Worst Dog Breeds for First Time Owners


– Some dog breeds are best suited for a more experienced dog owner because of their traits and needs.

– Novice dog owners may want to stay away from Skye Terriers, Cane Corsos, Bloodhounds, Bullmastiffs, German Shepherds, and others.

– Some things to consider before adopting a dog are your lifestyle, experience, and living situation.

– You should also consider a dog's trainability and level of aggressiveness, as well as their stubborness and energy level.

If you're only planning to adopt a pup for the first time, there are worst dog breeds for first-time owners that you may want to avoid.

I know they all look lovely and adorable, regardless of their size and shape, but the fact is not every dog is suitable for every owner.

If you don't find a pet that fits your lifestyle, you may end up in an unhappy relationship (and you don't want that, do you?)

So in this article, I have listed 21 of the worst dog breeds for first-time owners.

I have pooled this list from the advice and experiences of fellow pet owners, vets, and trusted online sources.

I've also included a science-based approach as to why finding the right dog breed is important, especially for new pet owners.

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worst dog breeds for first time owners - owner walking their dog on a leash

21 Worst Dog Breeds for First-Time Owners

Worst Dog Breeds for First-Time Owners: Skye Terriers1. Skye Terrier

Skye terriers are great little dogs, but they like to have things their own way and can be really stubborn.

As terriers, they have a high prey drive and may not be trustworthy off-leash around other small pets like cats, rodents, etc., without extensive training.

Being small dogs, they are more prone to toy/food aggression if not properly trained and socialized by an experienced owner.

Skye terriers need regular exercise and will require lots of walks to stay fit and happy.

They also need regular grooming as their coats can get long and cover their eyes.

You can say that they are fairly high-maintenance dogs, so keeping them as your very first pet may not be the best idea.

RELATED: Terrier-iffic Cuteness: 10 Breeds That Will Leave You Barking for Joy


Worst Dog Breeds for First Time Owners

2. Cane Corso

Cane Corsos are a large, powerful breed with strong guardian instincts. They require an experienced owner who can provide confident leadership and handling.

Their size and strength could be intimidating or dangerous if not properly trained. An untrained Cane Corso could accidentally knock over or hurt someone.

Their protective nature means they need extensive socialization from a young age. And newbie owners may not know how to socialize to prevent aggression issues properly.

Also, you would need to read up on ways to care for them as this breed is prone to health concerns like every large dog. Hip dysplasia is among the most common concerns you need to know about.

That being said, this breed is best considered when you have gained experience in caring for large dogs already.

RELATED: 20 Dog Breeds Most at Risk for Hip Dysplasia


Worst Dog Breeds for First Time Owners

3. Treeing Walker Coonhound

This breed of dog really isn’t the best option for a first-time dog owner.


Because they are highly athletic and will need a lot of exercise to stay fit and content.

If you lead an active lifestyle, then they may be fine for you, but if not, you should definitely avoid this breed.

They are also very competitive and are known for their endurance. Treeing Walker Coonhounds were originally bred to track and tree raccoons living in the wild.

Remember that they will also need a big area outside to run and burn energy.

This is not just one of the worst dog breeds for first-time owners but also a terrible choice for city dwellers or folks living in small apartments.

They love chasing small game, and if you aren’t prepared for this, this breed isn’t for you.


Worst Dog Breeds for First Time Owners

4. Border Collie

Border Collies are great working dogs. They are highly energetic and are always willing to please.

They are highly intelligent, too, but also very stubborn.

Because of this, they need daily vigorous exercise and mental stimulation, often through activities like agility, herding, or Frisbee. First-time owners may not realize or be able to meet these demands.

Training requires patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement techniques—skills new owners are still developing.

And as you may have guessed by now, BCs can be challenging to train.

If you cannot guarantee that you can spend a lot of time, effort, and energy training them, then this breed is best avoided.



5. Bloodhound

The Bloodhounds are lovable dogs, and they adore their owners, too.

However, they do like being in control and are very stubborn.

They have a powerful sense of smell, making them great hunting dogs, and if a Bloodhound picks up a scent they want to follow, they will, and you’ll be dragged along behind them.

Bloodhounds are prone to chasing other animals, so if you’re a new dog owner, this powerful dog may be too much to handle.

They are a very active breed that needs a lot of stimulation, both mentally and physically.

They may pick up some naughty behaviors to entertain themselves if they don't get enough interaction, which is why we've added them to the list of the worst dog breeds for first-time owners.


Worst Dog Breeds for First Time Owners

6. Tibetan Mastiff

Tibetan Mastiffs are an independent breed of dog, and they are also brilliant.

This breed of dog originated from the Himalayan Mountains and was used to protect families.

They were kept inside during the day but used to be let out at night to protect the family's flock and act as a watchdog.

That means they can get aggressive to strangers if not socialized properly.

This breed will need obedience training, and they will need to be well-socialized when they are puppies.

It's also definitely one to avoid if you’re a first-time owner.


Australian Cattle Dog7. Australian Cattle Dog

This is a very loyal breed of dog, and their original job was to herd. They can be very stubborn as well.

Australian Cattle Dogs can become very restless if they haven’t got a job to be getting on with. They are brilliant and very athletic, so they will need a great amount of exercise to keep them happy and stress-free.

We added them to the list of the worst dog breeds for first-time owners because these canines can be very wary of strangers, which could be a problem if you get lots of visitors to your home.

This breed will take over, as they do like to have things their own way if not handled by an experienced owner.


Worst Dog Breeds for First Time Owners

8. Akita

The Akita is a large dog and is very powerful, with strong instincts to guard.

They do like to be in control, and their temperament can also change very quickly—one minute, they can be calm and restful, and the next minute they can become aggressive.

This breed should be carefully watched if you have children or other pets at home.

They must be well socialized when they are puppies to ensure they are used to people and other animals.

This breed will require a great amount of commitment, and if you cannot guarantee that, this breed should definitely be avoided.


Siberian Husky

9. Siberian Husky

A Siberian Husky is stunning to look at, but they are huge dogs and will need a lot of grooming.

To stay fit and healthy, they also need lots of exercise and have an accurate Husky diet.

Huskies are working dogs and aren’t happy unless they are out and about exercising.

They were bred to pull sleds in snowy climates and always looked for something to do.

A short walk won’t do with this breed. You'll have to have plenty of space for this large breed and watch out for other pets in the house too.

Huskies are predatory dogs, and you can never be sure about their temperament from one minute to another, which is why they are one of the worst dog breeds for first-time owners.



10. Rottweiler

A Rottweiler is a huge dog, and for a first-time dog owner, it’s probably best avoided.

They may look like scary dogs to some people, but they can be a loving and affectionate breed only if properly socialized.

On the contrary, Rotties also love being in control and can be very stubborn.

They can quickly take over if you let them. Rottweilers are very protective of their people too.

They are so loyal and will be great guard dogs for you and your property if you have experience dealing with this type of dog.

They are big, though—weighing up to 135 pounds, and a lot of that is muscle. That’s why they are so strong!


Beagle Breed Profile

11. Beagle

Beagles are high-energy dogs that need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.

They can be quite rambunctious and boisterous indoors if not exercised sufficiently. First-time owners may not realize this breed's activity needs.

Beagles are prone to following scents and may not always recall reliably when off-leash.

They can be vocal, too, using barking as a way to communicate and may bother neighbors. Novice owners may struggle with this.

They are intelligent but also quite stubborn. Training requires patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement – skills new owners are still learning. Beagles can be challenging to train.

Beagles have a tendency to counter-surf and get into food/trash if not properly trained and supervised. First-time pet parents need to be prepared.

While wonderful dogs, Beagles demand an owner experienced in training, handling strong instincts, and meeting breed-specific needs.

For first-timers, lower-energy dogs may be a better fit.

RELATED: Beagle Price: How Much Does The Breed Cost?



12. Shar Pei

Shar Pei dogs are independent and stubborn and require an owner experienced in positive reinforcement training. They don't respond well to harsh methods.

Their skin folds need daily cleaning and maintenance to prevent infection. This level of grooming responsibility can be challenging for new owners.

Health issues common in the breed are eye problems and skin conditions. They need owners who can properly care for their medical needs.

Shar Pei tends to be reserved or aloof with strangers if not properly socialized from a young age.

As guard dogs, they can be suspicious and protective over their property/owners without extensive training. This could lead to aggression if mishandled.

Their independent nature makes them not the best choice for inexperienced owners who want a highly bonded companion.

While lovely dogs, Shar Pei have needs that demand an owner with some dog-owning experience behind them. Their health and temperament traits require owners ready to commit fully to the breed.


Shiba Inu dog breed profile featured

13. Shiba Inu

Shibas are also independent, stubborn, and not the easiest breed to train. They require patient, consistent positive reinforcement training, which new owners may not provide effectively.

As a spitz breed, they can be aloof with strangers and other animals if not extensively socialized from a young age. First-time owners may struggle with proper socialization.

They tend to bond very closely to one person and can be shy or wary around unfamiliar people. That means if you're living with family and young children, that's another reason not to get this breed.

Brushing their double coat and trimming nails can be challenging for new owners as that really takes a lot of effort.

While charming dogs, Shibas have traits requiring an owner experienced in positive training and familiar with breed-specific behaviors and needs.

RELATED: Top 10 Japanese Dog Breeds Everyone Adores


Dalmatian Dog Breed Featured Image

14. Dalmatian

Dalmatians tend to be high-energy and need ample daily exercise, like running/hiking, to prevent behavioral issues from developing.

They are often wary or reactive towards unfamiliar people and other animals. They may also exhibit territorial guarding tendencies if not properly trained and extensively socialized from a young age

Dalmatians can be prone to barking, howling, or destructive behaviors from boredom/under-stimulation.

Their energy level requires owners to commit to keeping them engaged through training, puzzles, etc.

As hunting dogs, they have a high prey drive and may not be trustworthy off-leash until thoroughly trained.

Housetraining can be challenging for the breed. Inexperienced owners will have difficulty potty training them.

While intelligent dogs, Dalmatians demands experienced owners prepared to meet their needs through consistent training and enrichment.


Bullmastiff Dog Breed Profile Featured Image

15. Bullmastiff

Bullmastiffs are large, powerful dogs requiring an owner experienced in handling strong, sturdy breeds. First-timers may not feel confident controlling them.

Their protective nature means they need extensive socialization from a young age. Inexperienced owners may struggle to socialize them properly, which could result in aggression issues.

This training must start from a young age and use positive reinforcement methods. Harsh techniques will not work and could cause problems.

Bullmastiffs also tend to be more independent and less bonded to their owner compared to other breeds.

They are not highly active dogs and may not suit first-time owners expecting a high-energy companion.

Their size and strength pose risks, for example, accidentally knocking over a child. Proper training is key for safety.

While loyal pets, Bullmastiffs have needs best suited to an owner with prior dog experience, especially handling large, powerful breeds.

Their traits demand more skills than a novice can provide.


saint bernard dog breed

16. Saint Bernard

Saint Bernards are a giant breed and require an owner experienced in caring for, training, and exercising very large dogs.

Just like the Bullmastiff, their size poses risks for inexperienced owners.

They often develop health issues more common in giant breeds, like hip dysplasia, bloat, etc.

Saint Bernards tend to be low-energy, yet sedentary lifestyles are risky for their health. Their owners must find the perfect balance between keeping them fit without too much activity.

And another thing: their size and weight make them more difficult to train without prior dog experience.

As a guardian breed, socialization is critical to prevent aggression issues towards strangers/other animals.

Although they're generally gentle, children still need supervision around them, as accidental knocks/falls from a large Saint could cause injury.

While affectionate dogs, Saint Bernards have needs requiring an owner ready to commit fully to their care, training, and enrichment as a giant breed dog.


Weimaraner Dog Breed

17. Weimaraner

Weimaraners are high-energy, intelligent hunting dogs that require significant physical and mental exercise daily.

As hunters, they have a strong prey drive and may not be trustworthy off-leash until fully trained.

They can also be shy or aloof with strangers if not extensively socialized from a young age.

Weims are prone to separation anxiety without proper training.

As for grooming which novices tend to have a hard time committing to, their coats need regular brushing. They are seasonal shedders, so this is a must.

Weims demand owners who understand enrichment to stimulate them mentally. Boredom leads to behavior problems.

While affectionate companions, Weimaraners have traits best suited to owners experienced in training, socialization, and caring for high-energy, intelligent hunting breeds.

Airedale Terrier breed price

18. Airedale Terrier

Airedales are highly energetic, independent, and stubborn dogs. Training requires patience and positive reinforcement techniques that inexperienced owners may struggle with.

As terriers, they have a strong prey drive and may not be trustworthy off-leash until fully trained.

Their size and energy level could be challenging for new owners to handle without prior dog experience.

Airedales also need daily vigorous exercise and mental stimulation.

Early socialization is important to prevent aggression issues towards other pets/strangers. They can also be prone to separation anxiety without proper training.

Grooming their wiry, high-maintenance coat takes time—more than new owners anticipate. Regular brushing is a must.

RELATED: Airedale Terrier Breed Price: Everything You Need to Know


Belgian Malinois

19. Belgian Malinois

Malinois are incredibly high-energy, intelligent working dogs.

They bond very closely with their handler and can be aloof/wary with strangers if not properly socialized from a young age.

As herding breeds, they have a strong prey drive and may not be trustworthy off-leash until fully trained. Training a Malinois takes experience.

They are highly protective and prone to reactivity.

Daily exercise is also critical for a Malinois—they need owners committed to high-intensity activity like sports.

They are not suited to sedentary or inconsistent lifestyles and demand experienced owners able to match their drive.


Alaskan Malamute Price Featured Image

20. Alaskan Malamute

Malamutes are a large, powerful northern breed that requires experienced handling.

As sled dogs, they need daily vigorous exercise that most new owners cannot provide. Without proper exercise, behavioral issues can develop.

Malamutes tend to be more independent thinkers than other breeds. They can be stubborn to train for inexperienced owners.

Like their cousin, Siberian Huskies, their double coat also requires regular brushing to prevent matting.

Early socialization is critical to prevent aggression issues towards strangers or other pets.

Malamutes also do best in colder climates and may not be suitable for hotter regions or housing situations.

RELATED: Alaskan Malamute Price: How Much Does The Breed Cost?


german shepherd dog breed

21. German Shepherd

German Shepherds are highly intelligent, energetic working dogs that require significant mental and physical stimulation daily.

They need early socialization and training to prevent reactivity or aggression issues towards other animals/people.

Their size, strength, and protective instincts mean they must be trained from a young age. Untrained GSDs can be intimidating for a novice owner.

German Shepherds also have a high prey drive. They may not be trustworthy off-leash until fully trained, which requires an experienced owner.

They need confident owners who understand how to mentally and physically challenge them because boredom can lead to behavior issues.

What to Consider When Choosing the Right Dog Breed

Choosing the right dog breed is extremely important for aspiring dog owners who have not cared for a dog before.

Getting a breed that matches your ability to provide mental and physical stimulation, consistent training, and long-term care helps ensure both you and your new furry friend have a happy, healthy relationship for years to come.

Doing your research into various breeds will help you select a dog with needs you can realistically meet as a first-time owner.

That said, here are some important factors to consider when choosing the breed of your very first dog:

Your lifestyle and activity level. Consider breeds that are suitable for your lifestyle, whether you're active or more sedentary.

Your living situation. Do you have a yard, live in an apartment, or travel often? Some breeds do better in larger spaces, while some can't be left alone by themselves, even when trained.

Your experience level. Choosing a breed suited to first-time owners will make training and care easier as you both learn. More independent breeds can be challenging.

Grooming needs. Be ready to commit to the grooming upkeep of breeds that need regular brushing, bathing, clipping nails, etc. Some dogs require more grooming, while some less.

Training difficulty. Some breeds are more eager to please, while others are stubborn. Consider your patience for training.

Allergies. Hypoallergenic breeds like Poodles cause fewer flare-ups for owners with pet allergies.

Size. Large breeds require more space and can unintentionally knock over small children. Consider a size fit for your home.

Energy level. Choose a breed aligned with your ability to provide daily exercise both mentally and physically.

Another thing to consider when adopting your first-ever dog is their trainability and level of aggression, which we're going to discuss further below.

Science on Breeds' Trainability and Aggression

How suitable a dog breed is for a new owner depends on several factors.

According to various studies (1234):

Domestic dogs exhibit tremendous phenotypic diversity…

Apart from what we have mentioned above, two other things that you should consider are a breed's trainability and aggressiveness, and both of these factors are related to each other.

Note: Two other variables that are slightly less important but still must be considered are the breed's stubbornness and energy levels.

Research shows that some breeds are genetically more aggressive and have a higher prey drive due to the structure of their brain – amygdala and hypothalamus (5, 6).

Similarly, studies also found that certain breeds are harder to train than others because of their behavioral traits, boldness, reactivity, and sociability (7, 8).

These two breed factors are important for first-time owners because a dog will be more restless, more impulsive, and less easy to control.

They will require far more skills, experience, and patience from the dog owner.

And if this is your first time adopting a dog, you may not have the necessary qualities to prevent accidents to yourself, the dog, and those around you.

In a 2018 study that focused on the trainability of specific breeds, scientists found that Borzoi, Chow Chow, and Saint Bernard, among other breeds, were much harder to train and have control of.

Meanwhile, the following dog breeds scored very high on trainability and how good they were at listening to owners and following commands:

Pairing both of these factors helps us figure out which dogs are less suitable for first-time owners.

So, the 21 of the worst dog breeds for first-time owners that we listed above would be harder for you to care for (but not impossible) if you're inexperienced, have less patience and time, and don't have the means for the dog to release energy constantly.

Remember the Importance of Training and Personalities

As you look at the above list and consider your first dog, remember that a dog's breed does not determine its entire personality.

Even breeds known for active dogs will have occasional low energy.

Additionally, some of the above dogs may be fine for new dog owners if they are only pets and you have an active lifestyle.

Training is also essential for both the best and worst dogs. Proper training can teach some dogs to leave small pets alone.

It can even turn an extremely energetic dog into the perfect companion dog.

This is much easier to do if you also ensure your dog gets plenty of exercise.

Don't forget that dogs need both physical and mental stimulation.

If you can, take some time to get to know a dog before adopting him.

This will help you determine how trainable he is and how hard he will be to handle.

It is also worth noting that you don't need a purebred dog. Consider looking at stray dogs or mixed breeds at your local shelter.

The only concern with a rescue is that you don't know their life before.

For example, a dog previously in dogfighting rings may be aggressive.

That being said, most shelters will have a good idea of a dog's personality.

This makes them a good choice for a first dog, as you can ask for a specific type of personality.

10 Worst Dog Breeds for First Time Owners - Infographics

Common Questions about Dog Breed Options First-Time Owners Should Reconsider

If you still have lingering questions about one of the above dog breed options, find the answers here.

We will also answer related questions first-time dog owners commonly have, including about the best dog breed to start with.

Which Dog Breed Is the Best for First-Time Dog Owners?

Whether you want a family pet or a guard dog, first-time dog owners will want to stick to one of several breeds for an easier experience.

Great options include the Papillon, Greyhound, Labrador Retriever, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Maltese, Shih Tzu, and mixed breed dogs. Other dogs can also be great for new dog owners.

This list is not exhaustive.

What Is the #1 Most Dangerous Dog?

Only seasoned dog owners should get one of the most dangerous dogs. It would help if you also started early with obedience training, focusing on positive training.

These dangerous dogs include American Pit Bull Terriers, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Siberian Huskies, Bullmastiffs, and American bulldogs.

Which Dog Can Kill a Lion?

Not every large dog breed can kill a dog. Some are secretly gentle giants. If you want a future dog that can kill a lion, consider a wolf dog, Tibetan mastiff, Rottweiler, Neapolitan mastiff, Boerboel dog, Bloodhound, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Kangal, Dogo Argentino, or Fila Brasileiro.

What Is the Easiest Dog to Own?

If you want dog ownership to be as easy as possible, you may want one of the lovely dogs that are easy to own.

Great choices include Basset Hounds, Beagles, Border terriers, Bulldogs, the Bichon Frise, Chihuahuas, Collies, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

What Dog Has the Shortest Lifespan?

The Dogue de Bordeaux is among the breeds with the shortest lifespan. It only lives between five and eight years on average. On top of that, this breed has a higher rate of stillbirths than the average.

What Is the Strongest Dog?

The strongest dog breeds include Rottweilers, Siberian Huskies, German Shepherds, Great Danes, Dobermans, Saint Bernards, Newfoundlands, and Alaskan Malamutes.

You will notice that some of these breeds made our list of poor choices for a first-time owner. That is because many are strong and need physical and mental stimulation to stay out of trouble.

What Is the Calmest Dog Breed?

The calmest breeds include the Golden Retriever, Scottish Deerhound, Greyhound, French Bulldog, Bichon Frise, English Bulldog, and Great Pyrenees.

What Is the Healthiest Dog Breed?

Some of the healthiest breeds include the Australian Cattle Dog, Chihuahua, Greyhound, Poodle, German Shorthair Pointer, and Australian Shepherd.

What Is the Hardest Breed to Train?

The hardest dog breeds to train include beagles, Rottweilers, Siberian Huskies, basset hounds, Chinese Shar Peis, and Afghan Hounds.

Worst Dog Breeds for First-Time Owners: Before You Go…

Owning a dog is truly an amazing journey.

The amount of love and care you can give them, expecting nothing in return, makes the human-canine bond stronger, isn't it?

But if you're a new pup parent, you might want to consider going for friendlier dog breeds first.

The great thing is you can make the most of your pup-parenting journey and learn the ropes of dog ownership at the same time.

For more related blogs, check below!


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The 10 Worst Dog Breeds for First Time Owners

James has been a certified veterinary technician for the last 8 years in Birmingham, UK. After working with many dogs, he's changed his focus to writing, building businesses and researching subjects on canines and products created for dogs.