The 20 Most Difficult Dog Breeds to Train

Some dog breeds are harder to train than others. Usually this is because of the traits the dog has which they were bred for. For example, hunting dogs are typically focused on hunting. When following a scent, hunting dogs will not be distracted. 

So if you then try to train a hunting dog while they’re in the act of doing what they do best, you’ll have a very tough time.  Another example could be high energy dogs who are also be difficult to train

Obviously if a dog is more interested in running around than listening to you, you’ve got a challenge on your hands.  Additionally, larger and more aggressively bred dogs are hard to train. Some dogs assert dominance more than others and those are not the easiest to control.

Whatever the case may be, all dogs can in fact be trained.  You just have to take the necessary steps to establish trust, patience, and eventually win over your dog so that you have the best relationship possible.  But like we said, some are much much easier than others. Here are the 20 most difficult dog breeds to train.

1. Beagle

The beagle originated in England and was bred to hunt rabbits. They are used today to hunt, detect illegal agricultural imports and as loveable companions. One of the most beloved beagles is the cartoon character Snoopy.

The small dogs are easy to care for because of their intelligence and eagerness to please. The beagle can be difficult to train because of its hunting instincts. Beagles can be single minded when following prey.

The dog has difficulty staying focused when chasing a scent making the beagle difficult to train. However, if authority is established and training is patient and consistent, the beagle can become a manageable companion.

Training should not be limited to the daily sessions. Obedience training should be used throughout the day. With proper mental and physical stimulation, the beagle will do well. Because the breed is eager to please, positive reinforcements of praise and treats work well when training.

2. Basset Hound

Like the beagle, the basset hound was bred in Great Britain and France to hunt hare. The short legged hound is great at tracking scents which can lead to difficulty in training. The basset hound is a pack leader and very independent.

Like the beagle, the basset hound is bred to hunt through following scents and is incredibly focused when following its nose. The basset hound is also gentle and loving but also stubborn and aloof. Like any hunting dog, the trainer must take the lead and assert authority.

Patience and consistency are important things to remember when training the basset hound. You can teach your basset hound to sit, stay, come and heel by using hand gestures. Leash train and house train calmly. The basset hound also needs social training so it can get along with other people and other dogs.

3. Chow Chow

The chow chow was bred in Asia. The sturdy, regal looking dogs resemble the lion and can be strong and aggressive. One of the oldest dog breeds, the chow was bred to be protective. The breed will naturally take on the alpha role and feel superior. The chow chow needs good, strong training. These dogs are self centered and not eager to please their owner.

The chow should be trained in socialization early because they are territorial. The chow does not take well to punishment so positive reinforcement is the best method of training for this dog. As with any dog, patience and consistency are vital.

4. Pit Bull

The pit bull is a strong and powerful breed. It was originally bred as a fight dog. Despite their reputation, pit bulls are also friendly and eager to please. The pit bull will respond well to basic obedience training and rewards including praise and treats. Bred as work dogs and a close relative of the bulldog and the terrier, the pit bull is intelligent and energetic.

They can become bored easily and will dig and chew, so they must be exercised and need attention. The pit bull can become aggressive with other dogs, so socialization should be taught at a young age. A well trained pit bull will be a happy part of the family.

5. Pomeranian

Bred from a large breed of arctic working dogs, the Pomeranian became popular in northern Germany and Poland. The breed is a cute, fluffy small dog with a big personality. These dogs can be difficult to train.

The breed needs to learn socialization or the dog may become shy or aggressive. Because of their small size, Pomeranians can be difficult to house train. The dog should be taken outside regularly.

Pomeranians work well with crate training because they feel safe. Regular obedience training is a must and a treat as a reward is well deserved. The Pomeranian is also a barking breed. The high pitched barks can become annoying. Training the dog to quiet on command is important. The Pomeranian will do well with strong and consistent training.

6. Pug

The pug was originally bred in Asia as a companion dog for royalty and for monks. With their cute wrinkled faces the pug is an adorable and fund dog. The pug is also smart, sturdy, loyal and playful.

The breed can be a handful to train however. They don’t react well to punishment so a soft hand, a strict training regimen and a lot of praise will go a long way. Pugs can easily become bored so keeping the dog stimulated is necessary.

Pugs work well with routine schedules so establish that and the training will go smoothly, particularly house training. As with any dog, patience is important when training the pug.

7. Fox Terrier

The fox terrier was originally bred in the eighteenth century to flush out foxes during fox hunts. The breed is still used for this and is prevalent in the show dog arena. Because of their intelligence, fox terriers can be taught tricks and do well at agility competitions if they are trained properly.

The dogs are energetic and great with children and other dogs. Training the fox terrier can be tricky. The dogs are very self confident and curious which can lead them to be mischievous.

These outgoing and active dogs need a lot of physical and mental exercise. Training must be strong and rewarding. A professional trainer is a good idea with the fox terrier, and it can create a strong bond between the owner and the dog.

8. Pekingese

The Pekingese is a small lap dog that is incredibly loyal but also stubborn. The Pekingese breed emerged from China and was a popular companion of royalty and Buddhist monks. The dogs are beautiful with their long hair and sweet faces.

The Pekingese can be stubborn. As pack dogs, the Pekingese believes he is in charge. Respect training is vital. The owner must establish dominance. Praise as reward works better than treats because the treats will add to the dog’s feeling of entitlement.

Using specific words when obedience training is important. The Pekingese should be leash trained and encouraged to socialize with people and other dogs.

9. Chihuahua

The Chihuahua originated in Mexico. Kennel clubs consider the Chihuahua the smallest registered breed of dogs. The dogs make wonderful lapdogs and are extremely loyal yet can be fierce and protective.

The Chihuahua is very stubborn. They need to be trained to socialized or else can become overprotected and may attack. A professional trainer for the Chihuahua is a good idea. Of all dog breeds the Chihuahua is the most difficult to house break. However, if properly trained, the Chihuahua is friendly and attentive. Training is extremely necessary for this reserved and suspicious dog.

10. West Highland White Terrier

The West Highland White Terrier is better known as the “Westie”. The breed originated in Scotland in the twentieth century and remains popular in the United Kingdom and the United States. The small dog is intelligent, independent and stubborn.

Crate training is a good idea for the Westie because it will give him a safe, comfortable place to lay when he is not being entertained. As a small dog, house breaking can be difficult so consistency and rewards are necessary.

Obedience training should not be limited to training sessions but should be reinforced throughout the day. The Westie is a big barker, so the “quiet” command should be taught early. The Westie is a sweet lap dog. With consistent training, the dog will make a great companion and a wonderful family pet.

11. Afghan Hound

All hounds tend to be difficult to train, but the Afghan Hound may be the most difficult. The dogs have beautiful thick, long and silky coats. They were bred to live comfortably in Afghanistan’s cold mountain regions.

These dogs are almost cat-like in personality. They are intelligent and, trained as a “sighthound”, these dogs can be physically and emotionally sensitive. They don’t desire to please so praise training doesn’t always work well.

The dogs can be trained but because of their independence the training often doesn’t stick. The best things to consider when training an Afghan Hound are gentleness, patience, coaxing and persistence. If an Afghan Hound feels comfortable, the dog will adapt well to people. Professional training may be necessary for this breed.

12. Bloodhound

The bloodhound first appeared in the middle ages in Belgium, France and the United Kingdom as a scent hound. Bloodhounds with their cute droopy ears and loveable faces are great at tracking deer, wild boar and even missing people.

As with other hounds, the bloodhound is adept at following scents. The bloodhound is also known as the “sleuth hound” and has been featured in television shows and movies tracking escaped prisoners and missing people.

As a scent hound, the bloodhound stays focused on following a scent which can make it difficult to train. The dogs can be stubborn and single minded but, properly trained, can be happy, calm and willing.

A well trained bloodhound can be an affectionate, even-tempered family pet. It takes perseverance and strength to properly train a bloodhound, but these lovable dogs can be gentle giants.

13. Dalmatian

The beloved Dalmatian was popularized in the book and movie “101 Dalmatians”. The story was about a horrible woman who bred Dalmatians to make fur coats. Dalmatians were originally bread as carriage dogs in the United Kingdom.

The beautiful white dogs with distinguished black spots are known for their high energy and high strung behavior but make wonderful show dogs. The Dalmatian is intelligent but, without proper training, can become disobedient and disruptive.

They like to chew, dig, bite and bark. The Dalmatian needs a lot of physical and mental play. A good owner will give the dog a lot of focused training, particularly leash training. A good owner will create a strong training regimen and focus on rewarding the dog’s good behavior. Chew toys are a must to distract the Dalmatian from chewing up your house and your belongings.

14. Basenji

The Basenji is one of the most ancient breed of dogs. The dog was bred as a hunting dog in central Africa and has since become a popular pet and show dog. With its short hair, pert ears and curly tail, the Basenji has a distinctive look.

What makes this breed difficult to train is its history as a pack dog, training as a hunter and the fact that it can quickly become bored. The key to training the Basenji is immediate, consistent correction of bad behavior.

The dog was bred as a “sighthound” so it is essential to never be harsh with punishment. Correction with positive reinforcement is vital. Patience is a virtue when training the Basenji. Crate training and professional training may be necessary.

15. English Mastiff

The Old English Mastiff is also called the “gentle giant”. The large and strong dog comes from the line of Great Danes, Pit Bulls, Bulldog and Terriers. Originally bred in Pakistan and India, the Mastiff quickly became popular throughout the world.

The big Mastiff is a people pleaser and can make great family dogs if trained properly. The Mastiff needs firm yet tender training. The goal is for the dog to respect its owner. The Mastiff is a working dog and responds well to commands. With good, strong and consistent training, the Mastiff can become an incredible and loyal companion. These big dogs are very loveable.

16. Jack Russell Terrier

The Jack Russell Terrier was bred by John Russell, an English parson who enjoyed hunting, in the nineteenth century. As a common trait, dogs bred to hunt become so focused on their prey that they are difficult to train.

The Jack Russell Terrier is a working dog that flushes fox, groundhogs and badgers from their dens. As a result the breed independent, active and adventurous. Because it is bred to work, this terrier can get into trouble when not working.

Digging and barking are common problems. It also has difficulty getting along with other dogs. House training and basic obedience commands can be achieved with disciplined and consistent training. Socialization training is important because the Jack Russell Terrier’s instinct is to go after small prey, even cats and small dogs.

17. Siberian Husky

The Siberian Husky originated in northeastern Siberia, Russia as a hunting dog. The dog has a thick double coat to protect it from the elements and quickly gained popularity in the arctic regions where it is used as a sled dog.

As a pack dog, your husky may take on the Alpha role so authority must be established. Firm discipline is important in training the husky and off course rewarding good behavior. Huskies tend to jump, chew, dig and bite which must be corrected early on. The Siberian Husky can make a great family dog with proper, firm and consistent training.

18. Dachshund

The German bred Dachshund is distinctive looking with its short legs and long body. The Dachshund was bred to hunt small burrow dwelling animals and is a member of the hound family. As with other hunting breeds, it will take patience and consistency to properly train your Dachshund.

The Dachshund likes people and, if an authoritative relationship is established, the dog will aim to please. Positive reinforcement and a calm consistent commands are important when training your Dachshund.

Crate training works well with this breed. It is important to remember that Dachshunds have limited attention spans, several short training sessions a day work well.

19. Boston Terrier

English Bulldogs were bred with Terriers in the mid nineteenth century. The first true Boston Terrier came about in Boston, Massachusetts in 1870. It was owned by Robert C. Hooper and its name was Judge.

The Boston Terrier is intelligent, friendly, loyal and eager to please. The energetic dog needs a lot of exercise. These terriers need to have boundaries set. Training and house rules should be clear. Firm consistent training is effective as well as positive rewards including praise and treats. Consistent verbal commands work well. With proper training the Boston Terrier can even learn to do tricks.

20. German Shepherd

German Shepherds were originally bred as working dogs in Northern Europe in the nineteenth century. The herding dogs are intelligent handsome dogs. They are often trained to become police dogs, guard dogs, rescue dogs and military dogs.

The difficulty in training the German Shepherd is that the breed can be aggressive and extremely loyal and over protective leading to difficulties with biting or attacking strangers or small dogs.

Training the German Shepherd requires structure and discipline. Leash training is effective. Always use positive reinforcement, and give your German Shepherd plenty of exercise.

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