10 Difficult Breeds

July 13, 2014

This is just a list of dogs I’ve read about and have come to know “personally” as difficult breeds to own. It’s NOT a list of stupid breeds or breeds that are bad. Obviously there are exceptions to every rule and don’t take this personally. I’m just informing people that, if they get one of these breeds, or they aren’t an experienced and very dedicated dog owner,  they may have trouble leading a normal dog-owner life, i.e. having a calm and orderly home, being able go to the dog park, allow the dog off leash, be around kids, dogs or other animals, or being allowed back into doggy daycare or a boarding facility. With that said, a few of these breeds get their “difficult” reputation because of lack of  proper early socialization (before 3 months old), training and or guidance from a professional dog trainer. 

In no particular order:

Siberian Husky

Jack Russell terrier

Chow Chow






American Staffordshire Terrier (Pit Bull)

Presa Canario or American Bulldog

If you would like to know why a breed is on this list, ask me using the comment form below.

Dogs often make wonderful pets. However, every dog has the potential to inflict harm under the right circumstances – that’s why many other breeds could have made this list. If a breed is not listed here, it doesn’t mean they will automatically be a “perfect” dog without a lot of dedication from you.

If you are thinking about getting one of the listed breeds or any breed for that matter, do your homework and find a good breeder. Meet the puppy’s parents, as good sound parents produce good sound puppies. Learn everything there is to know about the breed. Proper early socialization (before 3 months old), training and exercise is the key. whether your dog is younger or older than 3 months, hiring a professional dog trainer can really make a difference.

If your dog shows aggression or other negative behavioral issues, get help right away. Don’t make excuses for the dog and don’t be in denial. It’s OK to ask for professional help.  My recommendation is if you have a known ‘aggressive breed’, a puppy from aggressive parents, a puppy you don’t know who the parents are or a puppy who is showing aggressive behavior, you should have them neutered as early as possible (usually before 4- months of age). All other dogs can be fixed at 6 months old.


36 Responses to “10 Difficult Breeds”

  1. Zoey on August 14th, 2009 7:13 pm

    Sounds about right to me.
    I had a dog that was a husky/sheltie mix when I was younger. He was quite bright, but very unruly. He didn’t seem to too interested in being a pet and needed more exercise than I could manage to provide for him because I had to work. I tried sending him to doggy daycares, but they were expensive and he would always manage to escape (that dog was a legitimately talented jumper; he one cleared a ten foot fence.) Eventually, I had to send him to my cousin’s farm, where I believe he’s made himself very comfortable chasing sheep.
    Then, a few years ago, I had a boyfriend who owned a jack russell who was an absolute nightmare. He would bark incessantly, was very aggressive to other dogs and children and peed on everything he didn’t rip apart.
    I have a rottweiler/english setter/basenji right now, though. She is the sweetest dog I’ve ever met and is so laid back. She does chew a little, but we keep her supplied with bones. She absolutely loves everyone. . . as long as I’m home. Someone she’d never met before tried coming over while I wasn’t home and she didn’t bite them, but she was snarling. Other than that one incident, we’ve never had any kind of behavioral issues with her.

  2. Robert on August 20th, 2009 3:48 am

    Thanks for the feedback, keep them coming

  3. Robert on October 9th, 2009 1:46 am

    Hi Ann,

    There is no problem, except you probably need to read the post again.

    It’s nice to hear when people have a good experience with breeds that are known to be on the difficult side. That’s why near the bottom of the story, I say “If you get one of these breeds, do your homework, early socialization and education is the key”. Looks like that’s what you did. I guess I should have added “exercise” to be even more specific.

    I showed and owned Akita’s. I almost put them on the list. I’ve seen them on other peoples list of dogs not to own. Mine of course were great, but the truth is the breed can be really dog aggressive, their also wanderers and they like to mark their owners leg (I can go on). It doesn’t bother me in the least when behaviorist or trainers tell other people about how crazy those dogs can be, I know they’re not for everyone. I’d rather have people know the truth or all the potential problems before getting one.

    Anyway, thanks for the comment

    One thing about Siberians, if you raise them right. They’re a big help in keeping the owner in shape.

  4. Laureen on June 27th, 2011 10:26 pm

    My Pekingese was afraid of motorcycles and fireworks but had no fear of the neighbor’s Akita, and that is how he died. The Peke was a one person/family dog, but tolerated strangers. He seemed to not read clues that the Akita was the dominant dog. My fault in not understanding enough about dogs.

  5. Robert on June 30th, 2011 2:39 am

    Sorry to hear….very sad

  6. kathy on March 9th, 2012 2:50 pm

    I have an APBT who is a total doll. Her prey drive is what I consider a normal level, and when told to ignore, she will generally turn and walk away. I have owned her since she was 4 mos and she will be a year in April. Very easy to train, but does have selective hearing when in the backyard (but that I attributed to her age) She is extremely intelligent and i am amazed at how quickly she learns a command. Her only downside is she is what I call an overfriender to other dogs and tries to hard, which gets her in trouble. Most dogs dont know how to read her overly gregarious personality, nor does she seem to pick up on the signs of trouble. that scares me because i dont want to see her get hurt, because the other dog gets annoyed, but she keeps wanting to play. I have never seen her become aggressive or turn.
    All in all a wonderful breed, but only for responsible owners. Dog fighting and pure trash got a hold of these wonderful animals and smeared there good name!!!!

    Also owned a rotti many years back ,and to this day, consider that angel one of the best girlfriends i have ever had! you knew where you stood and she was the best judge of people. If she didnt like you, you had a problem, and the person she disliked always turned out to be a real jerk!!!!!

    A message to all : Please dont judge the dogs, judge the owners!! Dogs are so wonderful, and I value there beauty inside and out! more than i can say for most humans!!!

  7. Robert on March 11th, 2012 7:59 am

    Hi Kathy,

    Keep up the socialization with your APBT. I would even get in there to play with the other dogs, making yourself part of the other dog, by touching them while your dog is sniffing them (never petting your own). Be careful in reading the other dog. Thanks for the comment, and YES! many owners of these difficult breeds shouldn’t have them because they don’t give the time needed for them to shine in a positive light.

  8. Jean on April 25th, 2012 10:20 pm

    Even though my Jack russel is great he isn’t the normal JR. You are correct about the breeds. If you get a chance Robert check out our new venture at our web site listed above.

  9. Robert on May 2nd, 2012 4:46 am

    Very cute idea (book), I wish you success.

  10. Jill on May 23rd, 2012 3:52 am

    Sorry I cannot agree with you. We have a wonderful Jack Russell with so much character. A loveable gregarious nature with people and other dogs, super smart and easy to train. Comes when called – I have no worries about letting him off leash. A great family pet that I would recommend to one to anyone with kids. He gets on well with our cats, and chooks. Our other dog is a Staffy X – of which you couldn’t find a more family orientated dog. Don’t judge the dog – judge the owner!

  11. Kessie on May 23rd, 2012 6:37 am

    Where exactly did you dig this crap up?
    While a couple of these breeds might need regular training, none are breeds to steer clear of.
    All dogs need early and ongoing socialisation and regular training to ensure stability of behaviour, regardless of breed.
    Don’t know what your educated background is but it’s clear you need to do more..
    It’s people like you who create and encourage ignorance in dog owners which results in seriously difficult and misinformed clients – cheers for that!

  12. Robert on May 23rd, 2012 10:52 am

    Put’s people in Danger??? really? that’s what you got out of my post? you should really read the post again, my opinion is quite clear! Why don’t you Google -dog breeds to avoid-.You’ll see, I’m not the only one who has an opinion on the subject. When you’ve been training dogs for over 30 years;4 years training Police dogs in the Military, 4 years training animal actors for television, 6 years managing a pet hotel/doggy day care center, you tend to form an opinion about breeds and neutering. Overall a disappointing comment from you.

  13. Robert on May 23rd, 2012 11:02 am

    I’ve had many clients over the years with JR , some are great, but most are a handfull for them (not me). Please re-read the first paragraph, here it is for you: This is not a list of stupid breeds or breeds that are bad. Obviously there are exceptions to every rule and don’t take this personally. I’m just informing people if they get one of these breeds (especially if they’re first time dog owners), they may have trouble leading a normal dog-owner life, i.e. having a calm and orderly home, being able go to the dog park, allow the dog off leash, be around kids, dogs or other animals, or being allowed back into doggy daycare or a boarding facility. With that said, a few of these breeds get their “bad name” because of lack of EARLY (proper) socialization (before 3 months old) and training.

  14. Robert on May 23rd, 2012 11:04 am

    I can’t make my opinion any clearer: This is not a list of stupid breeds or breeds that are bad. Obviously there are exceptions to every rule and don’t take this personally. I’m just informing people if they get one of these breeds (especially if they’re first time dog owners), they may have trouble leading a normal dog-owner life such as having a calm and orderly home, being able go to the dog park, allow the dog off leash, be around kids, dogs or other animals, or being allowed back into doggy daycare or a boarding facility. With that said, a few of these breeds get their “bad name” because of lack of EARLY (proper) socialization (before 3 months old) and training.

  15. Robert on May 23rd, 2012 11:06 am

    When you’ve been training dogs for over 30 years;4 years training Police dogs in the Military, 4 years training animal actors for television, 6 years managing a pet hotel/doggy day care center, you tend to form an opinion about breeds and neutering.

  16. Kirstie on May 25th, 2012 11:23 am

    Sorry, but when you say you have been training dogs for over 30 years, is that professionally training dogs? Or can I also say (at 37 years old) that I have been training dogs for 30 years because I trained my childhood dog?

    How old are you? When did you qualify?

    I also find it slightly odd that you admit to Akita dog aggression (a well known issue with most people in the animal care field) but decline to add them to your “not bad, but bad” dog list!

    I am disappointed in the way you worded your article. I do not think due care was shown in deciding which breeds to name, nor did you specify what the dogs trait was that MAY be an issue.

    Any dog can have behavioural issues.

  17. Robert on May 29th, 2012 6:49 am

    Hello Kirstie,

    Yes, professionally training dogs. It’s all in my bio (about me page). The article is titled “10 breeds to avoid” Akita’s probably should be in the 10 ( I used to show Akitas, and an owner of two of them). I thought when I wrote; “There are many more breeds I could have put on this list.” that included the dogs that most people in the animal care field would know to be there, of course that would be a debatable list. (just like mine)

    I think the “title” is what people are having trouble with, even though I leave so many “out’s” for me in the body of the article. OR as you say, I should specify what the dog trait was that may be an issue.
    I wrote the article a few years ago, I will look to update it soon

    Thanks for your comment


  18. Robert on May 29th, 2012 7:16 am

    I did respond to those comments.

    It’s my blog, so it’s my opinion from my experience

    aggression that can hurt someone or something, what kind of aggression were you thinking I was talking about?

    Speak with a vet about neutering (a known aggressive breed) earlier than 6 months. The last I checked, it’s not a guarantee, but it may help prevent aggressive behavior from developing (vs waiting after 6 months)

    If you’re asking me do I feel I know everything? no I don’t think that way and I’ve never have claimed too. I’m always reading and learning things, but I have been doing this a long time and I mostly figure things out myself, this is why -nowadays- I don’t run to every conference that’s in or out of town. (like I did years ago) APDT

    Gotta get back to editing videos, cheers

  19. Stan on July 27th, 2012 1:29 am

    10 Difficult Breeds
    Thank you Robert for a rational and thoughtful blog.
    People are the reason I no longer train.

  20. Robert on July 31st, 2012 6:41 am

    No worries, it’s what I do. Cheers mate.

  21. Steve on August 10th, 2012 1:03 pm

    Hi me and my family own a 8 year old beagle (yes she’s been a challenge)
    We just introduced an. 8 week old golden and are wanting to raise a social well
    Behaved puppy. We are crate training now per your video and would love
    Some impute on training puppy with a senior dog in home.

  22. andrew kelley on May 1st, 2014 8:44 pm

    I read your article and the comments. I am not a professional dog trainer but have trained many dogs and other animals horses, goats, fowl, parrots rats and others) for close to 50 yrs. My grandparents raised Siberians and had one of the top kennels in North America in the 60s and 70s my family also had Saint Bernards, basset hounds, beagles and a few other breads over the years. I was showing dogs nearly as soon as I could hold a leash. I have to say the I love huskies, but have cautioned many friends to think hard before getting one. I hear what your saying, these are not BAD breeds, but breeds that CAN be more challenging than others. Some of the breeds you mentioned are very smart, but a high energy super smart dog takes a big training commitment. I currently have a rescue Belgian Malinois/Lab cross who went through 2 homes before I got him at 5 months old. He’s super smart and lovable. He’s also HUGE, STRONG, high energy, strong willed and constantly needs something to do or, he finds himself something to do which usually means tearing up something that is supposedly indestructible. I knew this poor dog had already gone through being part of a family and then discarded because of all these personality traits that are just normal for him and gave it a lot of thought. The first month was the roughest dealing with his separation anxiety every time I was out of his sight. I’ve had him 6 months, he’s even bigger and stronger still has unlimited energy. If it I had wanted a dog to sit calmly at my feet and let run loose at the park, I would have been disappointed. Long winded but I get that your saying not every breed is one size fits all.

  23. Sonia on May 7th, 2014 10:28 pm

    Hi, I’d be interested to hear why you have Siberian husky on your list. Is it just that their intelligence makes it hard to get 100% obedience? And that they are bred to run? I have a husky, and while he is the sweetest gentle dog, he does have a mind of his own. We did “puppy preschool” and obedience training when he was a pup, and he knew he had to behave at ‘school’ – he was the star of the class, but at home it was (and is) a different story! I did do my research before I got him, and have never trusted him off leash in an open area. I have never seen aggression to a human from him, but some people are afraid of him because, according to them, he looks like a wolf (thanks Hollywood!). I should probably add that we didn’t get our boy until he was about 13 weeks old, and he was really too old for puppy preschool when we trained him 🙂

  24. Robert on May 8th, 2014 5:03 am

    Needs lot’s of space/exercise (bred to RUN), short attention spans so hard to concentrate when learning, very strong prey drive so easily distracted and this makes it hard to teach a good recall, usually not aggressive to people but can be to small animals especially if not exposed to them as a puppy. the majority of people get this breed because of their looks, that’s not for a good decision making in most home environments. (I can go on) gotta go answer more questions

  25. Robert on May 8th, 2014 5:04 am

    You got it, thanks

  26. Cindy on August 22nd, 2014 12:22 pm

    You seem to know your dogs and I trust you. Why can’t people just shut up, really read your information and either do their own thing or listen to you. If they are so smart why the heck are they looking at the website?
    I am having a problem with my shorkie. He is a great little companion but he seems to love to eat my bed linen and spreads. I should have taken out stock at bed, bath, and beyond. He is normally not a chewer but come night time as I drift off to sleep he has a snack, a perfectly round hole in my spread or if I take it off he goes for the sheets. I have tried a special night time toy, I give him lots of attention and nothing works! Please help!

  27. Shaune O'keefe on September 10th, 2014 7:29 am

    Just curious, why do you have the American Bulldog as one to avoid?

  28. Robert on September 20th, 2014 10:03 pm

    Hi Shaune, Some ‘American bulldogs’ are crossed with the American pit bull and can inherit the the dog aggressive gene. I’ve witnessed first hand what they are capable of doing to dogs they don’t know.

    I stress in the post that ‘every’ dog has the potential to develop behavioural issues, so early socialisation and training is the key and can decrease the likelihood of your dog having problems as they grow. To me, owning a dog is not a game or a I want that one because they are pretty or manly, or I had one when I grew up. I can’t stress enough the responsibility that’s required when raising a dog to be a well adjusted member of the family, especially the dogs on this list.

  29. dog toys on October 11th, 2014 7:50 am

    Make your pet a giant dog popsicle filled with chew toys, doggy safe bones and treats.
    Puppy dog toys are available for both small and big dogs so
    you just need to choose accordingly. find these chewable toys very
    interesting and they love to play with it.

  30. Mathew on October 31st, 2014 2:23 am

    I seldom comment, but I browsed a bunch of comments here
    10 Difficult Breeds | Malibu Dog Training : Malibu Dog Training.
    I do have 2 questions for you if you tend not to mind.

    Could it be just me or do some of these responses come across as if they are
    written by brain dead people? 😛 And, if you are writing at
    other social sites, I’d like to follow everything fresh you have to post.
    Could you post a list of all of your social networking sites
    like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

  31. Rick on December 29th, 2014 3:41 pm

    Thank you for the info. I just got a Basset who will 8 weeks old in two days. I know that’s very young so I’m giving him a little extra lee-way. They are pack animals and I will buy him a crate today. Thinking about 36 inch plastic crate. His first night away from the pack and mom was last night and after 6 hours in the car I let him sleep with me when my wife went to work at 3:30 am. We over fed him and he was very sick. Instead of a half cup of food. She gave him a LOT more. (The ride, excitement, food and seperation anxiety I’m sure all played a factor in it. Yesterday was his first day ever going outside! (I’m in NH so I hope he gets used to 5 minute periods of being out side.)

    Is it a mistake to let him sleep with us for a few nights. (He’s TINY. This is my 5th basset on was a rescue and trained. (This will be the first time we use a crate as the puppy will be home for 4-5 hours alone 2-3 times a week

    Do you have any suggestions for us??

    Thank you again your You-tube crate video was fantastic.



  32. Robert on December 29th, 2014 11:45 pm

    The best tips are in the video. not a good idea to sleep in bed as it causes a false sense of attachment. it’s okay to cuddle/nap on the ground with them during the day, a crate allows the puppy to be comfortable in their own space.

    I highly recommend finding the best trainer in your area and have a lesson to get things off on the right paw


  33. Robert on December 29th, 2014 11:59 pm

    I’ve mostly switched to all cat topics/training, because my cat is getting all the attention for her talents.

    I’m CATMANTOO on all social sites

  34. Sylvia Brown on June 5th, 2015 7:45 am

    I so appreciate all your help and knowledge (and entertainment). I’d be interested in hearing more about Chows. We have a rescue with a LOT of Chow Chow in her and we’ve sure had our share of problems. Do you mind telling me more about why they’re a difficult breed?

    Thank you so much.

  35. Fay on July 29th, 2015 9:51 am

    Oh my, some critics out there! There were enough qualifiers and explanations in the article and still people get all narky. Well written and common sense article, thank you Robert.

  36. Dog Boarding on May 24th, 2017 12:12 pm

    For the best Dog Daycare in McLean Virginia visit the Capitol Canine Club. We specialize in Doggie Day Care and Dog Boarding in McLean Virginia.