Here are 25 of the Hardest Dogs to Train and Own
Searching for a new dog requires careful forethought and research. One of the worst things you can do is to choose a puppy solely on its looks or because you fell in love with the breed while watching a movie. Why? Because over the years, dogs have been bred specifically for certain purposes. The cute dachshund? Originally bred to fight badgers, so they can be feisty. The Dalmatians you thought were so cute on “101 Dalmatians”? They were bred to run behind carriages, so require a lot of exercise. Training, of course, can make a huge difference in how well your dog behaves, and there will always be individuals in any given breed that will go against type. However, it’s still important to understand which breeds are more difficult to raise, especially for a first-time owner so check out these toughest dogs to own.
Originally bred to hunt big game like boar and bear, this is a powerful dog with a strong prey drive, and if not trained properly, they can be aggressive towards other animals. Akitas can also be very protective of their owner, making them a potential threat to others when in the hands of an inexperienced owner and can also be the hardest dog to train. These dogs also have a reputation for being a bit of a challenge to raise.
The Bulldog has such a lovable mug but, unfortunately, that squished-in snout can lead to a number of health-related problems making them one of the most difficult dogs to raise. In fact, this dog has a very short lifespan. According to a 2004 Kennel Club survey, the Bulldog’s average lifespan is only about six years and three months. Bulldogs also have a reputation for being quite stubborn, tenacious, and generally among thr hardest dog to train. So if a Bulldog doesn’t want to do something, you’re going to have a hard time convincing him otherwise.
23. Australian Cattle Dog
Bred to herd cows, the Cattle Dog is a high-energy breed that requires a lot of exercise. This breed is also highly protective of its owners, which can — unfortunately — lead to aggressive behavior towards other people and dogs. Also known as Queensland Heelers, these dogs may also develop a habit of biting at the heels of passers-by. It is a natural tendency as that is how they herd cows. But this behavior can be frightening, especially to small children.
22. Pit Bull Terriers
When trained properly, Pit Bulls can be very lovable dogs. Unfortunately, too many end up in the wrong hands. They are powerful dogs, so they require early leash training so they won’t be difficult to walk. They also need to be socialized as puppies so that they won’t be aggressive towards other creatures or humans. Sadly, studies have shown that Pit Bulls are responsible for a large percentage of dog-bite injuries. In many areas, you may not be able to rent a home if you have a Pit Bull, and some homeowner’s insurance policies will drop you if they discover you own one.
21. Chow Chow
The Chow Chow has a reputation for being a one-man dog and not very tolerant of those it doesn’t know. It can also tend to be willful and hard to train, so they are not a good choice for a weak or new owner. In addition, this dog has a thick coat that it sheds about twice a year. Expect to find fur everywhere during this time.
Early leash training is a must for this massive dog. Otherwise, you might find yourself being dragged in directions not of your choosing. It can also be aggressive towards other dogs when not socialized properly. The Bullmastiff is also quite the slobber factory. So if you shudder at the thought of slobber flying all over the place when this dog shakes its head, a Bullmastiff is not for you as it is one of most difficult dogs breeds around.
19. Jack Russell Terrier
This high-energy breed requires a lot of exercise and has a small-dog complex. When not properly socialized, it loves to pick fights with other dogs and can also be very prey-driven. Jack Russells can also be “yappy” and if not given enough to do, they can be destructive.
Many don’t realize that these adorable dogs were bred for hunting and alerting their owners when they’ve found prey. So Beagles possess a very loud baying sound that can be heard from quite a distance. Perfect if you’re trying to track your beagle down. Not so good in an apartment. These dogs are also single-minded when on a scent. This makes them difficult to train because once they smell something interesting, it is the only thing they can think of. They are also high risk for “running away” because if they catch the scent of a prey animal, they are gone.
17. Labrador Retriever
Although this breed is America’s most popular, it can be difficult for a novice owner to raise properly. Until they reach about the age of two, they have a strong urge to chew and can be quite destructive. And if they’re not leash trained properly, Labs can be strong pullers. Labradors also shed a lot, so expect to find its hair all over your house. And because its double coat is oily, Labradors can also be smelly at times.
16. Wire Fox Terrier
The Wire Fox Terrier has won more best in show” awards at Westminster than any other breed, but they can be difficult to raise. Like many terriers, they are very prey driven and are often not good with cats and other dogs. They also have a streak of independence, are high energy and have a reputation for bolting. Wire fox terriers also require regular trips to the groomers since they do not shed.
These are big, powerful dogs who can be very protective of their owners. Unfortunately, they can also be aggressive towards other people and animals if not trained properly. In fact, they are second only to pit bulls when it comes to the number of injury bites they inflict on humans. Also like with pit bulls, you may not be able to rent a home or get homeowner’s insurance if you own this breed, so consider that when planning on adopting difficult dog breeds like these.
These dogs are massive and are usually gentle giants. But can be the toughest dogs to own if not leash trained early, they can easily out-muscle a smaller owner. In addition, Newfoundlands are definitely not a good match for anyone who is a neat freak as they are big droolers and also shed heavily twice a year. And because of their size, they can be destructive without even meaning to – knocking over household items and even small children while just being playful.
Developed to pull sleds for long distances, huskies require a lot of exercise or they can get bored. This, unfortunately can lead to destructive behavior. Huskies are also known for their independent streak and can be difficult to train, especially for first-time owners. These difficult dog breeds can also be very strong on the leash if not given proper instruction early on.
12. Irish Wolfhound
The Irish Wolfhound, which is the tallest of all breeds, was bred to hunt wolves. It can be aggressive towards other animals and is also prey driven. Because of its size, it is important to teach it good leash manners before it gets too big to handle. Sadly, this breed suffers from a number of health issues and has a very short lifespan of only five to seven years.
11. Border collie
This high-energy, intelligent dog was bred to herd sheep, not lie around in a house. So when a border collie doesn’t have a “job” or get enough exercise, it can get neurotic and also destructive. They can also be very insistent, dropping a ball at your feet over and over again. Border collies also have a natural tendency to try to herd humans by nipping at their heels as that is what they have been bred to do to sheep.
10. Spanish Water Dog
The Spanish Water Dog has only recently been recognized by the AKC. They’re a very high maintenance breed, as they need a lot of exercise throughout the day. Originally hailing from Turkey, this breed was imported into Spain to serve as a guard and sheepdog. Without proper exercise and a given task to accomplish, the Spanish Water Dog will be a very sad pooch.
9. English Foxhound
This is a member of the most difficult dogs breeds club as they were originally bred for hunting, and have been the preferred choice of English fox hunters for hundreds of years. They get along well with horses and people, but due to their background in hunting, they have a very active demeanor and require a lot of exercise and outdoor activities.
Harriers are similar to the English Foxhound, but have been, humorously, to be a “Beagle on steroids”. They’re a very muscular hunting hound, and as such, prefer to be active, with a special affinity for exploration. Unless raised around other animals from a very young age, Harriers will tend to be aggressive towards any other small, non-canine pets that it may encounter.
7. Cesky Terrier
Cesky Terriers were created by a Czech breeder by crossing a Scottish Terrier with a Sealyham Terrier. The goal was to have a terrier that was suitable for hunting in the Bohemian forets. They’re a very excitable and active breed, requiring a lot of exercise. Cesky Terriers are also very “clingy”, needing a constant stream of attention, and can become completely dependend on its owner for any sense of happiness.
6. Finnish Spitz
This breed has very high energy levels and is often suspcously timid towards strangers, which can make it difficult to have friends and family over for dinner. They are prone to what you might call “separation anxiety”, which can lead to destrucive behavior and barking when left alone. The Finnish Spitz is also very stubborn and willful, which can make training this breed to be a pain in the rear.
5. Skye Terrier
As one of the most independent and self-willed breeds of all the terriers, training and maintaining control of a Skye Terrier can prove to be a very difficult challenge, especially when they’re young pups. They tend to have a generally aggressive demeanor towards any other animals, with an instinct to chase anything that moves.
4. Pharaoh Hound
The Pharaoh Hound is an athletic breed who’s name derives from its appearance, which resembles that of ancient Egyptian sculptures. As a breed who’s exception at jumping, high fencing is required to prevent them from leaping out of the yard and wandering off to explore the world. They have a very strong instinct to chase other living creatures, and need a large yard to provide ample frolicking space. Image Source:
3. Cirneco dell’Etna
Bearing a striking resemblance to the Pharaoh Hound, this breed is extremely headstrong if not properly trained from a small pup. Training should begin immediately after bringing the pup home for the first time, otherwise, as the dog approaches about 1 year old, its independent will can take over and make any training an huge challenge.
2. American English Coonhound
This breed requires comes with some of the most vigorous exercise requirements of them all. They’re prone to jumping and exuberant rowdiness, and they’ll become very destructive when bored. Leave this dog alone for a while and you may come home to chewed up shoes and furniture. They also suffer from what is called “selective deafness” when there is a lot of noise, which can make training and controlling them in public, or even just around family members, a bit of a chore.
The Komondor is deceptively small, cute, and cuddly as a puppy. Many have adopted one of these, only to find out that raising them requires very careful planning and consideration. They grow to gigantic proportions, and can easily overpower the owner if they decide to be disobedient. Their long locks of hair, which add to their unique appearance, can also prove to be challenging, as it requires constant grooming. If not groomed on a very regular basis, this breed will wind up being an uncomfortable mess of matted hair and even run the risk of insect infestation.