These Are the Dog Breeds That Are Notoriously Difficult to Train
Training a new puppy is no walk in the park, so to speak. If you want a dog who’s thoroughly housebroken, doesn’t jump on guests, and politely waits for his meals, you’ll have a lot of work to do.
Fortunately, some dog breeds prove pretty easy to train. But depending on which breed you have your heart set on, you might not get so lucky. In fact, you might end up with a dog that breeders, trainers, and devoted owners all characterize as difficult to train.
Below, check out the dog breeds that are some of the most difficult dog breeds to train. These dogs are loving and lovable, of course. But they won’t be the quickest learners when you try to teach them to sit or to heel.
1. Afghan hound
The Afghan hound is a faithful and lovable dog, but this breed will pose a big challenge in the training department. According to the American Kennel Club, you’ll have to contend with “the challenge of training an independent hound.” VetStreet characterizes the breed as “aloof” and an “independent thinker.” Those characteristics can make training difficult.
However, the publication promises that these dogs prove “trainable with the use of positive reinforcement techniques, particularly with food rewards.” Your best bet? Start training when he’s young (and still small).
Next: The basenji
Another dog breed that’s notoriously difficult to train? The basenji. The AKC advises that crate training is absolutely essential with this breed. Plus, the AKC characterizes the basenji as “quite independent and aloof.”
DogTime reports that this breed also “has a stubborn streak a mile wide,” adding that “a basenji may know perfectly well all the commands you teach him, but whether he actually performs them will always be in question.” These dogs “use their intelligence to demand your attention and get you to provide whatever it is they need or want.”
Next: The basset hound
3. Basset hound
The basset hound is notoriously stubborn. That won’t make training easy, especially if you’re a novice dog owner. The AKC characterizes the breed as “a bit stubborn.” Most people who’ve owned one of these dogs would likely use stronger language.
PetCareRX notes that housebreaking a basset hound is particularly difficult. Plus, DogTime reports, “Patience is definitely a virtue when it comes to training a Basset.” The publication adds, “Many Basset Hounds will obey commands when offered food, but won’t obey if you don’t have a tasty reward to offer them.”
Next: The beagle
Most people love beagles — at least after they’ve gotten through the challenges of training them. The AKC puts it this way: “Beagles will make you laugh but they are a challenge to train. They do have a naughty streak and can be difficult even for the most experienced of dog people. Beagles are at best temporarily obedient due to their independent nature, which is common among most hounds.”
Next: The bloodhound
Bloodhounds are good-natured dogs. But the AKC reports that early and consistent training is important when you have a dog as large — and stubborn — as a bloodhound.
You can train a bloodhound to compete in trailing, tracking, obedience, or agility events. However, the University of Illinois reports that this dog breed “is not exactly a star in the obedience ring. They are not stupid by any means — just wonderfully independent. They are just not terribly motivated to perform the owner pleasing behaviors required for formal obedience.”
Next: The bulldog
Bulldogs are incredibly stubborn dogs. That can make training a nightmare. Petful reports that you absolutely must let your dog know that you’re the boss and that he has to follow your instructions. You should start training your bulldog as soon as you bring him home from the shelter or the breeder. Plus, you need to be 100% firm and consistent if you want your bulldog to learn important commands. The Nest notes that the breed also doesn’t tolerate long training sessions, so you’ll need to keep things short and sweet.
Next: The chow chow
7. Chow chow
The chow chow looks like a giant teddy bear, but you may be too frustrated to cuddle him directly after a training session. The AKC reports that these dogs have “cat-like personalities” that make them “independent, stubborn, and less eager to please than other breeds.” They need early socialization and training, and these stubborn dogs should really be matched with an equally stubborn owner.
Next: The Dalmatian
You might assume that Dalmatians are good-natured. They typically are — except when you want them to do something they’d rather not. Dalmatian Advice characterizes stubbornness as a common temperament issue for this breed. Dalmatians can be both “manipulative and obstinate.” Those traits make them more difficult to train than many other breeds. Without consistent training and guidance, they might also develop unwanted habits, such as growling, biting, jumping, or snapping.
Next: The fox terrier
9. Fox terrier
Fox terriers — of both the smooth and wire varieties — display what the AKC calls a “medium” energy level. But that doesn’t really do justice to this breed’s personality. The AKC concedes that “training can be challenging” with a fox terrier puppy. And according to The New York Times, “The fox terrier will surely obey your command to ‘lie down’ — whenever it is asleep, which is one of his two moods. The other is … on fire.”
Next: The Irish setter
10. Irish setter
The AKC reports that the Irish setter has a very high energy level. That can make training a challenge. The organization notes, “Their high spirits can make it difficult to train them for long periods. Short, positive training sessions are best for these upbeat, sensitive dogs.”
According to the Irish Setter Club of America, “The Irish setter is a slow-maturing dog, both mentally and physically. It stays a puppy for a long time.” That means that an Irish setter will keep that cute puppy face for longer than other breeds. But it also probably means more work training him, too.
Next: The Kerry blue terrier
11. Kerry blue terrier
The Kerry blue terrier has acquired a reputation as the kind of dog who will only obey when it feels like it. According to the Kerry Blue Terrier Foundation, “The Kerry is extremely intelligent, hence requires training.” Plus, the foundation adds, “This is a breed that is quick to learn exactly where and under what circumstances it can get away with not obeying, and for this reason is not a good choice for a wishy-washy, overly indulgent, or submissive owner.”
Next: The mastiff
The mastiff has a great personality, but the AKC hints at the breed’s obedience-related challenges when it states that these dogs “take best to gentle training.” The Mastiff Club of America reports that you have to make training fun to interest these dogs. The club also notes that mastiffs are easier to train when they’re young, and both obedience training and socialization are important for these puppies.
Next: The Pekingese
The Pekingese is intelligent and opinionated, but these dogs can be difficult to housebreak. The breed has a famous stubborn streak that can make your life difficult when you’re training a new puppy. And the AKC reports that with the Pekingese, “Training should begin as early as possible and continue as the puppy grows into adulthood.”
The Pekingese Club admits that the breed is known for its stubbornness. You can expect training to be difficult and to take lots of time, “as the Peke is slower at learning than other breeds.”
Next: The pug
The AKC reports that pugs want to please their people. But with this breed, that doesn’t necessarily give you a dog who will take easily to training. The Pugalug Pug Rescue notes that most pugs “will be devils as a puppy.”
Even worse? These adorable little dogs “will not be house trained in a month or two months or even six months. Some pick it up quickly, but most take a year or longer and may still not be 100% reliable. And most pugs won’t ask to go out.” Many try to avoid going outside when it’s cold or rainy. Plus, few show remorse when they have an “accident” on your floor.
Next: The Weimaraner
The AKC reports that the Weimaraner has a pretty challenging combination of characteristics: a high energy level and high intelligence. “Weimaraners love exercise and must have plenty of it, along with lots of quality time with their humans.” These strong-willed dogs need to be paired with owners who are comfortable taking charge. Those owners also need to be aware that a Weimaraner can act like a puppy for the first two to four years of its life. So you can expect to spend a lot of time training and socializing one of these dogs.