Have you ever noticed that while some dog breeds seem to pick up on every trick in the book with ease, there are other dog breeds that just… don’t? It makes sense, of course — if certain dog breeds come across as the most intelligent (like the five our readers voted as the smartest dog breeds around), then it stands to reason that other dog breeds would be more likely to fill in the opposite end of that spectrum.
A couple of years ago, we asked veterinary professionals to name the breeds they thought were not necessarily known for being terribly clever, and, as we expected, our readers were quick to let us know that they disagreed. So we recently polled 622 pet owners with the same question. When we compared the readers’ responses with the veterinary professionals’ answers, we found that the two groups might have shared a few more opinions on the matter than we had expected, although they certainly didn’t agree on everything.
Now, before you dive into the rankings determined by our readers’ opinions (and take to the comments to share your own thoughts), we’d like to make something quite clear: We are not stating that any dog breeds are unintelligent or are not trainable. We’ve known plenty of pups with all kinds of pedigrees who were able to master many a trick! Every pooch is different and, of course, even when we come across dogs — of any breed — who just can’t quite keep up with that seemingly brilliant Poodle in puppy kindergarten, it doesn’t change how much we adore them. And we hope you feel the same.
No. 5: Dachshund
According to readers, the Dachshund gets fifth place on this list, and if we had to venture a guess, we'd say it's due to the fact that many Doxies tend to be willful, feisty and difficult to house-train, which can be a challenge for owners. The breed's typically fearless nature also means that its bravery can sometimes border on recklessness, which could also have influenced votes.
Veterinary professionals, on the other hand, place the Basset Hound at No. 5.
No. 4: Bulldog
The Bulldog is known for his generally loyal and affectionate nature, and though we note his cleverness in our breed profile, readers disagree, placing him at No. 4 on this list. He can be considered difficult to train, but fans of the breed insist that's not the case — he's just very good at holding out for the right reward, and once he learns something, he knows it cold.
Veterinary professionals don't include the Bulldog anywhere in their top five for this list, instead choosing the Irish Setter to take fourth place.
No. 3: Pug
The Pug typically exhibits many endearing qualities, like an easygoing temperament and loving nature, especially when it comes to her family. But, in general, this sturdy member of the Toy Group isn't known for being overly brainy, which is why readers have her at No. 3.
While veterinary professionals do rank the Pug within the top five, as you'll see in a moment, for the No. 3 spot, they select the Weimaraner, who, we should note, didn't even make the top 20 with our readers.
No. 2: Basset Hound
Readers clearly see the Basset Hound as a little less clever than veterinary professionals — they place the breed at No. 2 on this list, while, as you might recall from a few slides back, veterinary professionals have the Basset at No. 5. The long-eared breed does have a reputation for being slow moving and lazy, which we imagine is part of the reason for making the list. That along with his tendency to be stubborn and his ability to appear fast asleep when his human calls him (unless there's food involved, of course) is probably what solidified this particular case.
Though many owners will disagree, as their Basset Hounds are fine hunting companions, and the breed is certainly well known for its impressive ability to follow a scent.
Wondering which breed the vets have at No. 2? It's the Pug!
No. 1: Chihuahua
As we reach the No. 1 spot, we finally see readers and veterinary professionals in agreement regarding the dog breed that may sometimes be more cute than clever: the Chihuahua. The itty bitty dog often has a larger-than-life personality and single-minded determination when it comes to getting just what she wants, sometimes regardless of her owner's commands. She can be difficult to house-train and, if not well socialized from a young age, she may be prone to picking fights with other dogs... even dogs who are much, much larger than she is. These training and behavioral challenges may be why she has landed on this list.
Of course, there are many people who own well-trained, clever and kind Chihuahuas and will wonder what we are talking about!
Please keep in mind, too, that even if you don’t happen to own a genius Border Collie, it is important to help your pooch continue to learn throughout his life. Every dog has the capacity to learn plenty of commands and skills when consistent training is paired with positive reinforcement in the form of praise and treats. Be sure to check out our expert training tips or consider talking with a dog trainer in your neighborhood and, of course, talk with your vet if you feel that your dog has any cognitive or behavioral issues.
Do you find yourself agreeing more with readers or veterinary professionals on this list? Are there any other dog breeds you would’ve included? Any you would’ve left off?
Vetstreet.com delivers advice from veterinarians, trainers and pet experts who are dedicated to giving you the most trusted, authoritative information for keeping pets healthy and happy. Our Find A Vet service connects you with leading veterinarians in your area. Launched in 2011, Vetstreet.com features veterinarian-reviewed medical advice and has quickly become one of the top animal health and lifestyle sites on the web. See more.