you want an obedient dog, look elsewhere!
Russian Wolfhound, also known as Borzoi, is a strong, graceful, and beautiful dog, that like most canines on our “dumbest” dog breeds list is also quite stubborn. Similar to a cat, the Borzoi is intelligent, fastidious and resourceful, but also independent and opinionated. While this is a great pet to have if cleanliness is of utmost importance, they’re far from ideal if you also want an obedient dog.
Noble and dignified, the Borzoi is not known for its eagerness to please. This, coupled with their independent spirit, means they can be challenging to train. For this reason, very easily socialization and training classes by a patient and calm trainer or owner are highly recommended.
The ultimate hunting and tracking dog, the Bloodhound has an incredible sense of smell thanks to which they’re irreplaceable in law enforcement and search and rescue. But it is precisely because of their keen nose that they’re also hard to train. A breed that practically “sees” the world through their nose is bound to be prone to distraction – whatever seems interesting, must be investigated!
Thankfully, puppy training and obedience classes can help mold them into well-mannered dogs. Still, firm and consistent techniques are a must because they tend to be quite stubborn and independent. At the same time, they’re devoted and affectionate, so besides firm consistency and skill, this hound’s training lessons should also involve patience, praise, and of course – treats!
The Mastiff is a gentle giant. The size alone of this dog is often enough to stop troublemakers in their pursuits. But when it comes to its family, the Mastiff is as friendly and loyal as any other dog. They are very gentle with kids and have this peculiar behavior of going from room to room making sure that everything is in order.
Unfortunately, because of their chill and docile nature, many folks find them to be dumb, or at least very challenging to train. These dogs simply require patience, consistency, and perseverance in training, and they respond well to positive reinforcement. When fully trained and socialized, they can be the best guardians of the house and venerable playmates of your older kids. However, because of their size, they’re not exactly ideal to have around a home with small children.
The Beagle is a smart dog who is also a very tenacious hunter, using its remarkable scenting ability to track down prey. Sadly, this is also what makes it quite difficult to train. Once the Beagle locks into a particular scent, the only thing that can dissuade it from its single-minded pursuit is the introduction of a much stronger scent. It is a four-legged Houdini, an escape artist that can be quite difficult to keep in one’s home and backyard. It will always try to sniff for something really interesting, whether it is your dirty laundry or that delicious barbecue scent from a mile away.
This is not to say that the Beagle is untrainable. Oh, it is! But you should know the secret to training this scenthound. Since everything is centered on the dog’s nose, this can be taken as a distinct advantage during training exercises. Heed this well and you’ll end up with a really obedient hound. Just be prepared for occasional stubbornness, nonetheless.
For a wider selection of choices, check out our Dog Food for Beagles guide.
This adorable dog looks like the Bloodhound but with color markings that are quite similar to a Beagle’s. Some folks think of the Basset Hound as naturally lazy and slow because of their rather sluggish movements, but what they fail to realize is that this is a hunter and, like all hunting dogs, can be trained.
Basset Hounds have a clownish nature and they’re best known for using their pleading gaze to get what they want. They are smart, often pretending they’re helpless or afraid to get dog treats, affection, and attention. They’re manipulative in a sense. Like all hounds, the Basset’s strongest asset and liability is its nose. Once it’s transfixed onto something, there’s no nudging it back to reality. On the plus side, they’re eager to please and are food-motivated, so definitely not impossible to train!
None of the dogs on this list are dumb in the sense that they cannot be trained. They’re all actually quite smart! The only issue is their stubbornness and often prideful independence. Thankfully, with the right training techniques and tricks, any dog can be taught good behavior and manners.
- Elizabeth Xu, Is Your Dog Smarter than the Average Dog?, PetMD
- Can Dogs Be Dumb?, Wag!
- Interesting Facts About Dogs, The MSPCA–Angell
- French Bulldog Dog Breed Information, VCA Hospitals
- Meredith Hooker Williams, 5 Reasons a Beagle Might Be the Right Dog Breed for You, Vetstreet