Top 5 Most Difficult Dog Breeds to Potty Train, Veterinarian Says

Stubborn and distracted, these dogs are hardest to housebreak.

On average, house training your puppy can take four to six months of hard work, dedication, and heavy-duty carpet cleaners. However, not all dogs master the art of doing their business outside within a set timeline. Some breeds are especially stubborn or confused by their new set of house rules—and a recent study suggests that smaller dogs are hardest to potty train. Adam Christman, DVM, a veterinarian and content creator, shared in a recent TikTok post that five small breeds stand out for being the least compliant with housebreaking rules. Read on to learn the most difficult dogs to potty train.

RELATED: I'm a Dog Trainer and I'd Never Own These 5 Breeds "Unless My Life Depended on It."

5
Bichon Frise

bichon frise dog walking in the park
Shutterstock / OlgaOvcharenko

Thanks to their fluffy, soft, and snowy white coat, Bichon Frises have a reputation for being an especially hygienic and manicured breed. However, Christman says that despite their "adorable" and refined look, they're known to have the rather unhygienic habit of having frequent accidents in the home.

"Bichons have a reputation for being difficult to housebreak. In every other respect, however, they are very easy to train," explains the American Kennel Club (AKC). "They respond very well to training based on positive rewards, rather than harsh or negative methods. A Bichon needs to be with his family, and undesirable behaviors are likely to result if he is regularly left alone for long periods of time."

RELATED: The 6 Best Dogs if You Have Allergies, Vets Say.

4
Jack Russell Terrier

A jack Russell dog waiting on his home's welcome mat with his leash in his mouth.
Javier Brosch / Shutterstock

The Jack Russell Terrier is another small dog breed that struggles to potty train on a timeline—and Christman says that its high energy levels and short attention span are most likely to blame.

"These dogs at number four tend to have the attention span of a toddler. They're most easily distracted at school," the vet says.

RELATED: I'm a Veterinarian and These Are the Top 5 Neediest Dog Breeds.

3
Dachshund

Dachshund Puppy
Liliya Kulianionak/Shutterstock

According to the AKC, Dachshunds can also be a challenge to train. "They love to give and receive affection and do best with positive, reward-based training. They are sensitive and will not react well to harsh commands or punishment," their experts note.

Christman agrees that house training can be a challenge for Dachshunds. "These dogs are stubborn. It takes about a year for them to be potty trained," he says. "They melt my soul but they ruin your floors."

2
Pomeranian

Dog breed Pomeranian Spitz red color lies on the carpet
iStock

The AKC describes Pomeranians as "alert" and "highly intelligent," noting that they "excel in activities like agility, rally, and obedience, or working as therapy dogs." However, they also warn that "housebreaking can be a challenge, so consistency and patience are key."

Christman confirms that Pomeranians may ignore your best efforts at potty training, putting the breed second on his list. Despite being cute, your average Pom will "tinkle in your lap and drop some nuggets in your purse," he says.

RELATED: 10 Best Dog Breeds to Own If You're Over 55, Veterinarian Says.

1
Shih Tzu

Shih tzu puppy in nature
iStock

Taking the number one spot on Christman's list of difficult dogs to potty train is the beloved toy breed, the Shih Tzu. "This is their reaction to you potty training them: 'NO,'" Christman says comically in his post, looking away and feigning disinterest.

The AKC says that though it may take longer to house-train a Shih Tzu, you should be able to make progress with patience and positive reinforcement.

"Training a Shih Tzu can be both an amusing and a frustrating experience," says the organization. "The breed tends to charm his owner into letting him have his own way, which can result in a chubby, less than completely housebroken pet who is difficult to groom."

To see the best results, you should use praise and rewards rather than harsh corrections to reinforce good behavior, the AKC suggests.

For more pet training tips sent directly to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
Filed Under
Sources referenced in this article
  1. Source: