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Top 20 Hardest Dog Breeds to Train (With Pictures)

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By Nicole Cosgrove


Training your puppy is an essential step in your dog’s development, but some breeds are more difficult to train than others. They are still loveable and an important part of your family, but you need to be prepared for a little more effort and patience (and perhaps some extra funds) while training these breeds.

Here are 20 of the dog breeds that are amongst the hardest to train in alphabetical order:

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The 20 Hardest Dog Breeds to Train:

1. Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky
Credit: DejaVuDesigns, Shutterstock

The Alaskan Malamute is famous for being one of the oldest known sled dogs used in the Arctic for maybe as long as 4,000 years ago. They are known for being playful, devoted, and affectionate dogs but their intelligence and stubbornness might interfere with training. Malamutes have a mind of their own, so persistent and patient training will work best for these beautiful dogs.

2. American Foxhound

American Foxhound nibbles a stick
Image Credit: Olga Aniven, Shutterstock

George Washington had a hand in creating the American Foxhound, an easygoing, sweet-natured, and low-maintenance dog. However, they are also independent and stubborn dogs, and might do best for you to enroll them in obedience classes. They are also high-energy dogs that will become destructive and quite vocal if bored and not exercised enough. Patience and persistence are necessary components for training the American Foxhound.

3. Australian Cattle Dog

Australian Cattle Dog
Image Credit: Best dog photo, Shutterstock

The Australian Cattle Dog was brought to Australia from England in the 1800s and was bred to withstand the harsh Australian outback for herding beef cattle. They are curious, good-natured, and loyal dogs that will cause trouble if bored. The ACD is a highly intelligent and stubborn dog that has a ton of energy. These qualities can contribute to a difficult time in training, so keeping them busy, obedience training, and even agility or herding trials are recommended.

4. Basenji

Smiling brown and white basenji dog listening to music_bublikhaus_shutterstock
Image credit: BublikHaus, Shutterstock

Basenjis are one of the oldest known dogs in existence and were brought to ancient Egypt from Africa. These unique dogs are well-known for the “yodeling” sound they make rather than barking, and they have a cat-like way of grooming themselves. They can be aloof yet affectionate and are curious and energetic dogs. Basenjis can be very mischievous and are highly intelligent and independent and can lose interest while being trained very quickly. Training should be in short sessions and with reward-based training techniques.

5. Basset Hound

Sleeping Basset Hound on chair
Image credit: Daniel Myjones, Shutterstock

The Basset Hound originated in France, and even the word “basset” means “low” in French. These dogs are renowned for their calm, patient, and sweet natures, but they are also highly independent. They were bred to hunt independently and are not easily distracted, so they will appear to be uninterested in listening to you and might appear aloof. The Basset just needs consistency and patience as well as lots of time while training.

6. Bearded Collie

cute bearded collie
Image Credit: Melounix, Shutterstock

The Bearded Collie hails from the Scottish Highlands and was used for herding and controlling cattle. They are friendly, affectionate, and playful dogs with a strong streak of independence thanks to their herding instincts. Lots of treats, positive reinforcement, and patience will help eventually train the beautiful but challenging Beardie.

7. Bloodhound

Image credit: Edoma, Shutterstock

The Bloodhound is believed to have originated in the ancient Mediterranean as far back as the 3rd century. These hounds are curious, friendly, and easygoing, as well as independent and stubborn. Bloodhounds believe they are in charge, so training should be done with kindness, patience, and a firm but gentle hand. Begin training them as early as possible and consider enrolling the Bloodhound in an obedience class.

8. Borzoi

Image credit: Jeannette1980, Pixabay

The Borzoi is also referred to as a Russian Wolfhound and originated during the Romanov rule (1613–1917). These gorgeous dogs are devoted, affectionate, and calm in nature and their stubbornness and intelligence make for a challenging dog to train. The Borzoi was bred to chase small animals, so they should always be kept on a leash when out, and training should be done with humor, patience, and persistence.

9. Briard

Briard in park
Image credit: kyliskova.cz, Shutterstock

The Briard has been around since the 8th century in northern France as herders and guardians. They are protective, confident, and loving dogs that, while eager to please, are also smart and independent. Keep the training sessions interesting, fun, and positive, and the Briard will learn quickly and excel.

10. Chinese Shar-Pei

Chinese Shar pei puppy portrait at garden_Waldemar Dabrowski_shutterstock
Image credit: Waldemar Dabrowski, Shutterstock

The Chinese Shar-Pei goes as far back as 2,000 years in ancient China and acted as guardians, hunters, and herders. These unique-looking dogs are loyal, calm, and affectionate that, like most on this list, are also intelligent and stubborn. The sooner you start training them at a young age, the better, so consider puppy obedience classes. Consistent and loving training will give you a well-adjusted family pet.

11. Chow Chow

chow chow
Image Credit:Tara Robinson, Pexels

The Chow Chow probably goes back even further than the Shar-Pei to even before China’s Han Dynasty and was used as companions as well as hunters and guard dogs. The Chow Chow is calm, aloof, and loyal and is also very intelligent and prone to stubbornness. Stick with the usual positive and patient training methods, and you will eventually be successful in training the Chow Chow.

12. Dachshund

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

The Dachshund hails from Germany from about 600 years ago and was used for digging badgers out of their dens. These long dogs are forever curious, friendly, and bold and they, of course, are also very intelligent, independent, and stubborn. Reward-based training that is only based on positive interactions works best with this breed due in part to their highly sensitive natures. Dachshunds are also prone to not always listening if something else is distracting them, so be sure to keep training sessions entertaining.

13. Great Pyrenees

Great Pyrenees lying on the ground
Image credit: jathomas, Pixabay

The Great Pyrenees was bred as a herding and guard dog for flocks in the Pyrenees Mountains (located between Spain and France). This large breed is a mellow, patient, and devoted dog that is intelligent and independent. Pyrs tend to be quite indifferent to training and are easily bored and might respond to your commands with very slow responses. Particularly with the Pyr, early puppy training classes are essential, and lots and lots of patience is necessary.

14. Greyhound

two elegant greyhounds
Image credit: pfluegler-photo, Shutterstock

The Greyhound is another ancient breed that goes back as far as 5,000 years to ancient Egypt and was used for hunting and chasing wildlife. These gorgeous, streamlined dogs are gentle, sweet-natured, and noble and are also independent. They were developed to pursue by sight instead of scent. This means they are designed to make their own decisions and require very short and interesting training sessions. The Greyhound is a very sensitive dog, so be sure to keep training gentle and positive.

15. Kerry Blue Terrier

Kerry Blue Terrier in a spring garden
Image Credit: Radomir Rezny, Shutterstock

The Kerry Blue Terrier hails from Ireland and was bred to be a farm dog used for a variety of different chores. They are adaptable, active, and social, and their smarts combined with some stubbornness give you a challenging dog to train. If you keep them entertained with activities such as herding, agility, and rally, this will give you a much happier companion. Like most dogs, early puppy training classes will go a long way to a well-mannered dog.

16. Kuvasz

Image credit: La Su, Shutterstock

The Kuvasz (pronounced KOO-vahz) was brought to Hungary during the Middle Ages and was used as a guardian for livestock. These devoted, protective, and fearless dogs are highly intelligent and independent, but they also tend to mature slower than most dogs. Lots of patience is needed while training, and they will not respond to boring and repetitive training. The Kuvasz will need puppy training classes and aren’t the best fit for a beginner dog owner.

17. Mastiff

English Mastiff drooling
Image Credit: GoDog Photo, Shutterstock

The Mastiff, which also goes by the name “Old English Mastiff,” was used in the Middle Ages as guardians of estates, big-game hunters, and were used in wars. These giant-sized dogs are brave, good-natured, and patient, but unlike most dogs on this list, they are agreeable and sensitive. The challenge in training comes from the Mastiff’s dislike of repetition, which will only bore them. Only use praise, love, and short, fun training sessions and the Mastiff will shine.

18. Pekingese

Pekingese long hair
Image by Andrea Sebastiano Floriani from Pixabay

The Pekingese originated in ancient China and served as royal lap dogs for Chinese emperors. These tiny dogs are confident, affectionate, and devoted but are also intelligent and prone to stubbornness. They are considered to be somewhat “opinionated,” and their independence makes them a bit of a challenge for training. As with most of the dogs on this list, positive training with lots of patience and consistency will provide you with a happy and charming companion.

19. Weimaraner

Image Credit: DragoNika, Shutterstock

One of the youngest breeds on this list, the Weimaraner was bred in the early 19th century in Germany for use as a hunting dog. These dogs are obedient, friendly, and loving and are on this list for a different reason than the rest of the dogs. They are actually quite trainable as they are eager to please and will pick up training quickly, so why are they on this list? Because the Weimaraner is very smart and will pick up both bad and good behaviors easily. Attend training classes and be very consistent with your training, and your Weimaraner will become a trusted and loving member of the family.

20. West Highland Terrier

west highland white terrier
Image Credit: anetapics, Shutterstock

The West Highland Terrier is one of a number of terriers from Scotland that was bred to hunt rats. These are active, faithful, and happy dogs that are also smart and independent, which is the hallmark of a dog that is difficult to train. Westies are bred to work on their own, but they will do well with consistent and interesting training sessions with an owner who is patient and loving.

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So what is the hardest dog to train? If you are a proud owner of any one of these dogs on this list, don’t lose hope if you’re struggling with training. Sometimes a pup that is difficult to train is also a sign of an intelligent and independent dog that has the advantage of not developing separation anxiety when you leave the house. The key to training almost every dog will include positive training methods with patience and persistence. As long as you educate yourself on the dog breed and are willing to enroll your pup in puppy training as well as obedience classes, you’ll have yourself a smart, happy, and well-adjusted companion.

Featured Image Credit: Christina, Pexels

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