Of the hundreds of recognised dog breeds, the Belgian malinois has been named as the world’s most intelligent by a new scientific study.
Belgian malinois, often used as police dogs, achieved 35 points out of 39 in a series of cognitive tasks and behavioural tasks as part of the study.
Naturally, the new study, conducted at the the University of Helsinki in Finland, has begged the question: which dog breed is the dumbest?
According to Professor Stanley Coren, a canine expert at the University of British Columbia in Canada, the Afghan Hound is the least intelligent breed of dog when it comes to understanding and obeying commands.
Afghan Hound was named as the least intelligent, followed by the Basenji, the Bulldog and the Chow Chow
The least intelligent dog breeds
The following were ranked lowest by Professor Stanley Coren in his book ‘The Intelligence of Dogs’. They had they lowest of obedience intelligence, an ability to learn from humans. Mastiff and Beagle were ranked joint 8th.
11. Shih Tzu
10. Basset Hound
4. Chow Chow
1. Afghan Hound
Professor Coren is the author of a book called ‘The Intelligence of Dogs’, published in 1994.
In the landmark work, he ranked 130 breeds from brightest to dumbest, placing them in five different categories.
Rankings for the book were based on surveys of more than 200 dog obedience judges across the US and Canada.
Here’s officially the top 10 dumbest pooches, according to his results.
Afghan Hounds have been famous for their elegant beauty, with a thick, silky, flowing coat and a hairstyle that Paris Hilton would be jealous of.
But just like Hilton, the breed is not renowned for its intelligence; experts at the American Kennel Club (AKC) call it ‘a special breed for special people’.
The Afghan Hound has particularly low ‘obedience intelligence’, a term that refers to the ability to learn from humans.
According to Professor Coren, the breed needed more than 80 repetitions from a trainer to understand a new command.
The breed also obeyed on the first command less than 25 per cent of the time.
The Afghan Hound is primarily a type of hunting dog called a sighthound, which means they were bred to hunt using adept speed and eyesight.
The Afghan Hound (pictured) has been described as ‘a special breed for special people’ by American Kennel Club
Dog tails play no role in running and are ‘used for communication’
Studies have suggested that dogs use their tails for agile movements such as running and jumping.
However, a study from experts at Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart shows this is not the case.
They found dog tails are used for communication – most commonly using a positive tail wag as a social cue for friendliness, and for batting off pests such as flies.
So perhaps the ability to learn commands was never part of its genetic or evolutionary make-up.
Another breed of hunting dog called the Basenji ranked second, meaning it is also not so adept at correctly responding to human commands.
Basenji is not known for its obedience, and would sooner be found burning off energy and causing havoc by chewing furniture when left to its own devices.
The ‘cat-like’ Basenji has high energy levels, does not like being left alone and can often be highly destructive.
However, this breed is frequently described as intelligent in other respects, such as in its ability to make decisions that follow its own interests, such as gaining food.
According to AKC, the Basenji is fastidious and will groom itself much like a cat does
But Basenji is possibly best known for not being able to bark; instead it makes an odd sound somewhere between a yodel and a chortle.
This breed also has a high prey drive, meaning it will chase after cats, squirrels and other smaller animals without a second’s warning.
The ‘cat-like’ Basenji has high energy levels, does not like being left alone and can often be highly destructive
The Bulldog has long been a symbol of British national spirit, but its intelligence is on a par with its attractiveness – both quite low.
Professor Coren ranked the breed third from bottom in terms of its ability to obey the first command or understand new commands.
Generally, Bulldogs can be stubborn and will only learn a few commands, so owners are advised to choose carefully when attempting to train them.
Vets have previously warned that the bulldog is riddled with painful diseases and deformities, largely due to centuries of inbreeding.
The Bulldog, also known as the British Bulldog or the English Bulldog, has become a symbol of British strength and tenacity
It was originally developed as a muscular and athletic dog, but has now been bred as a companion animal with a short skull and protruding jaw.
The Bulldog has a reputation for being lazy, but the breed enjoys and benefits from regular exercise.
The Chow Chow’s distinctive traits include a lion’s-mane-type ruff around the head and shoulders and a tchick, bushy fur coat.
The Chow Chow originally hails from China, where it was historically bred for its meat and fur, according to Professor Coren.
The Chow Chow (pictured) is known for its ‘bear-like’ appearance thanks to its thick fur coat
But it’s developed a reputation for being a bit simple; Professor Coren said ‘there is probably furniture out there that is more trainable than chows’.
According to a report in the Guardian in 2003, a Chow Chow was badly injured when it leaped from a second-floor window in Lancashire after being startled by a plane.
Next up is the Borzoi, which American Kennel Club describes as ‘independent and sometimes stubborn’, meaning training will again be a challenge.
However, they are known for their gentle and graceful nature, earning the nickname ‘the aristocrat of dogs’.
AKC says: ‘In their quiet, catlike way they can be stubborn, and training is best accomplished with patience, consistency, and good humour.’
According to the American Kennel Club, the aristocratic Borzoi (pictured) is cherished for his calm, agreeable temperament
Bloodhound, the sixth-most unintelligent breed according to the list, has long, wrinkled face with loose skin and flapping ears.
The ‘docile’ breed is also relentless and stubborn when it comes to following scents, which they will do so over miles of punishing terrain.
It’s possible that this trait makes it particularly prone to getting distracted from obedience tasks.
Other dogs at the bottom of Professor Coren’s list are the Shih Tzu, Basset Hound, Mastiff, Beagle and Pekingese.
Bloodhound (pictured), which has a long, wrinkled face with loose skin and flapping ears, will follow a scent for miles
Meanwhile, he ranked the Border Collie as the brightest, followed by the Poodle and the German Shepherd.
Interestingly, the new Finnish study that names Belgian Malinois as the cleverest dog breed only looked at 13 breeds in all.
In Professor Coren’s book, he ranked Belgian Malinois in joint 22nd place, tied with the Bernese Mountain Dog.
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The Belgian malinois has been found to be the most intelligent dog in a study of 13 different breeds.
Scientists in Finland assessed 1,000 dogs by setting them seven cognitive and three behavioural tasks.
Tests included their ability to read human gestures and if the animals could detour around a transparent V-shaped fence to access a food reward which they could see.
The researchers also investigated how independent a dog was and how quickly they came to a human for help by giving them an unsolvable task – trying to access food in a sealed box.
The Belgian malinois was found to be the most intelligent dog of 13 different breeds
The malinois, often used as police dogs or guard dogs, came first with 35 points out of 39.
Border collies came second with 26 points, while the hovawart – a German breed – was third with 25 points.
Dr Katriina Tiira, from the University of Helsinki in Finland, told The Sunday Telegraph: ‘The Belgian malinois stood out in many of the cognitive tasks, having very good results in a majority of the tests.’
Saara Junttila, the study co-author and a PhD researcher in canine cognition at the University of Helsinki, added: ‘Most breeds had their own strengths and weaknesses.
‘For example, the Labrador retriever was very good at reading human gestures, but not so good at spatial problem-solving. Some breeds, such as the Shetland sheepdog, scored quite evenly in almost all tests.’