What Are the Hardest Dogs to Housebreak?

by Jodi L. Hartley
    Certain types of dogs can more difficult to housebreak than others.

    Certain types of dogs can more difficult to housebreak than others.

    Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

    Housebreaking a dog or puppy takes diligence and consistency on the owner’s part no matter the breed. Thankfully, most dogs instinctually want to keep their living quarters clean, dry and separate from their potty area. However, some dog breeds, for a variety of reasons, have proven to be harder to housebreak than others.

    Toy breed dogs such as Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, pugs and Shih Tzus tend to be harder to housebreak. Owners often treat small dogs like babies and carry them outside for potty time instead of leashing and walking them to the potty area. Little dogs don’t learn how to alert their family that they need to potty or even how to get to the potty area this way. If their owner doesn’t take them out when they need to go, they will find a spot in the house. Also, a large wide-open area or having other larger animals around can make small dogs feel insecure and decrease their chance of using the designated area.

    A number of dogs in the hound family have a difficult time being housebroken without significant diligence on the part of the owner. Basset hounds, beagles, bloodhounds, dachshunds, Irish wolfhounds and whippets are among some of the most difficult. Because their scent or sight senses are so incredibly strong, hounds easily forget about potty time when they catch a scent or see something to be chased. Scent hounds in particular tend to mark in the house frequently because they smell the scent of old accidents in the house and will continue to mark that area if it isn’t cleaned well with an enzymatic cleaner.

    Similar to hounds, hunting breeds, such as cocker spaniels, German shorthaired pointers and Irish setters get distracted outside by their disposition to hunt. They can easily get away from their owner and travel miles in a short time if taken out unleashed.

    Boston, cairn, Jack Russell and Yorkshire terriers are some of the terrier breeds who have a hard time with housebreaking. Terriers are highly intelligent, stubborn, territorial and will easily take over as alpha of the family if given the chance. One slip in application of the rules you’ve laid is all a terrier needs to take over or decide to follow his own rules. This makes them more difficult to housebreak because they are independent and don’t like to follow anyone else’s rules.

    Dogs raised in puppy mills or kept confined in small cages for long periods of time also can be difficult to housebreak. Because they didn’t have a choice in keeping their sleeping quarters away from their potty area they don’t have the usual instinct to keep the den clean. Also, some dog breeds, such as the Chinese Shar-Pei and Great Dane, mature later in life in comparison to most dogs. It takes them longer to grow out of the puppy stage and have the physical and mental ability to control their potty habits.

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    About the Author

    Jodi L. Hartley has been a writer and public relations professional since 1992. Her experience includes public relations and marketing for a pet service/retail business, as well as volunteer work with animal rescue organizations. Hartley holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and an M.B.A.

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