12 Challenging Breeds for New Dog Owners

Choosing the right dog breed is crucial for first-time dog owners. While all dogs bring joy and companionship, some breeds might be particularly challenging for those new to dog ownership due to their high energy levels, intense training requirements, or specific health concerns.

Here’s a look at the breeds that might pose the most significant challenges for novice owners, providing insights to help you make an informed decision.

1. Siberian Husky

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Siberian Huskies are known for their striking appearance and vibrant energy, but these characteristics can also make them a handful for inexperienced owners. Originally bred for pulling sleds in harsh Arctic conditions, Huskies are highly energetic and require significant daily exercise to remain healthy and content.

Without adequate physical and mental stimulation, they may resort to destructive behavior. Additionally, Huskies are known for their independent nature, which can make obedience training a challenge.

Their thick coat also requires regular grooming, especially during shedding season, adding to the maintenance.

2. Australian Cattle Dog

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The Australian Cattle Dog is a highly intelligent and active breed that thrives in environments where they can perform tasks and engage in mental stimulation. Originally bred for herding livestock, they possess an innate drive to work and may become restless or develop behavioral issues if not given a job to do.

This breed requires a significant commitment to training and exercise, which might be overwhelming for first-time owners. Their strong will and intelligence can turn into stubbornness if not properly managed with consistent, firm training.

3. Akita

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Akitas are majestic dogs from Japan, known for their loyalty and protective nature. However, these traits can translate into strong-willed and sometimes aggressive behavior, particularly with strangers or other animals.

This breed requires early and ongoing socialization and training to manage their guarding instincts.

Akitas are also prone to various health issues, including hip dysplasia and autoimmune diseases, necessitating attentive care and potentially high veterinary costs. Their complex emotional and physical needs make them less ideal for new dog owners.

4. Dalmatian

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Famous for their distinctive spotted coat and unique history as carriage dogs, Dalmatians are highly energetic and require ample exercise to prevent behavioral problems. They are intelligent but stubborn, needing persistent and inventive training techniques.

Additionally, Dalmatians are known for being sensitive and may not respond well to harsh training methods. They also have unique health issues, such as a predisposition to deafness and urinary stones, requiring a vigilant and proactive approach to their health care.

5. Weimaraner

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Weimaraners, often referred to as “the grey ghost” due to their shimmering coats, are a breed that requires a great deal of companionship and hates being left alone, which can lead to separation anxiety.

This breed is not only energetic but also incredibly smart, requiring consistent mental stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behavior.

Weimaraners are best suited for owners who can spend a lot of time with their pets and are willing to engage in frequent, rigorous exercise. Their need for close human interaction and high exercise demands make them challenging for someone new to owning dogs.

6. Belgian Malinois

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Belgian Malinois are renowned for their exceptional agility, intelligence, and endurance, which make them excellent working dogs, particularly in police and military roles. However, these same qualities can pose significant challenges for novice owners.

Due to their high energy levels, they require extensive physical exercise and mental stimulation.

A Malinois can develop aggressive or undesirable behaviors without proper training and socialization. Their intelligence demands sophisticated training techniques and consistent leadership, making them less suited for first-time dog owners.

7. Rottweiler

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Rottweilers are powerful, protective, and often intensely loyal to their families, making them popular choices for those seeking a guard dog. However, they require careful handling and socialization from an early age to ensure they are well-adjusted and controlled.

They can be dominant and protective, traits that require an owner who can provide firm, consistent training and boundaries. Their strength and size also mean they can inadvertently overpower an inexperienced owner, making them a challenging breed for novices.

8. Chow Chow

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Chow Chows are easily recognizable by their lion-like appearance and distinctive blue-black tongues. This breed is known for its aloof and sometimes independent nature. They tend to be very loyal to their family but suspicious of strangers, necessitating thorough socialization to prevent aggressive tendencies.

This breed also requires regular grooming due to their dense fur. Their stubborn temperament can make training a challenge without consistent and patient effort, which might be overwhelming for first-time owners.

9. Shar Pei

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The Shar Pei is famous for its deep wrinkles and blue-black tongue. This breed is generally calm and independent but can be extremely stubborn and aloof, particularly with strangers. They require early socialization to avoid aggressive tendencies.

They also have special health concerns, including skin issues related to their unique coat and wrinkles, demanding vigilant care and regular vet visits. Their reserved nature and health issues make them a less ideal choice for those new to dog ownership.

10. Border Collie

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Border Collies are perhaps the most intelligent of all dog breeds, highly valued for their ability to learn quickly and solve problems. However, their intelligence comes with an intense need for mental and physical stimulation. Without enough exercise and mental challenges, they can become highly strung and potentially destructive.

The breed is best suited for an active lifestyle and continuous engagement, which might be too demanding for someone without previous dog-handling experience.

11. Jack Russell Terrier

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Jack Russell Terriers are small in size but incredibly energetic and fearless. Originally bred for fox hunting, this breed requires a lot of exercise and stimulation to prevent boredom-induced behaviors like barking and chewing.

They are also known for their strong hunting instincts and can be aggressive toward other animals if not properly trained. Their boundless energy and sometimes stubborn nature require an owner who can provide firm, consistent training and plenty of physical activities.

12. Cane Corso

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The Cane Corso is a large and powerful breed. It is part of the mastiff family and is known for its protective instincts, which make it an excellent guard dog. However, these dogs require strong leadership and thorough training from an early age to manage their protective nature. Without this, they can become overly dominant and hard to control.

Additionally, their large size and strength can be challenging to manage physically. Their need for strict training, socialization, and size makes them a poor fit for inexperienced owners.

Training Tips for New Dog Owners

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Training a new dog, especially one from a challenging breed, can be daunting for first-time owners. Here are some foundational training tips to help new dog owners get started on the right foot.

Start Early & Be Consistent

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The earlier you begin training your dog, the better. Puppies are especially receptive to learning between the ages of 8 to 12 weeks. Consistency is critical in any training regimen.

Ensure that all family members use the same commands and maintain consistent rules. This consistency helps reinforce learning and prevents confusion in your dog.

According to the American Kennel Club, consistent communication is crucial to effectively training your dog and building a strong bond based on mutual trust and respect.

Positive Reinforcement

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Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool in dog training. This method involves rewarding your dog for good behavior, such as treats, praise, or playtime. Rewarding behaviors you want to encourage immediately is essential, as this helps the dog associate the behavior with the reward.

The Humane Society emphasizes the effectiveness of positive reinforcement, noting that it not only teaches your dog what behaviors are desired but also fosters a positive relationship between you and your pet.


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Socializing your dog from a young age is vital to developing a well-rounded and well-behaved pet. Socialization involves exposing your dog to various people, other animals, environments, and experiences.

This exposure helps reduce fearfulness and aggression and improves their confidence. Proper socialization during the puppy stage can prevent behavioral problems later in life, so it is recommended that socialization be begun as early as possible.

Set Realistic Goals

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Setting realistic and achievable goals for you and your dog is essential. Understand that training is a gradual process and that each dog learns at its own pace. Celebrate small victories, motivating both you and your pet to keep progressing.

Patience and persistence are important, and owners must remember that some behaviors take longer to train than others, especially with more stubborn breeds.

Seek Professional Help If Needed

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Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you struggle with certain aspects of training. Professional dog trainers and behaviorists can provide invaluable assistance with their expertise. They can offer personalized training strategies and troubleshoot specific behavioral issues.

Regular Training Sessions

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Keep training sessions short, focused, and fun for your dog. Typically, several short sessions (5-10 minutes each) spread throughout the day are more effective than one long session, which can lead to your dog becoming bored or overwhelmed.

Regular practice is crucial to reinforce learning and ensure your dog’s training progresses smoothly.

Martha A. Lavallie
Martha A. Lavallie
Author & Editor | + posts

Martha is a journalist with close to a decade of experience in uncovering and reporting on the most compelling stories of our time. Passionate about staying ahead of the curve, she specializes in shedding light on trending topics and captivating global narratives. Her insightful articles have garnered acclaim, making her a trusted voice in today's dynamic media landscape.