When most of us think of caring for the family dog, we have in mind a sedate walk around the block once a day, maybe an obedience class when he’s a pup, a good brushing once a week and lots of hanging out together watching TV at night. And then there is that special breed of dog — the high-energy, need-a-job-to-do, groom-challenging kind that comes in all looks and sizes, but shares one commonality: He is undeniably high-maintenance.
In alphabetical order, we present the 10 most high-maintenance dog breeds.
The smart and focused Australian Shepherd seems never to run out of energy. After he has brought in the morning newspaper, escorted the kids to the school bus, picked up their toys and dirty clothes from the floor and placed them in the appropriate receptacles, he’s ready to help you do yard work by fetching tools or digging out weeds in your garden. Then he’ll want you to throw a ball or flying disc for him to chase, practice for the weekend’s agility or obedience trial, or take a brisk hour-long walk or hike. You’ll wear out before he does unless you are equally active — and creative enough to keep him occupied.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Cavaliers love to be in a lap and will claim yours in a flash as soon as you sit down. Aptly nicknamed the “Love Sponge,” Cavaliers were bred to be companion dogs, and that’s what they want to do. You’ll never have privacy in the bathroom again if you live with a Cavalier. A Cavalier will dog your footsteps and make it clear that he does not wish to be left alone all day. The ideal home for this doe-eyed dog is one with a stay-at-home parent or work-at-home spouse, or with a retired couple.
Often referred to as a canine Einstein, the Border Collie has a desire to work that borders on the obsessive. He will herd anything that comes his way — kids, cars, even a bag of oranges that have spilled onto the floor. His intelligence and energy make him a fabulous competitor in dog sports, but if he is underemployed at home, he is likely to develop compulsive behaviors such as chasing light and shadows, twirling in circles, and bouncing up and down. Be prepared to keep him busy with dog sports, activities around the house, regular training sessions and plenty of daily exercise.
With a Brussels Griffon, you’re never alone. These affectionate dogs possess an unshakable desire to be with their favorite person at all times. When a Griff feels abandoned or lacking in attention, he will express his frustration by converting toilet paper into confetti, overturning trash receptacles and peeing on your favorite Oriental rug. Take him with you when you can and train him early on to accept necessary separation with equanimity — or face the consequences.
The people-adoring Cocker Spaniel dislikes being left alone; Cockers who aren’t well socialized — and even some who are — can develop severe separation anxiety that takes the form of barking, whining and destructive behavior. In addition, his coat requires professional grooming or frequent care from a dedicated owner. The silky medium-length coat must be brushed several times a week and bathed and trimmed weekly. Even a Cocker with a short trim needs frequent brushing and bathing and trimming every couple of weeks. He is prone to ear infections, so weekly ear inspection and cleaning (if needed) are recommended. Many people rely on professional groomers every four to six weeks to keep their Cocker Spaniels looking the very best.
German Shorthaired Pointer
Few breeds are more demanding of their owner’s energy and attention than the German Shorthaired Pointer. This talented hunting dog is energetic, strong and challenging. He’s a natural in high-drive dog sports and a perfect companion (overall health permitting, of course) for long runs and strenuous hikes. German Shorthairs require daily sessions of heart-pumping exercise and plenty of training to keep them under control.
Jack Russell Terrier
He digs, he barks, he runs, he jumps. The Jack Russell (or Parson Russell if you live on the AKC side of the fence) is hardwired to be active and needs a full-time activity director to keep him busy in constructive, and not destructive, ways. He does best when he is kept busy hunting rats on a farm or competing in terrier races and earthdog tests. Jack Russells can even make great jogging partners, but some joint and neuromuscular problems can occur in the breed, so get a healthy go-ahead from your vet first.
People say they don’t shed and they’re hypoallergenic. That’s the 411 that most people get about this glamorous and brainy breed. Spoiler alert: Poodlesdo shed—with loose hairs becoming entangled with other hair if not brushed out — and they are not hypoallergenic. But they are adorable! That beautiful curly coat can be very high maintenance if you are going for the best in show look but if you aren't, a visit to a professional groomer every six to eight weeks should do the trick. During adolescence, the maturing coat must be brushed daily to prevent mats.
It was probably a Lab who inspired the saying “A tired dog is a good dog.” Plan to teach your Lab tricks, and get him involved in dog sports if you don’t want to see just how much destruction he can do when he's bored. Some Labs even make great jogging partners, but hip dysplasia is prominent in the breed, so get him checked by your vet before hitting the running trails. Need a reminder as to why you need to provide structured activities for your Labrador from day one? We have one word: Marley.
The spunky Yorkshire Terrier has a lot going for him, but his beautiful coat is high-maintenance, even if clipped short. A Yorkie with a long coat requires daily brushing and weekly baths. A Yorkie with a short “puppy” clip also needs frequent brushing and bathing, along with regular visits to a professional groomer to have the coat trimmed. Yorkies don't shed much compared with some other dogs, but they aren’t hypoallergenic.
Do you agree with our list? Are there other dogs that you think should be included? Tell us in the comments.
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