The 20 Least Obedient Large Dog Breeds

How intelligent dogs are is not easy to judge. As with humans, dogs’ intelligence manifests itself in different ways. Dogs can be emotionally astute, instinctive or innate, or have “work intelligence” – meaning they are more likely to obey orders.

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

According to the American Kennel Club, dogs can be more or less obedient depending on their breed. Border collies are herding dogs that were bred to listen to commands, but many terriers were bred to work independently to catch bugs and may be more likely to ignore them to hunt their prey.

Take a look at 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 probably only obeys 30 percent of the time. Independent, loyal, and very athletic, these greyhounds can reach immense speeds to capture prey, according to the AKC.

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

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


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

Great Dane

Mastiffs, sometimes referred to as Old English Mastiffs, are large but good-natured. However, the AKC states that they need solid workout and plenty of exercise and stimulation to keep them from becoming bored and destructive.

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


Weighing between 100 and 130 pounds, these attentive giants make great family pets and watchdogs. Owners need to exercise and socialize their dogs when they are puppies. According to Cohen, these dogs respond to commands about 40 percent of the time.

Bull terrier

Bull Terriers are fun, mischievous, and stubborn, and require firm but loving training with patient owners. Once socialized, these perky dogs make excellent family pets.

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

Rocky Bull Terrier hero dog fire rescue
Bull Terriers have a reputation for being strong-willed
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Great Pyrenees

Originating in the Pyrenees, the Great Pyrenees are large working dogs bred to protect sheep. These dogs were bred to be independent, and while they are smart, they just don’t see the point in sitting and staying, according to the AKC.

Old English Shepherd Dog

Old English Sheepdogs are smart and independent, but they can be strong willed and need a steady hand when it comes to training. The UK Kennel Club states that 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
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Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs are quick and powerful with a strong drive to chase prey. The breed can be independent and occasionally dominant, according to the AKC, but they make loyal pets when trained as puppies.


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 need a good education and a firm but loving hand
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Boxers are bright, energetic, and make great family dogs. However, they are known to be stubborn and require plenty of exercise to avoid unwanted behaviors associated with boredom, such as digging or chewing.

German Mastiff

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

German Mastiff
A Great Dane on the first day of the Crufts Dog Show 2018 show
OLI SCHAL / AFP via Getty Images / Getty


Greyhounds may be quick, but they are gentle, quiet, and tend not to be aggressive. However, they can have a strong prey drive and tend to hunt small pets like rabbits.

Siberian husky

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

Siberian Huskies are working sled dogs and require good training as puppies
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Otterhounds were bred in medieval England for what is now illegal otter hunting. These dogs respond to positive, reward-based training methods and enjoy receiving extensive praise for doing things right.


The AKC recommends three types of training for these large greyhounds. Crate training is useful when it is necessary to keep them safe at home, obedience training and agility games for mental stimulation.

Greyhounds are kings of the racetrack
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 socialization and training. Puppy training courses with positive training methods can be very helpful. According to Cohen, they obey at least 50 percent of the time.

Curly-coated retriever

Affectionately called Curlies, these dogs are affectionate but more independent than Labradors or Golden Retrievers. They can be playful and mischievous with their owners, but be suspicious of strangers. Curly-coated retrievers are also full of energy.

Curly-Coated Retriever NYC 2016
A curly-haired retriever competing at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. All dogs can be trained with time and patience
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Kuvasz dogs were bred to guard livestock and make good watch dogs. However, training these dogs can take time and patience, and they will respond to gentler approaches rather than harsh training techniques.

Scottish Deerhound

Among the largest breeds of dogs, the Deerhound was bred to track the wild red deer in Scotland. They are sensitive dogs who like to spend time with their owners, as long as they’re properly trained.


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

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