The 25 Most Difficult Dogs To Raise

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difficult dog lab with shredding toilet paperThey may seem cute and cuddly but could they also be the most difficult dogs to raise? See if your pup is on the list…

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.


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.

25. AkitaAkita dog

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.

24. Bulldogenglish bulldog on lake dock

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 the 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 DogAustralian Cattle Dog sitting in fall leaves

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

closeup of sweet american pit bull terrier

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 Chowadorable chow chow puppy in garden

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.

20. Bullmastiff

serious Bullmastiff dog in forest

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 Terrierhappy Jack Russell Terrier in field

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.

18. Beaglehappy beagle puppy in grass

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 Retrieverblack labrador retriever, yellow lab, and brown lab retriever standing together

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 TerrierA happy Wire Fox Terrier playing on grass

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.

15. Rottweilertwo rottweilers in garden

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.

14. Newfoundlandbig black Newfoundland sitting down

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.

13. HuskySiberian husky on beach

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 Wolfhoundportrait of 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 Colliethree border collies lying in grass

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 Dogtwo Spanish Water Dogs side by side

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 Foxhoundtwo English Foxhounds playing

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.

8. Harriertwo Harriers in snow

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 Terrierhappy 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 forests. 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 dependent on its owner for any sense of happiness.

6. Finnish SpitzFinnish Spitz in snow

This breed has very high energy levels and is often suspiciously 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 destructive 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 Terriersassy Skye Terrier in grass

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 Houndgroup of Pharaoh Hounds in field

The Pharaoh Hound is an athletic breed whose name derives from its appearance, which resembles that of ancient Egyptian sculptures. As a breed whose exceptional 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.

3. Cirneco dell’EtnaCirneco dell'Etna puppies in grass

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 a huge challenge.

2. American English Coonhound

American English Coonhound in forest

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.

1. Komondorhappy white Komondor dog

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.

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  • Heidi says:

    Seriously I laughed at this list! Our boxer puppies have been like meeting Lucifer @ periods of the day when they need to just run off energy or like a toddler put down for a nap. Boxers are nippy with shark type baby teeth. But the list simply does not seem realistic. Our Irish Setter and Brittany Spaniel dogs were dumb & dumber. Loved them though!

  • Craving Glory says:

    I don’t see the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog on this list. Very hyper, energetic and in need if a lot of time, patience and commitment to train them properly. Not the most social with other dogs, cats or wild animals and very reactive to any even mild perceived aggression. Amazingly loyal and loving to their owners though. Mine thinks she’s a lap dog, which doesn’t work out too well for her 😉

    For the humans with poor social skills on here, people aren’t “morons” or incompetent because they say a dog is difficult to train. Some breeds take a lot more time, energy, patience and commitment to train properly. Why the need to insult the people who are just voicing their opinions on that? Because your experience with your dog was different, they deserve your insulting remarks? I think you bitter people need the training here.

  • Helen Bergin says:

    The beagle is the worst dog ever to train. They are a farm dog not for flats. Or a huge house with plenty space massive garden to play in.

    • Tony says:

      Yes, I agree with the Beagle comment! Never let them off leash, and despite the best intentions, their nose will always win out, regardless of the command or food treat. Great dogs, and I have owned three over 35 years. Just a lot of work, and with a mind (nose!) of their own.

    • Nancy says:

      I had a Beagle Coon hound mix. He was the best and worst dog I ever had. Took off every chance he got. Destroyed 3 couches! But the smartest, most loyal and loving dog ever! I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

  • Rachel says:

    Hmmmm not sure about this list. I was surprised not to see the Belgian Malinois here. They are insanely high maintenance, high energy, high prey drive, and have a tendency to bite. Hard. That’s why they are perfect for police work. An inexperienced owner would never be able to handle a Mal and raise it to it’s full potential. And for that reason they get dumped off at shelters by owners that had no clue what they were getting into and the dog destroys their home. Mine is a handful but I am with him 24 hours a day so he gets what he needs and more as far as exercise and socialization.

  • April says:

    Coonhound are definitely hard to train , but when you do the results are amazing … patience’s and repetitiveness is all it takes .. oh and lots and lots of walks 10 km daily at least .. lol

  • The worst says:

    This is absolutely ridiculous and untrue! Where are your sources ! Unbelievable

  • Mo says:

    I have raised several breeds (Rottweiler, GSD, Golden Retriever, Afghan Hound) with great results. My American Labrador came from a well respected breeder and is by far the hardest pup I have raised. At 6 months old, we are still having to reinforce basics. By now those commands should result in an automatic response if properly trained. However, some days he is so like “I don’t think I feel like sitting right now and I want to chew the rug instead.” After consulting a professional because I thought it had to be something wrong with my training, I was told I was on track and to just keep working. I chose an American or Working Labrador intentionally but never imagined the level of constant (every waking hour) of work that would be involved. People need to know that the benefits of an adult Lab come after two years of intense puppyhood.

  • Kayles says:

    It nasty to say the owner is an idiot. Everyone has to start somewhere. But I agree, with the right communication and motivation, all breeds can be great dogs

  • Not a moron says:

    They’re easy to train. It’s not them, it’s you. More often than not, when owners complain about how “difficult” their dogs are, it’s the gross incompetence of the owner rather than the dog itself. Either that, or you purchased from a shitty breeder and ended up with shitty dogs.

  • Siara Donaldson says:

    I’m surprised schnauzers aren’t on this list. My schnauzer is so crazy!

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