Making the decision to get a dog is a big one, but deciding to start out with a large dog breed? Well, that’s huge. Many people find themselves drawn to large or giant breeds, and there are lots of large breeds that are appropriate choices for first-time owners. But, with great size come certain challenges. For example, at only a few months old, a large breed dog (that lacks proper training) has the size and strength to accidentally knock you over.
We already showed you the five large dog breeds chosen by the 218 veterinary professionals surveyed (including vets, veterinary technicians and office managers) as the best options for new owners. Today, we’re looking at the breeds voted to be the worst choices. (And, if you’re thinking a smaller breed might be more up your alley, we have the best and worst of them, too!)
That being said, please know that we don’t believe any single dog breed is bad (or good) across-the-board. Every dog is an individual, and his behavior (good or bad) will come from his personality, genetics, training and owner. So, just because a dog is on this list, does not mean you should never consider owning one — it simply means that it’s a breed that our professionals say typically requires more work, training and experience.
Honorable Mention: Pit Bull
We had to include the American Pit Bull Terrier on this list because the breed received a high number of votes for the worst breed for new owners, but we couldn't do so without a caveat — the APBT also received a significant number of votes as one of the best breeds for new owners. The breed does have a powerful set of jaws, loads of muscle and a lot of societal baggage, but his fans (and many experts) will point out that he's generally very people-oriented, loyal and affectionate.
No. 5: Weimaraner
Typically smart and energetic, the Weimaraner has a history as a hunting dog and a habit of shadowing her people closely, earning her the nickname Gray Ghost. This active breed requires lots of activity and exercise, but just as important to her is spending time with her humans — she probably won't be happy if left at home alone and can have issues with separation anxiety. She can also be stubborn and tough to housetrain, making her a better choice for experienced dog owners (or, at the very least, newbies who are prepared to do their homework and use consistent, positive reinforcement along with plenty of patience while training her).
No. 4: German Shepherd Dog
You might be surprised to find the GSD on this list since he's so often seen in the movies as a family companion. But, although he can be an adaptable and devoted member of the family, he's usually highly energetic and requires an owner who's prepared to be dedicated to the German Shepherd lifestyle. He not only requires serious amounts of exercise, but the intelligent breed also needs plenty of mental stimulation, meaning you'll have to stay sharp!
No. 3: Alaskan Malamute
It's no secret that the Alaskan Malamute sheds — a lot — but that's not the only red flag of which inexperienced owners should be aware. She's often an incredible escape artist, a world-class leash puller (which makes sense because she was bred to pull sleds in harsh terrain!), a challenge with other dogs and even more difficult with cats or other small animals. However, all of that usually comes in a joyful, exuberant package that her fans adore.
No. 2: Rottweiler
The massive and muscular Rottie can be a gentle giant with proper training and handling, but in the hands of an owner who doesn't know how (or doesn't want) to bring out his positive attributes, his protective instincts can get out of hand. It's also worth noting that Rottweilers are often the target of breed bans and, in some cases, can be an issue when it comes to insurance — all of which is better to know ahead of time, rather than after you've brought a pup home.
No. 1: Akita
The Akita is a breed worthy of your respect in more ways than one. For starters, she's considered a national treasure in her home country of Japan, where she was originally bred to hunt big game such as elk, boar and bear. At a typical weight of 65 to 115 pounds (but sometimes weighing more), she's a large breed that verges on being a giant breed, and that size paired with her intelligence, highly protective nature and the fact that she may have problems getting along with other animals explains why our experts selected the Akita as the No. 1 breed first-time owners should avoid.