August 18, 2015 | Posted in Doctor Sigmund Furry Series

Challenging-Canines-400PXDear Dr. Furry,

Last week you answered a question about the best dogs for first time owners. What are the “worst” dogs?

Ernie, York, PA


Dear Ernie,

The short answer is that there are no bad dogs, just bad training or bad owners! Hah! Yet, there are just some breeds better suited to more “experienced” dog owners. Trait-specific breeds are generally so focused on what they do (hunting, guarding, etc.) that they may pose challenges for new owners.

Unfortunately, the American Pit Bull Terrier has topped the lists of challenging dogs as it has historically been used in dog fighting rings, giving them a frightening reputation. However, in recent years, evidence has shown that with the right training and socialization, the pit bull can be accepted into a loving family as a devoted, loyal and affectionate pet. They do, however, seem to do better in one-dog homes.

The Airedale Terrier will keep you hopping! They are tireless, independent, intelligent and stubborn. He’s a notorious digger and mover. He’ll play games as energetically as he will tear up your garden and eat your drywall.  He needs loads of stimulation (mental and physical) and isn’t great living with other dogs.

The Bullmastiff is as daunting as his name and is simply a lot to handle. This adult dog weighs between 100 and 130 pounds and can easily overwhelm an owner who isn’t used to doling out strong, hands-on training and obedience, from puppy age, on. He also has what is called a “high prey” drive, which means he needs to be leashed when walking. He’s best as an only pet. And, he’s a drooler, so keep a mop handy!

Owning a Bulldog is a challenge mostly because of its physical limitations. Even with his silly, wrinkled snout (which makes him cute in bulldog lovers’ eyes), he’s a solid, stocky breed, sensitive to heat, exercise and physical stress. He can’t swim so be alert when/if he’s around a pool or pond.

If you don’t mind wiping up after your Saint Bernard who constantly drools, you also won’t panic when he ingests items like socks and dishtowels. He’s a gentle giant (weighing between 130-180 pounds), but is prone to heatstroke. He does love being around people though, indoors.

The Australian Cattle Dog (derived from several breeds, including Collie, Dingo, Bull Terrier, Dalmation and Kelpie, possesses great endurance. He’s stubborn, adventurous and unaware of dangerous consequences. He’ll amaze you with just how many ways he can injure himself.

The Weimaraner (or “gray ghost” because of his velvety gray coat) is a confirmed loner. He’s extremely energetic with no “off” switch; he doesn’t like to be left alone and suffers severe separation anxiety. If, however, you need a lone hunting or hiking companion, he’s the dog for you.

YOU NEED TO BE BOSS with a Rottweiler. This dog needs discipline from his defined owner. If you don’t take charge, he will. He’s powerfully protective and loyal to his owners and property. His weight is generally around 135 pounds of muscle which he will use to back up a threatening growl.

The Alaskan Malamute is a spunky, active, exuberant dog who needs a family used to a lot of movement and exercise. He sheds a lot and his thick coat leaves him vulnerable to heat stroke. He’s strong and will exert all his weight (65-100 pounds) on a leash, if he doesn’t actually escape from it!

The wrinkly Chinese Shar-Pei needs an experienced owner/ trainer to stave off boredom! He requires an assertive owner, to whom he will strongly bond. Because of this, he distrustful of others he doesn’t know, humans and other dogs, alike. Because of all his characteristic skin folds, this dog is more prone to chronic skin and eye conditions.

The Chow Chow looks like a cuddly teddy bear, but he doesn’t behave sweetly. This breed is not overly affectionate. They are intelligent, but stubborn and may require extra patience and endurance in training them to get the results you desire. Chows tend to be aggressive and wary of strangers.