This is my lazy dog, Columbus. He’s a 9 year old Shih Tzu (one of the more low energy dog breeds) and is one of the most stubborn and dogs I know. Sometimes I’ll call his name to come – he’ll look at me – then go right back to sleep with a willful sigh. Why is my dog so stupid? Why is my pooch so lazy? These are the questions that haunt me, a Shih Tzu owner. Or is he actually smarter than I think?
Low energy dogs like Shih Tzu’s are couch potatoes– they don’t want to move if they don’t have to! He doesn’t really follow commands well and is a master of this aloof, clueless stare that allows this little dog to get away with just about anything. In other words, Columbus does what Columbus wants with an annoyingly endearing indifference to my commands. Some companion dog he is!
So how smart are dogs like Columbus and others among the laziest dog breeds? Do I even have a lazy Shih Tzu? But maybe there’s a reason for that…here are four reasons why your lazy dog might actually be really smart. After all, who really knows how to tell if your dog is smart or dumb?
On the American Kennel Club’s website (AKC), they have a list of “most intelligent” dogs. I quickly sifted through the list to find my dog’s breed – Shih Tzu dogs. I found them smack dab at the bottom of the list. Huh. At first, I thought, why are Shih Tzus so dumb? But then I got to thinking, what makes a dog “intelligent”? This ranking is actually based more on obedience and aptitude towards following commands. This means that dogs like terriers and Retrievers are perceived to be more intelligent than my cute Shih Tzu. So when I tell my dog to sit or fetch and he denies this seemingly simple request, he might not be dumb… just uninterested in the task at hand. Thus, he makes the decision to decline my orders with a sassy glance my way. Which leads us to the next reason…
“Sit, Columbus!” He stares and continues lounging. “Fetch, Columbus!” He barks and continues lounging. I pull out a treat in plain view and Columbus starts getting antsy. “Sit, Columbus!” He sits. “Fetch, Columbus!” He fetches. “Stay!” He stays. I feed him the treat and then try and make him follow commands again – but he notices I don’t have any more treats, so he ignores me. When I call Columbus to come and say I have “a snack” he’ll come running, but when he sees I don’t have anything he’ll immediately turn around and go back to bed. Columbus’ logic is: If I do what you say and don’t get a treat, it isn’t worth my precious time and effort. And that’s just the Shih Tzu way of doing things.
3) Less time moving means more time observing.
One word to describe my dog would be manipulative. When my family eats at the dinner table, he begs and paws at our feet, testing each of us to identify the weakest link. Eventually, he notices patterns – he’s more likely to get food from my mom than from my brother, for example. So he’ll stick by mom’s side during dinner because he knows the probability of getting food is higher. My mom tends to pamper Columbus more than my dad – so when my dad picks up the towel to give Columbus a bath and my whole family is sitting on the couch, he makes a beeline to my mom for protection.
4) Is your dog more like a cat?
There is a saying that “cats are smarter than dogs” – they do what they want, and are known to “own their human owners.” It isn’t entirely false – a cat’s brain has almost double the amount of neurons than in a dog’s brain. They focus on perceiving and observing…and sleeping. Columbus knows which dog owner to go to depending on what he needs. If he needs to go out, or go on his daily walk, or has his exercise needs met, he’ll go to my dad. If he wants food, he’ll go to my mom. If he wants to play with his toy or cuddle, he’ll go to me or my brother. Sometimes he’ll come when called but it really depends on how he feels – if he’s too comfortable in bed, he won’t move – and he knows he won’t get punished for it. He’s a lap dog living the most luxurious doggie lifestyle in the world.