The 20 Least Obedient Large Dog Breeds

There is no easy way to rate how intelligent dogs are. Like humans, intelligence in dogs manifests in different ways. Dogs can be emotionally astute, have instinctive or innate skills or have "working intelligence"—meaning they're more likely to follow commands.

According to canine psychologist Stanley Coren, certain dogs may be more likely to have working intelligence, but it can of course depend on their training. His book, The Intelligence of Dogs, features the results of a survey of 199 dog obedience judges.

Dogs can be more or less obedient depending on the breed, according to the American Kennel Club. Border collies are herding dogs bred to listen to commands, but many terriers were bred to work independently to catch vermin and may be more likely to ignore you in favour of chasing their prey.

Take a look through some of the least obedient large dog breeds in the list below.

Afghan Hound

The Afghan Hound is known for its long, silky hair and statuesque appearance, but according to Cohen, the breed is stubborn and only likely to obey 30 percent of the time. These sighthounds are independent, loyal and very athletic, capable of reaching immense speed to catch prey, according to the AKC.

Take a look at our rundown of dogs known to be independent.

Afghan Hound
An Afghan hound at the NEC Arena in Birmingham, England Leon Neal/Getty

Borzoi

Also known as the Russian Hunting Sighthound, Borzoi are descended from the working dogs of people who migrated from Central Asian countries to Russia prior to the 17th century. Like Afghan Hounds, they are trained to hunt prey such as rabbits and foxes.

Mastiff

Mastiffs, sometimes referred to as Old English mastiffs, are large but good-natured. However, the AKC states they are in need of solid training and require a lot of exercise and stimulation to prevent them from getting bored and destructive.

Borzoi
An owner cuddles his Borzoi on the first day of Crufts dog show in 2015 Carl Court/Getty Images/Getty

Bullmastiff

Weighing between 100 and 130 pounds, these alert giants make great family pets and guard dogs. Owners must train and socialise their dogs when they are puppies. According to Cohen, these dogs respond to commands around 40 percent of the time.

Bull Terrier

Bull Terriers are entertaining, mischievous and stubborn, requiring firm but loving training with patient owners. Once socialised, these cheeky dogs make excellent family pets.

These dogs make our list of the best breeds for first time dog owners.

Rocky bull terrier hero dog fire save
Bull terriers have a reputation for being strong-willed Alberto Clemares Expósito/Getty

Great Pyrenees

Great Pyrenees originated in the Pyrenees mountains and are large working dogs bred to protect sheep. These dogs were bred to be independent and although they are smart, they simply don't see the point of sitting and staying, according to the AKC.

Old English Sheepdog

Old English Sheepdogs are smart and independent, but they can be strong willed and need a firm hand when it comes to training. The UK Kennel Club states these dogs need more than two hours of exercise a day.

Stock image of a Great Pyrenees Dog
Great Pyrenees were bred to be independent slowmotiongli/Getty iStock

Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs are fast and powerful with a strong urge to track prey. The breed can be independent and occasionally domineering, according to the AKC, but they are loyal pets if trained as puppies.

Malamute

According to Cohen's research, malamutes obey their owner's commands at least 50 percent of the time. These dogs are playful and friendly, but require good training and a firm but loving hand.

Alaskan malamute Minnesota December 2020
Malamutes require good training and a firm but loving hand Getty Images

Boxer

Boxers are bright, energetic and make excellent family pets. However, they are known for being headstrong and require lots of exercise to avoid unwanted behaviours associated with boredom, such as digging or chewing.

Great Dane

Great Danes are huge dogs, weighing from 100 to 120 pounds, but are gentle, affectionate giants. Although they are generally good with children, they require obedience training and can be stubborn.

Great Dane
A Great Dane on the first day of the Crufts dog show in 2018 OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images/Getty

Greyhound

Greyhounds might be fast, but they are gentle, quiet and tend not to be aggressive. However, they can have a strong prey drive and a tendency to chase small pets such as rabbits.

Siberian husky

Huskies are smaller than malamutes and although they are working sled dogs, they can be mischievous and stubborn. Siberians are very social and enjoy training sessions with their owners. The AKC states the best approach to training is to make the exercises fun for both dog and owner.

Husky
Siberian huskies are working sled dogs and require good training as puppies format35/Getty

Otterhound

Otterhounds were bred in medieval England for the now-illegal activity of otter hunting. These dogs respond to positive, reward-based training methods and enjoy being praised extensively when they get things right.

Saluki

The AKC recommends three types of training for these tall sighthounds. Crate training is useful for when they need to be safely contained in the home, obedience training and agility games to provide mental stimulation.

Greyhounds are kings of the race track
Saluki dogs need games for mental stimulation Andrew Toth / Contributor/Getty

Irish wolfhound

Another giant breed, Irish wolfhounds are calm and gentle but require early socialisation and training. Puppy training classes using positive training methods can be really helpful. According to Cohen, they obey at least 50 percent of the time.

Curly-Coated Retriever

Affectionately known as Curlies, these dogs are affectionate but more independent than labradors or golden retrievers. They can be playful and mischievous with their owners but wary of strangers. Curly-coated retrievers are also full of energy.

Curly-coated retriever NYC 2016
A curly-coated retriever competing at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. All dogs can be trained with time and patience Getty Images

Kuvasz

Kuvasz dogs were bred to guard livestock and make good guard dogs. However, training these dogs can take time and patience and they do not respond to harsh training techniques, but gentler approaches instead.

Scottish Deerhound

Among the tallest of dog breeds, the Deerhound was bred to stalk the wild red deer in Scotland. They are sensitive dogs that enjoy spending time with their owners, as long as they are exercised properly.

Dalmatian

Dalmatians were originally bred to guard horses and coaches and have plenty of energy for active owners. Like all dogs, they should be socialised at a young age to ensure they are happy around other dogs and people other than their owners.

Kuvasz dog
Training a Kuvasz can be a lengthy but rewarding process Getty Images