Having a discussion with other dog owners about just how smart someone else’s dog is can be something of a dangerous game to play, because nobody likes to think that their beloved pet is anything less than a genius; although most of us tend to wonder from time to time when our dogs do something really daft!
However, whilst it can be hard to be objective about how smart one’s own dog is and of course, even individual dogs that are closely related can be very variable in intelligence, there is a widely accepted system used to rank dog breeds based on their cleverness that can allow you to get a broad idea.
This is known as the Coren scale, and it was devised by a professor of canine psychology in the 1990s to rank dog breeds of all types and sizes based on their intelligence and working ability, such as how fast they could learn a command and how likely they were to respond to it when they did!
The size of any given dog doesn’t play a part in their intelligence, and dogs at all points of the size scale can be found at both ends of the spectrum – but it can be interesting to compare dog breeds of a like-for-like size to see which are the smarter and which the less intelligent too!
If you own a small dog breed or are considering buying one, knowing that they’re not so smart needn’t be a deal breaker, but it can help you to better understand what your dog is capable of in terms of their ability to learn and follow commands, and how easy they might be to train.
With this in mind, this article will share the five least intelligent small dog breeds according to the Coren scale, with some basic details on what this means for their ability to learn and follow commands. Read on to learn more.
The fifth placed dog in terms of least intelligent small breeds is the Chihuahua, and this is also the world’s smallest dog breed! They’re really popular as pets in the UK, and despite being right towards the end of the canine intelligence spectrum, can make for excellent pets for many different types of owners, and they’re very loving and affectionate with their favourite people!
Out of 138 different breeds on the Coren scale, the Chihuahua falls in 125th place, within the grouping of dogs that generally need to be told a new command 40-80 times to pick it up, and that will follow it first time 30% of the time at least.
The fourth least intelligent small dog breed of all is the Lhasa apso, and this is also a really popular small dog breed, although by no means to the extent that the Chihuahua is.
The Lhasa apso has a beautiful long flowing coat that needs a lot of brushing and grooming, and they’re not actually toy dogs, as many people assume – they fall within the Kennel Club’s utility dog group.
In terms of their place on the Coren scale, the Lhasa apso is 126th out of 138, so just a hair below the Chihuahua in the stakes – and if you own one you’ll need to have around the same level of expectations in terms of their ability to learn and follow commands.
The third least intelligent small dog breed is the Shih Tzu, which is another small breed that really needs no introduction. This is another breed in the utility group and not the toy group, although today they are generally thought of as lapdogs and pampered pets!
On the Coren scale, the Shih Tzu ranks as the 128th smartest dog out of 138 – or just 10 from the bottom.
This places them in the lowest collective grouping, which is expected to require 80-100 repetitions of a command in order to pick it up, and respond to the command first time just 25% of the time or less.
The Beagle is a breed that has only really begun to be seen as a pet rather than a pack dog in the last decade or so, and they are lively, fun loving, and can be challenging to keep within a domestic home as a result!
The Beagle is also the second least intelligent small dog breed, and the 131st out of 138 overall.
This places them in the same position as the Shih Tzu – likely to need 80-100 repetitions of a command before it sticks, and likely to follow it just one in four times, or less!
So, which small dog breed is the least intelligent? It’s the Pekingese. A tiny, personable and very loving little dog, the Peke is a popular pet but they’re right down at the bottom of the small dog intelligence stakes, and at the bottom of the list in general.
The Pekingese falls in 132nd place out of 138 on the Coren scale and so, will need to hear a new command 80-100 times to learn it, and only be likely to follow it 25% of the time or less.
However, once more, this does not mean that they might not be a great pet regardless!