The Least Obedient Dog Breeds

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The Least Obedient Dog BreedsUnfortunately, dogs are a lot like children and won’t always do as they’re told — it probably takes a while before your pup actually listens to what you need it to do. Did you know that the kind of training and environment you provide your dog can affect how well it follows your command, but more importantly, its breed also plays a role. In this article, we list the least obedient dog breeds that first-time dog owners should avoid.  

Ranking Dog Intelligence

Back in 1994 neuropsychological researcher Stanley Coren started a study on a dog’s intelligence and compiled his findings in his book called “The Intelligence of Dogs.” Coren’s research was able to determine a dog’s intelligence through their ability to listen and follow commands. He also based his research on extensive surveys from 208 obedience judges from both the Canadian and American Kennel Clubs, which represented half of all the judges located in North America.  

The study then ranked more than 100 different dog breeds according to their obedience intelligence. According to the study, around 51% of a dog’s intelligence will come from its genes while 49% will depend on its environment. He also found that the most obedient dogs can understand new commands in as little as 5 repetitions and obey on their first try around 95% of the time. 

However, the least obedient dogs will need as many as 80 to 100 repetitions of the same command, and might only be able to perform it on their first try no more than 25% of the time. In other words, no matter how many times you ask them to shake, stay, or sit, they won’t do any of it.  

The Least Obedient Dog Breeds 

You’d think that the most popular dog breeds won’t make it to this list, but you might be surprised. 

Chow Chow

Chow ChowWhile they are an intelligent breed, these medium-sized dogs are independent thinkers and will take a long time to understand new commands. They’re only capable of obeying the first command around 25% of the time or less and may need a repetition of 80 to 100 times. As such, it’s necessary to train them early and often until they can memorize certain actions.  

Shih Tzu

Shih TzuAccording to the American Kennel Club (AKC), this pup is the 20th most popular breed in America. These small dogs have an average lifespan between 10 to 18 years, and have deep roots with historical figures — they were intelligent lapdogs to many Chinese Emperors. However, they will only follow commands for the first time around 25% of the time or less, so you will need to repeat yourself a lot before they can deliver results. 

Basset Hound

Basset HoundThese scent hounds come with a heightened sense of smell which helps them track hares and other large game. However, these dogs don’t like being left alone for too long and may resort to destruction if they don’t get attention. They won’t get new commands right away and you may need to spend some time to help them understand what you need.  

French Bulldog

French BulldogJust last year, the French Bulldog outranked the Labrador Retriever as the most popular dog in the United States, which was possible thanks to their sweet and charming personalities. They are generally active dogs that are playful and alert while sporting an even-keeled temperament. While this small breed is one of the cutest things you’ll ever see, they can be difficult to train and will need plenty of repetition to understand new commands.   

Scottish Terrier

Scottish TerrierThis breed was particularly popular during the 1930s and 1940s; they were bred to serve as farm helpers and watchdogs, so they’re used to being aloof and independent dogs. While these dogs carry themselves with plenty of confidence and can respond to various vocal cues, they aren’t the easiest to train. It will take them around 40 to 80 repetitions before they can execute new commands and will obey commands for the first time around 30% of the time. 


KuvaszClassified under the working dog category by the AKC, these beautiful canines were once used as guard dogs, and closely resemble the mild-mannered Labrador Retriever. However, Hungary’s Kuvasz comes with snow-white fur and was once the most trusted pet of King Matthias I of Hungary which is a testament to its reputation as a loyal dog. Just keep in mind that you may need to drill them quite a bit to get them to understand new commands.     

Saint Bernard

Saint BernardThese are larger dogs that make for great companions but you may need to prepare yourself for some temperament issues. They are typically gentle giants that are friendly and tolerant, so they’ll do well in a home with well-behaved children. However, they will take up a lot of your time for training, and will only respond to the first command around 30% of the time. 

Australian Shepherd

Australian ShepherdThis energetic breed has a relatively vague history prior to its introduction to the U.S. but is nevertheless a favorite breed for herding purposes. These dogs are known for their protective and territorial nature; therefore, they need active and careful training. They will often understand new commands after 25 to 40 repetitions and will obey the first command about 50% of the time. 

Welsh Terrier

Welsh TerrierMuch like many modern British breeds, the Welsh Terrier is a descendant of an ancient breed known as the Old English black and tan terrier. However, this pooch can be distinguished from its relatives through its calmer demeanor but is still up for a good challenge. It can be hard to train since it can only perform new commands half the time, and will probably do its thing the other half.  

Afghan Hound

Afghan HoundThese medium to large-size dogs can become independent and will need early training to ensure that they won’t become too stubborn. The Afghan Hound was originally developed to be a predator and this kind of mentality can carry on to their adult years. You might encounter problems with training though, and may only obey commands around 25% of the time. 

Boston Terrier

Boston TerrierThese little dogs are known for their stunning coat that resembles a tuxedo jacket but did you know they’re actually a cross between the English bulldog and the white English terrier? They’re also friendly and loving dogs that can be trainable but their high energy will often get in the way of discipline. Be sure to carry patience during training sessions because you may need to repeat yourself quite a bit.  

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Staffordshire Bull TerrierBull terriers were once known for their fighting spirit and struggled for victory inside baiting rings but they have since transformed into patient and kind dogs that would make a good fit for families. Just keep in mind that these pups need to be socialized at an early age to help them develop a gentle nature. To get started, you may need to repeat your commands at least 25 to 40 times to help them understand around 50% of the time.  

King Charles Spaniel

King Charles SpanielOne of the smaller breeds in this list is the King Charles Spaniel, which was particularly popular with the 17th-century British monarchs Charles I and Charles II, hence their name. Their long coats come in four distinct colors, which are tricolor, ruby, black and tan, and Blenheim (chestnut and white). While they look great, their understanding of new commands isn’t great, and you may end up repeating yourself between 25 to 40 times. 

English Foxhound

English FoxhoundThe English foxhound doesn’t look too different from their relatives, and they may be hard to distinguish at first glance. However, they will typically have floppy ears and lighter coat color and will also be taller than their American counterparts. When it comes to training, however, you may find they need a repetition of commands before they can obey. 

Lhasa Apso

Lhasa ApsoOriginally bred to be watchdogs, their peculiar appearance and personality may frighten people new to their presence. Before choosing one as a family pet, be sure to give it proper training first to make sure it develops into a well-balanced dog. These dogs will obey the first time they’re given a command around 30% of the time, so be prepared to repeat a lot of words.   

Great Dane

Great DaneDocile and gentle, Great Danes are great for families and are also considered to be intelligent dogs as long as you train them early. They are also among the tallest dogs ever recorded — one particular dog named Zeus was recorded to be almost 4 feet tall from his paws to his shoulders. They’re capable of following orders around 50% of the time, but you’ll need to repeat quite a lot of words to help them understand. 

Chinese Shar Pei

Chinese Shar PeiIf you’re after a guard dog that is calm at all times but springs into action once it senses danger, then this dog is for you. Their name literally translates to “sand skin” which refers to the folds of loose skin around their necks, heads, and shoulders. They’re not the hardest to train but will take a lot of repetition to learn anything.  

Chinese Crested

Chinese CrestedBecause of their exposed skin, the Chinese Crested will need plenty of clothing and sunblock to protect them during the summer months. While they are highly tolerant of young children, their small bodies won’t be able to withstand roughhousing. Unfortunately, they can only follow commands 30% of the time so they’re among the most difficult dogs to train.  

Tibetan Spaniel

Tibetan SpanielThese dogs were originally bred to watch over the walls of monasteries in Tibet — thanks to their terrific vision they could see over long distances. While it’s a high-energy dog, it won’t need too much exercise and will instead be happy with a lot of play. They can obey commands about 50% of the time, so it may need a bit of repetition to get to follow their owner’s commands.  

American Foxhound

American FoxhoundTypically sporting a white, tan, and black coat, the American Foxhound is a veteran of dog sports and will often be used for hunting. Owners of this breed will need to provide them with plenty of room to run because they have a lot of energy to spend. While they aren’t the smartest dog around, they can understand commands 50% of the time.  

Smooth Fox Terrier

Smooth Fox TerrierThe gorgeous Smooth Fox Terrier can be easily distinguished from other terriers thanks to the colorful coats that cover their heads. They also have a unique V-shaped head that’s quite different from their relatives. These clever dogs can obey your first command half the time but they still need you to repeat your commands quite a few times. 

English Bulldog

English BulldogUnfortunately, these dogs can be hard to train because they won’t always execute commands and don’t really have a desire to see their owners happy. Their stubborn nature makes it hard to get them to do anything, and they will only do anything when the urge comes. Despite their lack of trainability, these brachycephalic dogs are still intelligent.  

Lakeland Terriers

Lakeland TerriersWhile these dogs can be trained, they have stubborn personalities that make them test boundaries. Be sure to keep your training sessions varied and interesting and to prevent them from becoming bored.  


BorzoiWhen it comes to obedience, the Borzoi (also known as Russian Wolfhound) are selective learners who may become bored with pointless or repetitive activities. When they don’t have the right motivation, they can become very stubborn — while food rewards may work with some, it won’t work with all Borzois. 

Most Obedient Dog Breeds 

If none of these dogs interest you, then you might want to look into the most obedient dog breeds which include the following:

  • German Shepherd
  • Border Collie
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Australian cattle dogs
  • Golden retriever
  • Cane Corso 


No matter what breed you choose, be sure to look for a responsible breeder who will let you meet the pup in person before you make a final decision. When you finally have a new addition to your family, be sure to use positive reinforcement techniques to get the most out of your training. Keep in mind that no matter how smart a dog is, there’s always room for improvement and no dog is better than another once you see how affectionate dogs can be.