Guide to Potential Challenges for First-Time Dog Owners: 21 Breeds to Consider Carefully

Owning a dog is a rewarding experience that comes with many benefits. However, for first-time owners, choosing the wrong breed can lead to unexpected challenges. From dogs that require extensive grooming to those with high energy levels or complex health issues, some breeds are simply not ideal for beginners. In this article, we will explore 21 such breeds, providing insights into their unique traits and potential challenges. Please note that every dog is unique and can undoubtedly make a wonderful pet with the right training and care. However, the breeds mentioned here might pose specific challenges for first-time owners.

1. Belgian Malinois

The Belgian Malinois is a breed that charms many with its incredible athleticism, intelligence, and courage. Often used as a military and police dog, this breed is not for the faint-hearted nor the inexperienced. The Malinois has a high prey drive and can be aggressive towards other dogs or even people. They cannot be trusted with smaller animals such as cats. They require extensive exercise and mental stimulation, often exceeding the capabilities of a first-time dog owner. Hence, it’s wise to gain some dog training experience before committing to this challenging breed.

2. Border Collies

Known as the most intelligent dog breed, Border Collies excel in various fields from herding sheep to competing in agility and obedience competitions. However, their intelligence comes with a downside. Border Collies are extremely motion-sensitive and can obsess over anything that moves. Without enough exercise and mental stimulation, they might resort to herding cars, kids, or even other dogs. Training a Border Collie requires a lot of knowledge and a gentle hand, as they are highly sensitive and do not respond well to harsh corrections or reprimands. As such, a pure-bred Border Collie might not be the best choice for a first-time dog owner.

3. Huskies

Huskies are often adored for their fluffy coats, cheerful nature, and independence. However, as sled dogs, they were bred to run long distances, leading to a strong desire to keep moving. This trait can be challenging for first-time dog owners as Huskies require extensive exercise and may not always obey commands. Furthermore, Huskies are known for being escape artists, often running away and not coming when called. It is recommended to have some dog training experience before committing to a breed like the Husky.

4. Afghan Hound

The Afghan Hound is a calm and pleasant dog that can be an ideal house pet. However, their grooming needs are extremely high, which can be challenging for first-time dog owners. They require daily brushing and bi-weekly bathing. While initially, new owners might be committed to this grooming routine, it can quickly become overwhelming. It’s important to remember that neglecting an Afghan Hound’s grooming needs can lead to skin issues and infections. Hence, first-time owners should consider breeds with less demanding grooming needs.

5. Jack Russell Terrier

Many first-time owners believe that small dogs are easier to train and care for. However, this is not always the case. The Jack Russell Terrier, for instance, is a small breed with a big personality. Bred for hunting, these dogs are highly energetic and require a significant amount of exercise. They are also known for their stubborn nature, making training a potential challenge for first-time owners.

6. German Shorthair Pointer

The German Shorthair Pointer (GSP) is a breed that has gained popularity among pet owners in recent years. Known for their friendly and exuberant nature, GSPs are often a hit with families. However, these dogs have a strong drive to hunt and require plenty of exercise, which can be challenging for first-time owners.

7. Goldendoodle

The Goldendoodle, a cross between a Golden Retriever and a Poodle, has become popular due to their friendly nature and low-shedding coats. However, these dogs can be challenging for first-time owners. Goldendoodles often have a strong desire to carry and chew items, a trait that can be hard to manage without proper training. Thus, first-time owners should consider breeds with less intense training requirements.

8. Airedale Terrier

The Airedale Terrier is a breed that is known for its stubborn and independent nature. This largest of all terriers can be friendly and fun, but they can also suffer from separation anxiety and can get into mischief when left alone. Their high energy level and tendency to dig can be a challenge for first-time owners.

9. Akita

The Akita is a large and powerful breed known for its strong guarding instincts. They can be silent and reserved, often requiring an owner that can establish themselves as the alpha. Akitas can be moody, with rapid mood swings that could lead to aggressive behavior. Their need to be the boss can be a challenge for first-time owners.

10. Alaskan Malamute

The Alaskan Malamute is a strong and enduring breed known for its friendly nature. However, they require a significant amount of exercise, which many owners might not be able to provide. They are also heavy shedders, requiring frequent brushing and grooming.

11. Australian Cattle Dog

The Australian Cattle Dog is a herding breed with a stubborn streak. They require a lot of exercise and can be wary of strangers. These dogs are best suited for an environment where they have plenty of room and a job to do, making them not the best choice for first-time owners living in an apartment or a small house.

12. Bloodhound

The Bloodhound is a breed that likes to be in control and requires an owner that knows how to be the alpha. They have a strong scent drive and can chase after small animals, which can be a challenge for first-time owners.

13. Border Collie

Border Collies are active work dogs with lots of energy. They need a job to do and space to run free. They may break house training and cause damage by chewing furniture and even walls if they are not given enough stimulation.

14. Bulldog

The Bulldog is a friendly and goofy breed, but they have a lot of health problems that a new dog owner may not be equipped to handle. Bulldogs have a squished-in face that causes them difficulty in breathing, affecting their ability to exercise and making them susceptible to heat and anxiety.

15. Bullmastiff

The Bullmastiff is a very large breed that is quite muscular and strong-willed. They need plenty of early socialization with people and animals, or they can become aggressive. Bull Mastiffs also drool a lot, which can be a challenge for first-time owners.

16. Cane Corso

The Cane Corso is a large and strong breed that likes to be the boss and can be hard to control. It’s a very protective breed, but if you can’t establish yourself as the alpha, the dog can become difficult to manage.

17. Chow Chow

The Chow Chow may look like a teddy bear, but they are not very friendly and don’t like cuddling. They require dominant owners and extensive training, making them not the best choice for first-time owners.

18. Dalmatian

The Dalmatian is a high-energy breed that requires almost non-stop exercise. If they become bored, they can become destructive and start chewing or digging, which can be a challenge for first-time owners.

19. German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is an intelligent breed that requires plenty of training. They also need a lot of exercises and are prone to health problems, making them not the best choice for first-time owners.

20. Pitbull

Pitbulls can be very loving dogs, but they can become mean and aggressive if not properly trained. Owners will need to supervise them around children and other animals and spend plenty of one-on-one time bonding with the dog, which can be a challenge for first-time owners.

21. Rottweiler

The Rottweiler is a large and intimidating breed. They are affectionate but are also stubborn and require a leader who knows how to take control. They are not the best choice for first-time owners due to their large size and strong-willed nature.


It’s essential to understand that all dogs, regardless of their breed, can make wonderful pets in the right environment and with the right owner. However, some breeds might pose specific challenges for first-time owners due to their unique traits and needs. Before bringing home a dog, it’s crucial to research the breed’s characteristics, exercise and grooming needs, and potential health issues. This will ensure that both you and your new furry friend will have a harmonious and happy life together.

Remember, it’s not about finding the “perfect” breed but finding the breed that’s perfect for you and your family. Happy dog parenting!