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10 Worst Dog Breeds for First Timer Owners, Kids & Seniors

Dogs are amazing companions. So it’s easy to see why you’re eager to bring one into your life. But it’s crucial to remember that not every breed will be a “walk in the park,” especially for first time dog owners, kids and seniors.

Some dog breeds come with a set of demands that can turn your life upside down. So if you’re not ready for sleepless nights and endless challenges, you’ll probably want to avoid these 10 notoriously difficult dog breeds – at all cost.

1. Siberian Husky

Sleek, striking, and full of spirit, the Siberian Husky is a breed that turns heads and steals hearts. But beware, first-time dog owners – this Arctic adventurer is not for the faint of heart. 

Huskies are the epitome of stamina and energy, as they were bred for pulling sleds across icy terrains. This means they require vigorous daily exercise – and I don’t mean just a walk around the block, but intense activities like long-distance running, frisbee or hiking.

Their intelligence is a double-edged sword. And while quick to learn, Huskies are famously independent and stubborn dogs, often preferring their own agenda over yours. This can make training a strenuous task, testing the patience and skill of inexperienced or first-time owners.

Then there’s the “Houdini-like” tendency for escape. These highly-skilled escape artists need a securely fenced yard and a constant eye on them. And while the thick double coat may be useful in the Arctic, it sheds a lot, requiring frequent grooming sessions.

In summary, the Husky, with its high energy, independent nature, and demanding grooming needs, will be a huge challenge for first-time dog owners.

2. Dalmatian

A Dalmatian getting ready to play with kids.

In 1997, shelters all across America saw a sharp increase in the number of unwanted Dalmatians. Do you want to know why? Because the remake of Disney’s “101 Dalmatians” came out in 1996 – which led to a huge amount of unprepared owners bringing one home.

While the Disney movie portrayed Dalmatians as cute, fun, and easy-going dogs, they’re anything but. This is especially true if you don’t provide them with their long list of needs. They’re a breed that can test the mettle of first-time dog owners. 

And because they were bred to run for miles alongside carriages, Dalmatians are bundles of energy. In fact, they need heaps of exercise – and we’re talking long runs, hikes, and interactive playtime – every single day. Can you handle that?

But it’s not just their physical needs that are demanding. Dalmatians are known for their intelligence and independent thinking, which often manifests as stubbornness. This makes training a complex task, requiring a lot of consistency, patience, and a bit of creativity.

In essence, while Dalmatians are loyal and loving, their high exercise requirements, training challenges, and special dietary needs can be overwhelming for new owners.

3. Shar Pei

Shar Peis, with their distinctive wrinkles and solemn expressions, look like they’ve spent ages pondering the mysteries of the universe. But these Chinese guard dogs are not the easiest for rookie owners, kids or senior citizens.

First off, you know those unique wrinkles that give Shar Peis their signature look? They make the dogs a high maintenance breed. Each crease needs regular cleaning to prevent skin infections, which can be really time consuming.

Then there’s their personality. Shar Peis are like the introverts of the dog world. They’re reserved, often wary of strangers, and not big on making new friends. 

This trait can make socializing them a challenge. And without proper, consistent socialization from a young age, a Shar Pei might become too territorial or even aggressive.

As for training? It’s an art with these dogs. Shar Peis are smart but stubborn. They need a firm, patient trainer who can strike a balance between leadership and positive reinforcement. 

So while Shar Peis are loyal and protective, their grooming needs and aloof nature make them a tricky first pet for an inexperienced owner.

4. Chow Chow

Chow Chows do shed a lot, but there are ways to minimize the shedding.

Chow Chows, with their lion-like mane and stoic demeanor, are truly a beautiful sight to behold. But for first-time dog owners and vulnerable people, these fluffy guardians originating from ancient China can be a real challenge.

First off, their grooming needs are intense. You see that beautiful, thick, luxurious coat? Well, it comes with a price. A Chow’s coat requires regular, thorough brushing to prevent matting. In fact, skipping on grooming isn’t an option unless you fancy a living, breathing dust bunny.

And then there’s their personality. Chow Chows aren’t your typical, friendly neighborhood dog. Most will be reserved, aloof, though extremely loyal to their family. This trait, while admirable, means they’ll always be suspicious of strangers and other animals. 

So without early socialization, a Chow Chow might become overly protective or aggressive, which tends to lead to scary situations. Training a Chow Chow is also no walk in the park. Sure, they’re highly intelligent but very stubborn, often with a “what’s in it for me?” attitude. 

So while strikingly beautiful and dignified, the Chow Chow will be a handful for most new owners, kids or seniors. I would steer far away from this breed.

5. Alaskan Malamute

Ever mistaken an Alaskan Malamute for a wild wolf? Don’t worry – you’re not alone. But first-time owners, take note: these Arctic powerhouses are difficult. 

First bred for hauling heavy freight as sled dogs, Malamutes possess a remarkable amount of energy and stamina. Sounds great, that is, if you’re a musher! For everyone else, this translates to a rigorous daily exercise routine. So…not so great for normal dog owners.

Their intelligence is both a blessing and a curse. Malamutes are wicked smart, but their independent nature can make them seem disinterested during training sessions. 

Another point to consider is their thick double coats. It’s beautiful and stunning, sure, but it sheds. And it sheds a lot. Regular, thorough grooming is essential to keep their coats in good condition and your home free of Alaskan fur tumbleweeds.

And, you’ll need to be prepared for their vocal nature. Malamutes are known for their howling or “talking,” which can be charming or annoying, depending on the owner. Regardless, these dogs are not great for first timers, but even worse for those with little free time.

6. Belgian Malinois

The Belgian Malinois, often mistaken for their German Shepherd cousins, are a whole different ball game. It’s fair to call them the “athletes of the canine kingdom.” They’re ideal for police and military work, but not necessarily as your average backyard pet.

For first-time dog owners, a Malinois can be like trying to tame a whirlwind. These dogs are intelligence personified, with energy levels that could power a small city. 

They require extensive physical and mental exercise daily – think advanced tasks, agility courses, and long, strenuous runs. Their work ethic is unmatched, but this also means they get bored easily. And trust me, you never want to meet a bored Malinois.

In fact, the Malinois needs constant mental stimulation to keep them from turning your home into their personal obstacle course. We suggest a lot of dog puzzles, letting them sniff around the backyard or neighborhood, and plenty of obedience training.

And finally, training them can be a rewarding experience, but intense at the same time. While they learn incredibly fast, without firm, consistent training, a Malinois might decide they’re the boss.

7. Australian Cattle dog

Also known as “Blue Heelers,” the Australian Cattle dogs aren’t just dogs – they’re four-legged cyclones wrapped in fur. If you’re a first-time dog owner, brace yourself. It’s going to be a rough ride for the next few years.

These dynamo dogs were originally bred for herding cattle in the rugged Australian outback, meaning they have unlimited energy to burn, and then some. Their constant need for both physical and mental stimulation is no joke. 

Without ample exercise, it’s likely they turn your peaceful home into their wild playground. However, there’s more to these dogs than just their high-octane energy levels

Training an Australian Cattle Dog is like teaching that one genius student who thinks he’s smarter than the teacher. They’re incredibly intelligent and quick learners, but they’re also strong-willed, which often leads to independent thinking. 

On the bright side, their loyalty is legendary, though it comes with a side of protective instincts that can get out of hand if not properly socialized. For novice dog owners, the Blue Heeler will be a difficult journey you’ll probably want to pass on.

8. Border Collie

Here's how much exercise Border Collies need.

The Border Collie is considered to be the “Einsteins of the canine kingdom.” Border Collies may be a marvel to watch, but they’re a huge challenge to own. And for new owners? You’re probably better off with literally any other dog.

Known for their extraordinary intelligence and intense gaze, they were bred for herding sheep, which means they have energy and brains in spades. Border Collies are hyper-focused with whatever task you give them – and trust me, they’ll need some type of “job” to remain happy in life.

Without it, a Border Collie’s cleverness can turn into mischief, and sometimes destructive, behavior. Their training is both easy and difficult.

Yes, they learn remarkably fast, but this also means they can outsmart an inexperienced owner. You’ll need to get creative, engaging training sessions that go beyond basic commands.

Also, Border Collies are also highly sensitive dogs, tuned in to every nuance of their owner’s emotions and commands. This sensitivity, while it can be endearing to some, it means they can get easily stressed or overwhelmed in chaotic environments.

So while Border Collies are loyal and incredibly smart, their need for intense stimulation, and challenging training, makes them a tough match for first-time dog owners.

9. American Pit Bull Terrier

Often headlined in the news for their vicious attacks, the Pit Bull Terrier is a no brainer for this list. The Pit Bull is a breed that’s surrounded by myths and misconceptions, but one thing is for sure – these terriers demands respect and understanding.

This, unfortunately, may be asking too much of first-time dog owners. These muscular and energetic dogs are a powerhouse of strength and enthusiasm, which require a physically capable owner to keep them in check. 

Their energy levels are sky-high, and without daily vigorous exercise, they may snap at any moment. Training an American Pit Bull Terrier is crucial, but can be challenging. Without proper training and boundaries, their strong-willed nature will become hard to manage.

Socialization is another key factor. In fact, neglecting socialization is what often leads to aggression – a trait that’s often mistakenly associated with the breed’s nature. They may snap at any time when they aren’t properly socialized and exercised.

With all that said, an American Pit Bull Terrier that’s not properly trained and controlled will be a danger to not only the owner, but the entire community. Be extra careful if your heart is set on this breed.

10. Tibetan Mastiff

The Tibetan Mastiff, the majestic guardian of the Himalayas, is a breed that commands both awe and respect. But for first-time dog owners and the inexperienced, this breed can be as challenging as scaling the Himalayan mountains. 

They’re known for their impressive size and lion-like mane, but it’s really their personality and needs that can be overwhelming. And boy, is their personality dominant and confident.

For example, they have a strong territorial instinct. This means they’re naturally wary of strangers and require careful, consistent socialization to ensure they don’t become overly protective.

Training is a task that’ll test your patience and skill. Tibetan Mastiffs are still very intelligent dogs but they are also notoriously independent and strong-willed. They don’t always see the point in pleasing owners, which can make obedience training a slow and frustrating endeavor.

Grooming their thick, luxurious coat is another considerable task you’ll need to consider. They require regular brushing, however, during shedding season, it’s a whole different level of shedding.

And then there’s the “nocturnal barking.” Tibetan Mastiffs were bred to bark at night to ward off sneaky predators, so they tend to show a habit that’s less than ideal in a typical neighborhood setting. If you’re a first-time owner, I’d recommend staying far far away from these dogs.

So let me know, which dog breed do you find the most difficult? Do you own any? How was your experience with one of these dogs? Let me know in the comments section below!

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