Some dogs make perfect family pets, and others are a couch potato’s dream. But what if you’re an extra-experienced dog person looking for a rewarding challenge? Some breeds aren’t suitable for every home, but could be just right for yours.
Check out our roundup of the most interesting dog breeds for experienced dog owners. From protective dogs who need confident handlers, to loyal breeds who prefer just one person, your new best friend could be among them!
Cane Corso dogs are described as assertive, confident, and “noble of bearing.” These big lugs were originally bred as guard dogs, with adults tipping the scales at 100+ pounds! They can look intimidating, but Corsi are loyal and eager to please their people.
Equal parts intelligent and stubborn, Shar-Peis are a good fit for experienced dog lovers with a sense of humor. Their hippo noses and wrinkly skin complement their comical personalities, but Shar-Peis can be tough with people they don’t trust. They need lots of training and socialization to keep them happy.
With their plush coat and curly tail, Akitas look like enormous stuffed animals. But they don’t always want to be cuddled by strangers, and they need lots of training and socialization throughout their lives. Akitas were bred as guard dogs, and do best in homes without other dogs or small children. For dog-experienced adults, Akitas make loyal, beautiful companions!
Australian Cattle Dog
These smart, spirited herding dogs are not for the faint of heart. Seriously, you need to be in good shape to take on the athletic Australian Cattle Dog! Experienced dog owners know to put herding dogs to work.
Whether you’re actually herding cattle, or participating in dog sports like agility, keep your ACD busy. They’ll reward you with loyalty and love.
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There’s a reason Border Collies are favored among professional dog trainers! They’re great with kids, too, making them a good choice for an experienced dog family.
It’s easy to see why Shibas are the most popular dog in Japan: they’re sooo cute. But they’re not always the right fit for first-time dog owners. Shiba Inus are known for being independent, clever, stubborn, and active, meaning they need lots of exercise and training.
Shibas can be picky about who they like, and are sometimes described as “the most cat-like dog.”
With steely grey coats and piercing amber eyes, Weimaraners are stunning dogs. They’re also a lot of work! These sleek, athletic dogs were originally bred for speed and intelligence.
They need regular physical and mental exercise to keep them happy. Without enough activity, Weimies are prone to separation anxiety. But in the care of an experienced dog owner (preferably one who likes to run), Weimaraners make lovely family pets.
Tibetan Mastiffs are known for being big, strong, intelligent, and independent. They’re also described as “aloof.” These handsome, furry dogs tend to do what they want. They’re best suited for experienced dog owners who can establish a safe and entertaining daily routine.
“Entertaining” is important because Tibetan Mastiffs are very smart, and can be destructive when bored (the AKC warns of their “legendary fondness for wood”).
These lion-maned dogs are an ancient Chinese breed originally used for hunting. In recent generations, they’ve become known as guard dogs.
Chows don’t need a lot of exercise, and are content to hang around the house with their favorite person, making them excellent apartment-dwellers. Unfortunately, they also don’t do well with other dogs, and they can be stand-offish with new people. Fun fact: Martha Stewart has raised Chow Chows for years!
Afghan Hounds are undeniably beautiful, and undeniably high-maintenance when it comes to grooming. Let’s be real: it takes a dedicated dog person to deal with that thick, flowing coat.
They can also be rather aloof, and choosy about who they choose to spend time with. But if you’re an Afghan Hound’s chosen person, you’ve got a loving, mischievous friend for life!
Similar to its ancestor the Tibetan Mastiff, the Great Pyrenees is a strong-willed dog that needs a strong-willed human handler.
Pyrs were originally bred to be independent guardians, and they have rather loud barks! While they will happily hang around the house with you, they also enjoy lots of alone time, preferably outdoors. Great Pyrenees look like gentle giants, but as guardian dogs they can leap into action. That said, they’re also calm, patient, and wonderful companions for experienced dog people.
Caucasian Sheepdog (Ovcharka)
These striking dogs hail from the mountainous region of the Caucasus mountains in the former Soviet Union. They’re the most popular dog breed in Russia, in fact. They can weigh upwards of 150 pounds! Bred for working in the countryside and guarding livestock and properties, the Caucasian Ovcharka needs a lot of activity and a confident handler to manage its natural protective qualities.
Like the other dogs on this list, they can be very loyal, loving family pets with plenty of proper training and socialization.