As much as we’d love to believe that each one of our pets is nothing but a perfect little genius, some animals have not been blessed with as many functioning neurons as other animals.
Just because an animal is dumb doesn’t mean that it isn’t worthy of our attention and affection, but it does mean you’ll be more commonly wondering if any thoughts are rattling around in its brain.
Top 20 Dumbest Animals In The World
When trying to decide what animals the intelligence of an animal is, there are three types of intelligence that researchers look for: instinctive intelligence, adaptive intelligence, and working and obedience intelligence.
Instinctive intelligence takes into consideration an animal’s natural survival tactics.
It also includes any habits that the animal has been domesticated and bred to do, such as herding, hunting, retrieving, or other forms of work.
Adaptive intelligence is how well animals can adapt their habits to new situations and how quickly they are able to learn new tasks or habits on their own.
This also includes how good an animal is at solving a problem independently.
Working and obedience intelligence determines how easy it will be to train different animals and how commonly they will remember the training they’re given.
The more an animal can correctly do as it has been taught, the smarter it is.
When an animal is truly dumb, it is only able to listen or learn commands less than 25% of the time.
However, many animals are perfectly smart but simply choose to not listen to their handlers because they understand there’s very little the handler can do if they say no.
That’s it is important to consider all forms of intelligence when deciding to consider an animal dumb or not.
While there aren’t many animals that are able to plan ahead or apply logical solutions to their problems, years of evolution and living in a similar environment for generations should have been enough to teach animals basic survival skills.
Some species make scientists question how they were able to last as long as they have, with most dumb animals simply living in the right conditions to get by with minimal intelligence or spared through domestication.
Killdeer are woodland birds that you can find in the Midwest region of the United States and are known for their complete lack of survival skills.
Despite having functional wings, these birds prefer to spend most of their time on the ground.
When they see a predator, the killdeer is more likely to sit down and stare at it rather than actually using its wings to fly out of range of the predator.
As the predator inches closer, this birdbrain will begin squawking and flailing about.
Due to their stupidity, these birds are only known to live 10 to 11 months at the longest.
Despite how dumb they are, these robin-sized birds are excellent swimmers.
Killdeers can’t even get the nesting process correct.
They start by scraping an area on the ground, laying their eggs, and then they decide to build a nest.
2. Secretary Bird
The secretary bird is a four-foot-tall predatory bird that also refuses to use its wings, despite it being able to fly just fine.
Instead, the bird prefers to walk to capture its prey, despite some of its prey being venomous.
It’s common for these birds to be attacked by venomous snakes because the birds will attack by stomping their prey, giving the snakes a larger opening to attack their attackers and kill them.
Secretary birds’ feet don’t have the same firm grasping capabilities as other hunting birds, meaning anything they kill has to be eaten right away, carried in their beak for a short distance, or left behind.
The birds get their strange name from the traditional uniform of male secretaries of the 1800s.
Their goofy plumage, strange name, and even odder hunting habits make them the funny favorite of many exotic bird raisers.
3. Komodo Dragon
Komodo dragons are large, mythical-looking reptiles that are prone to thinking more with their stomachs than their brains.
Although these animals may be able to extend their jaws to swallow any size prey they can put their mouths on, the same can’t be said about their throats.
Komodo dragons often get chunks of deer or other large prey stuck down their throat.
This is such a common occurrence that some of these lizards have learned to start headbutt tree trunks at full speed to shove the food down their throat.
As you can imagine, chronic head trauma can’t be good for these lizards, yet they continue to eat too much at once.
Little do they know that they could skip the brain damage if they’d just take smaller bites of their food.
Because their diet consists of rotten corpses, the bacteria in their mouth cause more than enough damage to put down some prey in a single bite.
Koalas may be cute, but they have the smallest body-to-brain ratio of any mammal.
The only reason that koalas can function with such a small brain is that they are constantly using the minimum amount of energy and brainpower possible.
If Koalas seem to look thoughtless as they much on leaves, it’s because they truly are thinking of nothing more than moving their hand to fill it and then munching on the leaves.
Scientists are amazed by how mindlessly koalas are able to live and have begun to study how they can survive with such little brainpower.
It is believed that koalas once had larger brains because their brains only fill up about 70% of their craniums, and it doesn’t help that their brain is like two halves of a walnut.
Chickens are infamously dumb, best known for their ability to have a functioning body without even having a head attached to it.
Although some chicken owners may try to argue that chickens have plenty of instinctual and emotional intelligence, that is very rarely the case.
Some chickens can get lost in their own gated coops.
A healthy-sized chicken coop is about 8 feet by 12 feet, which is more than enough space for a chicken to still get lost from its flock.
While a chicken may know to run and hide when another member of its flock gets attacked, it’s rarely able to catch on to the fact that it’s being hunted until it is too late.
Chickens serve as excellent examples of herding behavior in animals, but they are not all the problem-solving freethinkers that other animals are capable of being.
6. Norwegian Lemming
Norwegian lemmings are adorable little rodents that haven’t quite learned that their small size and long teeth aren’t as intimidating as they think.
When a Norwegian lemming sees another animal coming towards it, the lemming will begin to scream and gnaw its long incisors at its foe.
Norwegian lemmings may have a Napoleon complex, but that isn’t the only dumb thing they do.
If you were to ask a lemming what it would do if its friend jumped off a ledge, it would tell you that it’d follow blindly.
It’s not uncommon for herds of lemmings to jump to their doom just because the leader of the herd did it.
This habit of theirs is so infamous that the game Lemmings was based on the small hive-minded rodents.
When it comes to dog breeds, there is no dog breed that is considered to be dumber than the Mastiff breeds.
Mastiffs are the least likely to dog to pick up on verbal or visual cues from their handlers, but they were also never bred for thinking.
Mastiffs are one the oldest types of breeds and could be found aiding mankind all over the ancient world.
These dogs were bred to protect their owners and were even used in multiple wars throughout history.
When considering the different types of animal intelligence, mastiffs don’t do well when it comes to adaptive intelligence or working intelligence.
These dogs mainly run on the small amount of instinctive intelligence that they have.
Just because a breed isn’t normally intelligent doesn’t mean that there can’t be outliers.
Female mastiffs do tend to have a bit more instinctual intelligence.
However, new mastiff owners should expect to need to take additional time during their training.
According to the turkey specialist at the University of Missouri, turkeys are not as smart as some people make them out to be.
However, it’s humanity that is responsible for making them as dumb as they are.
When breeding animals, there are multiple traits that poultry raisers will look for, which include large size and a docile nature.
Since humans have been breeding turkeys for generations, they haven’t had to use their brains for survival.
Even a person who doesn’t exercise their brain regularly will begin to experience the facts of what happens when you don’t use your brain, except that it’s been going on for thousands of years for turkeys.
Although turkeys may not be as mindless as fish, their instinctual intelligence has taken a major hit from being domesticated.
It also doesn’t help that commercially-raised turkeys only live for 18 to 21 weeks.
Kakapos are flightless parrots that only reside on Codfish Island in New Zealand.
While the nearly nine-pound bird can’t help the fact that it is flightless, what qualifies these birds as dumb is the way they respond to predators.
For a thousand years, there were no predators of kakapos on their peaceful island until humans began searching the island for food.
Having never met anything that wanted to hurt them, the kakapos just stood still as the danger approached them.
This almost led to their demise, but the breed has been able to barely escape extinction.
However, there are fewer than 100 known kakapos left in the world.
Environmentalists and biologists are trying to figure out how to save the helpless species.
10. Horned Lizard
Horned lizards are social lizards that will do anything for a snack, including befriending humans who are much larger than them.
What often fails the horned lizard is its lack of a healthy amount of caution or fear.
There have been many cases of people befriending and domesticating these thoughtless little creatures.
Horned lizards are an excellent example of why being dumb doesn’t always have to be a bad thing for an animal.
Due to their friendly nature, these lizards are prone to be snatched up by hunters for the worldwide pet trade or people who don’t know that you shouldn’t take an animal out of its habitat unless it is necessary.
These lizards need to learn not to take food from strangers.
11. Slow Loris
The slow loris is another creature that is dumb enough to walk up to random humans without considering the risks.
However, these housecat-sized mammals don’t need to be smart because they have a venomous bite that is more than enough to bring a predator to their knees.
The slow loris is one of the only two mammals on the planet that are venomous, joining the ranks alongside platypus.
It’s important to consider this animal’s rare capabilities before you and try to hug it, despite how cute and soft-looking it may be.
You don’t want to fall victim to its bite like Lady Gaga did when she had one on the set of her music video.
Their bites are so venomous that they can cause anaphylactic shock and even kill a human if it isn’t treated immediately.
Although ostriches may have a bad reputation for not being very smart, emus are even dumber than their bigger, equally flightless relatives.
According to biologist and comparative psychologist Louis Lefebvre of McGill University, emus are the dumbest birds in all of Australia.
Emus are terrible at adapting to new situations and nearly incapable of teaching themselves new ways of going about things.
Although the birds are known for being nosy, it doesn’t mean that they’re actually able to do anything with the information they’re supposedly taking in.
Emus may be prone to doing strange things, but they become no more productive or change their environment by doing new things.
They’re the peak example of a birdbrain.
13. Goblin Shark
Goblin sharks may not look like they’re from this planet, but they’ve called the deep sea home longer than humans have even known they’ve existed.
However, this lack of change in environment has left the goblin shark inexperienced with what it is like to have predators.
When studying goblin sharks, scientists are able to go right up to them without the goblin shark even trying to get away.
A goblin shark’s dumbness appears to be a combination of laziness and lack of socialization with many other species.
Scientists have tried to move goblin sharks to help them better research them, but the sharks can only survive under the intense pressure of the deep sea.
Although they are normally a translucent pink, they lose all coloration as soon as they die because their coloration comes from blood flow.
English bulldogs may be one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States, but that doesn’t make them intelligent.
While we’ve all seen the bulldogs that like to take similar hobbies as their humans such as skateboarding, that has nothing to do with their instinctual intelligence, obedience, or adaptive intelligence as a whole.
When ranked out of 138 different dog breeds for intelligence, the bulldog lands in the 136th position for the smartest dog breed.
This earns them the title of a “low intelligence” dog breed.
Similar to mastiffs, bulldogs have never been bred and are rarely raised to be quick thinkers.
For generations, their job was to help bite and tear the ankles of bulls, which isn’t a job that requires much critical thinking.
Jerboas are adorable little rodents that look like a cross between a chipmunk, a rabbit, and a kangaroo.
However, they are unable to fit a very big brain into their tiny skulls.
Although their brains may be small, their brains take an incredibly long time to develop compared to other rodents.
It takes a jerboa about eight weeks before it learns how to properly use its long hind legs.
Jerboas may be best known for their ability to jump at incredible heights and speeds for their size, but it takes them 11 weeks before they’re able to master the art of jumping.
There’s a lot of faceplants between their first time off of the ground and their first successful jump.
Pandas have only been able to survive this long because humans have wanted to keep them around.
Without the assistance of humans, pandas would have gone extinct a long time ago.
Out of all the animals in the world, pandas have the least amount of instinctual intelligence and don’t really excel at adaptive or obedience situations either.
They are barely able to reproduce on their own, which is why humans have had to step in.
Their complete lack of survival skills or desire to keep their species going has made many governments devote a lot of money, research, and other resources to keep pandas on the planet.
Some people even question why the species is forced by humanity to stay around.
While flamingoes can’t be faulted for their pretty colors making them an easy target, their lack of defensive tactics prevents them from faring as well as other animals.
The only defense flamingos have is to gather up so each individual flamingo is less of a target.
It doesn’t help that these birds have evolved to stand in bodies of water that are filled with predators like alligators and thirsty giant cats.
Flamingos make it easier for the predators to grab a bite to eat and a drink at the same time.
These birds live life expecting someone among them to be eaten and haven’t even formed any kind of attack or adapted their feeding tactics beyond just grouping up.
All these pink birds group up together, which makes them much easier for predators or tourists to spot.
18. Shih Tzu
While some dogs may be able to get by on their own, the Shih Tzu is not one of those breeds.
Since these dogs have been bred to be nothing more than adorable house pets, they lack instinctual intelligence.
Unlike working dog breeds such as Great Pyrenees or Saint Bernards, Shih Tzus have lost any instinctual sense to do any type of job and don’t need as much mental stimulation.
This makes them an excellent choice for new dog owners.
Chameleons are so dumb that even domesticated chameleons have a hard time surviving in their tanks or cages.
Owners of these colorful critters have to be extremely cautious when designing the setup of their houses.
Chameleons are known to burn themselves because they like the way that the heat feels and can’t come remotely close to swimming.
They are able to drown in inches of water, so they need incredibly shallow water dishes.
These creatures are also known to fall to their doom in their own cages and get stuck in between crevices where their owners may not even be able to notice their chameleon getting stuck.
Sheep may be some of the softest and cutest animals in the barnyard, but they definitely are not the brightest of the bunch.
These wool producers are known for their signature look of a blank stare and profuse drooling.
A mother sheep can forget about her lamb in only four hours, which is apparently a survival tactic for if the lamb dies.
If a mother gets overwhelmed, she will accidentally leave the lamb behind.
Without the protection of their herd, lambs are completely defenseless and will die on their own.
It’s a good thing that humans have domesticated them and kept a watchful eye over the whole flock.