Are Some Dogs Stupid?
Dogs are always associated as being intelligent. Man has used dogs throughout the centuries in helping with many different aspects of life. Be it from herding sheep, guarding, tracking, hunting and more recently even being wonderful companions and help to the deaf and blind. But let’s face it, some of us out there have had moments of doubt when we have tried endlessly to train our beloved pooch to ‘shake hands’, or have watched in dismay as our bundle of joy has stared out of the window for hours at a time. Not to mention barking at a static object. As with our children, we all hold the hope that our beloved dog is intelligent, but deep down some of us know that this might not necessarily be the case.
Truth is, some dogs are definitely easier to train than others. This has a lot to do with genetical makeup of certain breeds rather than raw intelligence.
Historically, dogs that are harder to train - those ones that don't seem to get it when you say "no", are the ones that may have been taken out of their hunting roles long ago. Dogs in the past were predominantly bred for hunting which brought about the traits that we consider to constitute a ‘clever’ dog. This includes alertness, obeying and understanding commands quickly. These qualities have been bred out of some breeds like pugs, beagles, and Mastiffs, which are now the ones that will be happy to snuggle up or lay on your lap all day, needing little stimulation. They're not dumb, they're just happy to be around you!
Other breeds such as German Shepherds, Poodles, and Border Collies seem easier to train are also the ones that are more active, since their hunting "instinct" hasn't been completely bred out of their genetics yet! However, these are the dogs that although may learn tricks quickly and seem more alert, they need a lot of stimulation and exercise. If left unattended there may be other things that they do that seem, well, rather dumb, like chewing, going through the rubbish, and other naughty habits.
Let’s not forget that certain breeds are ‘clever’ at doing certain things as they were bred for certain jobs. For example, Retrievers and Labradors are best at (obviously) retrieving and swimming. German Shepherds are best at protecting. Border Collies are best at herding. Shih Tzus are the best at being companions (really! they're bred to be companions to be pet and loved!). Teaching a dog something that isn't compatible with their breed may make it harder for a dog to learn that trick or trait, making you think your dog is dumb. They're not, it just may not be in their nature to learn what you're trying to teach them!
As genetics pays a large role in dog behavior, let’s not forget not only the importance of the breed but also in choosing the right breeder. With the rise of pet shops selling untraceable puppies from usually unethical puppy farms, dog breeding has become a massive money making venture for many. Inbreeding is unfortunately the quickest and cheapest industry norms leading to increasing the chances of puppies inheriting faulty genes from each parent with devastating consequences. Ending up with a ‘stupid’ dog is the least of a new owner’s worries, as these dogs are also infested with a list of devastating health and character issues too. This is why we always discourage everyone from a pet shop, no matter how cute they may seem. It just feeds this unethical industry. Best is to adopt or purchase directly from a responsible breeder.
So, is there a ‘stupid’ dog? Not necessarily. It depends a lot more on the internal genetic workings of specific breeds and what they have been bred for. ‘Clever’ dogs with strong hunting traits may seem to be clever, but can become bored quickly showing naughty traits. Dogs that have had their hunting traits bred out of them to become more companions are not necessarily ‘stupid’ but rather just contented to be around you. Lastly, dogs that really do seem ‘dim’ and have possibly been ill bred are probably the unfortunate ones. All in all, we humans carry the biggest responsibility in breeding the most clever or not as clever dogs. As much as that is not necessarily in our hands as the general public, we certainly have a role to play in which way our breeds develop through responsibly researching and buying habits.
We may get frustrated with our little guys for not understanding something that seems simple to us, but to them, it may seem like rocket science! So, when training your pup or disciplining them, remember to be patient and loving. They don't try to frustrate us; they may just not get it!