5 Least Intelligent Dog Breeds

Find out which dog breeds are the least intelligent and learn about how dog intelligence is measured. Will your pup’s breed be on the list?

Jan 26, 2024By Natasha Elder
least intelligent dog breeds

Have you ever wondered which dog breeds are the least intelligent? While all dogs are lovable, some are slow-learning and are not as “smart” as other breeds when it comes to problem-solving and learning new commands. In this post, you’ll learn all about how dog intelligence is measured, and the five least intelligent dog breeds will be revealed.

How Do We Test a Dog’s Intelligence?

smart dog glasses reading dog intelligence
Image credit: Samson Katt

Today, our understanding of the intelligence of dogs is largely based on the contents of the aptly named book by Stanley Coren, called “The Intelligence of Dogs,” which is a must-read book for dog owners. The working theory of the book is that more than half (51%) of a dog’s intelligence is determined by its breed and genes, while the remainder (49%) is a result of its environmental circumstances, such as training.

There are three types of dog intelligence (instinctive, adaptive, and working & obedience) and a dog is considered to be of a lower level of intelligence when it has a lower degree of working & obedience intelligence specifically. This type of dog intelligence is linked to a dog’s ability to learn, retain, and perform commands.

dog with glasses
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

The general thinking is that the faster a dog can learn a command, the more intelligent it is. And in the same vein, the more commands a dog is capable of learning, the more intelligent it is. While this sounds straightforward, it’s important to note that tests are subjective, and no two dogs within one breed are the same. Additionally, factors such as a dog’s temperament, how it was raised, and how it was trained all impact how well it will perform on the tests.

5. Borzois Are Fast, But Not Bright

borzoi dog forest red white
Image credit: Wikipedia

Let’s work backward from the fifth least intelligent dog breed and work our way down to number one. Meet the Borzoi: one of the fastest dog breeds on Earth. This beautiful dog breed hails from Russia and was once favored by Tsars and used to hunt wolves. Stunning? Yes! Smart? No!

That’s not to say that the Borzoi is dumb. In fact, that’s far from the case. Borzois have an extremely high level of instinctive intelligence. It’s the adaptive and obedience side of the intelligence scale where this breed scores low. Why is this?

Borzois are sighthounds. And like other sighthounds, this means that much of their time is spent with their eyes scanning the distance, which means they’re easily distracted and will bolt when they spot “prey.” In addition, they are known for getting bored easily and have a stubborn streak.

4. Chow Chows Aren’t the Cleverest Canines

chow chow face nose wrinkles slobber
Image credit: Nathaniel Sison on Unsplash

Next up is the instantly recognizable Chow Chow dog. These medium-sized (and massively fluffed!) dogs are from China and were once used as guard dogs due to their fierce protective streak. This lion-like dog is known for its magnificent coat, purple tongue, and aloofness. Something it’s not known for? It’s intelligence.

Recognized as the fourth-least intelligent dog, this beautiful breed has a moderate to high level of instinctive intelligence, but a very low level of both adaptive and obedience intelligence.

Chow Chows are aloof and independent by nature, which makes training them a challenge. Majority of the time they’re simply not interested. In addition, they require a strong trainer with a dominant personality. Otherwise, they will become assertive and overpowering.

3. Brawny, Not Brainy: Bulldogs

english bulldog standing field brown white
Image credit: Wikimedia

Now, onto the third-least intelligent dog breed. The beloved bulldog is a native English dog breed, but they’re known and loved all over the world and have been for some time now – they always come out on top of the most popular dog breeds list. But they don’t often appear on the most intelligent dog breed lists, that’s for sure.

This brachycephalic dog breed may be able to learn a handful of fun and easy dog tricks but, according to the available methods of intelligence testing, their overall level of adaptive, instinctive, and obedience intelligence is remarkably low.

Bulldogs are known to be one of the least trainable dogs out there. This could be because of their stubbornness, but most people think that it’s because they’re a very lazy dog breed. Who knows, they could be geniuses but too lazy to bother letting us in on the secret.

2. Beautiful, Barkless, But Not The Brightest: Basenjis

basenji running field tongue
Image credit: Aleksandr Tarlõkov from Pixabay

Basenjis are an amazing ancient dog breed that comes from the Congo. They’re most well-known for their lack of a true bark and the fact that they groom themselves in a way similar to cats. They’re not known for their high level of intelligence.

It is widely accepted that Basenjis are the second-least intelligent dog. Basenjis don’t come across as dumb because they’re not. They’re simply extremely independent thinkers and aren’t interested in learning tricks or being trained.

Though they score very low on the obedience and adaptive intelligence scale, Basenjis have a very high level of instinctive intelligence. When it comes to Basenji puppies, with lots of training early, their overall level of obedience can increase.

1. All Beauty, Not Much Brains: Afghan Hounds

afghan hound photography ears close up
Image credit: Arve Kern on Unsplash

And finally, onto what is generally accepted as the least intelligent dog breed of them all: the Afghan hound. This forgetful furball is strikingly beautiful and, on top of being thought of as one of the oldest dog breeds, is one of the most expensive dog breeds of all. There is certainly no denying that this stunning dog is known more for their beauty than for their brain.

The eye-catching sighthound will consistently score low on IQ tests and “The Intelligence of Dogs” officially ranks them as the least intelligent dog breed of all. They score exceptionally low for obedience and adaptive intelligence, but they fare moderately well on the instinctive side of the scale. They only obey the first command a quarter of the time, and they require a whopping 80 to 100 repetitions before they’re able to understand new ones.

These beautiful dogs might not be smart, but they’re friendly and playful, make great dogs for families with children, and have a whole lot more going for them than intelligence.

Natasha Elder
By Natasha Elder

Natasha is a mother, a wife, a writer, and a serial cat owner. Though she is currently in mourning, her heart not ready for another feline family member just yet, she has always lived life with four paws beside her. She loves – you guessed it – cats, as well as creatures of the fluffy, scaly, and finned variety. Natasha longs to meet Sir David Attenborough one day and is passionate about responsible pet ownership