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I've had four dogs in the past and almost a year ago picked up my newest. He was 8 months old and a rescue dog. His past is unknown, but he was found running with a pack of grown hunting dogs, all of which had seemed to be abandoned. He was the youngest among them, and quite scrawny, and the fact he was able to survive and that his disposition was still domestic suggests he was not out with them for long--perhaps a week.

Anyway, he doesn't show signs of trauma from his time in the wild. The only negative from picking him up late is that he isn't quite as cat friendly as a dog who was raised by cats from the time he was a puppy, but he's shown dramatic improvements on this front.

The point of my posting is this: this is my first stupid dog. All of my other dogs have been reasonably intelligent, with a Newfoundland and cocker spaniel being the most intelligent, a beagle being not far behind, and a slightly less intelligent Irish setter who was lightyears more intelligent than the new dog: a beagle mix of some sort.

I don't think he's 'retarded'. He doesn't have a chromosome disorder. His coordination is average. He's just so much dumber than my next dumbest dog that I wonder if normal dog intelligence varies much more wildly than I had previously experienced and assumed to be the case. Initially I felt his vision was poor, but then I realized his vision is about average for a dog--it's that he doesn't rely on context as much as a typical dog would to compensate for the species' less-than-stellar eyesight. If he sees someone walk by an open doorway of a room he's in, he doesn't use contextual clues (e.g. this person is in my house and I did not smell a stranger) to determine that this is probably not a threat. He goes insane barking and crying. It's the same when someone walks into the backyard from the back door when he's outside. He barks or cowers assuming it's a stranger, then lights up when you're close enough to identify as a friend--speaking to him from afar is not enough to identify oneself as he doesn't connect tone with identity. He also catches a ball about as well as most dogs. Conclusion: I don't think his vision is any worse than the average dog.

Here's the more significant red flag and the reason I registered here: he doesn't know any words. He hasn't picked up a single word. I thought he knew "dinner," but then I realized I could say any word in my "dog voice" around that time of day and he would run to the kitchen. He might know his name (I really hope he does...), but I'm not sure that counts.

He tries very hard to understand, so this isn't a lack of attention or focus. I've never seen a dog **** his head so often.

I'm not looking for solutions and I love him regardless, but I'm curious as to if others have had normal but very stupid dogs? I realize he isn't even two years old yet and I know he'll improve some, but this is hardly my first dog, and a non-existent vocabulary at this age is exceptional. I mean, this dog is an absolute moron. He's in a good environment and has a great life, so please do not fear for him based on my frankness :p
 

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You said you've had his vision checked but what about his hearing? Also, I have to say that like people, all animals have varying intelligence. I know here is a user on here who has a "special dog" but I believe he has a birth defect/deformed skull. Otherwise maybe just love him as he is! I'd just be careful if he reacts badly to people coming in unannounced.
 
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There's certainly a range in intelligence, but honestly he doesn't sound really all that abnormal or dumb...

Not understanding words is far more common than you think. Dogs learn body language (hand gestures/signals and other physical cues), tone, and contextual cues far more quickly than words. I see it all the time in students. When hand signals and other gestures are suddenly removed, the dog doesn't understand. Ask for something new in a context the dog previously was asked for one behavior only, and the dog is completely confused. This is often because the owner did not correctly train a word or verbal cue.

As far as the reactivity, I would likely have sight and hearing checked by vet if you haven't already. But it's not unusual for sensitive dogs to react to the sudden appearance of something they aren't super comfy with. I understand he's barking at you, but think of this more as a startle response. Nothing is there, then Bam! Person! He startles and then calms down in a second when he realizes you're you, not the boogeyman. :)
 

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lol @ trackie88 -- That would be my guy HaHa: )

@ralphonzo, Yeah, I have a slightly retarded golden retriever, I named him HaHa. His head never developed fully, it's rather smallish, as is his snout, and he has kind of wonky eyes, one more wonky than the other one..lol To me they look too big for his head, but in a way they are kind of pretty too.

HaHa's a little bit of a slow learner, but he can learn things. The problem with him though, is that unless what he's learned is experienced every day, he will forget it. So if I teach him to sit. I have to tell him to do so several times a day every day. If I forget to tell him to do that for like 1 day...the next day, he can't remember having learned the command.

He also sometimes will come across something he's seen every single day, but act like he's never seen it before Ever in his whole life !!! Like the back porch roof...he's in and out of the house 7 or 8 times a day, but sometimes he'll be heading back in and just slam to a stop - and look up at that roof. He starts bobbing his head up and down, and pacing back and forth like he's never noticed that thing above his head, even as he comes up the steps he tilts his head up so he can keep an eye on that strange structure above his head.

He does the same thing in the house, with a floor fan, or a decoration on the wall, or the vacuum that sits in the same spot in the bedroom that he walks past several times a day....etc.

While HaHa's mental issues are due to a birth defect, it could be that your dog, is the way is just because it didn't have some training when it was a puppy.

There's that saying "you can't teach an old dog new tricks". I kind of think you can, but I also think it's a slower process.

I've read about research on human behavior and learning, that seems to indicate that at around age 3, that is the time when a lot of our learning abilities and the way we respond/behave to things is getting pretty much hardwired into our brains. So, I think early 'work' with a puppy is important if a person wishes to teach a dog something new later on in life.

I believe that dogs that have had some kind of training early on, just pick up on things faster even as they become older dogs, and that, that training just doesn't just involve commands like 'sit' or 'stay' but also socializing and letting them experience different situations under a human's guidance so they do learn how they are expected to behave. Like for example, when someone visits...a person should be teaching their puppy not to jump on the guests, or growl and bark at everything while on a walk...etc.

I've had a lot of dogs in my life and so this is just my own '2 cents' based on comparing all of them with each other too.

I hope that you see other things in your dog that shine, even if his learning might be slow. Maybe he does other things that are unique to him.

HaHa's not the sharpest tack on the corkboard, but he's curious about things, super friendly, and always doing weird things that make me laugh.

For example, every morning, he goes to his toy collection and picks out a toy...and I call it 'His toy of the day." He will take that toy with him from room to room, and outside...ignoring for the most part all of his other toys. He might keep that toy of the day for just one day or sometimes 2 or 3 days. But then when he decides on a new toy...then that's the one he dedicates to taking care of for a day or two.

I think that shows some kind of intelligence that is different from a normal dog...that he has a need to take care of something like that, and doesn't forget which toy it was he selected.

No matter though how smart or not so smart... I've enjoyed all my dogs, but yeah, life is a little easier when you have a dog that can learn things...lol. Note, I said, 'easier'....but that doesn't mean less enjoyable..lol. : )

Stormy
 
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His vision was tested during his second check-up. I'm not sure how the vet did it--he was in another room for the test, but he concluded all was normal. His hearing is certainly good.

It's entirely possible I've just been lucky before and my other dogs have been above average. One popular theory is he was a rejected hunting dog. Regarding voice recognition, I was too young to test with my first two dogs, but my third and fourth dogs could both understand words they knew from whispers (no gestures or tonal clues) which really blew me away. One had the classic intelligence hallmark of having a dozen or more toys she knew and retrieved by name.

Yeah, Stormy, I think some of it is definitely that he possibly had no one working with him for the first ~8 months of his life and will never entirely make up for it.

Like I said, I'm not worried about him--I think he's healthy and normal (vet concurs). We joke about him being a "special needs" dog and I called him a moron here (never to his face), but really he just has to be approached with a little more caution, particularly after he's been asleep and wakes up in a new world for the 'first' time... It's no additional burden, though if it were or eventually becomes one, I'd gladly shoulder it.
 

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Hounds can be real lunk heads. I always joke the that my hound is a pea brain. Clicker training has been good for us.
 

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@ralphonzo does your dog at least look intelligent.:thumbsup: ...lol.

This is what I have. lol:
HaHa with his most dorkiest look:
(you can also see how on the right, that eye is larger than the other one.)



His head is also pretty narrow...should be much broader than what it is.



In the one, you can see how short his muzzle is...it should be a bit longer than that.



And here he is looking rather pretty, I think : )
The dog next to him is Jaya, she's partly feral. She has a hard time learning just due to sheer fear of human beings, she was pretty abused by her former owner, but she's getting better, slowly but surely. I've had her for about 3 years now and gaining her trust. A dog can't learn anything in a fearful state of mind, but every so often I see progress with her and it thrills me to no end.



Stormy
 

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Does this answer your question?



Ok, so I deliberately posted one of his worst pictures just to embarrass him... He doesn't look especially smart. He has sort of a small head and small eyes and doesn't look much like my old beagle, but the vet thinks he looks normal. His face isn't very expressive for whatever reason so he often looks the same despite mood differences, which is pretty funny.

I think HaHa actually looks pretty cute, but yeah, you can kind of tell there's something going on there. :p
 

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Cute photo, it looks like he's just about to nod off, or perhaps just waking up. Also, those ears! One thing I love about beagles, are the ears...makes me want to reach out and pet them....they look so soft.

You've only had him a year, I hope that as you continue to work with him you will see some progress. As mentioned, I have another dog, Jaya, and she didn't get much attention as a younger dog, other than beatings. She's not dumb by any stretch of the imagination, but she has a hard time learning stuff because she never experienced having to do so, but mostly because of her fear. She is learning though...slowly but surely.

I think it will be interesting to know in a year from now, how your dog is progressing. Also, as Kmes, touched on...there are different kinds of intelligence, while one dog might learn commands like sit and stay super fast, another dog who doesn't learn things like that fast, might be the kind of dog that figures out puzzles really easy....like how to open the fridge door...or understand that a small child needs looked after and the dog acts like an attendant to that child - always aware and keeping an eye on the kid.

I want to say too, that I like that you cared enough for your dog to have the vet check and make sure things were ok with him. Some folks wouldn't go that far in wondering why their dog might not be learning things.

Stormy
 

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Personally I don't think your dog necessarily is dumb or abnormal, as people mentioned above, it is quite normal for dogs not to recognise words, but you could train him other ways as well. If you have all medical issues ruled out then I think you can find some other methods to train him:pAlso your dog is adorable:p
 
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I have a dumb dog. I mean really dumb. Chess is 7 and knows more phrases, words, gestures and routines than I can count. Then I have Reese. She's 14 and I've had her over 10 years. She knows to wait til I say ok for her food, and if you tell her to sit(with a treat only) she'll either sit or lay down. And she knows her name. That's literally it. She doesn't pay attention and runs into walls, rocks and doors. She can't be house trained, although I did eventually manage to crate train her. But she is the happiest, sweetest dog I've ever met, and I wouldn't trade her for anything. She bounces around like a little rabbit, always happy to see what comes next. Some dogs are just lacking in the brains department :)
 

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I got to ask, how many people calling the dog "dumb" have ever owned hounds? I see someone calling hounds lunkheads - they're not. Most hounds are rather intelligent, but like terriers you have to engage them differently than the velcro breeds [borders, aussies, etc.]. Hounds & terriers are generally not bred-to-please-human breeds.

I've had both terriers & hounds and properly trained they can give any of the velcro breeds a run for their money with intelligence / training. Problem is, is the average person doesn't want to put in the effort so these breeds are labeled "dumb".


Without seeing it myself it sounds like your dog is extremely submissive - supported by the fact you say he has a "frozen" face, not very expressive, so he is not comfortable {that photo} & are those eyes small normally or because he is squinting [a submissive / nervous trait]. I mean the cowering to "strangers" appears to have nothing to do with his sight and a preemptive attempt to seem small and "friendly" until he realizes that the stranger isn't going to hurt him. The fact that he was the younger & smallest of the strays probably meant he was their "punching bag" in a way not to mention however he was treated by humans prior to capture.

One of my dogs, a terrier, was a stray. She ran with a pack for 6 months, give or take. She was a very dog bossy dog - as in the moment our neighbors dog was barking, she'd start telling him off. She never attacked, never acted aggressive, but she was displaying some dominant behaviors. Probably because she learnt fast as the smallest in the pack it was either be bullied or be the bully.

That stray was barely trained, her prior owners were indeed idiots, and yet she was very intelligent. Aside from knowing commands in English & Swedish, she could let herself out of her pen and did so on many occasions.


Now you call your dog dumb forgetting one very vital fact - a dumb animal on the streets is a dead animal. The streets are not nice, and any "stupid" dog is going to be a dead dog. They do not last very long. I've seen "stupid" dogs [oftentimes some pet, unfortunately, dumped on the curb] on the streets - they have a habit of walking in front of traffic & getting run over. You say he may have been running for a week - well, he had to be smart enough to understand the pack's ranking system without getting himself chewed up & spat out.


I would suggest working on your dog's confidence levels. Engage a trainer if need be. A dog which sounds stressed - freaking at people walking by the window yet his eyesight is normal as per the vet isn't quite normal - is not going to learn easily. If you were high strung & stressed would you learn easily?

Other than that, as he appears to be a beagle mix, there are some neurological problems with beagles but they are quite different than what you describe.
 

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The word dumb is an outdated and offensive word to refer to someone who cannot speak. The word retarded is an offensive word to describe someone who has mental limitations.

If an animal doesn't seem to be learning, look at the teaching methods first and then at the teacher's skills.
 

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The word dumb is an outdated and offensive word to refer to someone who cannot speak. The word retarded is an offensive word to describe someone who has mental limitations.

If an animal doesn't seem to be learning, look at the teaching methods first and then at the teacher's skills.
That's being really touchy. No one meant anything offensively, and i think that's clear.

Some dogs are simply not as smart as others, and it has nothing to do with the teaching methods or teaching skills. It's ridiculous to think that they're all on the same level.
 

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Thanks to all of you who have voiced positive sentiments (that's nearly everyone). I realize there are advocates here, and advocacy has its place. I think if I were complaining about my dog, voicing frustration, demanding solutions and suggesting I was about ready to give up on him, then someone should put me in my place. However, given all I've said here, I don't think anyone should pity my dog. There are few better places he could be.

I don't think there's anti-hound bias in this thread... I had a beagle who was quite smart. I do know they can be exceptionally stubborn (anything they smell takes priority over anything they hear, see, even feel) and I've had that experience before, and the solution was simple: just let her be stubborn. I'm here to serve, not the other way around. I know plenty of people will disagree with that, and I would certainly be taking the wrong approach if I sought to utilize my dogs in ways traditional to their breed (or in any way at all), but I didn't have a problem with having a stubborn, sometimes gripy old lady of a beagle in the past, nor will I have a problem with a dumb beagle(ish) today. Dogs are only here a short time compared to the average human, so I don't mind accommodating them as I'm not after the perfect dog, whatever that is. Maybe you shouldn't coddle the troublesome kid because of what he might become later, but my dog is relatively inconsequential to the outside world. He's not going to grow up to be in and out of jail with a 12-page rap sheet :p

About the picture: he never looks like that. That was the worst (among the funniest) photo I've ever taken of him. He's usually submissive in a confusing situation (unless the perceived stranger is black--he's a flagrant racist), but otherwise happy and outgoing. His relatively flat affect I think I mostly base on the minimal movement of his brows compared my old beagle, whose eyes spoke volumes. This is probably just his genetics and not his attitude. I don't see much of my old dog in him, though he is undeniably part beagle. As for figures walking by doorways, he really only reacts to them a couple times a week. It's not that common.

I have to say I think Chess is the perfect name for a dumb dog :p
 

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I don't think I'm being touchy. Words matter. When we use words carelessly we convey meanings and sometimes those meanings are negative and hurtful. Why not say my dog isn't very intelligent? I might still be inclined to debate what intelligence means to a person in relation to their dog but I won't be offended at the choice of words.

Oh and dogs aren't stubborn either. Again a failure to motivate is usually behind why some dogs get labeled stubborn.
 

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That's being really touchy. No one meant anything offensively, and i think that's clear.

Some dogs are simply not as smart as others, and it has nothing to do with the teaching methods or teaching skills. It's ridiculous to think that they're all on the same level.
I have owned dogs for all my life, my parents had dogs, my entire family has had dogs. My friends have had dogs. I have yet to encounter a dog that I'd consider stupid or dumb. Even breeds that many label "dumb", ever tried a Weimaraner - the average person calls them dumb, they're just too much dog for the average person.


The only real cause of "dumb" dogs is severe inbreeding, poor breeding, & neurological problems - outside of that "dumb" dogs simply do not exist. The "dumb" dog is oftentimes attributed to a lazy owner that wants a dog that will follow their every command with the ease of snapping one's fingers & couldn't be bothered to put in the extra effort to train the animal properly.


Same mindset as to why people call cats "dumb" - because they aren't hounding your heels looking for a command to obey & make master happy. Yet my Siberian cat knows 14 different words in both English & French and a wide variety of tricks via clicker training. Would I say it easy, no... but then I do love quieting people who think cats are "dumb" by getting Zeus to strut his stuff.
 

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I don't think there's anti-hound bias in this thread... I had a beagle who was quite smart. I do know they can be exceptionally stubborn (anything they smell takes priority over anything they hear, see, even feel) and I've had that experience before, and the solution was simple: just let her be stubborn. I'm here to serve, not the other way around. I know plenty of people will disagree with that, and I would certainly be taking the wrong approach if I sought to utilize my dogs in ways traditional to their breed (or in any way at all), but I didn't have a problem with having a stubborn, sometimes gripy old lady of a beagle in the past, nor will I have a problem with a dumb beagle(ish) today. Dogs are only here a short time compared to the average human, so I don't mind accommodating them as I'm not after the perfect dog, whatever that is. Maybe you shouldn't coddle the troublesome kid because of what he might become later, but my dog is relatively inconsequential to the outside world. He's not going to grow up to be in and out of jail with a 12-page rap sheet :p

About the picture: he never looks like that. That was the worst (among the funniest) photo I've ever taken of him. He's usually submissive in a confusing situation (unless the perceived stranger is black--he's a flagrant racist), but otherwise happy and outgoing. His relatively flat affect I think I mostly base on the minimal movement of his brows compared my old beagle, whose eyes spoke volumes. This is probably just his genetics and not his attitude. I don't see much of my old dog in him, though he is undeniably part beagle. As for figures walking by doorways, he really only reacts to them a couple times a week. It's not that common.

I have to say I think Chess is the perfect name for a dumb dog :p
Dogs are color blind so they can't be "racist". At the very most they can perceive certain colors, however, I don't believe those colors would make him capable of differing between you - your black friend - or someone with gray skin.

So if he is cowering at your black friend it is more than likely your friend's approach, smell, size, sex, voice (loud person), or body language that is making the dog cower.

Cowering at confusion can you clarify what you mean? Sudden loud noises, screaming, crashing & banging. Dogs are generally extremely perceptive - they have ears & noses that hear & smell many times better than ours - so if he is "confused" about just simple things [e.g. coming & going from the car] he lacks confidence and/or is stressed. Makes sense why he isn't learning.


The dog is part beagle. He is more a hunting beagle type than a show or pet beagle type. The differences between the two types can be quite different because simply put hunting dogs are not bred to look pretty, they are bred to work.

As for your prior beagle being "stubborn" - beagles aren't stubborn. Hounds aren't stubborn. They need a handler who can redirect their attention - usually through simple clicker & treat training & repeat [because as I said, hounds are smart - they get bored with the same old play fetch & will find ways to entertain themselves] - away from whatever catches their attention.


I have a greyhound, Nemo, who was a former racing dog. So he has quite a bit of hunting instinct in him, without it he would have been "useless" as a racing dog. Greyhounds are sight hounds - he used to zero in on squirrels & cats and anything smaller than him like a heat seeking missile. If he is wearing his vest / backsack [which has his ball & a water bottle] and "working" he is focused only on his job. Took a lot to redirect him, however, I'd rather have a properly trained dog than one trying to rip my arm off every time a cat ran across the road. Vest off - then it is time to chase squirrels in the backyard.


I repeat get a trainer involved or figure out something to train the dog. Not all dogs respond to the same training method - that the stray is probably from hunting lines means he'll be "stupider" [aka stubboner, in all actuality smarter] than other types. Give him a job. If he is from hunting lines like his looks appear he needs a job. A hunting beagle isn't going to be happy with a pat on the head & good boy.
 

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I never imagined someone would take my "flagrant racist" remark seriously and react to it with indignation. However, I hardly find it surprising that the person who did doesn't understand that even a monochromat can make out shades of light and dark, and a dichromat like a dog is even more discerning...

The first page of the thread was very helpful and it was fun to engage with some of you. It seems my dog is simply near the bottom of the normal range (despite the suggestions of my shortcomings as an owner which some of you may wish to be the problem), something I'm fine with. I think I'm finished here. No worries, and thanks again.
 
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