15 Hardest Dog Breeds to Train—How To Set Them Up for Success

All dogs are good dogs, but not all dogs are easy to train. While some pups are quick to learn how to sit, roll over, and stay, other dogs are a little more stubborn when faced with the idea of behaving. The smartest dog breeds are also usually the hardest dog breeds to train. After all, a little bit of intelligence can be a very dangerous thing. Simpler dogs are content to earn the praise of whoever is in front of them, but smart dogs are dogs who make choices. Those choices might or might not include listening to you. A little obedience training can solve a lot of these issues, but a high-energy, stubborn dog may be difficult to handle for a first-time puppy owner. Before picking up your new puppy, always make sure you know how much needs to go into your training sessions and that you and your family are ready for the challenges of your new breed.

1. Chow Chow

chow chow sitting in a field of flowers

This fluffy dog breed has been around since before China's Han Dynasty. They were bred for hunting and guarding, and these job-loving dogs are calm, loyal, and aloof but very smart. Unfortunately, the more intelligent a dog breed is, the more stubborn it can be. Pet owners should use positive reinforcement to get the best results with Chow Chows.

2. Basset Hound

basset hound standing in a field

While these sweet pups are known for being calm and patient, they also can be fiercely independent. Since they were bred to be hunting dogs, independence is ingrained in their nature. One plus is that they are not easily distracted. However, that means if they are focused on hunting something, they will ignore you too. Consistent training will be needed for these sweet dogs, plus a whole lot of patience and time.

3. Beagle

beagle running with ball

Beagles are famous for using their noses. They are a very friendly dog breed, but they are also very curious. According to the AKC, Beagles love to use their noses to find little treasures, which could be a problem if you like to have a tidy home. Beagles do benefit from puppy training classes and positive reinforcement, while harsher training methods will not work on this popular dog breed.

4. Afghan Hound

Afghan Hound

These pups are known for their long, silky hair, but they are also very independent. They can be very stand-offish and can get set in their own ways. This tendency can make training difficult. Afghan hounds are very food-driven, so begin training when they are young pups and keep the treats coming.

5. Basenji

Basenji sits on a chair

According to the American Kennel Club, a Basenji must be crate trained. They are independent and aloof dogs, making them quite stubborn and oftentimes very difficult to train. These vocal pups can learn commands, but whether or not they choose to respond is a whole different story.

6. Akita

Akita stands on rocks in the water

RELATED: 10 Easiest Dogs to Train Were Born for Loyalty & Obedience

Akitas were bred for hunting large game like bears and boars. They are a very strong dog breed with an equally strong prey drive. Training these pooches is not for the faint of heart or newbies. Akitas need to be trained and socialized from a young age for everyone's safety. Akitas are also known for protecting their owners, making them aggressive toward other people or animals if training and early socialization is neglected.

7. Borzoi

Borzoi stretching on grass

The borzoi is another ancient breed. According to the National Borzoi Club, they are sighthounds and hunting dogs that can be easily distracted. They also have a high energy level and need plenty of exercise. The borzoi is a runner's best friend since that is their forte. They like to chase things and are very sensitive to stress and tone. Opt for positive training methods in a calm, happy home.

8. Chinese Shar-pei

Chinese Shar Pei standing with harness on

Chinese Shar-pei is an older dog breed dating back to ancient China. According to the AKC, these were guard dogs as well as hunters and herding dogs. These pups are loyal dogs known for being calm and affectionate. However, they are very smart and are known to have a stubborn streak. Dog training should begin when they are young, and they may benefit from working with a dog trainer.

9. Bullmastiff

bullmastiff standing in green grass

Bullmastiffs are a large breed of dog. That means training needs to begin right away when they are smaller and more manageable in the puppy stages. They are so powerful that leash pulling will be the least of your worries if they are not properly leash trained. Like all breeds, they really benefit from socialization at a young age as they grow into their body. If they are not socialized, they can become aggressive toward other dogs and strangers. These big slobber-producing pups are actually one of the hardest dog breeds to train.

10. Chihuahua

chihuahua sitting on grass

For small little dogs, Chihuahuas certainly have a huge reputation for being difficult. They are smart, which, as with many dogs on this list, can lead to some stubbornness. According to the National Canine Research Association of America, potty training these little guys can cause quite the headache. It also does not help that they have small dog syndrome and do not like cold weather, making them want to stay inside no matter how badly they need to go out. These little nervous nellies are also very afraid of, well, everything. Laughing too loud might cause your Chihuahua to have an accident on the kitchen floor.

11. Siberian Husky

hardest dogs to train

Huskies were bred to be working dogs. They were made to pull sleds in harsh, cold temperatures and rough terrain at great distances. Stubbornness in this dog breed comes with the genetics. Since they were bred to be working dogs, they tend to get bored easily, which leads to destruction. Huskies are very independent and can be difficult to train on a leash. Their personalities, penchant for destruction, and energy levels firmly cement their place on this list.

12. Pug

hardest dogs to train

The AKC says these sweet pups are people-pleasers, but that does not mean they will respond immediately to training. While they make the perfect family pet, they take a lot of time and patience to train. They also need positive training methods and do not like to be left alone for too long. These family dogs like to be a part of your day-to-day routine.

13. Pit Bull 

hardest dogs to train

Unfortunately, pit bulls have a poor reputation, but most of that stigma is based on bad breeders and improper training. They can actually be great, loving dogs when they are trained properly. A pit bull needs leash training at a young age since they tend to pull, and they need to be socialized with other dogs and people. However, since so many pit bulls are poorly trained, they are in the top tier for dog bites, and many insurance companies will drop you if you own one.

14. Dachshund

hardest dogs to train

According to the AKC, Dachshunds are a loyal and devoted breed. They're really great dogs, but they take time and motivation. They are very independent little guys and quite determined. It is best to start their training when they are young, and don't be afraid to set a timeline of learning for your little Doxie.

15. Dalmatian

hardest dogs to train

Dalmatian puppies may be adorable, but you would not want 101 of them. That is a lot of energy and a lot of one-on-one time. But in all seriousness, you need to be sure you can handle one of these pups and their training before bringing one home. Originally, these spotted pups were bred to run behind carriages, so they always have energy to spare. They also are quite sensitive, so they need to have positive, treat, or reward-based training.

Have you trained one of these pups? Tell us on our Wide Open Pets Facebook page. 

This article was originally published January 19, 2022.

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