How do you define dumb?

Last week, an article popped up in my Facebook newsfeed titled:  “The 10 Dumbest Dog Breeds”.  I couldn’t resist clicking on the link to bring up the article, which started by saying “We rounded up the dog breeds that are undeniably more decorative than smart”, and then had a slideshow that followed with 10 breeds. 

Now I know this isn’t a scientific study, and reading articles about dogs similar to this one but with a nicer twist – best companion dogs, best whatever, are always fun to read and generally I tend to understand why they chose the dogs they did for the category.  But in this case, my first thought was “how do you define dumb”?  Or rather, how do you define intelligence in dogs?  Because really, it’s pretty hard to do.  There are breeds that are highly trainable and therefore may seem very intelligent, but what if they are highly trainable because they are really food driven?  Does that make them more intelligent than a dog that is hard to train because his motivators are more subtle, or because he is stubborn?  Knowing these thoughts were swirling around in my head before I’d even opened the slideshow should have been a sign that perhaps I should just close my browser.  And yet, I couldn’t resist.  Apparently my intelligence was waning in that moment.  The #1 breed on that list of 10 dumbest was… Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  I can’t even recall the other breeds, I just remember getting to #1 and closing the browser and being angry.  Originally, I thought it’d be a funny article to share with my husband, but after realizing how it had upset me to read it, I decided that he would not think it was entertaining or funny in the least as his heart-dog is none other than Fenway, our beautiful and brilliant CKCS.

Fast forward to this morning and Fenway and Odin were both laying on our bed and we were remarking how cute it was that Odin (at 100 and something pounds and 9-months old) had actually gotten up there and was mimicking the position that Fenway was sleeping in.  Pete made a comment about which dog I thought was smarter, and it reminded of the article so I went looking for it and this statement is what I found on the page where the article had previously been:  From time to time, we need to update older articles that are real popular like this one with the latest research information from canine experts. Stay tuned for an updated article. We thank everyone for your comments. — Dogster eds.

I love it.  Not the “needing to update with the latest research from canine experts” part.  But they took the article down.  It had to do with all the comments (which were left up as if the article was still there), from people who had a dog of one of the breeds listed in the article who were refuting that their dog was dumb.  It makes me feel better about humanity!   My Fenway, the beautiful and bright eyed dog featured in the picture here is many, many things.  He is sweet, loving, a little manipulative, very very very food driven, and definitely not dumb.  I can’t attest to just how intelligent he is but what I can say is that he has figured out how to get what he wants when he wants by using whatever means (puppy eyes, perfect obedience, etc.) he knows will work in any particular circumstance.  More than that, he demonstrates every day his absolute unconditional love for his humans.  And when you’ve mastered unconditional love, you’re pretty brilliant.

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