When we think of dogs, we often think of happy-go-lucky, bouncing balls of fun. While this may be the case for many pooches out there, there are a number of sensitive breeds who need more gentle treatment, and who will feel happiest in calmer, quieter environments.
Each dog is an individual -much like with people - and this means that what works for one dog, won’t necessarily be the right thing for another. You only need to meet one hyperactive Bulldog or a shy and reserved Beagle, to know there’s nothing fixed when it comes to temperament. Having said that, breed does seem to play a part when it comes to sensitivity in dogs.
If you’re a dog owner, you may be asking where your own dog fits into this group. Let’s take a look at the ten most sensitive breeds out there…
The Labrador Retriever is most commonly known as an easy to train, outgoing goofball, always friendly and unfailingly happy.
When it comes to training your Labrador Retriever, there are certain considerations to bear in mind. These cheerful dogs are very sensitive and in-tune with their people. This makes them excellent emotional support dogs, but it also means harsh treatment and a lack of company can quickly have a negative impact.
Labrador Retrievers that are left for long periods may become destructive, and if they aren’t given the correct positive reinforcement training during their formative years, may be hard to handle when out and about.
Socialise your puppy from a young age and stick to regular, short training sessions for best results.
The beautiful long-haired cousin of the Labrador, Golden Retrievers are endearingly kind, empathetic and very gentle. As one of the most emotional dogs, this breed is easily affected by changes in the environment and their person’s mood.
Balancing exercise and time in a calm, quiet environment, can really help your sensitive pup. It allows them to process the world around them and learn to settle in a comfortable environment.
This is perhaps one of the smartest breeds there is. Socialisation and adequate exercise are key to avoid a hypersensitive dog around movement and noises.
Intelligent and easy to train, Border Collies will find themselves a job if their life is too sedentary. It’s not uncommon to hear of children or other animals being herded at home. Avoid this with lots of stimulating games and regular training sessions.
As a dog that has been bred over generations to pay close attention to their owner’s cues, the Australian Shepherd can become noise sensitive if not exposed to different sounds from an early age.
Expose your dog to new noises at a low level to start. Reward all calm, relaxed body language, and slowly build in intensity as their confidence grows.
Affectionate, active and friendly may be the first words the come to mind when we think of the Yorkshire Terrier, but this breed can be sensitive to new people approaching and handling them.
Build your dog’s confidence with short, positive interactions, always allowing them to move away when needed. Reward friendly behaviour regularly and consistently using positive reinforcement.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Also in the sensitive small dog category is the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Gentle and always eager to please, these adorable dogs can be very sensitive to harsh treatment.
When training your Cavalier, training with toys and using a soft, encouraging tone is the way to go.
With their impressive stature and appearance, the Pitbull Terrier may not be the first dog that comes to mind when we think of sensitive dog breeds.
A Pitbull that is well-trained and properly socialised will be the best friend a person can have. These dogs bond so closely with their family, they can struggle with separation anxiety when left alone. When it comes to training your Pitbull puppy, it’s always advisable to start their separation training early. Build up the time slowly and always leave your dog after they’ve been walked. With consistency and routine, they’ll soon learn you come back in no time.
Described by the Kennel Club as good-natured and courageous, the Rottweiler can become overly protective and sensitive to handling without the right socialisation. This can be as simple as taking your pup out regularly and rewarding fun interactions and affection from new people. Reward often and keep sessions short. Your four-legged friend will learn to look forward to time with new people.
As one of the oldest breeds, the Afghan Hound has a low tolerance for pain and can react badly to rough treatment. This can lead to a shy or even defensive dog.
A gentle hand and lots of motivation will go a long way, so take some time to work out what really makes your hound tick. Once you have it, train little and often with lots of praise.
Of all sensitive dog breeds, Greyhounds definitely prefer quieter people and environments. These noble souls can become easily overwhelmed so gentle leadership is a must when training your Greyhound. Use reward-based methods at all times and read your dog’s body language for signs they need a break. Your bond will be stronger and your Greyhound happier.
Certain behaviours have been found to be influenced by genetic variance, and it’s clear that some breeds are more sensitive than others. This doesn’t mean your dog can’t be social, happy and fun-loving, quite the opposite.
With an understanding of their personality and by using the right training techniques, you can have the best of both worlds: A sweet, gentle friend, that’s happy in company and ready to join you for all kinds of adventures.