Worst Dog Breeds for First Time Owners According to Reddit Users

TerrierOwner.com is reader-supported. If you buy a product through a link on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.

Deciding what breed of dog to get can be an exciting yet daunting task, especially for first time dog owners. While all dogs have unique personalities and traits even within their breed, some breeds do tend to pose more challenges for novice owners.

On the r/dogs subreddit, Reddit user Urgullibl posed the question “What is the worst breed to get as a first dog?” This sparked a lively discussion with over 100 comments from dog owners sharing their thoughts and experiences on which breeds they felt were the poorest choices for new dog owners.

The most commonly cited breeds and reasons why they can be tricky for first time owners included high energy dogs like Border Collies and Australian Cattle Dogs that require very vigorous exercise, independent and stubborn breeds such as Shiba Inus and Basenjis that are difficult to train, and highly intelligent working and herding breeds including Belgian Malinois and German Shepherds that experience anxiety and destructive behaviors without adequate mental stimulation.

In this blog post, we’ll highlight the breeds that Reddit users caution against for first time dog owners based on challenges with trainability, exercise needs, temperament issues and more. We’ll also explore the traits that make these breeds better suited for more experienced dog owners.

High Energy Breeds

Siberian Husky laying in the green grass

Some of the most commonly mentioned challenging breeds for first time owners are those that were historically bred to do intense physical work and therefore have very high exercise needs. These include:

Huskies – Huskies were bred to pull sleds over extremely long distances. They typically require 60-90 minutes of intense exercise per day along with mental stimulation. Their energy combined with their independent nature and tendency to be escape artists makes them a difficult breed for novice owners.

Border Collies – Border collies were bred as herding dogs meant to work all day on farms and ranches. If their needs for activity and mental work are not met, they are prone to neurotic behaviors like obsessive chasing and nipping. Their energy and intelligence is often more than a first time owner realizes.

Australian Cattle Dogs – Similar to border collies, Australian cattle dogs were selected for their ability to herd cattle while running and working all day. They are not suited for sedentary owners as they need upwards of two hours of exercise daily. Without an experienced owner providing structure, they can be destructive.

First time owners drawn to the good looks of these breeds often don’t realize the commitment involved in providing the rigorous activity levels they were developed for.

Left under-exercised, these breeds can develop anxiety issues or problematic and destructive behaviors. More sedentary owners may be better matched with lower energy companion breeds.

Independent & Stubborn Breeds

Shiba Inu sitting outside

In addition to high energy, some breeds recommended against for first timers are those that tend to be aloof, independent, and difficult to train – especially for novice owners unfamiliar with dog training methods. These include:

Shiba Inus – Shiba inus are known for their cat-like independence and aloofness. Originally bred for hunting in dense brush, they can have a strong prey drive. They are also notoriously stubborn, making them a challenge to obedience train which frustrates inexperienced owners.

Chow Chows – Chow chows can be loyal to their owners but are also free-thinkers. They have their own agendas and are difficult to motivate through treats and praise like more biddable breeds. Their training requires patience and consistency.

Basenjis – Basenjis share many cat-like traits. They like to groom themselves constantly and even climb. Basenjis were bred for independence, working on their own to hunt prey. This means they have a mind of their own and can be manipulative and challenging to leash train.

The strong will and aloofness of these breeds can be off-putting to new owners used to dogs who aim to please their person.

Without proper early socialization and dedicated training, these independent minded dogs may walk all over a first time owner. An experienced dog handler is better equipped to manage these breeds.

Working & Herding Breeds

Belgian Malinois dog breed

Intelligent, high drive working and herding breeds are another category of dogs that Reddit users strongly advise against for first time dog owners. These include:

Belgian Malinois – Belgian Malinois are used as police and military working dogs. They have strong herding instincts and need a job to do. Lacking leadership and proper training, their pent up energy gets channeled into problem behaviors like aggression and destructiveness.

German Shepherds – German shepherds are another popular police and military breed selected for their intelligence, trainability and protective instincts. But these traits come with high exercise requirements and a need for extensive obedience work. Their size and energy is difficult for novice owners to handle.

Australian Shepherds – Australian shepherds have tireless energy suited for a ranch. They’ll invent their own jobs if under-stimulated, like obsessive nibbling or “herding” children and pets. Their nipping and tendency to vocalize also makes them a poor fit for first time owners.

Smart, driven breeds like these thrive when given plenty of mental and physical exercise along with early socialization and training.

Without an owner fully committed to providing structure through training, exercise, and supervision, these breeds can develop intense behavioral issues. They do best with experienced owners well-versed in proper training methods.

Other Challenging Breeds

Jack Russell Terrier on a leash sitting outside in the grass

In addition to extremely high energy, independent, and driven working dogs, Reddit users cited a few other breeds that pose notable challenges for novice dog owners:

Jack Russell Terriers – Jack Russell terriers are tenacious, high energy small breed dogs originally used for fox hunting. They need constant stimulation and have a strong drive to roam, dig, and bark. First time owners are rarely prepared for their intensity and exercise requirements.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks – Ridgebacks are headstrong, aloof, and can be aggressive with same-sex dogs. They have a high prey drive and therefore require supervision around small pets. As guard dogs bred to face lions, they are very strong-willed and require an assertive owner.

Dalmatians – While their spotted coat is iconic, Dalmatians shed consistently year-round. They’re also energetic, independent, and slower to mature and train than other breeds. These factors often lead first time owners to rehome them due to the level of care required.

When considering your first dog, stay away from breeds with tendencies like strong guarding instincts, dominant personalities, or intensely high exercise needs unless you have the knowledge and lifestyle to properly manage them.

An experienced trainer paired with an easier going breed can set first timers up for success.

Do Your Breed Research Before Bringing Home Your First Dog

While an individual dog’s personality plays the biggest role in compatibility, certain breeds do tend to be better companions for novice dog owners than others.

Through the Reddit discussion, high energy, independent-minded, and intense working breeds emerged as those most commonly considered poor matches for first time dog owners based on trainability, exercise requirements, natural tendencies like chasing/nipping, and more.

However, breed traits are tendencies – not an absolute determining factor of behavior and needs. With plenty of preparation, training, and research on a breed, even those labeled as “challenging” can make wonderful companions for a dedicated new owner who is ready to meet their special needs.

If unfamiliar with dog ownership, steer away from breeds labeled as difficult for your first pet. Opt for an easygoing, eager-to-please breed that will allow you to successfully practice the responsibilities of providing regular activity, house training, obedience work and socialization that are fundamental to raising a happy, well-adjusted canine companion.

Doing your research to find a breed well-suited to your lifestyle will set you up for an enjoyable journey with your first furred family member.

Kevin William

Kevin grew up with a female West Highland White Terrier named Murphy who was always by his side. Kevin currently lives in New York state with his family including a Labrabull (Labrador Retriever Pit Bull) named Lily.

Recent Posts