8 High Maintenance Dog Breeds

Some dogs need more attention than others and these range from addressing the natural drives to exercise, grooming, and socialization.

Feb 3, 2024By Lisa Szymanski
high maintenance dog breeds

When you think of a high maintenance breed, things like regular visits to the parlor come to mind. Some dogs definitely need frequent trips to the groomer, but demanding dogs include those with high energy and a constant need for training. A breed such as the Belgian Malinois proves this because they rely on constant exercise and stimulation to avoid aggression and excitability. To learn more about the world’s diva dogs, we look at 8 high maintenance dog breeds you never would have thought about.

1. Australian Shepherd

australian shepherd in snow
Australian shepherds can develop a high prey drive.

The Australian shepherd deserves a mention because they have abundant energy and they can become very destructive if not exercised. These multi-colored dogs are usually housed on farms where they have space to run and a job to do. They get bored very quickly and will start digging up the garden or chewing the furniture if they aren’t exercised and stimulated. These curious dogs thrive on human affection and if they aren’t raised with other dogs and pets, they can turn quite aggressive. But apart from socialization, Australian shepherds have a thick coat to help them withstand winter and it can get dirty and knotted rather quickly. To provide this breed with the right type of home, be prepared to train, socialize, groom, and exercise them more than your average dog.

2. Samoyed

a samoyed dog sitting in the sun
Samoyeds are pure white and wonderfully fluffy dogs.

Snow-white and fluffy with a smiling face best describes the cuddly Samoyed. They’re a popular American dog breed and do well in cold climates. But the reason I’ve added them to the list of high maintenance dogs is that they need grooming, exercise, socialization, and discipline. The dense coat of a Samoyed must be brushed every day to prevent tangling. You can purchase special grooming tools to help you maintain your Samoyed’s coat at home. In addition to keeping them brushed, these dogs need quite a bit of attention and training to remain socialized. They have quite independent personalities, so to avoid a shy or reserved dog, keep them interacting with other people and pets.

3. Border Collie

border collie running on grass
Border collies are fun and energetic.

Famously known for their sheep-herding abilities, border collies are smart and it’s their IQ that makes them a bit of a challenging breed to own. Many families successfully raise their collies with a few walks and playtime but some dogs develop a high drive and the need to herd. If they’re not given this outlet, everything becomes a target from cars and people on bicycles to other animals. Because herding is part of their instincts, you can place collies in herding programs and events, which helps to curb their drive. Along with their need for speed, border collies require regular brushing to prevent their long hair from becoming knotty. Give them a daily brush and take your collie on runs or hikes as a way to keep them entertained and under control.

4. Afghan

Afghand hound fawn hair blwoing in the wind
Afghans have long straight or wavy coats.

If there was ever a dog that had style and grace, it would be the striking Afghan hound. Considered the Rapunzel of the dog world, Afghans have long flowing hair from the top of their heads to the tips of their tails. While their soft hair is incredibly beautiful, it takes a significant amount of time to groom and keep in excellent condition. On top of their demanding beauty needs, Afghans are fast and aloof dogs. They don’t warm up to strangers very easily and if they get set off, they will run at tremendous speeds. They’d get close to the speeds of greyhounds if it weren’t for their long and thick hair.

5. Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan malamute running in the forest
Malamutes are powerful winter dogs.

Alaskan malamutes are large dogs with dense and fluffy coats. If you thought the shedding hair of a Siberian husky was a problem, wait till you discover the grooming requirements of a malamute! These snow dogs have double coats, which means they have a thick undercoat that feels like wool, and a coarse outer layer of hair. In spring, they shed their undercoat, which requires constant grooming. The more you brush, the more hair seems to shed. Huge tufts of hair are removed that could fill a very big bag. If you don’t brush them, the coat becomes mangled and you’ll have floating and shedding hair spread across your house. The easiest way to deal with the problem is to have their coats blown at a professional parlor.

6. Akita

brown and white akita standing in snow
Akitas are known for aggression.

Akitas are unique dogs with their soft coats and curly tails. But don’t let their placid appearance fool you. These dogs are on the top of the list when it comes to high maintenance pooches because they have earned an aggressive reputation. Akitas can be difficult dogs to raise because they tend to develop an intolerance for other animals, particularly same-sex dogs. They’re also very aware of strangers and do well when they’re constantly introduced to guests with positive reinforcement. To keep an Akita looking good, they can benefit from a visit to the groomer every 6 weeks. Much like the Siberian husky and malamute, Akitas have a double coat that is easier to manage when they’re bathed, trimmed, and brushed.

7. Portuguese Water Dog

portuguese water dog
Portuguese water dogs are a good choice for allergy sufferers.

If spending hours brushing your dog isn’t your idea of fun, then the Portuguese water dog might not be for you. These curly-coated canines are hypoallergenic but they rely on constant brushing and cleansing to prevent painful matting. Along with a daily brush, Portuguese water dogs must be taken to the parlor to keep their coats neatly trimmed. If not, their hair will cover their eyes and grow into an unmanageable mess. The wavy style of their hair isn’t easy to groom either. It’s best to have them brushed and clipped by an experienced groomer who knows how to facilitate the healthy growth of their coats.

8. Belgian Malinois

Belgian malinois running after a frisbee
The Belgian Malinois works in search and rescue, substance detection, and the force.

If you’re familiar with the Belgian Malinois, you’ll know that these dogs have an unstoppable amount of energy. They are intelligent, eager to work, and driven by performance, which are a few reasons why they make such excellent police dogs. The Belgian Malinois doesn’t need to spend hours at the parlor, but there’s an important reason they’ve made the list of high maintenance dog breeds. These popular search and rescue canines are not your typical family pet. Yes, grooming them is simple and they’re a generally healthy breed but if they don’t get the right type of exercise, they become extremely destructive. If you have your eyes on these dogs, you’ll have to participate in sports, long walks, running, and endless playtime to keep them happy.

Lisa Szymanski
By Lisa Szymanski

Lisa is a wildlife enthusiast who enjoys hiking and gardening and has four years of experience volunteering at pet shelters. She is the proud mom of two dogs, a Pitbull named Ragnar, a Boerboel named Blueberry, and four feisty chickens, or as she calls them, the "queens of the yard," Goldie, Gray, Peaches, and Brownie.