Dumbest Dog Breeds
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As a self-made dog rights advocate, I’ve always supported the saying that “all dogs are good.” But when it comes to dog intelligence, owning more than five breeds over the years has made me realize that some dog breeds are harder to train than others, which is one of the main qualities used to list the dumbest dog breeds.

The Afghan Hound is the dumbest dog, according to Stanley Coren’s famous book, “The Intelligence of Dogs.” The Basenji and the Bulldog follow in second and third place while the Chow Chow, Borzoi, and Bloodhound complete the list of the dumbest five dog breeds respectively.

This article discusses 34 of the dumbest dog breeds. In other words, those that may be innately smart but are a bit slower in picking commands and require extra time and patience in training, and are either rough or reserved when relating with humans and other animals.

34. Skye Terrier

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The Skye Terrier is among the calmer and reserved terrier breeds. However, they still have the typical independence and stubbornness of most terriers. They can make training difficult, but persistence and positive reinforcement should win them over.

Skye Terriers can be dominating and aggressive with other dogs and will follow their hunting instinct to chase smaller animals. They are suspicious of strangers and will bark to mark their territory. Early socialization and training are, therefore, crucial.

33. Norfolk Terrier

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Despite their toy qualities, Norfolk Terriers are an energetic breed. They love adventure and their hunting instincts make them chase after smaller animals, sometimes becoming aggressive.

This breed has the typical independence and stubborn assertiveness of terriers and will test your limits during training. You’ll also have to keep an eye on your furry friend and consider a leash or fence, otherwise, the dog’s inquisitive nature will get him adventuring away from home.

32. Sealyham Terrier

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Sealyham Terriers were originally bred to hunt small game. They are among the least popular breeds, probably because of their independent and self-willed personality. The dog’s pronounced hunting instincts will test your patience, they’ll run after every little creature.

Their stubbornness and pride make training quite the test. You have to be consistent and assertive. They’re also aloof with strangers and overly protective of their food and space, especially if early training and socialization are not done.

31. Pug

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Pugs play their companionship role well and have a steady temperament and loving disposition. That means they are generally easy to train. Nonetheless, they can decide to be stubborn during obedience training, winning themselves a spot among the dumbest breeds.

Whereas these dogs love pleasing their owner, they are extremely sensitive and will get hurt easily if harsh methods are used when training. Pugs are also hard to housebreak and may use urine-marking on their territory.

30. French Bulldog

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Bred to be companion dogs, the Frenchies are loyal and keen to please, ranking high in popularity. The pleasant personality makes training easier, but their obstinacy can slow down learning. Besides, they are naturally slow learners and need plenty of motivation, which could be done with treats, as they are food lovers.

These dogs are free thinkers with an inflated personality, often putting up stubborn streaks if not trained out of it in time.

29. Griffon Bruxellois

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The Griffon Bruxellois is not your ordinary eager-to-please breed. Apart from being grump-faced, they are hard to train and will dare you to make them obey using their stubbornness.

As with other toy breeds, Griffons are difficult to housebreak. They often take advantage of their tiny size to leave you little surprises in the oddest of places.

The Griffons’ antipathy for strangers can make them bark incessantly, which could put you in trouble with neighbors.

28. Maltese

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This ancient dog of Malta is a happy go lucky breed. You would think they are unfairly placed among the dumbest dogs if not for their tendency to act independently.

Their history as companion dogs has given them the art of manipulating humans to get what they want. So, you’ll need to be quite assertive in training, without being harsh. They’ll want you to give them all their attention, otherwise, they will put up a stubborn streak.

27. Italian Greyhound

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The Italian Greyhound was originally bred to chase but plays the companion dog perfectly. Their attachment to their owners is one of the reasons these dogs are prone to being overly sensitive and nervous. This means being extremely patient in training and avoiding harsh methods.

These dogs can also manifest stubborn streaks, rendering training even more difficult. Besides, they do not easily befriend strangers and will readily start to bark at the sight of unknown faces.

26. Coton de Tulear

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The “Royal Dog of Madagascar” is a happy breed that loves to make people happy. As naturally alert dogs, they would score higher on intelligence if not for their tendency to be stubborn and slow in housebreaking.

They can be shy and suspicious with strangers and are inclined to extreme barking. Nonetheless, the tiny pooch does well in agility and obedience competitions and as a therapy dog, suggesting their dumbness can be managed with proper training.

25. Chinese Crested Dog

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No one looks like the half furry half bare-skin Chinese Crested in the dogdom. Strange is also their tendency to climb like monkeys and dig below fences, you simply have to keep an eye on them.

But this unique dog can be great in competitive sports and as a therapy dog if you manage to overcome their stubbornness and independence. Besides, they can be manipulative, making housebreaking and obedience training a real struggle.

24. Dandie Dinmont Terrier

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This is another of the rare toy breeds that are extremely tiny and with unique body shape, especially their domed head. They are high in work intelligence and make alert watchdogs. Nonetheless, their bark can be loud and disturbing.

These tiny pooches are also overconfident of themselves and can be independent and stubborn. You’ll need to be patient in training and take advantage of the fact that they love pleasing their owner.

23. Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen

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The PBGVs are a petit French hound. Their most prominent intelligence feature is their pack instinct, relating well with people and other dogs. Be vigilant, though, of their hunting instinct with smaller pets.

Their curiosity is both a plus and minus in training. They’ll want to do things their way and easily lose focus on your training agenda. Besides, you have to keep an eye on them, otherwise, they’ll be digging or escaping always.

22. Tibetan Terrier

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The ‘Holy Dog of Tibet’ has origins in Buddhist monasteries as a companion and watchdog. But it can be less holy in training, manifesting stubborn streaks and losing focus easily.

This pooch will drive you crazy if you are the fussy extra-neat kind. They can be untidy, spreading water and food around the house, thanks to their long facial fur. They’ll also bring in leaves and other debris, and of course, plenty of grooming chores.

21. Japanese Chin

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Like other toy breeds of Asian origins, the Japanese Chin was bred as a companion for Chinese and Japanese royalty. They are sweet and loving, but manifest an independent and stubborn attitude in training, especially if harsh methods are employed.

Their dumbness is linked to their over-attachment to their owners, refusing to be left alone for long. Besides, they are overly suspicious of strangers, marking their territory with barking and a sense of distrust.

20. Lakeland Terrier

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Lakeland Terriers were bred to keep foxes from sheep herds. That explains their tendency to chase, especially smaller creatures. Though they respond well to positive training, they can be aggressive and are quick to growl if you are insistent or punish them.

These dogs are not just stubborn and independent, they are also mischievous and want to be the boss. If not well trained, they will put you in trouble with neighbors for their loud barking.

19. Old English Sheepdog

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This breed is among the tiny but strong old sheepdogs in England. They are known for their high energy but they easily get used to routine commands and get bored.

These dogs are strong-willed and can make your training efforts quite demanding. It can be difficult to motivate them when they want their way. You’ll have to be firm and patient at the same time. Starting socialization and training early will also help.

18. Great Pyrenees

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The Great Pyrenees is originally a mountain herding dog, a job that required them to be alone with sheep. So they are not dumb at their guarding job, but when it comes to training, they can be extremely independent and stubborn which means plenty of patience from you.

Their independence does not make them want to please you. Besides, these dogs also have a short attention span and are slow at learning and heeding commands.

17. Scottish Terrier

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The Scottish Terrier has a huge personality in a tiny body and is considered one of the most difficult breeds to train. The tiny pooch’s inexhaustible energy is often converted to defiance and stubbornness, which can make training difficult.

If you can’t stand a dog defying your orders outrightly, then the Scottish Terrier is not for you. Basically, the breed’s intelligence issue is not understanding, but the willingness to focus and learn basic obedience commands.

16. Saint Bernard

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The muscular Saint Bernard is a gentle giant, combining calmness with stubbornness and independence. They will not readily take commands and will test to see how well they can get away with it.

Even though they show interest during a training session, they’ll need all your attention and extra motivation to stay focused. Besides, they have trouble recalling what they learned. Luckily, their good temper gives you a reason to keep repeating commands until they learn them.

15. Bull Terrier

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Bull Terriers come with a lot of self-confidence, probably because of their bull-baiting original job. So, do not be surprised if they stand up to you during training.

Bull Terriers can be independent and stubborn, especially during puppyhood, which is your chance to get house rules straight. They can also be quick to jump on strangers but will want to please you once they discover through positive training that it’s not allowed.

14. Chihuahua

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The Chihuahua is a sweet lap/pocket pet. But their smiling face should not deceive you into believing they are naturally docile. This tiny pooch will take control of your home if you let them get away with their stubbornness; they’ll readily put up a stubborn streak to make you give up.

Chihuahuas are also noisy and will bark at the sight of a stranger and to guard what is theirs, which could mean trouble with neighbors.

13. Lhasa Apso

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If there’s a breed that deserves the ‘cute but dumb’ description, it is the Lhasa Apso. Their beauty makes them popular in the ring, but their dumbness will drive you crazy when trying to train them.

These extra-furry friends are not pleasers and will be outright stubborn during training sessions. They also have a short attention span and will be easily distracted during basic obedience training. Short and interesting training sessions are advised.

12. Bullmastiff

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The Bullmastiff breed takes after the parent breeds, Mastiff and Bulldog. They are gentle giants but also independent thinkers. They’ll want to do things at their own time and pace, oftentimes ignoring your commands.

From a work intelligence point of view, the Bullmastiffs are natural guards and will be swift in protecting their family. But they are inclined to being independent and are highly suspicious of strangers, which means early training and socialization should be done.

11. Shih Tzu

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This toy breed enjoyed the luxuries of royals as lapdogs and did not have to struggle to learn obedience tricks for survival. This explains why the Shih Tzus are not adept at learning new commands.

Because of their playful nature, Shih Tzus easily take training as one of their play sessions. Besides, they can be manipulative, trying to win your sympathy with their popeyed eyes. You’ll need consistency and firmness to make any progress in training.

10. Basset Hound

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Lovers of this breed consider them naturally loving and loyal. But these dogs have slow learning ability, making it hard for them to quickly pick new tricks.

Like all scent hounds, Basset Hounds score high on instinctive intelligence and will find it difficult to sacrifice trailing a scent for a session of training. They are also stubborn and considered lazy. All this means you have to be extra creative to capture their attention.

9. Mastiff

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The Mastiff is a slow learner, you would think his big body has something to do with it. But this breed is headstrong, and if you are not the pooch’s recognized master, you’ll have a hard time making the Mastiff take commands from you.

The Mastiff’s slow learning seems to get worse with age and depend on your training style. As such, you’ll have to be gentle and train your furry friend as a puppy.

8. Beagle

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Beagles paradoxically rank among the top 10 in popularity and dumbness. They are originally scent hounds with a pronounced sense of smell, which explains why they will prefer to follow their nose and ignore your commands to chase after tiny critters.

Beagles can be mischievous and independent and will not sit attentively in your training class. They’ll instead show disinterest and be easily distracted, which is why they’ve landed on the list of the dumbest dogs.

7. Pekingese

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The good life under the warm sleeve of their Chinese masters is probably what earned the Panginese their spot in the list of the dumbest dogs. They are easy-going and dominating and will not give you an easy time when housebreaking and training.

Their stubbornness makes them difficult to manage and has them rank extremely low in obedience intelligence. These popeyed furry friends are not just slow to pick tricks, they are utterly defiant.

6. Bloodhound

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The Bloodhound’s pronounced sense of smell should acquit this breed from the dumbest dog’s list. But the same sense of smell is responsible for their stubbornness and independence. Once the dog is on a scent trail, your ‘come’ or ‘leave’ commands will fall on deaf ears.

The breed is slow in picking simple obedience commands and tricks, making you invest more time in training. Their stubbornness also makes this breed a difficult pet to live with.

5. Borzoi

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Like the Afghan Hound, Borzoi is another of the dog breeds that are as elegant as they are stubborn. Don’t expect your elegant pet to try and please you. Instead, you’ll have to be patient and do several short training sessions to make your dog learn obedience commands.

Aloof and an independent thinker, the Borzoi is hard to tame, it’s even hard to make out what will be the dog’s favorite treat and motivate them.

4. Chow Chow

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The Chow Chows merit their spot among the dumbest dog breeds for their grumpy and stubborn nature. Though they can be loyal and cuddly, they are also independent and strong-willed and will not pledge obedience to you easily, making training rather difficult. Besides, you have to repeat commands many times before they can pick them.

Chow Chows will do their original guard-dog job well, but they can be extremely aggressive and territorial with strangers and other animals.

3. Bulldog

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Despite this bleed’s pleasant company and loyalty, the Bulldog is a slow learner when it comes to training and learning new commands, often being described as “bullheaded.” You’ll have to repeat commands several times, and still have your furry friend look at you with a ‘flat face’.

From a work (instinctive) intelligence point of view, the Bulldog is considered lazy, even though it was bred to herd. But that can change with proper and consistent training.

2. Basenji

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The Basenji are curious and playful, but this breed has been labeled “untrainable” owing to their aloofness, independence, and stubbornness. They are slow at picking new commands and have trouble remembering them. All this makes training a Basenji a bit like taming them afresh.

Though they’ll readily bond with you, they don’t like strangers. Besides, they can be temperamental and prefer keeping to themselves, even if it means grooming themselves like cats, which they love to do.

1. Afghan Hound

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The Afghan Hound has a majestic and elegant pose, but their stubbornness and independence are equally pronounced, placing them top on the list of the dumbest dog breeds.

As sighthounds bred to hunt using their sight and speed, they’ll often use their gaze to show aloofness and a standoffish attitude, especially with strangers.

They love their independence and can make your life impossible during housebreaking and training, but will become unconditionally devoted to you with a little patience.

Related Questions

Which Is The Most Loyal Dog? Every good dog owner will tell you their dog is the most loyal. But the Akita takes the overall merit for being the most loyal dog. This dignified and brave dog of Japanese origin is utterly devoted to their owner, explaining why the AKC describes it as “profoundly loyal to their humans.”

Which Is The Smartest Dog Breed? Going by our list in “The Intelligence of Dogs,” the Border Collie is the smartest dog breed. This dog will learn new commands and tricks with less than 5 repetitions and obey them at the first mention 95% of the time. They are the “superstars at canine activities” according to the AKC.

What Animal Has The Highest IQ? Dogs do not have the highest IQ. Instead, our closest relatives the Chimpanzees are the smartest animals. They are so rated for their ability to manipulate the environment to enhance their survival and at times thought to outsmart humans. A Chimpanzee named Koko who learned sign language and died in 2018 was said to have an IQ of 75-95.

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