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Top 10 Challenging 'Breeds'

‘we see people struggling with’

If you are thinking about acquiring a dog then we would strongly suggest that you read the guide on this website to give you a few pointers as part of your research, and importantly we would ask you to remember the ‘nurture versus nature’ debate. In general, our advice is that if you want an easy life with a dog that’s a good companion and easy to live with (and train) – then it makes common sense to stay well clear of ‘working breeds’. A strong clue is given by their broad classification – ‘working dogs’. They need a job to do. So, unless you want to work a dog for a living (such as Police, Army, Security Services or similar) or you have serious desire to do ‘dog sports’, then you would be well advised to leave ‘working dogs’ well alone. They need a job to do, so the risks they offer for the typical household is that they’re likely to get bored, become frustrated, destructive and may even become potentially dangerous as ‘handler aggression’ is not uncommon within working breeds, if they don’t respect you or don’t want to do something you ask of them.  

‘Working dogs’ if they are correctly bred (sadly most aren’t) need time, effort, training, space, exercise – constant mental and physical stimulation – so you’ve been clearly warned, if you don’t deliver!

If you see an example of a working breed that’s easy going or laid back, then typically this is not a true representative of the breed – it’s a rarity or  the dog’s likely to be a poor specimen as ‘working dogs’ have been selectively bred for generations to do a job – not to become pets. But regrettably these days, irresponsible people breed these types of dogs and then try to sell them on as pets to unsuspecting owners which can cause much heartache and worry.

Other breeds worth giving a wide berth to are the ‘fighting breeds’ (and their mixes) – as it’s so important to remember what these dogs were bred to do – ‘fight’. Their genetic composition deems that they’re strong, powerful and often weighty – so they’re not a good fit for novice dog owners of a small stature, who don’t work out regularly in the gym…

Amongst this cohort you will all ways find dogs that are friendly and loveable. But in this day and age, so many people are unprepared to take any responsibility for their animals, believing that it is just fine and dandy to let their powerful dogs mix and over power unsuspecting ‘stranger’s’ dogs at the local park, beach etc. These individuals seem to nonchalantly ‘sit back’ and wait to see what happens…. and in all probability, that sooner or later a fight will irrupt – and if these breeds start a fight or simply retaliate, then all too often the fight, becomes serious very quickly which going forward will affect both the aggressor and victim’s dog’s attitudes for the worse, revealing itself as aggression or nervousness. If you happen to own one of these ‘fighting breeds’, then we can guarantee you’ll have a hard time separating them in fight situations – and you may just get injured in the process. Besides there’s every likelihood you’ll find yourself up before the authorities or facing civil litigation (remember most people carry camera phones these days). An important caveat worth remembering here is that most insurance policies will not cover third party liability claims – if your dog is a banned breed (or type) or has been trained for protection work.

Finally, ‘mastiff types’ – these are seriously big, heavy, powerful animals. We have met people who have had their fingers broken, shoulders dislocated, legs smashed up and worse. These dogs are often so much stronger than their owners. Mastiff types have in the main been bred to guard large domains and many having ‘fighting’ as part of their heritage, whether it’s against dogs, people or other animals. So for most people they make a very poor choice of companion from several perspectives. Go on, be honest with yourself, why do you want one; why do you need one; do you live in a mansion with acres of land; are you responsible for the security of the ‘Crown Jewels’ or do you live in a more modest house with a small garden? Is it simply that want to ‘look big or hard’ with your big dog – is it simply that your Ego is out of control and crying out for one of these dogs?

If you are worried about the security of your home or business, then it makes more sense to consider an intruder alarm or CCTV which is a far more cost effective and less risky solution (why not speak to your local Police Crime Prevention Design Adviser for some advice). Other questions you should ask yourself is whether you work out in the gym every day – are you physically fit, big and strong enough to hold and control one of these massive breeds – and don’t forget your partner who may be expected to walk and care for the animal when you’re not there? It’s important to think about all these aspects as hindsight is not a forgiving argument, should your dog decides that it wants to chase some poor innocent victim, their dog, cat, sheep…..

Sadly, we seem to find ourselves in an era when irresponsible people seem to be crossing mastiff types with just about anything and everything in the effort to create what they believe will be ‘the monster of all dogs’ to meet a very ‘strange market’ where most of these animals will end up being found unsuitable as poorly bred ‘pets’. But hey, we seem to be living in a society, where owners want to ‘look the part’, being seemingly impressed with exaggerated claims of ‘extremes’ where dogs are being  marketed as the biggest; the hardest bite… the most aggressive and so on – and so much of it is pure fabrication, dreamed up by the people breeding these animals for profit. So many of these dogs are neither physically or mentally sound, and the individuals breeding them are not always the brightest, as they rarely breed from health tested and sound dogs. There’s the old saying ‘that there’s no such thing as a bad dog, just bad owners’ and while this largely true; the sad fact of the matter is that there are numerous people focused on breeding ‘bad dogs’ which they try to entice similar minded individuals to want to own.

Our top ten ‘challenging breeds and types’ (including their mixes) are the dogs that we most often see people struggling with. In most cases, with help, guidance and much effort their owners manage to turn their dogs around. But unfortunately there are others which are simply too much for their owners, whether neurotic; hyper; energetic; difficult; aggressive; powerful; heavy or unhealthy. These dogs often come from or end up in rescue centres – and at the unfortunate extreme, so many are put to sleep through no fault of their own. The responsibility for this isn’t the dog – it’s down to the people that breed them (always for money as there’s real no excuse for unwanted pregnancies these days). But it’s a sad fact of life, the people who buy these animals create the demand, and alas there will always be morally unacceptable people who will supply the demand. Unfortunately, the dog will always be seen as the disposable commodity and the innocent casualty.

So now on with our top ten ‘challenging breeds (with their mixes) – in no particular order:

German Shepherds (GSD)

These are one of our favourite working breeds, and while there are so many poorly bred GSDs in the UK, there are far more good working German Shepherds than any other breed which is down to the sterling work of a small cohort of serious GSD enthusiasts, that seek to breed healthy GSDs that are both beautiful and can work at the very highest levels. The problem facing potential owners considering a good German Shepherds is that are one of the elite working breeds – and to reiterate ‘working breeds, not pets’.

Unfortunately, so many irresponsible pet breeders and dealers, simply try to cash in on the breeds reputation (popular TV and films have caused so much harm to the breed e.g. Rin Tin Tin; K9 etc) which has ‘encouraged’ so many to breed from substandard animals with the result that problems occur with many poor quality animals that don’t even look like GSDs, having health issues; dominance problems; handler, people and dog aggression issues. They’re so often too big and powerful (and intelligent) for their owners with many being anxious and nervous (especially nervous aggressive).

The God Father of the German Shepherd ‘Max Emil Friedrich von Stephanitz’ upheld the belief that ‘German Shepherd Breeding should be working dog Breeding’. If only he could see the damage irresponsible breeders are doing to his breed, he’d no doubt turn over in his grave in absolute frustration and anger.

Belgian Malinois (BSD)

A breed that is rapidly becoming popular for all the wrong reasons, thanks in part to irresponsible films, the likes of ‘John Wick’, ‘Dog’ and countless others – not to mention the countless YouTubers trying to make lots of money without ever going to work. Then of course there’s President Trump’s infamous droll. All this when juxtaposed with the Police and Army now regularly using them is causing untold harm both directly and indirectly to the breed. It is now even being muted, that BSDs could be a banned breed in the future.

Regrettably human beings are nothing but heard animals and follow a fashion without much forethought and purchase these animals – which don’t make good pets. They have all the same issues as German Shepherds and much worse; since there are fewer breeders in the UK that actually have or even know how to breed good dogs.  So many are actually mixed breeds, and yet are sold as ‘Belgian malinois’ despite having no official pedigree, Kennel club registration or health checks.  

So many of the dogs we see are neurotic and hyper, appearing to have the canine equivalent of ADHD. Countless are nervous – nervous aggressive to both people and dogs. They can also be ‘owner / handler’ aggressive – they are most certainly not good prospects for inexperienced owners. We often see dogs that are so much brighter than their owners with faster acting brains. They’re too energetic, fast and strong for most people – so not a good formula for a pet. The quality of the BSDs in the UK is crashing in a race to the bottom, as time and time again popularity destroys any breed in the UK. People attempt to cash in and breed dogs they have little knowledge about – caring little for genetics or the animals physical and mental health. We get offered BSDs all the time from people that cannot cope with their dogs, believing that we offer some sort of rehoming service (which we don’t). In the main the dogs are poorly bred with poor temperaments and underlying health issues and no official paperwork. To the trained eye most don’t even look like a proper BSD, and so many are simply very poor examples of Dutch Herders or poor cross bred street dogs rather than BSDs.

Dogue de Bordeaux

So often poorly bred with lots of health issues, usually overweight with sort life expectancies (the film Turner and Hooch was responsible for making the breed popular in the UK and caused so much harm to the breed). In general, these dogs are too big and strong for most people. If a dog weighing 65 Kg+ pulls, then the owner’s arms will suffer. Many of the dogs we see are dog aggressive, often because they have been bitten by someone else’s dog (remember this breed was used for dog fighting).

Cane Corso

For this breed or type we are including some others, as we shall explain…

There are countless irresponsible people selling Cane Corso’s’ trying to attract people that want to ‘look hard’ with their dogs; even promoting that Corsos have a bite stronger than a lion. All we can say to those trying to create this folklore – is that obviously, they haven’t been bitten by a lion – otherwise they wouldn’t be here to tell the tale!

A very large percentage of the dogs being sold as Cane Corsos, aren’t really Corsos at all. They would be more accurately described as Bandogs, as they are a poor mix of Great Danes, Mastiffs (Neapolitan etc) and pit bulls. Some of the dogs we have seen have even looked more like Boerboel’s.

Many have health issues such as hip dysplasia with countless others have eye problems including cherry eye; entropion etc. They are often nervous aggressive, and aggressive towards dogs (remember many of the mixes have fighting breeds in their heritage). They are often larger and stronger than their owners. So, unless you are a very experienced dog owner with considerable knowledge about the breed; have lots of time, space, money, physical and mental strength then we would suggest that you stay well clear of these types.


These dogs are not suitable as pets – in their homeland they were originally bred by mixing Bull Mastiffs and Rhodesian Ridgebacks to develop a breed to be used as ‘guard dogs’ for farms and the mines in South Africa. But looking at their size – some can grow to 90Kg or more – so undoubtedly other breeds have been introduced into the mix. Most are poorly bred; they can be aloof and can be owner aggressive or aggressive to other people and dogs. In South Africa they could potentially kill intruders, so the question is here is that there really isn’t a place for them as ‘pets’ in today’s society. If you own a 90Kg dog, and he doesn’t like you – how are you going to feel – intimidated we’d guess?

Pit Bulls / American Staffordshire Terriers

These are banned breeds in the UK, so strictly speaking we shouldn’t see any of them UK – but we see them on a regular basis. Many people have bought these breeds (and types), while others have rescued them – often being misled into thinking they were something else. While many of these dogs are super dogs, we have seen lots that are nervous, and not surprisingly (as fighting breeds) – dog aggressive.


While good examples of the breed are lovely looking dogs, they can be too large and powerful for their owners. They’re often aloof in nature and can be owner and dog aggressive. We have seen owners that have been frightened even of their own dogs! It is important to remember Akitas were bred as fighting dogs in their homeland. So, it should come of no real surprise as to where the aggression comes from – these dogs are not ideal as pets – the film ‘Hachi: A Dog’s Tale’ has a lot to answer for!

Great Danes

We like this breed, they’re often majestic and stunning. However, by their nature they are very big and powerful. Poor examples can be aggressive to other dogs (even people), and be realistic, can you see yourself holding one if it wants to chase a cat, car or something else. We know people that have been pulled over and suffered serious injuries with these breeds. We have even met people who have resorted to taking their dog for early morning walks, just to avoid meeting people. Be honest with yourself, do you realistically have a house that is big enough with large enough grounds that would do a Great Dane justice?

American Bull Dogs and American XL Bullies

We have purposely grouped these two breeds together. But sadly, all too often these breeds and their mixes are poorly bred and unhealthy – many have been sold for large sums of money, depending on their colour etc. But as a positive, the market is now beginning to show signs that the bubble has bursts – the market is now flooded with unwanted dogs. These dogs are stronger than most people can manage – many are nervous and dog aggressive. Irresponsible dealers have attempted to try and get round the ‘banned breeds’ legislation, and are now crossing these dogs back to pit bulls in an attempt to make a more aggressive animal. It is important to remember these are fighting types, and have been responsible for a large number of human fatalities in the UK – so they don’t make the best prospects as pets. We would urge anyone interested to watch the Panorama Documentary ‘Dogs, Dealers and Organised Crime’ as MPs now are now pressing the Government to make changes to the Law in relation to XL Bullies (and some other breeds) – so it is likely that there will be changes to legislation soon (As an update XL Bullies are now being banned in the UK). 

We have heard of countless XL Bullies which are far too heavy for their frame, having to under go expensive operations in relation to ACL.  


The smallest dog in this top ten is the Dachshund; originally bred to flush out and attack badgers. These are a firm favourite with many people, but we strongly suggest that you thoroughly research the breed and its breeders before parting with your hard-earned cash. Many are not structurally sound having weak backs and necks. We have however, seen some really fit examples that can walk on their hind legs, and run like a ‘racing snake’ – but alas these are in the minority. Many can be yappy and show aggression to other dogs without proper training from the start. 

Dog or Bitch

It doesn’t take a genius to  realise,  that male dogs are generally bigger and stronger, than females, so this is something that should be born in mind. But male dogs can be more dominant, and in some breeds / lines are more prone to being handler aggressive.   

Final Words

While we see many of the above breeds of are lovely and fine examples which after training have become well mannered, obedient and upstanding members of canine society – the above breeds are in our opinion the most challenging breeds (or types) that we see typical family people struggling with.

So often we hear owners saying, that when they visited the breeder or dealer “we didn’t want to leave him (her) with the breeder, the dog was under fed – in poor condition, not cared for and we didn’t see the parents (various excuses)”. All too often there is no official paperwork, pedigree or evidence of proper health checks (eye’s, hips, elbows, DNA etc) – and then the new owner so often ‘appears surprised!’ when things go wrong and they have problems. They should have done their homework from the start! Worse still, buying a puppy or adult dog from these people just encourages the ‘dealer’ to continue plighting their trade – making more money and ruining yet more people’s lives with unhealthy, unsound dogs with ‘breeds’ that are not suitable for most people as ‘pets’ or companions.