25 Dumbest Dog Breeds & Why They’re Actually Smart

Certain canines are upheld as highly intelligent dog breeds because of how fast they learn commands and some actions they take that seem so human.

On the other end of the spectrum are dogs considered low in intelligence and tagged ‘dumb’.

However, like many other classifications, there are some blind spots involved when classifying the dumbest breeds of dogs.

Just like some students are erroneously termed less smart because they don’t have A’s and B’s on their report cards, dogs that don’t obey easily are seen as unintelligent dog breeds.

We will be highlighting the top 25 dumbest dog breeds in this article.

But before we do that, we need to clear the air on why no dog is dumb. These breeds may frustrate owners during training, but they are smarter than we think.

How Do We Measure Dog’s Intelligence?

Woman in Park Training Dog

Similar to humans, dogs have different types of intelligence. This makes them better at carrying out a particular task and weaker at doing another.

The differences don’t make one better than the other, but unfortunately, one form of intelligence in dogs is revered over others. 

According to experts, there are three types of dog intelligence: Instinctive, adaptive, and Work & Obedience.

  • The instinctive intelligence covers what the dog breed was developed to do. A hunting dog, for example, would not need any human to teach it how to hunt. Same as a herder or a gundog.
  • Adaptive intelligence has to do with the level of independence the dog has. Dogs with high adaptive intelligence tend to do things on their own and are good problem solvers. 
  • Work and Obedience intelligence refers to how fast a dog can learn commands and respond to them. It also covers their level of obedience. This is the form of intelligence used to measure smart dogs from dumb dogs.

Breeds like Poodles and Golden Retrievers are seen as highly intelligent because they excel at work and obedience intelligence, while those considered among the dumbest dog breeds do not quickly grasp or obey instructions.

But just because a dog doesn’t score high on Work and Obedience intelligence, it doesn’t make it the stupidest dog.

If adaptive and instinctive intelligence could be easily calculated, these dogs would have ranked high in at least one of these.

Having said that, let’s take a look at some of the canines considered less intelligent, in no particular order.

Top 25 Dumbest Dog Breeds

1. Afghan Hound

Close Up Afghan Hound Dog in Park

Breed Overview

  • AKC Group: Hound Group
  • Height: 24 to 26 inches
  • Weight: 50 to 60 pounds
  • Temperament: Independent, aloof, sensitive
  • Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years
  • Origin: Afghanistan

Teaching an Afghan Hound to obey commands is one of the hardest things to do, making it top the list of dumbest dog breeds.

If you fall for its beautiful coat without considering its independent spirit, you may end up taking a trip with it to the rescue shelter and coming back alone.

The only way you can succeed with this breed is to train it with its independence in mind. 

However, the good news is that the Afghan Hound is a calmly devoted pet that can sometimes have fun.

It is also stylish and would certainly draw attention (if that’s what you’re after). It is energetic, however, and can be very sensitive.

2. Basset Hound

Basset Hound Lying on Ground Looking Aside

Breed Overview

  • AKC Group: Hound Group
  • Height: 11  to 15 inches
  • Weight: 50 to 65 pounds
  • Temperament: Devoted, friendly, affectionate
  • Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years
  • Origin: France

A gentle, mellow, and lazy dog with an almost drowsy look, the Basset Hound is appealing to those who wouldn’t want an overactive breed that would overwhelm them. Its low energy also makes it suitable for an apartment and new pet parents. 

It is difficult for this dog to learn new tricks and commands, though. You have to be patient during training, or you won’t get anywhere. Using positive reinforcements will go a long way.

You should also exercise this breed, regardless of its low energy. This would help keep it sharp and also maintain its weight. 

3. Akita Inu

Close Up Akita Inu Dog

Breed Overview

  • AKC Group: Working Group
  • Height: 24 to 28 inches
  • Weight: 85 to 130 pounds
  • Temperament: Loyal, independent, courageous
  • Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years
  • Origin: Japan

The Akita Inu is one dog breed that would score high in adaptive and instinctive intelligence.

It is alert, bold, courageous, and thinks independently, all the traits that make it a good guard dog. It has the honor of being the National dog of Japan. 

This breed is loyal too, but that doesn’t make it easy to train. The Akita can be dominant and stubborn, showing an unwillingness to please despite its loyalty.

Because it is hard for them to respond to obedience training, they figure on this list. 

4. Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu Pup Standing on Ground Looking Up

Breed Overview

  • AKC Group: Toy Group
  • Height: 9 to 10 inches
  • Weight: 9 to 16 pounds
  • Temperament: Playful, clever, affectionate
  • Life expectancy: 10 to 16 years
  • Origin: China

The first small dog on our list, the Shih Tzu was bred to be a companion in Ancient China.

It still plays that role today and is a very popular dog breed in the United States. If you need a lapdog, the Shih Tzu is your pet.

Because it was developed as a companion, there was no need for it to learn any tricks as it was meant to relax in the laps of royals.

Consequently, the Shih Tzu doesn’t pick up commands with ease. It can still be trained, though, and is good for new pet parents. You’d just need to be patient.

5. Bloodhound

Bloodhound Dog Sitting By The Beach Looking Aside

Breed Overview

  • AKC Group: Hound Group
  • Height: 23 to 27 inches
  • Weight: 80 to 110 pounds
  • Temperament: Gentle, affectionate, stubborn
  • Life expectancy: 11 to 15 years
  • Origin: United Kingdom, France, Belgium

The Bloodhound is an excellent hunter with a strong sense of smell which made it a good candidate for a K9 police dog.

In adaptive and instinctive intelligence, they will score high. It is a different story with obedience, though.

The Bloodhound is generally unwilling to please and slow to learn basic commands.

It also gets easily distracted, especially if there’s a scent more interesting than your training. It takes a lot of consistency to succeed in training the Bloodhound.

6. Pekingese

Pekingese Pup Lying on Bench Looking Forward

Breed Overview

  • AKC Group: Toy Group
  • Height: 6 to 9 inches
  • Weight: 7 to 14 pounds
  • Temperament: Loyal, regal, affectionate
  • Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years
  • Origin: China

Like Shih Tzu, the Pekingese was developed to be a Chinese companion and lived in the imperial court. This explains its regal nature and pride.

The self-dignity is advantageous and adorable to see, but it poses a stumbling block during training.

The Pekingese has a stubborn nature and is not a dog you can count on to obey commands fast.

Most times it understands what you expect it to do, it might just not be willing to do it. You can’t blame it, though. It is not used for obedience training.

7. Basenji

Basenji Dog Sitting on Grass Looking Aside

Breed Overview

  • AKC Group: Hound Group
  • Height: 16  to 17 inches
  • Weight: 22 to 24 pounds
  • Temperament: Independent, affectionate, alert
  • Life expectancy: 16 to 17 years
  • Origin: Democratic Republic of Congo

The Basenji hails from Africa and is known as a good hunter. While it isn’t a highly popular breed, it is devoted to its owner who loves it in return. It is also very independent and loves to remain on its own. 

This breed’s independence is a good quality if you’re not keen on owning a clingy dog breed, but it also means you’d have a hard time getting it to stay through a training session.

Basenji also has difficulties remembering commands, partly because it is unwilling to, making it fit for a firm and patient owner. 

8. Borzoi

Shaggy Borzoi Dog Running

Breed Overview

  • AKC Group: Hound Group
  • Height: 26 to 32 inches
  • Weight: 55  to 105 pounds
  • Temperament: Dignified, affectionate, loyal
  • Life expectancy: 9 to 14 years
  • Origin: Russia

The Borzoi and Afghan Hound have that regal and dignified mannerism in common.

They act almost like cats, moving with much grace and poise. This dignity is their major appeal. 

Like the Afghan Hound, the Borzoi is known to be independent and aloof. It isn’t particularly playful, nor is it willing to please.

So, while new pet parents may succeed in owning this breed because of its low energy, it can be difficult. The Borzoi isn’t easily motivated and can be very hard to train. 

9. Chow Chow

Fluffy Brown Chow Chow Dog Lying on a Bridge

Breed Overview

  • AKC Group: Non-Sporting Group
  • Height: 17 to 20 inches
  • Weight: 40 to 70 pounds
  • Temperament: Aloof, dignified, stubborn
  • Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years
  • Origin: China

The Chow Chow looks like a big teddy bear but is not the cuddly, sweet, and friendly companion some might expect.

This breed is just as feline as the Afghan Hound and the Borzoi, and it is aloof towards strangers too. This doesn’t mean it isn’t affectionate, though. 

The Chow Chow is intelligent in the aspect of instinctive and adaptive but isn’t a very obedient breed. This is mainly due to its independent spirit, making it difficult to train. 

10. English Bulldog

English Bulldog walking on field

Breed Overview

  • AKC Group: Non-Sporting Group
  • Height: 12 to 15 inches
  • Weight: 40 to 50 pounds
  • Temperament: Willful, docile, friendly
  • Life expectancy: 8 to 12 years
  • Origin: England

The English Bulldog is one very popular dog breed. Despite its unfavorable past as a bullbaiting fighter, the English Bulldog is a loved companion.

It is known to be very gentle with kids and affectionate. It can also be a good guard dog due to its protective nature.

That said, training requires a lot of patience as the English Bulldog takes its time to understand what you would have it do.

You’d need to be consistent and use enough positive reinforcements for training to be successful. 

11. Beagle

Happy Beagle Dog Enjoying a Belly Rub

Breed Overview

  • AKC Group: Hound Group
  • Height: 13 to 15 inches
  • Weight: 18 to 30 pounds
  • Temperament: Determined, amiable, excitable
  • Life expectancy: 10 to 15 years
  • Origin: United Kingdom

The Beagle is known to be an outgoing and happy dog that shows affection to its family and is adored in return.

As hunters, Beagles are not necessarily unintelligent dogs as they have a strong sense of smell that makes them good at their jobs. As companions, however, we can’t say the same.

The independent spirit of the Beagle makes it difficult to train. While it can be handled by new pet parents, these folks must know how to be patient.

Training should also be interesting because the Beagle gets distracted with ease. 

12. Rottweiler

Rottweiler Sitting Looking Aside

Breed Overview

  • AKC Group: Working Group
  • Height: 22 to 27 inches
  • Weight: 85 to 130 pounds
  • Temperament: Devoted, fearless, steady
  • Life expectancy: 8 to 11 years
  • Origin: Germany

The Rottweiler is one of the best guard dogs out there, and it is also a favorite choice for the K9 police department.

Fearless, loyal, and very protective, no intruder can get past the Rottie without it putting up a strong fight. Rottweilers will defend with all they have. 

Unfortunately, they aren’t the brightest dogs out there in the aspect of obedience training. Rotties don’t have strong memories and may forget commands given to them.

They also get distracted easily, further adding to the challenge. However, because of their strong devotion, people tend to overlook these flaws.

13. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Pup Resting on Bed

Breed Overview

  • AKC Group: Toy Group
  • Height: 12 to 13 inches
  • Weight: 13 to 18 pounds
  • Temperament: Playful, affectionate, fearless
  • Life expectancy: 9 to 15 years
  • Origin: United Kingdom

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a companion to the core. There’s never an alone-time with this breed as it would always want to be around you.

True fans don’t mind, though. Who wouldn’t enjoy getting affection from a cute-looking pooch?

Intelligence isn’t part of its notable strengths, however. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel takes time to learn and respond to a command that is not easy to recall.

They are suitable for new pet parents because they love to please, but training could take some time. 

14. Chihuahua

A Chihuahua Biting Her Owner's Finger

Breed Overview

  • AKC Group: Toy Group
  • Height: 6 to 9 inches
  • Weight: 3 to 6 pounds
  • Temperament: Lively, alert, affectionate
  • Life expectancy: 10 to 18 years
  • Origin: Mexico

The Chihuahua is considered the smallest dog breed in the world, but that is only when you measure in size.

In personality, this Mexican breed acts like a big dog and typically forgets its small size. This translates to stubbornness, making it difficult to train the Chihuahua.

Owners don’t always recognize this habit because of the Chihuahua’s size, but given the opportunity, this breed would want to be the pack leader.

While the Chihuahua makes a good pet, obedience doesn’t come easily. 

15. Saint Bernard

Happy Saint Bernard Dog at a Dog Park

Breed Overview

  • AKC Group: Working Group
  • Height: 26 to 30 inches
  • Weight: 120 to 180 pounds
  • Temperament: Friendly, calm, gentle
  • Life expectancy: 8 to 10 years
  • Origin: Switzerland

Saint Bernard is a gentle giant, with lots of sweetness and affection for both adults and children. This breed is especially known to be calm with kids and can tolerate their excesses. 

Saint Bernard also loves to please, but can sometimes be stubborn. This stubbornness isn’t too common, though, but it is still hard to train this breed.

Saint Bernard dob breed is tagged ‘dumb’ because it is slow in learning and remembering things.

16. Bullmastiff

Bullmastiff Dog Standing in Open Park

Breed Overview

  • AKC Group: Working Group
  • Height: 24 to 27 inches
  • Weight: 100 to 130 pounds
  • Temperament: Powerful, reliable, devoted 
  • Life expectancy: 8 to 10 years
  • Origin: United Kingdom

The Bullmastiff is smaller when compared to its cousin the Mastiff, but just as gentle. This breed is highly devoted to its owners and has powerful muscles that make it hard to subdue.

The Bullmastiff makes a good guard dog despite its gentleness and would offer security.

Stubbornness and independence are both traits that put the Bullmastiff on this list of dumbest dog breeds. It prefers going its way and may not always be willing to listen to you.

17. Great Pyrenees

Great Pyrenees Dog Standing on Mountain Looking Back

Breed Overview

  • AKC Group: Working Group
  • Height: 25 to 32 inches
  • Weight: 85 to 160 pounds
  • Temperament: Gentle, affectionate, fearless
  • Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years
  • Origin: France, Spain

The Great Pyrenees was developed to be a sheepdog in the Pyrenees Mountain and, as such, is a good guard dog.

Like other sheepdogs, it can also be stubborn and independent thinking. Not surprisingly, this makes training difficult.

The Great Pyrenees is very intelligent in other aspects but slow in obedience. You have to be consistent and keep it interested as it gets bored easily. 

18. Pug

Female Pug Dog Standing on Grass

Breed Overview

  • AKC Group: Toy Group 
  • Height: 10 to 14 inches
  • Weight: 14  to 18 pounds
  • Temperament: Playful, clever, charming
  • Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years
  • Origin: China

The Pug is the largest dog in the AKC’s Toy Group. It was developed in China as a companion, just like the Shih Tzu.

The Pug is known to be playful and comes with a lot of fun. It is also clever and comical but still retains its dignity.

Pugs can be a bit stubborn as they were solely developed for companionship and are used to being petted, not drilled in obedience training.

This makes it seem dumb, but training is very possible. Using treats as motivation works well with this breed. You should also be firm, but never harsh. 

19. French Bulldog

Funny French Bulldog Lying Flat on Walkway

Breed Overview

  • AKC Group: Non-Sporting Group
  • Height: 11 to 12 inches
  • Weight: 16 to 28 pounds
  • Temperament: Playful, sociable, affectionate
  • Life expectancy: 11 to 14 years
  • Origin: England

Currently, the 2nd most popular dog breed in the United States, the French Bulldog’s rise in popularity is admirable.

Developed to be a companion, the Frenchie loves nothing more than to be at the side of its owner. It is good for cuddling and makes a sweet family dog.

The French Bulldog is also suitable for first-timers and is easy to train, but it won’t take long to realize that obedience intelligence isn’t a gift for this breed.

Frenchies can get stubborn and would require more time training them than, say, a Labrador Retriever. 

20. Italian Greyhound

Italian Greyhound Wearing Harness Standing

Breed Overview

  • AKC Group: Toy Group
  • Height: 13 to 15 inches
  • Weight: 6 to 15 pounds
  • Temperament: Affectionate, mischievous, athletic 
  • Life expectancy: 14 to 15 years
  • Origin: Italy

The Italian Greyhound is the smallest known sighthound and closely resembles the Greyhound — its relative. It isn’t a miniature version of the Greyhound, however.

The Italian Greyhound is a breed of its own and is a gentle dog. It shows affection to its family but can be reserved towards strangers. 

This breed is also known to be stubborn but also sensitive and sometimes nervous. While you should be firm, pushing it too hard will become a problem.

21. Old English Sheepdog

Old English Sheepdog Dog Breed Standing on Grass

Breed Overview

  • AKC Group: Herding Group
  • Height: 21 to 22 inches
  • Weight: 60 to 100 pounds
  • Temperament: Playful, sociable, adaptable
  • Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years
  • Origin: England

You might recognize this breed as a shaggy hairy dog that’s often in children’s shows.

The Old English Sheepdog is easygoing and playful, both with children and adults. It also brings its guardian instincts into the household. 

The Old English Sheepdog is also very intelligent, but that doesn’t extend to learning commands.

You need to be consistent and keep training interesting for this breed to learn, as it gets bored easily.

22. Scottish Terrier

Black Scottish Terrier Dog Standing Near Plants Panting

Breed Overview

  • AKC Group: Terrier Group
  • Height: 10  inches
  • Weight: 18 to 22 pounds
  • Temperament: Alert, feisty, self-assured
  • Life expectancy: 11 to 13 years
  • Origin: Scotland

The Scottish Terrier was popularized by the Disney animated movie Lady and the Tramp and has since gotten a decent fanbase.

Scottie is a feisty short dog that would leave you amused with its antics. The feistiness has a challenging side, however.

Scottie is known for being hardheaded and may not want to bend to your wishes. It may not necessarily be that it doesn’t understand your command, but it may not want to comply.

23. Maltese

Maltese Dog Standing Looking Up

Breed Overview

  • AKC Group: Toy Group
  • Height: 8 to 10 inches
  • Weight: 4 to 6 pounds
  • Temperament: Lively, playful, peaceful
  • Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years
  • Origin: Malta

The Maltese is one of the most ancient dog breeds, and its striking white coat is enough to warm the hearts of dog lovers. Its advantages don’t stop there, however.

The Maltese is very intelligent, but some problems faced during training give it a bad image. 

As a pure companion, the Maltese have almost the same challenges as the Pug or the Shih Tzu. While it loves to please, it would rather be pampered than trained.

As such, it shows some stubbornness during training. This gets worse if you leave training to a stranger. 

24. Bull Terrier

Bull Terrier Dog With Big Nose Standing on Field

Breed Overview

  • AKC Group: Terrier Group
  • Height: 21 to 22 inches
  • Weight: 35 to 75 pounds
  • Temperament: Charming, playful, mischievous
  • Life expectancy: 12 to 13 years
  • Origin: England

Bull Terrier started in England where it was bred to partake in the bloody sports of bullbaiting. Fortunately, that era came to an end.

These days, the Bull Terrier is a courageous and strong addition to many families. 

The “dumbness” of the Bull Terrier breed also stems from its occasional stubbornness.

While it loves to please its owner, sometimes it may not be willing to do things your way. This breed needs firm training. 

25. Lhasa Apso

A Lhasa Apso Puppy Walking to the Lawn

Breed Overview

  • AKC Group: Non-Sporting Group
  • Height: 9 to 11 inches
  • Weight: 12 to 15 pounds
  • Temperament: Playful, assertive, intelligent
  • Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years
  • Origin: Tibet

In the last place (but certainly not the stupidest dog), we have the Lhasa Apso, a confident and courageous small dog.

Like many other dogs on this list, the Lhasa Apso is intelligent, but its stubbornness and distractible nature puts it on this list of dumbest breeds of dogs. 

The Lhasa Apso should be trained with shorter training sessions. It doesn’t cope with longer ones or it would get bored.


What breed of dog is the stupidest?

The Afghan Hound is often considered the dumbest dog breed because of how difficult training this breed is.

However, as fans of this breed know, Afghan Hounds have a lot of smartness underneath its sleeves—er, hair.

Which dog has the least IQ?

A dog’s IQ is usually determined by how fast it picks up commands and how many repetitions are needed for it to learn.

Using this parameter, some breeds of dogs that have the least IQs are Shih Tzu, Afghan Hound, Bloodhound, and Basset Hound. 

What is the least trainable dog breed? 

Some dogs are easy to train, others require considerable effort. These other dog breeds include Chow Chow, Borzoi, Daschund, and Bloodhound.

Final Thoughts: Are There Any Dumb Dogs?

Judging by obedience training, we can claim that some dogs are more intelligent than others and that the canines on this list would be at the lowest rankings.

However, using only one parameter blinds us to the many qualities these dogs possess.

When appraised using all forms of dog intelligence, you’d agree that there are no dumb dogs. We believe that all dogs have strengths and weaknesses, just like humans do. 

While training any dog on this list of dumbest dog breeds might take varying degrees of patience and effort, they are all trainable. The key is figuring out what works for a particular breed and using it.

Authored By

Ben Pierce

Ben Pierce is a canine behavioral and nutritional specialist, professional dog trainer, and the CEO of Puplore. A former military working dog handler, Ben founded Puplore to provide owners with breed-specific information and to act as a go-to guide to health, nutrition, care, and to help them find the confidence they need to step up to the plate and become the best pup parents they can possibly be. A firm believer in treating all animals with kindness and compassion, and that positive discipline is paramount in achieving a harmonious canine-human relationship, Ben’s former and present careers have enabled him to become a leading light in his chosen profession and business.

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