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What are the 17 Hardest Dog Breeds to Train?

​What makes a certain dog breed the hardest to train?

Well, there’s actually a few reasons, ​but often times it’s just because the owner didn’t fully understand the breed they were adopting. 

​These aren’t necessarily the worst dogs to adopt, but simply breeds that may prove challenging for the novice owner.

So before we dive into specific breeds, it’s important to find out why certain ​dogs are difficult to own. 

​What Makes Certain Breeds Difficult

Working Breeds

​Working breeds are literally born with a purpose, they were bred for hundreds of years to herd, pull, run, or ​hunt (and still take their job very seriously, even today).

Because of their drive to work they tend to have very high energy and can be difficult to control in a home setting.

Therefore, if you have a busy schedule, you may not be able to accommodate their daily needs, and you ​find yourself with a very hyperactive dog. 


​It may not be their innate drive to work that makes them difficult to train, but the exact opposite.

Stubborn breeds may understand what you’re asking of them, but choose not to do it.

This becomes very frustrating with things like potty training or walking on a leash. 

​While most dogs can be trained with a “trade-off” of sorts, for example: if they sit you give them a treat, some dogs simply don’t have the same drive for what you have to offer.

Teenager girl pulling his stubborn dog on pet leash during walk in city.

Independent Spirit

​Like a lone wolf, these dogs tend to play by their own rules.

Human interaction is acceptable, but not on their list of priorities, and prefer to be left to their own devices.

They usually enjoy being around their owner, but are very wary of strangers, and can sometimes have aggressive tendencies. 

Too Much Dog To Handle

​It may not be that the dog refuses to be trained, but they just have too much size and strength for one human to handle.

This is often the case with big, tough looking dogs.

And while they offer some form of protection, they quickly become aware of their ability to mentally and physically overpower their owner

​Too Smart

​That’s right, your dog may be so sharp that they figure out how to get exactly what they want.

​Breeds with high energy and intelligence tend to be mischievous, and go looking for trouble to solve their boredom. With out an assertive leader they may take over your home as the new leader, and make the rules as they see fit. 

​17 Most Difficult Dogs To Train

1. Afghan Hound


​Beautiful and ​elegant, the Afghan is a unique breed with exotic qualities that some owners adore.

But their personality is just as unique as their looks. Afghans are very emotionally and physically sensitive, and do not respond to scolding or even minor discomfort. ​

​Afghans are also considered highly independent, and therefore very difficult to train.

Socializing with humans is not on their list of priorities, and that makes communication between them and their owner that much more testing. Not to mention the​ high level of grooming required, and their high prey drive; this is a breed for the most patient owners.

2. Akita


​Akita’s are natural born guardians and protectors, ​but take guard duty very seriously.

They have undying loyalty to their owners (almost to a fault), and will spend their days making your safety their top priority.

However, Akita bravery has no boundaries, and they will respond to any challenge, whether that’s from another dog, stranger, or even making prolonged eye contact.

This dominant breed requires expert training to avoid aggressive behavior. But training this breed is built on respect between the direct owner and their dog, as they won’t respond well to other trainers.

3. Basenji


A clever hunting dog originating from the Congo, this is a unique breed with a sharp wit.

The Basenji is a free-roaming working dog, and they wear their independence like a badge of honor. These can be kind and wonderful companions, however, they do come with a list of challenges.

The Basenji are working dogs with a high amount of energy, which means they’ll need a very high amount of running and stimulation every day.

Also, being so independent and free thinking, training doesn’t sit well with a Basenji, and can be very challenging to have them learn commands.

These dogs don’t bark, but they do sing and yell. Since barking isn’t on the list of options, the Basenji will result to yodels, “wooing”, and crying, which means they can be quite noisy.

4. Basset Hound


The calm, and often lazy scent hound has adorable features and silly personality, so what makes them so difficult to train?

For starters, you might need the patience of a monk to counter the stubbornness of this hound. 

Bassets are truly skilled at bartering, and won’t obey any commands unless you have a tasty treat (vegetables won’t work here).

Also, their deep howling and singing will be known throughout the neighborhood, and is often triggered by people, cars, dogs, and sometimes loneliness.

While they have a friendly demeanor, they’ll simply make their own rules as they go.

5. Beagle


This one might come as a surprise, as Beagles are famously depicted in films and TV as being heroic and perhaps the perfect family pet. But soon after adopting the challenges begin to show themselves.

First, potty training has proven to be very difficult with Beagles, and some owners resort to crate training to stop accidents.

Their high energy and intelligence means they get bored quick, and result to destructive behavior (like digging, chewing, etc..).

Finally, the barking, so much barking. Beagles are often re-homed simply due to complaining neighbors.

6. Boxer


Boxers are sweet, silly, and very energetic dogs that love to make everyone in the room laugh.

But with all their energy they tend to get themselves in trouble, which is why this breed needs daily strenuous exercise. 

Boxers keep their puppy-like tendencies for several years, and don’t mature until they hit 7 or 8 years old. However, their bodies become fully grown and incredibly strong at 1.5 years old.

As you might imagine, Boxers can be a handful.

7. Bulldog


There’s no mistaking a Bulldog, they not only have unique physical traits, but have a personality that is very much their own.

Looks can be deceiving, because while they look tough on the outside, they are typically very sweet and kind.

Training can be a challenge due to their laziness and stubborn attitude.

Similar to the Basset Hound, they usually only follow commands if you have something really tasty to offer. Also, due to their breathing and overheating problems, training sessions need to be kept somewhat short. 

8. Chow Chow

​Chow Chow’s certainly have an unmistakable resemblance to a cute and cuddly teddy bear​, but they can often be anything but cuddly.

These dogs are known to be very independent, and not one to be overly social. With children and other dogs their patience runs thin, and will take a lot of socialization and training at an early age to curb.

​They can also be overly protective of their owner or territory, leading to aggressive tendencies. 

The mistake new owners sometimes make is adopting ​a dog ​based purely on cuteness, but ​not fully understanding the traits of their chosen breed.

9. Chinese Shar-pei


​Shar-pei are considered one of the most loyal dog breeds, so why would they be difficult to train? It’s mostly because they are loyal to their immediate owner, and nobody else.

In fact, these dogs can have a very unkind manner towards kids, dogs, and other people.

While they make excellent guard dogs, their short temper makes them a handful for the typical owner. Without an assertive leader they’ll likely take over the home as the new boss.

10. Coonhound – Black and Tan


There are a variety of Coonhounds, but we’ll talk about the most common version: the Black and Tan Coonhound.

Often used for their powerful nose and hunting instinct, this dog is the ideal companion for hunting and tracking. However, they make a loving home companion as well, and love to relax and play with their family.

Similar to the Basset Hound, this breed is very stubborn and independent. One of the main challenges is holding their attention, as they’ll often get distracted by smells or their surroundings.

On another note, this dog is very noisy, and your neighbors will get to know your dog through the constant howling. 

11. Dachshund 


Dachshunds are small bundles of joy that spend their days playing and napping. They adapt well to just about any family routine, as long as it’s with the ones they love.

These little dogs are incredibly bright, which makes teaching new tricks and routines an absolute joy, but they do come with a certain amount of stubbornness.

Many Dachshund owners will tell you that Potty Training is a long and challenging process. 

They’re also known to bark constantly, and be very protective of owners. Both traits tend to be difficult to overcome with this breed.

12. Finish Spitz


The Finish Spitz are a hunting dog, that are “hard-coded” to bark at anything that gains their interest.

Their hunting instinct is still in full effect, as they’ll feel the need to bark and chase at all the creatures in your neighborhood, which may also include cars, people, and other dogs.

These are also highly intelligent dogs, with a lot of energy, so they easily become bored and destructive. And although they are very stubborn, they’re quite sensitive to scolding so calm training is advised (even when this dog constantly tests your patients.)

13. Great Pyrenees


The word “Great” in Great Pyrenees is no exaggeration; not only are these dogs beautiful, strong, and majestic, but are also physically great, standing 30+ inches tall and often exceeding 100 pounds.

Pyrenees were once used in mountains to guard sheep, so they can often be very stubborn and independent (as is their nature). 

While their demeanor is gentle and calm, they can also be very protective of their family (for better or for worse).

Because these dogs are very much a “free spirit”, they tend to wonder, not really listen to direction, and follow their own routine. 

14. Husky


Huskies are a working breed, and while they’re known for their goofiness and striking features. Any owner will tell you that they are a high maintenance dog breed.

Huskies saw a huge spike in adoptions and then later left at shelters due to the show Game of Thrones. And that’s a common mistake with new owners; adopting a dog simply for their cuteness or resemblance of dog they saw on TV, without properly researching the breed. 

Huskies (being a working sled and pack dog) have seemingly unlimited energy, an unending desire to pull you on walks, severe separation anxiety, and love to spend their days talking, barking, or “yoddeling”. Each of these can be frustrating for the novice owner.

15. Irish Wolfhound


While they’re known to be sweet and kind, the Irish Wolfhound’s size and prey drive can sometimes be a case of “too much dog to handle”. 

If you’ve ever seen one in real life, you may have mistaken this breed for a small horse.

That’s because they average 160 lbs, and stand 3 feet off the ground. Mix that with their desire to chase smaller animals, and you may have a problem on your hands.

However, with the right training, socialization, and a large fenced yard (with very high fences), these dogs make amazing companions.

16. Malamute


Malamutes are ​often rehomed or end up at adoption shelters simply because most families cannot handle this dog.

While this dog is a loving companion, it comes with a certain amount of stubbornness.

Combine that with their intelligence, sheer size, and their often destructive behaviors (usually to solve boredom), you have quite a handful to deal with. 

Malamutes are a strong working breed, and were designed to pull sleds, haul equipment, and run through the snow. So they excel when they have a “job” and strong leadership, otherwise they’ll assume control of your home. 

17. Shiba Inu


Shiba’s are very sharp and quick to learn, but only when they want to.

They are known to have a unique personality, and their mannerisms mimic a cat more than an actual dog.

They are also incredibly strong-willed and independent, which can be frustrating for owners and trainers.

Early and consistent training and socialization is absolutely essential or your Shiba will absolutely assume control of your home. Therefore, this breed is not for the novice owner.

Photo of author

Shayla McConnell

Shayla​ has been working closely with animals for over 10 years. Initially trained​ as a Vet Tech Assistant in a local emergency clinic, she ​later changed career paths and became a ​professional Dog Groomer, and is now running her own successful pet grooming business.

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