Smithers: ...Uh... if YOU did it, sir?
Mr. Burns: Exactly! You'd be fit to be tied.
Cats Are Mean, right? Dogs, on the other hand, are always obedient and loyal. Unfortunately in the modern age, "Loyalty" has been diluted and warped into "stupidity," and these days, unless dogs are the main characters in a given story, they are usually portrayed as very simple-minded creatures who can't really function outside of instinct and impulse. It also helps that several breeds of dog have an incredible talent for looking like wide-eyed, buffoonish, empty-headed dopes and/or slobbering Kindhearted Simpletons at best. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, it usually serves to make the dog in question out to be incredibly stupid, especially if some other animal is nearby acting much more sensible, according to human standards of behavior that is.
Of course, as any dog owner can attest, dogs often do things that seem quite dumb (not to mention annoying to humans): loudly barking at nonexistent threats, trying to eat everything they find on the sidewalk, and recklessly chasing after squirrels, skunks, and porcupines. And cars. Cats, though still prone to their own brand of animal idiocy, are much more naturally discreet in fiction or not, hence the common portrayal of a quiet, cautious, and aloof cat and a clumsy, foolish, and boisterous dog.
Unsurprisingly, certain dogs tend to be lazy when they are dumb, often spending times doing nothing aside sleeping through a whole day, and will always ignore the owner's commands during these time periods.
This trope is somewhat based on a grain of truth, not that all dogs lack intelligence but that they are unable to function without humans (although this doesn't apply to all dogs as there are many breeds that are very much independent and can, in fact, function well without humans). Dogs have undergone thousands of years of selective breeding to rely on humans for most of their needs and to obey their commands. Dogs have even evolved to mimic human facial expressions and to digest grains because that's what their humans would offer. Cats domesticated themselves and will leave a neglectful owner and like many other domesticated animals, can revert to a feral state which allows them to become self-reliant.
This isn't the case with dogs as they can not form self-sustaining populations on their own and will even stay with owners who abuse them, which can make a pet dog seem like a mindless Sycophantic Servant (this isn't always true though, considering dogs are capable of forming their own packs and even being self-reliant; this can be seen in many countries where dogs aren't kept as pets and are left roaming the streets and adapting to it. And many dogs will attempt to run away from abusive owners when given the chance or if cornered, will bite or fight back to protect themselves when they've had enough). There has been evidence that due to their dependence on humans, dogs have learned to use humans as tools for their own benefit by manipulating them into giving food or solving problems as they have forgotten how to do so themselves... or perhaps as a way for humans to be their unsuspecting slaves.
In non-Western works (especially East Asian works), dogs are rarely portrayed as dumb, and more often portrayed as intelligent and savage animals. Therefore this trope is almost never played straight due to cultural reasons.
Compare and Contrast to Cats Are Lazy (if an ordinary cat is dumb) and/or Buffoonish Tomcat (if they are the exceptionally clumsy, goofy, clownish, ludicrous and cartoony counterpart to the lazy counterparts), and other creatures/etc that had been stereotyped or depicted with lacking in intelligence such as Dumb Dinos, Dumb Dodo Bird, Moose Are Idiots, and Frazetta Man.
- "I smell... BACON!!!baconbaconbaconbacon! There! From that bag! What's it say? I can't read! (is given some Beggin' Strips) It's bacon! I love you. IlovebaconIloveyou!" — ad for Beggin' Strips, bacon-flavored dog treats.
It must be bacon, because only one thing smells like bacon, and that's bacon!
- This Bud Light commercial, where the owner discovers that all his dog has to say is "SAUSAGES!" over and over again.
- The "Stupid Dogbot - Clever Fiesta" Ford ad campaign.
- Inuyasha: Played straight but often for comedy.
- Inuyasha is a Half-Human Hybrid whose youkai heritage is canine. He's very simple-minded as a result and his limited intelligence can get him into a lot of trouble. However, his instincts for fighting evil are very powerful and he's therefore capable of surprising acts of wisdom.
- Sesshoumaru rarely transforms into his true form. When forced to against Magatsuhi, he becomes entangled in his enemy's tentacles. Jaken notices that all Sesshoumaru needs to do to escape is drop back to his smaller humanoid form and slide out. When Sesshoumaru instead pointlessly shakes his body like a wet dog, Jaken realises Sesshoumaru's true form gives him both his full power and a dog's intellect. An implied telepathic connection between them is revealed when Sesshoumaru first responds to Jaken's tactical analysis to transform and escape and then responds angrily to Jaken's disparaging thoughts regarding canine intellect. The battle is very serious, but the scene involving Jaken's internal assessment of Sesshoumaru's intellect while in dog form is Played for Laughs.
Jaken: (Thinking) "He is unable to escape... even with the power of his true demon form? Or is he helpless because he is in that form?! A giant dog... isn't the hardest prey to hang on to... why doesn't he just transform back and slip free? Or does this form also have... the brain of a dog?"
- Michio Tsukui of Juni Taisen: Zodiac War represents the sign of the Dog. He fancies himself a sly strategist, and biggest brain in the tournament. He's actually massively overconfident and not as bright as he thinks he is. His idiocy results in him being the 2nd elimination of the tournament when he gives a super drug to fellow contestant Chicken, who offs him the second it kicks in.
- Kaiju Girl Caramelise: Jumbo King, the Akaishi family's dog, can sniff out Kuroe well enough whenever the latter turns into a Kaiju, but he's frequently seen absentmindedly running into things like shelves and trees whenever he's not being useful, on top of drooling in a way that makes him look even more dimwitted.
- Rantanplan from Lucky Luke is literally Too Dumb to Live (or at least dumber than his own shadow), having nearly drowned or otherwise killed himself numerous times.
- Ms. Lion, the male dog, is absolutely The Ditz and Cloud Cuckoo Lander of the Pet Avengers. Founding Pet Avenger Lockjaw, on the other hand, is smarter than the average dog, and superpowered to boot. Lockjaw isn't actually a dog. He's an Inhuman whose exposure to the Terrigen Mists changed him into a dog-like shape. Usually. Except when that's just a story that the Inhumans like to tell to gullible visitors.
- In Rocky, the title character (a dog) tries to get a friend's advice on trying to play some obscure Hip-Hop music video on a Swedish music TV station, since he doesn't know any current pop music. The final panel has the friend laughing as he watches Rocky introduce a video by Vengaboys. In the English language version of the comic, the reference is changed to No Doubt.
- On her fifth birthday Sabrina from Chilling Adventures of Sabrina gets a familiar, Salem the cat. She gets mad at the fact it's a cat, not a puppy, but her aunts mention amongst themselves that dogs aren't smart enough to be familiars.
- Odie from Garfield, pictured above.
- Garfield and Friends had the cat usually extending it to all dogs. Which once led him to a beating, when saying "dogs have no brains"... to an audience featuring only dogs.
- In the cartoon, Garfield once wore a shirt reading "I hate dogs"... and was surprised to find out that dogs can read...
- However, Odie might actually be a case of Obfuscating Stupidity. One cartoon showed him reading War and Peace while Garfield and Jon were gone, and another showed he's a wiz at Sudoku.
- Garfield and Friends had the cat usually extending it to all dogs. Which once led him to a beating, when saying "dogs have no brains"... to an audience featuring only dogs.
- Get Fuzzy. Neither Satchel nor Bucky is very bright; the difference is that Satchel has a more innocent stupidity, while Bucky's is a more malevolent stupidity.
- A one-panel Non Sequitur, captioned "How Your Pets Think", shows a dog and a cat looking at a man sitting in a recliner. The dog's thought-bubble reads "Petmelovemepetmelovemepetmeloveme!" The cat's reads, "Don't just sit there, you slow-witted oaf. Feed me."
- A strip of The Far Side featured a scientist who invented a device that could translate what dogs are saying so he could understand them. Several dogs onscreen were barking, which was translated to, "Hey!" "Hey, hey, hey!" "Hey, hey!"
- That's not so much "Dogs are dumb," more like "This Is Reality, and while the communication system of dogs is very useful, they aren't secretly using a language like ours, so that every bark has a meaning that is just waiting to be translated into a grammatical English sentence."
- On the other hand, dogs who use the written language (surprisingly many of them) are portrayed as using poor spelling and grammar.
- Kenny from Dogs of C-Kennel, although most of the other dogs are an aversion of the trope.
- The Bolt Chronicles: Normally inverted in these stories, except perhaps for Bruce the Rottweiler in The Survivor. Even Bolt, who is frequently depicted as Comically Missing the Point, is otherwise intelligent.
- Played with in "The Spaceship." The aliens in this story closely resemble bipedal dogs (they even respond to Rhino's dog whistle), and they're quite stupid. Rhino is able to convince them that scarecrows are intelligent beings.
- In Paradise, Whip tells his daughters Celestia and Luna that dogs are "nasty creatures like wolves, but louder and stupider".
- The also-eponymous Bolt is something of an exception, being naive rather than stupid.
- Dug from — SQUIRREL! ...Up.
- The rottweiler from Over the Hedge, whose only spoken words (in a Scooby-Doo-like voice) are "Play? Play!" This was specifically done to avoid them being portrayed as a vicious attack dog, which is a common fear among children, their target audience.
- Disney's The Aristocats portrays dogs as being on a par with the mountain-men from Deliverance.
- The 2006 version of The Shaggy Dog partially plays with this trope. Dave thinks like the human he is, but succumbs instantaneously to frisbees, scritches, and games of fetch.
- The eponymous Beethoven is not exactly a canine genius. He's not exactly a moron either, there is significant evidence that many of his "accidents" are in fact planned out, and he is also extremely quick to pick off on people's emotions and is exceedingly patient.
- Chance in Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey. Shadow lampshades this repeatedly. It's more likely that he was meant to be young and naive, as compared to every other dog in the movie and sequel who range from quite knowledgeable (Shadow), to street smart (Riley).
- Somewhat understandable in Warrior Cats since the main characters are cats, but still. All dogs portrayed in Warriors are either slobbering vicious brutes, or a harmless, but severe annoyance. Only the slobbering vicious brute variety was capable of any sort of speech, and their vocabulary was limited to Hulk Speak that is little more than "pack" and "kill" repeated over and over. The funny thing is, the head author actually likes dogs more than cats. Sister series Survivor Dogs turns this on its head as dogs are smart but sharpclaws are annoying and cruel.
- T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats includes one passage comparing cats to dogs, ridiculing the latter as "clowns" that are "easily taken in" etc. (That stanza was cut from this number in the musical adaptation.) Also, there is the poem "Of the Awefull [sic] Battle of the Pekes and the Pollicles", which basically describes two feuding clans of dogs who are so caught up in fighting that they disrupt life in the city until they are scared away by the Great Rumpus Cat.
- In Watership Down, dogs are just another one of the many enemies the rabbit protagonists have to deal with, but they still show this trope. Rowsbery Woof, a minor figure in rabbit mythology, is a complete drooling moron, and the dog that shows up in the climax never has any lines and is treated as a giant monster.
- Both subverted and played straight in The Plague Dogs, where the dogs do have lines and are treated as Stoic Woobies... but they still seem less aware than, say, the fox, ranging between Too Dumb to Live and Break the Cutie. Justified, since the dogs are only slightly more intelligent than real dogs despite being able to speak, Rowf is basically shell-shocked, and Snitter is a Cloud Cuckoolander after being subjected to scientific experiments.
- Basically the entire point of Marley & Me, in both film and book form. Marley was a tremendously loyal dog, and the overall plot is about how that affected the writer's life, but he was also a rather dim-witted, headstrong dog, which caused a great deal of trouble because of his physical size.
- Played straight in Animal Farm. The female dog is loyal, but not terribly bright, which is why she allows Napoleon to take her puppies and raise them to be his blood-thirsty, single-minded minions. In all fairness, she didn't know what he was going to do.
- Many of Dave Barry's columns about dogs play up their stupidity. Roger in his novel Big Trouble is stated to have the intelligence of celery, though he at least knows enough not to mess with the Enemy Toad again after it gave him a face full of bufotenine. In fact, some people have accused Barry of being a dog-hater, apparently not noticing that he has evidently owned multiple dogs for years (Barry himself responding to such claims: "Perhaps from these peoples' perspective, dogs are intelligent, but I'm not going to go there.")
- In The Unadulterated Cat by Terry Pratchett, during the Campaign For Real Cats Suspiciously Specific Denial that they have anything against dogs, the phrase "smelly, fawning, dribbling, morons of uncertain temperament" is used. A series of footnotes record attempts by the Committee to have this changed, to which the Chairman responds by making similar comments at greater length.
- Another obligatory Pratchett example: Laddie in Moving Pictures. His internal voice consists mainly of "Good boy Laddie! Laddie good boy!". Gaspode is a pretty severe aversion, being a dyed-in-the-wool cynic.
- Several dogs in the works of P. G. Wodehouse, including Aunt Agatha's dog McIntosh, "an aberdeen terrier of weak intellect". They sometimes overlap with the Mister Muffykins type (also prevalent in Wodehouse's works), but are generally better-liked by Wodehouse's heroes, who tend to be dim (and loyal) themselves.
- In the Gordon R. Dickson novel The Magnificent Wilf, the hero's Great Dane is given the ability to talk by aliens. Examples of things it says are as follows: "Love Tom. Love Lucy [his owners]. Love Love Love Love." "Play? Frisbee? Play?" "Ow! Flea! Bite flea! Bite Bite Bite Bite Bite. Crunch flea. Aaaahhh."
- The children's chapter books by Lucy Nolan in the series Down Girl and Sit focus on two not-so-bright dogs who believe that "Down Girl" and "Sit" respectively are their names because these two phrases are what they usually hear from their owners.
- In So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, there's Know-Nothing Bozo the Non-Wonder Dog, so stupid that it is incapable of eating the right dog food on camera, even when engine oil is poured on the wrong food.
- In the Midnight Louie books, the crime-solving cats, Midnight Louie and Midnight Louise are firmly of this camp in most cases, but sometimes have to work with dogs, such as the Scottie and Westie terriers, Scotch & Soda, in Cat in a Yellow Spotlight. After all, even a dummy can have certain skills that would be useful to their investigations, such as a dog's sense of smell or being able to inconspicuously be in certain places.
- When the crew of the Red Dwarf go to a parallel universe, Cat is disappointed to find that, instead of a female opposite, he gets to meet a male humanoid who presumably evolved from Debbie Lister's dog. The dog doesn't exactly exude intelligence (though in fairness neither does Cat).
- Part of the reason the Dog appears so dumb is because the Cat has actually become, while not actually human and/or intelligent, at least more so than he was in, say, series one. The Dog was introduced as a one-time joke and is therefore almost exactly as "doglike" as the cat was "catlike" in the first series.
- The Red Dwarf tabletop game gives both species nearly identical hits and bonuses to their stats. Both get a minus to dealing with other creatures socially, Cats because they're narcissistic and lack empathy, Dogs just because they're a bit uncouth and unrefined. (As the text puts it, Dogs are social beings, but in a "hanging-out-with-the-boys" sense, not a "let's-put-on-a-tux-and-go-to-the-Queen's-reception" sense.)
- Part of the reason the Dog appears so dumb is because the Cat has actually become, while not actually human and/or intelligent, at least more so than he was in, say, series one. The Dog was introduced as a one-time joke and is therefore almost exactly as "doglike" as the cat was "catlike" in the first series.
- Mad About You has Murray, a Border Collie mix, which runs after mice until it runs into a wall, causing itself head trauma. And there are no mice in the flat.
- Top Gear (UK) Dog, Richard Hammond's real-life pet Labradoodle, during her brief stint on the show.
- Darren from The Ferals and Feral TV, whose Intelligence stat was on par with that of a mushroom.
- Emergency Vets unintentionally makes you wonder if dogs are intelligent after seeing enough episodes where dogs have to be brought in and operated on for having eaten something completely inedible (socks, speaker wire, a coin collection...).
- Although humans have been known to swallow some pretty stupid non-food items, too.
- A great example on an episode of A Prairie Home Companion, during the "Guy Noir" segment. Guy sets out to find a talking dog who's been kidnapped. The character who kidnaps the dog says "At first it's amazing, then you realize, dogs just aren't that smart. He kept saying 'you're barking up the wrong tree!'"
- The Eclipse Phase sourcebook "Panopticon" lists "Smart" dogs as having the intelligence of a two-year-old human (which real life dogs are compared to) and a vocabulary of twenty to thirty words (far lower than RL dogs). Smart cats on the other hand have the intelligence of a three-year-old and a vocabulary of thirty to forty-five words.
- The dog in Duck Hunt. Look at that dopey expression when you shoot a duck. And when you fail... it laughs, entertained at your failure, while you're no doubt feeling sociopathic, looking very frustrated and have a loaded shotgun in your hands. Unfortunately, you can't Shoot the Dog.
- Ghost Trick: Missile comes off as The Ditz, albeit a very cheerful Ditz. Perhaps less "stupid" and more "incredibly naive and optimistic" (but note the subversion below).
- The dog enemy in BLOODCRUSHER II is notably simple, consisting of just three behaviors; stand out of sight waiting for the player, run in a straight line at the player to attack, and chase any grenades the player throws.
- Dogs in Minecraft are rather infamous for falling off of cliffs and into lava, and for attacking anything the player attacks, which could mean their death.
- Pochiko from the pop'n music series is a dog girl that actually acts like a dog, despite other Little Bit Beastly characters acting mostly human.
- PVP - Scratch Fury, Destroyer of Worlds, uses a mind-enhancing machine on Kirby in order to create his own nemesis - but unfortunately, even after multiplying his intelligence by 1000, he's still dumber than a sack of hammers, and tends to forget that he can speak, whenever he takes a nap...
- Pooch from the webcomic Sinfest. If he's not stupid, he's definitely very young and/or naive. In contrast, his cat companion, Percival, is sublimely arrogant and sophisticated. He is, however, just as dumb as Pooch and can be easily swayed with food or toys. He's a bit of a hypocrite and it's played for laughs.
- Rare for a Furry Comic, but Better Days has this, Word of God claims that all have "a little touch of the Downs".
- The Gunshow strip Dog Problems features a dog locked in the bathroom of an airplane. He's more concerned with how he's supposed to drink out of the toilet, how he got on the plane in the first place, and where "the other dog" (his reflection in the bathroom mirror) came from than the fact the airplane is about to crash.
- In Haunted Mansion and the Hatbox Ghost, the (self-styled) "Fabulous" Dog is a canine counterpart to über-villain the One-Eyed Black Cat. In contrast to the cunning, dangerous Cat, Dog is a blabbering lunatic who never does anything to assess his status as the same class of being as the Cat. The Cat is actually embarassed when Dog is brought up in his presence, and we're talking about as literal a devil as there is in the Mansionverse.
- The Simple Dog from Hyperbole and a Half is incapable of operating a staircase or getting out from under a blanket, and when put in sled-dog booties to prevent damage to the wooden floor, stared up with an expression captioned in the story's accompanying cartoon as "Where R My Legs?" Allie's other dog, Helper Dog, appears to be of normal canine intelligence, but on the other hand is a hair-triggered mass of neuroses and melodrama.
- There is an internet meme which shows how a cat and a dog view their respective existences. The dog will say things like "Walk! YAY! Food! YAY! Pet! YAY! Outside! YAY!" Meanwhile, the cat carefully plots revenge on and escape from its human captors. And here it is...
Dog: Dog food! My favorite thing!
Cat: My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength.
- "Thoughts Of Dog" on Twitter combines this with Simple-Minded Wisdom and Cloud Cuckoolander.
- Dreamscape: In the flashback in "A Curse or a Blessing", Melinda's curse's dog form, Dylan is able to trick it into falling off a cliff by getting it to charge at him, then jumping down to a lower ledge.
Dylan: Good thing dogs are so dumb.
- Bagel in The Bagel and Becky Show is a dog, and not too bright.
- CatDog obviously has the latter half (contrasted by Cat), but the vast majority of canines is also portrayed this way.
- Hanna-Barbera egregiously abuses this trope:
- Dynomutt is Blue Falcon's idiot robot-dog sidekick.
- Dexter's Laboratory had an episode where Dexter gives a dog capability of speech and it drives him insane because all it says is what it sees going on.
"It's a thing! I-I-I found a thing! It's here, the thing, I found the thing, and here it is, it's the thing, right here, a thing!"
Man: Hey! It's my dog! I found my dog!
- And then it plays with the trope. Dexter's parents never notice the dog can speak English. Also, when the dog's true owner shows up, he speaks exactly like the dog does.
Dog: Hey, it's my man! I found my man!
Both: I found you, I found you, I found you! I found you!
Man: Let's go for a ride! You wanna go for a ride?
Dog:: Yeah, ride, let's go for a ride!
Both: Let's go for a ride!
- Dexter also tries to repair Dynomutt at Blue Falcon's request, but Dexter scraps him as being a "goofy idiot sidekick" (which he is).
- 2 Stupid Dogs: The whole point of the cartoon is that they are idiots. Little Dog especially. In one episode, it's revealed he doesn't even know his own age or name.
- Huckleberry Hound, despite being smart enough to walk among humans, is still dumb. There are occasional hints that this is Obfuscating Stupidity, as while he sometimes succeeds through blind luck, there are other times when he is smart enough to overcome his foes (like Powerful Pierre and Dinky Dalton).
- Astro from The Jetsons is pretty dumb, despite being able to talk. That said, he does recognize a bad thing or person when he sees one, and will warn and help the family. In one episode, he was made into a super genius, but became insufferable as a result.
- The Flintstones' Dino (only arguably a dog anyway) was smarter than Fred in many cases. But so was the cat. Hoppy was about as smart as Barney.
- A Proto-Dino was shown during a camping episode to be extremely intelligent, with an elegant pseudo-British accent, until he was adopted by the women. Then he lost his ability to talk.
- The title character in Hong Kong Phooey is clearly more dense than his cat sidekick.
- Rock Bottom from the Joe Oriolo Felix the Cat cartoons is a walking bulldog, and he's very stupid, making it easy for Felix to fool him. In "Felix and Vavoom", he tells Professor he's aware of it.
"Excuse me, boss, I forgot what I'm supposed to do. I'm so stupid!"
- GIR from Invader Zim helps add onto the stereotype of dogs being dumb. He has to wear a lime green dog suit to "blend in", and humans gullibly buy it even though green dogs don't exist. While wearing the dog suit, GIR does a lot of comedically stupid things like saying "Meow!" to a bystander or running around in a circle while leashed to a tree. And after he runs out of leash, he trips then goes the reverse direction and does this over and over.
- Runt from Animaniacs. He's almost on The Ditz level of dumb, unable to understand that Rita is a cat, though it's arguably subverted since 80% of the time, Runt saves Rita from her own arrogance and selfishness (showing she's not exactly a genius either outside of composing brilliant musical bits). Rita's arrogance is typically attributed to her being a cat, which she mentions frequently as being superior to humans and all other animals. Runt, meanwhile, is shown as as being far stupider than the average dog, which have normal intelligence.
Rita: For fifty dollars and a chance to the Fisteva: how many brain cells does a dog have?
Runt: Oh boy! Oh boy! Nine! Definitely nine!
- Freakadog from Freakazoid! was not only dumb, but also vicious and rabid.
- Dudley from T.U.F.F. Puppy has an assortment of dog stereotypes, plus he occasionally chews on his butt.
- Mandy's dog Saliva from The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. Despite being owned by the smartest character on the show, he is quite stupid.
- Spunky from Rocko's Modern Life drinks his own drool, eats trash, has crossed eyes, fell in love with a mop, and runs into walls.
- In Garfield and Friends, Garfield tends to go to great lengths to insult not just Odie, but all dogs in general. Their intellegance (or lack thereof, as far as he's concerned), is usually the main subject.
- One of Garfield's fantasies is that dogs used to be smart, but when they found out that cats are actually alien invaders who have enslaved humanity, our feline overlords lowered their intelligence with a stupidity ray so they wouldn't tell us.
- Garfield's also claimed that that dogs have a very small brain, and that their tongue is nine yards long on average.
- The Diamond Dogs from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic aren't the sharpest crayons in the box. Averted with Applejack's sheepdog Winona, however.
- Niblet, from the 2010 version of Pound Puppies (who is, incidentally, a sheepdog) is far outstripped in the intelligence department by his teammates... including the squirrels. However, see the Pound Puppies example under aversions for a counterargument.
- The Bugs Bunny cartoon Foxy By Proxy features a fat fox hound who is so dumb he couldn't spell "cat" if he was spotted the "c" and the "a." Yet somehow the big lummox winds up triumphant at cartoon's end. Mostly because Bugs got too distracted in scoffing at the other dogs failure and threw his guard over his tail.
- Harry from Stanley combines this trope with a Surfer Dude speech pattern.
- In Gasp!, Dogbox is easily the dumbest of the animals in the household; making him stupider than the goldfish and the cockraoch.
- Ed from Best Ed is a dog who is not very bright and often causes trouble when he tries to help his best friend Buddy, a much smarter squirrel.
- There is some Truth in Television to this trope. Dogs do not understand as much language as you would think. It is said that they are responding to one word of the sentence such as 'hungry' or 'walk' or 'stop'. When they respond to sentences like 'leave that little bunny alone' or 'where were you boy?' it is the tone they are responding to.
- Dogs, being animals and not humans, cannot relate events unless they are consecutive. Don't shout at a dog (or God forbid, kick it) because it pissed on the carpet while you were at work, several hours before. The dog can see that you are mad at it but it's never going to make the connection. In fact, it'll probably urinate further to reassure you that it accepts your authority.
- Experiments done on dogs and wolves show that dogs are less likely to try to come up with different solutions to a problem than their wild cousins. A dog will try a few ways of getting to an unreachable treat and then stare at its owner, while a wolf will keep on trying to get the treat long after. It's up in the air as to whether this means that dogs aren't intelligent enough to figure out how to get the treat themselves, or that dogs are intelligent enough to realise that if a human is present then they don't have to figure out how to get the treat themselves. For years scientists thought dogs were dumber than their wild counterparts. The thought was that over the millenia dogs have become complacent due to over-reliance on humans and so they don't use their brain as much as wolves. Studies have shown this to be inaccurate. Neither is quite "smarter" than the other, but dogs excel at certain things and wolves excel at other things. Wolves are more independent and analytical, but dogs' dependence on humans gives them an insight of human behavior and thinking that wolves lack.
- While it is thought dogs have some degree of empathy, critics point out that poorly-trained or aggressive dogs may lack it altogether, which is one of the reasons why they can be so dangerous towards babies, children and small animals if they choose to lash out violently - dogs can feel jealousy, and may deliberately attack or kill new arrivals (think other animals or children) to the family in a jealous rage. Cats too can feel empathy and jealousy, but from a realistic point of view, theyre more likely to express the latter through acting aloof or cool towards the newcomer, gradually warming up to and accepting them in the ensuing weeks after their arrival on the scene.
- Dogs do have proportionally smaller braincases than wolves and behave like wolf puppies well into adulthood. Brain reduction and infantilization are typical consequences of domestication. The less changed species by domestication is precisely, the domestic catnote . Whereas dogs have been molded by millennia of selective breeding to the point that they are largely different from their wild ancestors, cats, which are thought to have become domesticated by taking advantage of their wild ancestors' tendency to follow human civilisations for scraps of food and vermin to eat, are considerably similar to the wildcats they were developed from. Though both are capable of freely interbreeding with their wild ancestors, a feral cat is significantly more likely to live long enough in the wild to bring about the next generation.
Subversions and aversions:
- In the commercials for Bush's Baked Beans, Duke the golden retriever is a clever huckster who's always trying to sell his master's secret family recipe for his own monetary gain.
- Ein the "data dog" from Cowboy Bebop is hinted to be very intelligent, but none of the crew ever notice. It's also implied that he's a better hacker than Ed in one episode.
- Akamaru from Naruto is quite the efficient partner for his master, Kiba Inuzuka, either as his Head Pet or his Big Friendly Dog. Justified, since the Inuzuka clan's business revolves around veterinary issues and dog training.
- Menchi from Excel Saga is quite clever, and fully aware of her position as "emergency rations".
- For the most part, the dogs in Massugu ni Ikou aren't explicitly stupid. The closest examples of this trope are Hanako, who is more of a Cloud Cuckoolander than anything else, and Shokora, whose main problem is that he is Literal-Minded. Mametarou and Sora are subversions: they might have dumb moments, but give no indication that they lack intelligence. Averting this trope outright are Sebastian, Gen, and Jack - Sebastian being fairly down-to-Earth, Gen being an honorable and sensitive Gentle Giant, and Jack being a very intelligent Jerkass (later a Jerk with a Heart of Gold).
- In Chi's Sweet Home, all the dogs play the trope straight and Chi's very much afraid of them. However, in the second season one of the Yamada's neighbors has a hyper puppy, and David subverts the trope by rescuing Chi in episode 76.
- Subverted in Fruits Basket. Shigure, the Dog from the Eastern Zodiac, acts stupid and seems harmless at first glance, but he's really the only Member of the Zodiac with a plan. It's played straighter in the 2001 anime, where his manipulative side isn't shown and he's made into pure comic relief.
- The defining characteristic of Sapphie (a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel) from Jewelpet is being smart.
- Snowy from Tintin rescued his master with clockwork regularity, either by biting ropes and baddies or by chasing down a human who can help him.
- In the Italian comic book Lupo Alberto, set in a World of Funny Animals, dogs are on average as smart as the other animals. In particular the most preminent one, Moses (a bobtail sheepdog), runs the McKenzie farm not just by his considerable strength but by virtue of having more common sense and being far more money savvy than most other characters (the only one who has him beaten in the common sense department is Alberto, who is a wolf) and has shown himself much smarter than Gideon the cat (not that it's actually that difficult), and the one time he was forced to take a long vacation he hired a temporary replacement through an agency that sent another bobtail sheepdog who did an exceptional job.
- Boot from the British newspaper strip The Perishers was certainly smarter than his boy owner Wellington. Unfortunately whenever Boot attempted to articulate his thoughts Wellington could only hear barking.
- Dogbert, from the comic strip Dilbert, is generally presented as more intelligent than those around him (and as an evil genius).
- Peanuts: Snoopy is fairly bright, albeit with a blind spot regarding the name of that round-headed kid.
- The dogs in Citizen Dog were jerkasses of normal intelligence while the cats were cheerful Butt-Monkeys who were easily entertained by string.
- The dogs of Cats & Dogs are able to run a hi-tech spy organization against the evil cats. Though some moments of stupidity still ensue (such as a Wire Dilemma when dogs are colorblind).
- The dogs in the movie Babe are the leaders of all the farm-animals, and most intelligent; meanwhile the cat is pure evil.
- In the Soviet comedy Operation Y and Shurik's Other Adventures, Shurik and Lida try to get past an angry dog to get into her apartment. Shurik comes up with a plan to stuff some sleeping pills into a sausage and throw it to the dog. The dog takes the bait... but then eats only the sausage, leaving the pills on the pavement.
- Old Yeller is realistically (non-anthropomorphically) smart, and is able to save members of his family from other animals several times.
- Where the Red Fern Grows has two main dogs, also portrayed in a completely non-anthropomorphic, realistic way. Old Dan doesn't really fit this trope as he's not exactly dumb, but Little Ann averts it outright by being distinctly the brains to Dan's brawn. Both are very well-trained.
- Gaspode the Wonder Dog from the Discworld series is an equal-level thinker with most humans he interacts with, and currently makes his life as the thinking-brain dog (like a seeing-eye dog, only with providing thoughts instead of vision) of Foul Ole Ron. He's also basically the Only Sane Man in the Canting Crew.
- Similarly, the Dog Guild in Men at Arms, although none of them were loyal (Gaspode is loyal, and seriously resents it). By contrast "Laddie", the Discworld version of Lassie in Moving Pictures, is completely moronic and a clueless, blond-furred ditz, but because he behaves like a Wonder Dog is expected to behave, everyone thinks he's clever.
- Continuity Drift had a part to play here however. Originally in Moving Pictures Gaspode has had his intelligence magically boosted to human levels and there is no real evidence Laddie was especially dim by normal canine standards. By Men At Arms all dogs are as reasonably intelligent, although not so much as Gaspode (who can speak as well as most humans and even write (badly mangled) Morporkian, as well as being deeper in his thinking, the result of a different magical reason than in Moving Pictures). Laddie becomes retroactively that much worse. It is mentioned that the type of intelligence displayed by dogs is something they got from humans, along with names, cruelty and a cringing inferiority complex. Wolves are displayed as pretty smart but with a one-track mind controlled by instincts and thoughts wholly unlike dogs as a result.
- According to Angua (in The Fifth Elephant), a bimorphic werewolf who spends too much time changed into a wolf becomes more wolflike in thinking, more prone to react either with flight or fight to unknown things, and unable to reason like a human. Her father, Baron Guy von Uberwald, has regressed so much that when he is in human form he speaks mostly in monosyllabic one-word sentences, in a loud voice like a bark, and has to be reminded to wear clothes. Anytime Angua and her relationship with Carrot comes up, someone (usually Angua) mentions that anything that is part wolf and part human is a dog, which sort of explains a few things about Big Fido and his ideas about wolves.
- Novelist Dean Koontz tends to write canine characters as smarter than most dogs (even excluding Watchers, which involves a genetically engineered dog of human intelligence).
- Mouse from The Dresden Files is just as intelligent as a human, though he isn't a normal canine, but rather a "Foo Dog" (essentially a spirit-world canine from the mountains of Tibet).
- Headies in the Noonverse are a species of dog-like aliens that are psychic, extremely pragmatic as a species and much, much smarter than humans; after a few decades, they just decide that they learned everything worth learning from humans and abruptly severe all diplomatic contacts with them.
- Subverted in The Death Gate Cycle series by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Haplo's nameless dog is repeatedly shown to have the most common sense of any character in the series and often acts as his Anti-Hero owner's moral center. Of course, it turns out that Dog is actually the physical manifestation of Haplo's soul, so this is justified.
- Huan, the Hound of Valinor, from The Silmarillion, was able to speak three times, went through a conflict of loyalties and ended up helping Beren and Lúthien in their quest. (He and Lúthien managed to defeat Sauron by themselves.)
- Lord Draffut, from Fred Saberhagen's Empire of the East and the Book of Swords, was mutated by tens of thousands of years in proximity to the "Lake of Life." Now he's worshipped as a god of healing. He tells an ally:
"I was not in the Old World as you see me now. Then I could not think. I was much smaller, and ran behind human beings on four legs. But I could love them, and I did, and I must love them still."
- Kojak from The Stand is revealed to be not only one of the hardiest dogs left in America, but the smartest... and ends up one of the heroes. He follows the other characters halfway across the continent, then rescues Stu from certain death. He's almost a Marty Pooch.
- Subverted in the Uplift series - it's hinted at that after Chimps and Dolphins, dogs are the next animals humanity plans to Uplift, implying that they are fairly intelligence.
- Averted in Robin McKinley's Spindles End, a rewriting of "Sleeping Beauty". Dogs are shown to be loyal guardian types with a sense of dignity, although one dog is also known for her tongue-overfriendiness.
- Kludge from Varjak Paw may not be very bright, but he's loyal to his friends and can speak cat...somewhat.
- W. Bruce Cameron's works such as A Dog's Purpose and A Dog's Way Home depicts dogs as naive rather than stupid. Being dogs, there just are some things they can't comprehend. The characters can be quite insightful and clever when needed.
- Inspector Rex: The protagonist dog is definitely not a dumb. Not only he is useful to solve murder cases, but also is very capable of outsmarting criminals.
- The dog in Mad About You is actually fairly clever.
- Lassie is usually smart enough to communicate with humans through barking and body language.
- The Veterinary Sketch on A Bit of Fry and Laurie featured Stephen Fry as a babblingly stupid dachshund fancier, getting on the nerves of Hugh Laurie's cat-owning character. The end of the sketch reveals that the dachsie is, quite sensibly, taking Stephen in to the vet's to be put down.
- Despite his laziness Buck the Bundy's dog from Married... with Children is smarter than his owners. Granted, this is not a significant challenge and does not prove that Buck is above canine-normal intelligence. He knows what channel Jeopardy comes on. That's pretty good for a dog, really.
- Eddie's intelligence is a matter of dispute between Frasier and Martin (one of many, of course) - but the dog that played him must have been a genius.
- Sue Thomas' dog is very smart.
- An aversion in MythBusters, as they showed that, yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks. They also proved that almost none of the supposed tips for throwing a bloodhound off the scent actually worked, including the original literal Red Herring (the dog was temporarily distracted by the prospect of food, but the handler quickly got him back on track).
- The dogs in Eerie, Indiana, who plot to take over the world.
- Koromaru from Persona 3 has a human-like intelligence. He may not be smarter than most of the humans in the party, but he could probably give Junpei a good run for his money.
- Poochy in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island. He's practically indestructible in that game, and as one bonus level so aptly puts it, Poochy ain't stupid.
- Your Mabari war hound in Dragon Age: Origins averts this as it is explicitly stated to have human-level intelligence; he's perfectly capable of obeying complex orders and fully understanding human speech, and you may sometimes suspect he's the smartest member of your party.
- He's also a master manipulator, able to thaw Morrigan into giving him treats, and if you choose him as one of the companions to try and break you out after being captioned, choosing to let Dog bluff succeeds in both cases where it's available.
- At one point in Dragon Age II, you can walk into your house and find Varric playing cards with your dog.
Snarky!Hawke:Is it brilliant or horrible that you play Diamondback with my dog?
Varric: All I'm saying is, he'd be up more than two sovereigns if he watched his tells.
- He can even fetch the city guards to arrest a burglar that has broken into your house.
- The Mabari hound is a national symbol of Ferelden. You'll see dog motifs in a lot of architecture, affectionate nicknames nobles give their children, and even in coats of arms for nobles. There's a Fereldan proverb: "Mabari are smart enough to know how to talk, and wise enough to know not to."
- Ghost Trick: The subversion in the end is Ray's true identity-a past-timeline Missile who manipulated Sissel into saving Lynne and Kamila while on his Quest for Identity, having went ten years into the past and taking The Slow Path back to the present. The Dog LITERALLY Was The Mastermind.
- The protagonist, Jake, from Dog's Life is an immature goofball but he's an exception more than the rule (and even Jake can be clever when he needs to be).
- Pixie and Brutus: Brutus is an ex-military service dog, and is implied to have been a very good one, at that. As such, he's way more on top of things than Pixie, and takes it upon himself to defend her from the horrors of a perfectly ordinary house in the suburbs.
- Inverted and downplayed in Cogito Ergo Sum's series of "escape the room" games, where Nyan the cat frequently finds herself locked out of the apartment and needs Wan the dog's help in order to get back in. Nyan also eagerly jumps to participate in any suspicious special offer she receives, so long as there's a prize is at stake, while Wan just sighs and goes along with her. So she's not entirely stupid, just accident-prone and somewhat gullible.
- Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines: Inverted. Muttley, the snickering hound, is smarter than Dick Dastardly and company. Admittedly this doesn't say much.
- Courage the Cowardly Dog is smarter than his humans more often than not. He proved at times to be quite naive but compared to Eustace and Muriel and many citizenes, not setting the bar high here, he is a genius. A straighter exception would be Shirley, one of the most knowledgeable and dryly intelligent characters in the show and one of the few who helps Courage.
- Watch My Chops is all about the attempts of a talking clever-by-human-standards dog to keep his secret under wraps.
- American Dragon: Jake Long's dog Fu Dog is smart as humans, but he's a magical creature.
- Same deal with Monroe on The Life and Times of Juniper Lee.
- The Ren & Stimpy Show subverts and reverses it at the same time with Cats Are Mean - the dog, Ren, is the Jerkass, Ax-Crazy and Large Ham, while Stimpy, the cat, is the Cloud Cuckoolander, Stupid Good and Genre Blind.
- Gromit, from Wallace & Gromit. No voice, but easily as intelligent as (if not more than) any other character in the shorts/films. Preston in "A Close Shave" is violent and fairly intelligent, he's also a robot. Gromit's ability to be a master of the silent snark is further evidence of his genius. You know, if being a dog who can build a rocket isn't enough.
- Brian from Family Guy was generally the smartest character on the show, before Flanderization set in and he went from the Only Sane Man to an Know-Nothing Know-It-All Straw Hypocrite. Even after, he's still at least of average human intelligence (he can drive, read, writes a best-seller by exploiting stupid readers, etc...), and possibly about as smart as he was in the first few seasons, just less moral.
- Pork Chop in Doug is portrayed as extremely intelligent by dog standards, to the point where he has human-like mannerisms (though he can't speak intelligibly, he pantomimes frequently.) The series makes it clear that most dogs in the cartoon's world don't act like Pork Chop, however.
- Santa's Little Helper from The Simpsons varies from episode to episode but (especially in later episodes) is often presented as being pretty clever. Oddly though, his cleverness is usually applied in stealing food. Though as anyone with a dog will tell you, 99% of dog intelligence is focused on food and getting to places they're not supposed to sleep.
- Dukey in Johnny Test is often the voice of reason for his human friend Johnny and constantly exasperated by his silly antics. He is also occasionally the voice of common sense among the Test family.
- Goofy, of the Classic Disney Shorts, is somewhere in between. He's generally portrayed as a simple country bum type. As A Goofy Movie and the Kingdom Hearts games show, he's generally the wisest of his friends. Or he's so dim-witted that he can have moments of incredibly clear insight. It all depends on what's right for the story. More precisely, Goofy the character is accident prone and a bit dim. Goofy the actor is still a bit accident prone, but not nearly as dumb.
- Droopy, the classic MGM cartoon character, is a Deadpan Snarker.
- Mr. Peabody (Rocky and Bullwinkle, Mr. Peabody & Sherman) is the smartest being ever, despite being a dog. He is so intelligent that he builds a time-machine that not only transports him anywhere in time and space, but also allows the traveller to understand the language and dialect of the natives. This allows him to fix errors in history using his super intelligence. In the original series, Mr. Peabody basically treats Sherman as a pet, even introducing himself "I'm Mr. Peabody, and this is my boy, Sherman." In the movie, he's more of a loving father.
- Snoopy is generally the most intelligent member of the Peanuts gang; Peppermint Patty even thinks he's human, and refers to him "that kid with the big nose." Snoopy dictates complaint-letters to politicians, plays baseball better than anyone else on the team, surfs, and generally shows up Charlie Brown at everything. He's also the most popular one.
- Looney Tunes:
- Sam the Sheepdog continually outsmarts Ralph the Wolf.
- Barnyard Dawg generally outsmarts Foghorn Leghorn in his appearances.
- "Bandit" in Jonny Quest is fairly intelligent for a dog, and often saves Jonny and the team from danger.
- Brain the aptly named dog in Inspector Gadget, who can understand English, use machines, disguise himself, and generally ends up cracking the case (along with Penny) instead of the show's eponymous character.
- Batman Beyond: Being a trained attack dog for the Goddamn Batman, the Bat-Dog is extraordinarily smart.
- ReBoot: Frisket is fairly intelligent, even managing to understand the Web Riders bizarre beeping language without difficulty (when presented with a Web Rider who knew his name, he reacted to the statement and THEN sniffed, recognizing the speaker).
- Applejack's dog Winona from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is rather intelligent and a great animal herder. Although she can get rather frisky.
- Most, if not all of the dogs from any version of Pound Puppies. Even the occasional ones portrayed as dumb can be seen as aversions, as The Masquerade of dogs being speechless animals has held.
- Kevin from Mr. Bogus is actually quite intelligent, often occasionally helping Bogus out with any problem that arises in the Anybody residence.
- All of the dogs on Blue's Clues are intelligent, and Blue often seems to come across as smarter the human host, be it Steve, Joe or Kevin.
- Mr. Peanutbutter on BoJack Horseman plays heavily with this trope. He's a yellow Labrador who, while never exactly portrayed as "dumb," certainly seems oblivious to unpleasant things around him, not the least his supposed "best friend" BoJack constantly insulting him (his occasional dog-like actions like fetching, chasing the mailman or rolling around on the ground don't help). In later seasons it's deconstructed, showing, that in large part, he deliberately adopts an Anti-Nihilist attitude to avoid dealing with problems he doesn't like or understand. It's also Played for Drama in his marriage to Diane Nguyen, as Mr. Peanutbutter seems unable to grasp why his wife doesn't appreciate his grand romantic gestures.
- Averted in Dr. Zitbag's Transylvania Pet Shop with Dr. Zitbag's skeletal canine companion Horrifido. Quite often, Horrifido proves to be smarter and more rational than Zitbag.
- Relative to most animal life, this trope is completely averted by real dogs. Wolves, from which dogs descend, are "political" animals; they are social creatures mostly safe from predation which have a complex, fluid group hierarchies. These creatures have sufficient advantages over their environment that the greatest inhibition to reproduction is each other, meaning that in order to pass on your genetics, it's not enough to just be strong or fast: you have to be smarter than your fellows as well, which selects for intelligence and social savvy over generations. This is a category shared with whales and dolphins, grey parrots, gorillas, and humans, all known for being remarkably smart.
- Christina H of Cracked (who is a cat owner herself) deconstructs this stereotype (at least as far as "dogs are dumb in comparison to cats" goes) in this article of hers.
Yes, cats themselves are pretty dumb despite what cat propagandists would have you believe. Given two pieces of string, one that gives them food all the time and one that doesn't, cats will never learn to pull just the food string, whereas anyone knows a dog will have it figured out pretty fast (but may also eat the string). Sure, dogs are stereotyped as being lovable but dumb, with cats being their cold-blooded intelligent nemeses, but between that study and everyday observations of either animal staring into a blank corner and barking or meowing for no reason, it seems pretty clear that deep down they're all rock fucking stupid, God bless them.
- In a more serious approach to the question of whether dogs are dumber than cats, the answer to this question is a difficult one. In 2017, a studio published in Frontiers of Neuroanatomy showed that dogs have 530 million neurons in their brains, much more than the 250 million cats have, which theoretically would make for more powerful brains for the canids. However, in the same ranking long finned pilot whales beat us humans in number of neurons, which means this doesn't necessarily prove dogs are smarter than cats. Measuring animal intelligence in experimental conditions is also much easier when working with dogs, as they are happy to obey any order to demonstrate their problem-solving skills where cats would just look bad at their handlers and walk away. Being social animals, dogs have also the interesting characteristic that they consider humans a problem-solving resource too: if confronted by an apparently unsolvable situation, dogs will stop and stare back at the scientists in the hopes they will help them overcome the problem. Whether this proves that they are dumb enough not to have their own experimental initiative or smarter enough to try to use humans to their benefit is unknown, but it demonstrates how deep is their social intelligence in comparison to other species.
- In a recent experiment, some dogs were left in a room with a human volunteer and some food. The dogs were explicitly trained and instructed to not take the food, then after a while the lights were turned off. Many of the dogs tried to take the food when the lights went out, seemingly because the human volunteers could not see. Dogs, if only on a fundamental level, understand the concept of deception. It should be noted that dogs have significantly better low-light vision than humans.
- Stray dogs in Moscow have learned how to use the subway system.
- It's more than that. Unlike wolf packs, Moscow's stray dogs, particularly the beggar dogs, have a hierarchy where dominance is determined by intelligence rather than physical strength. Not only do they know how to navigate the subway systems as demonstrated above, but also recognize and use crosswalk signals with fatalities being a rarity. They are adept at figuring out the psychologies of each person in order to determine which technique will work best, even sending out their cutest, smallest members of the pack to garner more success in begging from them.
- This would depend on the sort of intelligence in question, dogs may have lost the ability to navigate a maze to get a treat, but they can persuade a human to solve it for them. Dogs can use people as tools.
- Guide dogs have to be intelligent enough to disobey orders when doing otherwise would put their handler in danger. They also have to be stoic enough to ignore things that would traumatize other dogs, such as loud construction equipment and walking very close to heavy traffic. They're still dogs, though, and a human deliberately distracting a guide dog jeopardizes the safety of the dog and its handler.
- Border Collies have been ranked at the top of lists and indeed, working dogs tend to be on top-ten lists as their ability to quickly learn new commands is a very desirably trait. Border Collie-type dogs are famous for their ability to learn complex patterns and perform well at dog shows as a result.