Dog breeds vary greatly in their obedience and trainability, and this diversity often reflects the unique roles and histories of these breeds. For example, Border collies, German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers are renowned for their obedience and are frequently employed as police and guide dogs due to their trainable nature and intelligence. On the other hand, certain breeds, often categorized as the ‘least obedient dog breeds’, present a different set of challenges and characteristics that stem from their breeding history. These breeds, including the independent Chow Chow and the intelligent yet stubborn Husky, require a unique approach to training and understanding.
Understanding Dog Intelligence and Obedience
The intelligence of dogs is a complex subject, often misconstrued as a direct indicator of a dog’s obedience.
Breeds like the Australian Shepherd and Border Collie are among the smartest dog breeds, excelling in tasks and learning new commands rapidly. However, their intelligence doesn’t always translate to obedience without it being shaped. Some Intelligent dogs have an independent streak, making them less inclined to follow commands without question, and others have intelligence in ways we don’t deem intelligent, which goes back to Einstein’s quote:
“if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
And the same can be said for dogs, if you judge a coonhound for their ability to perform in obedience competitions, you may assume they’re not smart, but they’ll out perform (albeit loudly) anyone in a scent tracking competition of any kind.
obedience is relative to the dog, the breed and what they were bred for! Independent dogs are normally considered disobedient.
Characteristics of Less Obedient Dog Breeds
Less obedient dog breeds often share certain characteristics, such as high energy levels, a strong will, and an independent nature. For instance, small dog breeds like the Shih Tzu and Yorkshire Terrier, while affectionate and loving, may display a stubborn streak, challenging their trainers. Larger breeds like the Doberman Pinscher and Belgian Malinois, although excellent guard dogs require consistent and positive reinforcement in training due to their independent thinking. Breeds such as the Scottish Terrier and Lhasa Apso, known for their long coats and strong personalities, may resist obedience in favor of their interests. This behavior is not a sign of lower intelligence but rather an expression of their inherent traits as independent and often clever dogs.
In all cases, understanding and respecting the unique qualities of these breeds is essential. Proper training that starts from an early age, combined with plenty of exercise and extensive socialization, can significantly impact their willingness to obey and enhance their role as loyal and affectionate companions.
driven dogs can be difficult to train, but typically they’re not quickly labelled “disobedient”
The Role of Breed in Dog Behavior: Small vs Large Dogs
The size of a dog can often be a predictor of its obedience and behavior. Small dog breeds, such as Shih Tzus and Toy Poodles, are known for their affectionate nature but can also exhibit stubbornness. These little dogs, often considered lap dogs or companion dogs, may resist training if not engaged properly. On the other hand, larger breeds like German Shepherds and Doberman Pinschers, often used as guard dogs or police dogs, usually show a greater inclination towards obedience and training. However, their larger size and high energy levels require a commitment to regular exercise and consistent training. Medium-sized dogs like the English Springer Spaniel and Cocker Spaniel strike a balance between the two, offering a mix of trainable traits and manageable size, making them ideal family dogs, especially for homes with young children.
Top 24 Least Obedient Dog Breeds
1- Chow Chow
Chow Chows are known for their aloof, reserved, and independent temperament, traits that can often be mistaken for disobedience. Their strong-willed nature and intelligence mean they tend to think for themselves and are not as eager to please their humans as compared to other breeds. While they can be trained, it often requires more patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement. Moreover, their thick coats and compact size make them prone to overheating, limiting their tolerance for intensive training sessions. Therefore, it’s crucial for prospective Chow Chow owners to understand and adapt to the breed’s unique personality and needs.
Chow’s are gorgeous, but they’re not the most compliant of dogs.
2- Afghan Hound
Afghan Hounds are often seen as independent and dignified, traits that may sometimes be interpreted as disobedience. These dogs are known for their free-spirited nature and tendency to explore their environment on their own terms, displaying a lower interest in pleasing their owners compared to other breeds. Their intelligence and deeply ingrained hunting instincts often drive them to follow their instincts, which can override training commands. Training an Afghan Hound can be a challenge and requires patience, positive reinforcement, and a good understanding of the breed’s unique temperament and primal instincts. Their independence doesn’t equate to disobedience, but rather a need for respectful and supportive training methodologies.
Borzoi’s tend to not necessarily listen all that well
3- Bull Terrier
I love bull terriers. They’re just one of the most fun breeds out there. Bull Terriers are known for their energetic, playful, and sometimes stubborn temperament, which can often be mistaken for disobedience. These dogs possess a strong-willed nature and tend to follow their own desires, making them less eager to comply with commands compared to other breeds. Training a Bull Terrier can be challenging, as their high energy levels and mischievous nature require handlers to be patient, consistent, and persistent in applying positive reinforcement. Additionally, Bull Terriers have an innate prey drive, which can hold their attention and override obedience during training. Understanding and adapting to the breed’s unique traits and needs are crucial in fostering better compliance and obedience.
A typical terrirer! The bull terrier (or english bull terrier) is a real free thinker, and is bred to follow it’s instincts, which is often considered “disobedient”
4- Basset Hound
Basset Hounds, characterized by their lovable, laid-back nature, can often come off as less obedient than other dog breeds. These dogs are ruled by their noses, boasting one of the best scent-tracking abilities in the canine world. This often leads them to be easily distracted and occasionally indifferent to commands. Their independent and somewhat stubborn character also can make training more of a challenge, requiring a good dose of patience and a consistent approach. Although Basset Hounds might not excel in quick obedience, with proper understanding and committed training, they can learn to follow commands effectively, proving that they’re not disobedient but simply marching to the beat of their own drum.
like most scenthounds, Bassets don’t tend to like listening, their nose is what they listen to more so than their person.
Mastiffs are known for their gentle, protective, and somewhat independent disposition, which at times can be mistaken as disobedience. These gentle giants are intelligent and often think for themselves, rather than displaying an eagerness to please as seen in some other breeds. Training a Mastiff can require a mix of patience, firmness, and positive reinforcement due to their sensitive and somewhat stubborn nature. Additionally, due to their massive size, they are often less energetic and might not respond as quickly to commands. However, Mastiffs’ “disobedience” is more about temperament than defiance, and with the right approach, they can prove to be well-behaved companions.
most mastiff breeds are often misunderstood, their drivers arent the same as other dogs, so their difference gets conflated as disobedience
Beagles are known for their energetic, curious, and single-minded nature, which is often misconstrued as disobedience. Originally bred as scent hounds, Beagles tend to follow their noses, leading them to distraction and diversion, even when given a command. Their inherent need to explore can make training more challenging, necessitating extra patience and creative, positive reinforcement techniques. Their strong will and independent thinking, coupled with a high energy level, could make them seem less eager to please their humans. However, with consistent and engaging training, these innate traits can be channeled effectively, and Beagles can become obedient and well-behaved pets.
another scenthound! Are you seeing a pattern yet? They’re all very similar.
Pekingese are known for their independent, strong-willed, and somewhat stubborn nature, traits that are often mistaken for disobedience. This breed, initially created for Chinese royalty, still carries a royal demeanor, showing less eagerness to please compared to other breeds. They are intelligent and tend to do things their way, making obedience training somewhat challenging and requiring an approach built on patience, persistence, and positive reinforcement. Pekingese aren’t necessarily disobedient, they just have a unique character and require understanding of their inherent traits. With the right training method, they can demonstrate obedience while maintaining their individuality.
Pekingese are lapdogs, or “companion dogs”, this doesn’t mean they’re people pleasing dogs…
Bloodhounds, like coonhounds, renowned for their exceptional tracking abilities, often exhibit a temperament that may be interpreted as disobedience. Driven by their nose, Bloodhounds can be single-minded and easily distracted by scents, making them likely to ignore commands in favor of following a trail. Additionally, their independent nature and intelligence can lead them to make decisions on their own rather than strictly adhering to obedience. Training a Bloodhound requires patience, consistency and positive reinforcement. Even with these traits, it’s important to understand that their seeming disobedience is not a measure of their trainability, but more a manifestation of their innate instincts and breed characteristics.
bloodhounds – the king of scenthounds. These dogs are really self motivated, and driven to follow their nose, heck, look at that face! It’s built for sniffing! They’re a nose with a dog attached.
Borzois, originally bred for wolf hunting in Russia, can sometimes be seen as less obedient due to their independent and free-spirited nature. These traits can make training more of a challenge as they may exhibit a strong sense of self-will. In addition, their inherent hunting instincts can lead to easy distraction, contributing to perceived disobedience. However, with patient, consistent training and positive reinforcement, Borzois can learn to follow commands. It’s critical to understand that their seemingly reluctant obedience is actually a reflection of their individualistic instincts and noble background. With the right approach, Borzois can be obedient while maintaining their regal and independent traits.
they’re pretty goofy dogs! But, that doesn’t mean they listen all that well.
Chihuahuas are known for their small size, spirited energy, and strong-willed temperament, which can often be misinterpreted as disobedience. These feisty dogs have bold personalities that may overshadow their eagerness to please, resulting in apparent defiance. Additionally, Chihuahuas are intelligent, resulting in them occasionally testing boundaries and asserting themselves. Training a Chihuahua effectively requires patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement techniques. Although they may seem disobedient at times in comparison to more docile breeds, with the right understanding and training approach they can excel in obedience while maintaining their characteristic spunk and charm.
They’re not known for their obedience! But when they do? they can be great little dogs
Dachshunds, with their lively and independent nature, can sometimes be seen as disobedient. Originally bred to hunt badgers, Dachshunds are innately stubborn and determined, traits that can occasionally manifest as disobedience. They are prone to follow their instincts and can be easily distracted, often choosing to explore interesting scents over obeying commands. Training a Dachshund requires consistent, positive reinforcement and plenty of patience due to their persistent nature. Although they may seem less obedient than some other dog breeds, with the correct training and understanding of their ingrained traits, Dachshunds can become obedient while retaining their spirited personality.
they’re known to be barky, they’re known to be jam packed full of personality and tenacity
12- Shih Tzu
Shih Tzus are known for their affectionate and outgoing nature, yet their independent mindset can sometimes come across as disobedience. They were bred as companion dogs for Chinese royalty, leading to a hint of aristocratic behavior and occasional stubbornness. Although Shih Tzus are intelligent and eager to please, their determination to explore and enjoy their surroundings can sometimes outweigh their obedience. Training a Shih Tzu effectively demands patience, understanding, and persistent positive encouragement. Their perceived lack of obedience is not a defiance, but a trait that, when understood correctly, can be effectively managed with the right training approach.
Shih Tzu’s can be hard to motivate, which comes across as “disobedient”
Bulldogs, with their calm and easygoing temperament, can sometimes appear as less obedient compared to other breeds. Their relaxed demeanor can be mistaken for stubbornness and a lack of responsiveness to commands. Despite their affectionate and loyal nature, Bulldogs have an independent streak that can make training them more challenging. To train a Bulldog effectively, patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement are key. It is important to understand that their obedience level is not a sign of defiance, but a result of their unique personality traits. With the right approach and understanding, Bulldogs can become well-behaved and loving pets.
bulldogs can be very freethinkers, it’s endearing but definitely can come across as disobedient.
14- Lhasa Apso
Lhasa Apsos, originally bred as sentinels in Tibetan monasteries, are known for their independent and assertive nature. These characteristics can often be misconstrued as disobedience. They are intrinsically vigilant and aloof, which can sometimes overshadow their obedience. Training a Lhasa Apso requires patience, consistent positive reinforcement, and a firm yet kind approach due to their strong-willed nature. Despite their apparent disobedience, which is typically an expression of their guard-dog instinct and individualism, Lhasa Apsos can be successfully trained to obey while maintaining their distinctive personality with the correct training approach and an understanding of their breed traits.
“Lhasa Apsos: Independent, assertive, loyal; may be aloof; needs consistent training.”
Pomeranians, despite their small size and fluffy appearance, can exhibit behaviors that may be perceived as disobedience. These lively and intelligent little dogs possess a spirited temperament, an independent streak, and a strong will, which can sometimes make obedience training challenging. The key to successfully training a Pomeranian lies in patience, consistency, and clear communication, coupled with positive reinforcement techniques. It’s essential to understand that their perceived lack of obedience is not due to defiance, but more a product of their zest for life and intrinsic characteristics. With the right approach, Pomeranians can be taught obedience while still maintaining their charming and energetic personalities.
“Pomeranians: Small, bold, vivacious; highly intelligent, headstrong; needs consistent, gentle training.”
16- Saint Bernard
Saint Bernards, known for their gentle and friendly temperament, can sometimes appear less obedient than other dog breeds. Their size and strength come with a degree of independence and a predisposition to be easily distracted, making obedience training more challenging. Patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement techniques are essential when training a Saint Bernard. It is important to note that their perceived lack of obedience is not due to defiance, but rather a reflection of their unique personality traits and working dog instincts. With the right training approach and understanding of their breed’s characteristics, Saint Bernards can become affectionate and obedient family companions.
“Saint Bernards: Massive, gentle; patient, affectionate, occasional stubbornness in training.”
17- Scottish Terrier
Scottish Terriers, with their strong-willed and independent nature, can often be perceived as less obedient. Originally bred for hunting, they possess an inherent drive to probe and chase after potential ‘prey’, making them prone to distraction. This, combined with their innate stubbornness, can make training challenging. A firm, patient, and consistent training approach using positive reinforcement is crucial with Scottish Terriers. It is important to understand that their perceived lack of obedience is a manifestation of their breed traits rather than defiance. With suitable training and understanding of their character traits, Scottish Terriers can become obedient pets, retaining their characteristic spirit and charm.
“Scottish Terriers: Distinctive, dignified appearance; fiercely independent, occasionally aloof with strangers.”
18- Shar Pei
Shar Peis, with their strong-willed and independent nature, can sometimes be seen as less obedient. These characteristics, coupled with their original purpose as farm and guard dogs, contribute to a certain level of stubbornness that can make training challenging. Although they are intelligent and loyal, their determination can often be misconstrued as disobedience. Training a Shar-Pei requires patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement techniques. Understanding that their perceived lack of obedience isn’t defiance, but instead tied to their breed’s innate traits, is crucial. The right approach to training can help shape Shar Peis into obedient pets, while celebrating their unique characters.
“Shar Peis: Deep wrinkles, serious expression; loyal yet standoffish, independent.”
19- Jack Russell Terrier
Jack Russell Terriers, bred for hunting foxes, can sometimes appear less obedient due to their high energy levels, intelligence, and natural curiosity. These traits can make training a bit challenging as Jack Russells are always ready for adventure and can easily get distracted. They often display independent thinking, which can often be perceived as disobedience. The key to successfully training a Jack Russell lies in patience, firmness, positivity, and consistency. It’s essential to understand that their perceived lack of obedience is a product of their vivacious personality and determination. With correct training methods, Jack Russells can become obedient without losing their adventurous spirit.
“Jack Russell Terriers: Energetic, tenacious, intelligent; need consistent, patient training.”
20- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, known for their gentle and affable temperament, may occasionally exhibit behaviors seen as less obedient. This breed is highly social and can easily be distracted, particularly if they are not the center of attention. While intelligent, their desire for companionship can sometimes override commands, which can be perceived as disobedience. Training for this breed requires patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement techniques. It’s important to understand that their perceived lack of obedience is actually their intrinsic sociability and need for interaction. With the right training approach and an understanding of their breed traits, Cavaliers can become obedient, while retaining their loving and friendly personality.
“Cavalier King Charles Spaniels: Expressive, gentle lap dogs; may show stubbornness in training.”
21- Boston Terrier
Boston Terriers are friendly and amiable dogs, known for their tuxedo-like coat. They can be stubborn at times, making consistent training a necessity for this breed.
boston’s are gorgeous, right? They’re cute, but they can be fiesty little things!
22- American Bulldog
American Bulldogs, originally bred for working and hunting, can sometimes be seen as less obedient due to their strong-willed and independent nature. These traits can make training a challenge as they may occasionally exhibit a stubborn streak. Additionally, their high energy levels and intelligence can lead to easy distraction, contributing to perceived disobedience. However, with firm, consistent training and positive reinforcement, American Bulldogs can be effectively trained. It’s crucial to understand that what seems like disobedience is usually a manifestation of their dynamic personalities and background as working dogs. With the correct approach, these dogs can be obedient while retaining their energetic and loving nature.
these big ol’ meatheads are charming, but they can come across as disobedient
Rottweilers, while known for their loyalty and intelligence, can sometimes appear less obedient due to their strong-willed and independent nature. These traits, along with their protective instincts, can make training more challenging. Rottweilers may display stubbornness if they sense a lack of leadership or inconsistency from their owner, which might be perceived as disobedience. However, with proper training, consistency, and positive reinforcement, Rottweilers can be highly obedient. It is vital to understand that their perceived disobedience is a result of their working dog instincts and inherent personality traits. When appropriately trained and socialized, Rottweilers can become obedient and devoted companions, while maintaining their strong, protective nature.
“Rottweilers: Powerful, intelligent; strong protective instinct; need firm, consistent training and socialization.”
24- Siberian Husky
Siberian Huskies, originally bred as sled dogs, are known for their strong-willed and independent nature, which can sometimes lead to the perception of disobedience. Their energetic disposition and innate desire to explore can make training and maintaining focus a challenge. Moreover, their intelligence and problem-solving skills can often translate to them thinking independently, which might contribute to perceived stubbornness. To train Siberian Huskies effectively, patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement are essential. It is important to understand that their perceived disobedience is a reflection of their breed traits, not defiance. With diligent training and understanding, Siberian Huskies can become obedient while retaining their spirited and adventurous personality.
huskies! Gosh, these must be the most “disobedient” dog, I like to call them willfull, but they’re so rewarding to work with in my opinion.
Training and Managing Less Obedient Breeds
Try first of all to remember that your dog isn’t necessarily stubborn, or disobedient, they’re just not like a labrador. Which is likely why you brought them home.
Training less obedient dog breeds requires patience, consistency, and an understanding of the dog’s personality. Positive reinforcement is a key strategy; it encourages dogs to learn and obey through rewards and praise rather than fear or dominance. Early age training is crucial, especially for breeds like the Chow Chow and Bull Terriers, to establish good habits and socialization. For intelligent but independent breeds like the Belgian Malinois and Australian Cattle Dog, training should be engaging and challenging to keep them interested. Smaller breeds like Yorkshire Terriers and French Bulldogs, often seen as lapdogs, also benefit from early socialization and consistent training to manage their stubborn streaks.
For larger and high-energy breeds like the German Shepherd and Labrador Retriever, providing plenty of exercise is essential. This not only helps in managing their energy levels but also aids in training, as a well-exercised dog is more likely to be attentive and responsive. Using tools like a head halter can also assist in managing larger dogs during training sessions.
The Importance of Exercise and Socialization
Exercise and socialization play a crucial role in managing less obedient dog breeds. High-energy breeds, such as the Border Collie, Belgian Malinois, and Australian Cattle Dog, require ample physical activity to channel their energy constructively. Without sufficient exercise, these intelligent dogs may become bored and exhibit disobedient or destructive behavior. Regular walks, playtime, and engagement in activities like agility training or herding (for breeds like the Border Collie) can greatly enhance their obedience and overall demeanor.
Socialization is equally important, especially from an early age. Breeds such as the Chow Chow and Lhasa Apso, known for their independent nature, benefit greatly from early exposure to different environments, people, and other dogs. This helps in reducing anxiety or aggression towards new experiences and makes them more adaptable and responsive. For small breeds like the Shih Tzu or Yorkshire Terrier, socialization can help mitigate tendencies towards nervousness or stubbornness in unfamiliar situations.
Finding the Right Fit: Choosing a Less Obedient Breed
Choosing a less obedient breed requires careful consideration of the owner’s lifestyle, experience with dogs, and the environment in which the dog will live. For families with young children, breeds like the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel or the Bulldog, known for their loving nature despite their stubbornness, can be great choices. Prospective dog owners should also consider the amount of time they can dedicate to training and exercise. High-energy breeds like the Siberian Husky or the Rottweiler are less suitable for individuals with busy lifestyles or limited space.
Understanding the breed’s characteristics is essential. Breeds like the Basset Hound or the Beagle, while less obedient, are known for their friendly and affectionate nature, making them great companions. On the other hand, breeds like the Doberman Pinscher or the German Shepherd, though less inclined to be lapdogs, are loyal and protective, making them excellent guard dogs. The American Kennel Club provides valuable resources for understanding different breeds and can guide potential owners in making an informed decision.
thorough believer that the husky is the king of disobedience in my opinion – but they can still be trained.
Understanding the unique traits of the least obedient dog breeds is key to a harmonious relationship between dog and owner. These breeds, each with their personality and needs, require a dedicated approach to training that respects their intelligence and independence. While they may present more challenges in training, their affectionate and loyal nature can make them incredibly rewarding companions. Dog owners should embrace these challenges with patience and commitment, ensuring that these wonderful animals receive the love, training, and exercise they need to thrive.
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Author, Ali Smith
Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.
Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ best pet blog!
Thanks to depositphotos.com for the images!