Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

15 Dumbest Dog Breeds & Why We’re Wrong About Them (With Pictures)

Oliver Jones

By Oliver Jones

beagle dog standing on grass

A lot is made of the intelligence of certain dog breeds. We often hear that the Collie is the most intelligent dog breed because it picks up commands quickly, takes to training, and not only listens but responds to the commands it is given. Other breeds like the German Shepherd and the Belgian Malinois are considered intelligent for similar reasons.

At the other end of the scale are those breeds that take longer to learn new commands and rarely respond to them. A failure to listen to commands doesn’t necessarily make a dog dumb, it just makes them unresponsive, but there aren’t any other methods of determining a dog’s intelligence until reliable canine IQ tests become a thing.

It is also worth noting that the upbringing, care, and social interactions of a dog are more important when determining its intelligence, than its breed. But, if you’re looking for a breed that is more likely to listen to commands and will pick new ones up with less effort, you may want to avoid the dogs listed below.

hepper-dog-paw-divider 3

The 15 Dumbest Dog Breeds

1. Basset Hound

Two european basset hounds
Image Credit: Jne Valokuvaus, Shutterstock

Basset Hounds are scent hounds that are strongly guided by their nose. 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.


2. Mastiff

Brindle mastiff sits in the middle of a forest of trees
Image Credit: Joseph Gruber, Shutterstock

Mastiffs, specifically English Mastiffs, are very loyal and form a close bond with their owner. Once that bond is formed, it will be easier to train a Mastiff. But until that point, the breed will rarely listen. They also lose attention quickly, which means training sessions need to be kept short and interesting if you want to convince a Mastiff to learn something new.


3. Beagle

beagle dog lying on sofa
Image Credit: SeventyFour, Shutterstock

The Beagle is another scent hound, like the Basset Hound. But unlike the Basset Hound, the Beagle is quite an energetic dog. The Beagle will follow its nose at any opportunity, which makes training difficult, and because their scent chasing is a natural instinct, it is basically impossible to train it out of them.


4. Afghan Hound

Portrait of two Afghan greyhounds
Image Credit: wildstrawberry, Shutterstock

Afghan Hounds are very confident in their own abilities and this means that they usually believe they know best. This independence leads to most Afghans being difficult to train and you will find it very difficult to convince one to follow orders. On the other hand, they are exceptionally skilled hunters, look beautiful, and can make very loyal pets.


5. Basenji

Basenji dog standing on grass outdoor
Image Credit: Grisha Bruev, Shutterstock

The Basenji can best be described as the cat of the dog world. It is very independent, highly curious, and it has buckets of energy for playing. It is also a very cautious dog, which means it can take some convincing to try anything new. And the Basenji can be quite wary of strangers. The breed is not recommended for novice owners.


6. Pekingese

pekingese smiling
Image Credit: Olga Aniven, Shutterstock

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.


7. Bloodhound

bloodhound dog standing in the grass
Image Credit: Lenkadan, Shutterstock

The Bloodhound is yet another scent hound to make the list. Its inclusion may seem odd when you consider that the breed is widely used around the world in search and rescue and for police dog work. It is a very independent breed and doesn’t really seem to care about anything other than sniffing and following scents!


8. Borzoi

white russian borzoi in the forest during autumn
Image Credit: Anastasiia Cherniavskaia, Shutterstock

With a similar build to the Afghan, the Borzoi has some similar traits. It is fastidious over personal hygiene, so one of the reasons that it can come across as being dumb is that it spends a lot of time preening and grooming itself. However, with consistent training sessions, which are best kept on the short side, it is possible to raise a friendly and well-mannered self-groomer.


9. Chow Chow

Beautiful dog chow-chow in the park
Image Credit: Flower Garden, Shutterstock

Chow Chows are independent and they are often used as guard dogs because they do not trust people easily and are very independent. The independent streak makes the breed difficult to train, but if you can convince one to trust you and to follow you, it will want to please you, which will make the training process a lot easier.


10. Bulldog

bulldog sitting on a bench in the park
Image Credit: Jumpstory

Bulldogs are loving and brave and they will protect their humans. But they can also be lazy and a little ignorant. Which type of Bulldog you end up with will ultimately be determined by your training efforts and results. Be consistent and persistent with training and you should get a loving Bulldog pet. But if you’re lazy with training, you can expect your Bulldog to be equally lazy.


11. Shih Tzu

Blue_Gray Shih Tzu
Image Credit: Mike Workman, Shutterstock

Shih Tzus are fun, loving, and loyal. They are also social and somewhat stubborn. This combination makes them a popular pet, but their stubbornness makes training difficult while their desire to greet everybody and to play around further exacerbates the difficulties that a lot of owners have with this breed.


12. Chihuahua

chihuahua dog sitting outdoor
Image Credit: Piqsels

The Chihuahua is one of, if not the smallest breeds of dog, although the dog itself has no concept of this. It is brave and will attempt to take on dogs of any size and stature, and it won’t back down. It also barks. A lot. And Chihuahuas can be prone to nipping people. This combination makes them seem dumb, although it is more a question of them looking for fun and not wanting to seem smaller than other dogs.


13. Bullmastiff

a female bullmastiff
Image Credit: Michael J Magee, Shutterstock

The Bullmastiff is similar to the English Mastiff, and not only in breed and physical stature. The breed is very loving and loyal to its humans. But, its physical strength is matched only by its strength of will and this independent breed will not do anything it doesn’t want to. The trick to training is to convince the Bullmastiff that any action or activity was the dog’s idea, not yours.


14. Lhasa Apso

Lhasa Apso
Image By: SubertT, Shutterstock

The Lhasa Apso is a dog of two characters, which could be argued for a lot of breeds related to terriers. It is quite a laid-back and peaceful dog when at home. However, it is also stubborn and independent, and if the Lhasa Apso does not like the idea of any particular training, it simply won’t take part.


15. Bull Terrier

white bull terrier puppy standing outdoor
Image By: otsphoto, Shutterstock

The Bull Terrier is yet another terrier breed that lives up to the terrier reputation of being stubborn and relentlessly pursuing its own goal. Be affectionate, give the Bull Terrier a lot of attention, and be sure to throw some playtime into the training mix and you should enjoy some decent training results. Breeds like the Bull Terrier are capable of learning commands but it will take some time and effort to ensure they learn.

Divider-Dog Paw and Bone- New

Conclusion

The inclusion of some of the dogs on the list above may be somewhat surprising. Scent hounds like the Bloodhound, Basset, and Beagle, for example, are highly skilled and are regularly seen working as service dogs because of their incredible noses. But their noses can blind them: they’re too busy picking up and following scents that they simply don’t listen to verbal commands or follow orders.

Others, like the Borzois and the Afghan Hound, tend to be too busy preening and grooming themselves to listen, and independent breeds like the Mastiffs and the Terriers will do what you tell them but only if they believe it is the right thing to do.


Featured Image Credit: Fran Vargas, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database