The 15 Most High-Maintenance Dog Breeds

High Maintenance Dog Breeds -
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While there are low-maintenance dog breeds, any dog owner will tell you that all dogs require lots of time and attention. Pets—even cats!—have needs. We are the humans responsible for giving our animal family members the best life possible. So, if your household is super hectic and you’re in the market for a dog, it might be wise to steer clear of the breeds on this list. On the other hand, if you thrive on early mornings, can follow strict routines or work from home, a high-maintenance dog breed could be the addition you’ve been looking for. 

What Makes Certain Dog Breeds 'High-Maintenance'?

Dogs can be high maintenance for many reasons. More often than not, the most high-maintenance dog will be a puppy, regardless of breed. Puppies are babies. They may be weaned from their mothers, but they rely on you to teach them everything from obedience to potty training to socialization and beyond. As any new puppy parent knows, they test your patience and can drain your savings.

Once your dog reaches adulthood (or young adulthood), they may require extra grooming. Most dogs should be brushed a few times a week. Some breeds require daily grooming sessions, frequent baths (complete with post bath blow outs) or regular visits to a professional groomer to keep their coat in tip-top shape. This is high maintenance because it takes up time, energy and funds. If you want to groom yourself, there’s also a learning curve and you’ll have to hold yourself accountable instead of relying on the groomer to take care of things.

High energy dogs are also high maintenance. These are the dogs who seem to be at the dog park every single day, no matter the time, with boundless energy. They need multiple daily walks or runs to keep them happy. If kept indoors and alone for too long, these dogs become destructive or depressed. They have energy to burn and are usually highly intelligent. It’s possible these pups won’t do well in apartments and should live in homes with yards (with durable fences to keep them safely contained).

Finally, breeds known for their stubborn independence will give you—and any dog trainer you hire—a run for your money when it comes to teaching obedience. These dogs typically make great watchdogs but can be confrontational with strangers and other animals, making it difficult to have company over or take your dog to crowded areas.

Sometimes, regardless of breed or coat, a dog simply requires extra care and attention. We’re talking rescue pups who have been through some trauma and are reactive; dogs with chronic illness or injury; dogs who need to eat specialized diets and cannot be given random treats by your well-intentioned friends! Fostering or pet-sitting a dog before you adopt can give you a taste of what life will be like with them around 24/7. You’ll be able to find the best match for your lifestyle and the dog’s personality. 

15 High-Maintenance Dog Breeds

High Maintenance Dog Breeds - A photograph of a white Afghan Hound in front of a brown background.

1. Afghan Hound

  • Height: 25-27 inches
  • Weight: 50-60 pounds
  • Personality: Independent, proud
  • Activity Level: Moderate to High
  • Shedding Factor: Low
  • Life Expectancy: 12-18 years

As the Afghan Hound Club of America says, “Hair is the hallmark of the Afghan Hound.” These elegant canines require frequent grooming. Their long coats need to be brushed daily to prevent tangles and snarls. The kicker? They need to be bathed before you can groom. Afghan Hounds who are show dogs are bathed at least twice per week before a blow dry and brush. Brushing a dirty coat can lead to painful mats, so be prepared to bathe these dogs often, with high-quality products to keep their skin healthy and hydrated.

High Maintenance Dog Breeds - A ginger and white Akita dog walks on a leash with its owner through a grassy field while the sun shines.

2. Akita

  • Height: 24-28 inches
  • Weight: 70-130 pounds
  • Personality: Loyal, Brave
  • Activity Level: High
  • Shedding Factor: Seasonal
  • Life Expectancy: 10-13 years

Akitas are working dogs who can be standoffish with strangers and easily irritated with other dogs of the same sex. They require firm training and ample socialization as puppies - especially if you have kiddos at home. While they don’t bark a ton and are pretty clean and easy to groom, they definitely require more mental work. If you have it in you to train and maintain ground rules, Akitas can become loving, loyal family members

High Maintenance Dog Breeds - A black and white Alaskan Malamute smiles while sitting in the snow.

3. Alaskan Malamute

  • Height: 23-25 inches
  • Weight: 75-85 pounds
  • Personality: Playful, Obedient
  • Activity Level: High
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 10-14 years

Two big factors make Alaskan Malamutes high-maintenance: their grooming regimen and their energy level. These dogs have boundless energy and need lots of outdoor play and exercise time. On top of that, they have thick double coats that must be brushed every day. They shed a ton as the seasons change, so you’ll need to add in an undercoat rake, according to the American Kennel Club’s grooming guidelines. This will prevent mats from forming.

High Maintenance Dog Breeds - A brown, black and gray Australian Cattle Dog smiles while walking through a a grassy area with purple blooms.

4. Australian Cattle Dog

  • Height: 17-20 inches
  • Weight: 35-50 pounds
  • Personality: Alert, Loyal
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate
  • Activity Level: High
  • Life Expectancy: 12-16 years

As tireless herding dogs, Australian Cattle Dogs need to run. Their high prey drive and protective instincts come from their Collie and wild Dingo ancestors. Get ready for a pet who thrives in wide open spaces where they can run to their heart’s content. Australian Cattle Dogs are also known as Blue Heelers, because of their blue merle coats. Luckily, these coats are short and don’t require tons of time grooming (you’ll spend all your time training and tossing toys to keep them entertained).

High Maintenance Dog Breeds - A brindle black and brown Belgian Malinois sits smiling for the photo in front of a wooded area that's blurred behind it.

5. Belgian Malinois

  • Height: 22-26 inches
  • Weight: 40-80 pounds
  • Personality: Smart, devoted, confident
  • Activity Level: High
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 14-16 years

If you’re looking for a dog who wants to be around you all the time, playing interactive games and burning energy, go with a Belgian Malinois. These large, strong dogs have high prey instincts and are very smart. They desperately want to be included in any and all activities. Leaving a Belgian Malinois at home for long stretches is simply out of the question - they will likely develop separation anxiety, destroy your furniture out of boredom or both. It’s recommended to engage with these dogs in activities like hiking or agility training.

High Maintenance Dog Breeds - A black and white Border Collie sits looking at the camera in a snow covered forest area.

6. Border Collie

  • Height: 18-22 inches
  • Weight: 30-55 pounds
  • Personality: Energetic, Smart
  • Activity Level: High
  • Shedding Factor: Seasonal
  • Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

Like the Australian Cattle Dog, the Border Collie is a highly energetic canine. On top of that, their intelligence rivals the smartest mammals around (aka, you). The Border Collie Society of America says these dogs are not for first-time dog owners. They demand lots of attention and training, both as puppies and adults. You’ve got to be firm and display strong leadership skills, or these smarties will take advantage of you. Plus, they are herders at heart. Chasing small animals, including kids, even as a form of play, is second nature and can be scary for little ones.

High Maintenance Dog Breeds - A brown Chow Chow sits on a stone walkway that goes through a walkway.

7. Chow Chow

  • Height: 17-20 inches
  • Weight: 45-70 pounds
  • Personality: Serious, loyal
  • Activity Level: Moderate
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate to High
  • Life Expectancy: 8-12 years

These loyal puffballs require consistent grooming to keep them looking and feeling their best. Chow Chows should be introduced to a grooming regimen early so they get used to it. This includes bath time, brushing and blow drying. Washing the fluffy fur around their faces can be tricky, but it’s important to keep them clean and free of painful mats. Beyond their grooming requirements, these dogs tend to be sweet and affectionate with family members and aloof with strangers.

High Maintenance Dog Breeds - A brown and black German Shepherd sits smiling for the camera with its tongue out. It's in front of a blurry forested area during the day.

8. German Shepherd

  • Height: 22-26 inches
  • Weight: 50-90 pounds
  • Personality: Loyal, Confident
  • Activity Level: High
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate to High
  • Life Expectancy: 7-10 years

Without a job to do, German Shepherds can become listless and frustrated. They’ve spent generations working in high-pressure environments like police forces and among military personnel, so including them in family activities is a must. German Shepherds are smart, confident and loyal; their humans need to be firm and consistent in training and commands. Typically, they aren’t friendly and outgoing with strangers, but love to dote on their family members. It’s wise to always keep them on leash while out walking, as they can become obsessed with tracking a scent or chasing a rabbit and run off without a second thought.

High Maintenance Dog Breeds - A black Giant Schnauzer stands in the middle of an autumnal forest smiling at the camera.

9. Giant Schnauzer

  • Height: 23-27 inches
  • Weight: 55-80 pounds
  • Personality: Sweet, Obedient
  • Activity Level: Moderate
  • Shedding Factor: Hypoallergenic
  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 16 years

Giant Schnauzers are loving dogs with sensitive temperaments. They can be serious and territorial, which means firm training up top is crucial. Luckily, these canines are smart and learn quickly, according to The Giant Schnauzer Club of America. Like German Shepherds, they aren’t friendly with new people but can develop trust with new friends over time. Consistent grooming is also essential, especially around their faces. The thick Schnauzer coat needs to be brushed regularly (luckily, this is a bonding activity which Giant Schnauzers will enjoy because it gives them more time with you). 

High Maintenance Dog Breeds - A light brown and cream colored Lhasa Apso runs through a grassy field full of dandelions during the day. There are a couple of small trees in the background.

10. Lhasa Apso

  • Height: 10-11 inches
  • Weight: 12-18 pounds
  • Temperament: Intelligent, protective
  • Shedding Factor: Low
  • Activity Level: Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

Whether you let your Lhasa Apso’s coat grow long or you ask a groomer to cut it short is up to you. Both routes mean regular grooming. Longer coats need to be bathed more frequently. A Lhasa Apso’s eyes and face may also need extra special care, since their fur can become tear-stained. Though these are tiny dogs, they demand much of their owner’s attention. Leaving them alone for too long can drive them to destruction. Bred as companion lap dogs, Lhasa Apsos retain a significant protective streak that can manifest as clingy behavior.

High Maintenance Dog Breeds - A white and gray Old English Sheepdog sits on the grassy dunes of a sandy beach. It's hair blows in the wind. It's an overcast day, but with sun behind some clouds.

11. Old English Sheepdog

  • Height: 21-24 inches
  • Weight: 60-100 pounds
  • Personality: Smart, Sweet
  • Activity Level: Moderate
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 12-12 years

Who doesn’t love a big, fluffy, friendly dog? Old English Sheepdogs are all three and then some. Owners should be prepared to brush frequently to prevent this coat from getting tangled. A few times a week you’ll need to do a very thorough all-over brush to keep tabs on your pup’s coat. It may be wise to have a groomer keep the coat trimmed slightly, to make it more manageable. (If you live in a rainy climate, a long-haired dog breed who likes to be outside, rolling around on the ground, might make your house messier and your life harder.) Beyond their grooming requirements, these strong, athletic dogs need lots of playtime. Bred to herd sheep, they’re made for the great outdoors and thrive on interactive games.

High Maintenance Dog Breeds - A black Poodle sits in a grassy area looking at the camera with its tongue stuck out.

12. Poodle (Standard)

  • Height: 15+ inches
  • Weight: 40-70 pounds
  • Personality: Intelligent, active
  • Activity Level: High
  • Shedding Factor: Hypoallergenic
  • Life Expectancy: 10-18 years

As one of dogdom’s smarted breeds, Poodles need lots of mental stimulation. Get ready for teaching them commands and new tricks, not to mention getting them outside for plenty of exercise every day. They are athletic and energetic animals. On top of that, their hypoallergenic coats require professional grooming. You can try to tackle it yourself, but regular trips to a reliable groomer will help keep your Poodle’s coat in good shape - whether that means a specific style or a manageable length.

High Maintenance Dog Breeds - A caramel and black Rhodesian Ridgeback looks off into the distance. The camera shot is from above and you can see that the dog has piercing brown eyes. It sits on a brown surface.

13. Rhodesian Ridgeback

  • Height: 24-27 inches
  • Weight: 70-85 pounds
  • Personality: Affectionate, independent
  • Activity Level: Moderate
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

Rhodesian Ridgebacks hail from Africa where they are lauded as family protectors. Get ready for an affectionate, yet independent dog at home. They definitely have a mind of their own and tend to be stubborn when it comes to training. Due to their strength and territoriality, socializing and training them early is non-negotiable. While they may not have the boundless energy of an Australian Cattle Dog, Rhodesian Ridgebacks definitely need plenty of exercise and daily activities. The good news: Grooming is a cinch!

High Maintenance Dog Breeds - A ginger and white Siberian Husky with piercing blue eyes looks directly at the camera while sitting on a gray couch.

14. Siberian Husky

  • Height: 20-24 inches
  • Weight: 35-60 pounds
  • Personality: Loyal, energetic
  • Activity Level: High
  • Shedding Factor: High
  • Life Expectancy: 12-14 years

Like Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies are energetic sled dogs with high prey drives. The AKC says giving them a large yard in which they can roam and run is ideal for their mental and physical health! When out on walks, leashes are necessary. These dogs won’t hesitate to chase after something that catches their eye. As pack dogs, Siberian Huskies are super friendly and may get themselves in trouble if they gallop over to every dog they see. They definitely don’t require crazy grooming regimens, as long as you can take the time to brush them all over every week.

High Maintenance Dog Breeds - A bright orange Tibetan Mastiff sits in the middle of a grassy area at sunset. It's face and body droops toward the ground.

15. Tibetan Mastiff

  • Height: 24-26 inches
  • Weight: 70-150 pounds
  • Temperament: Stubborn, mellow
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate to High
  • Activity Level: Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

Large and in charge, Tibetan Mastiffs have stubborn dispositions. Though they are mellow and don’t need tons of outdoor activity time, training them and ensuring they follow commands will be your biggest challenge. As terrific as they are guarding their homes, they tend to have minds of their own and won’t necessarily follow orders. In fact, they’ve been known to learn commands and then decide if and when they’ll follow them! Keep your Tibetan Mastiffs on leash at all times when out and about. They are territorial and won’t hesitate to protect you from anyone they see as a threat.

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Sarah Ashley is a Chicago-based freelance journalist. She has covered pets for PureWow for six years and tackles everything from dog training tips to the best litter boxes. Her...