Most Reactive Dog Breeds: 19 Dog Breeds You Should Definitely Know 2024

As dog owners, we all want our furry friends to be happy and well-behaved. However, understanding the unique traits of the most reactive dog breeds is crucial, as they can pose distinct training and socialization challenges. This guide offers valuable insights into recognizing and managing reactivity in your canine companion.

According to researchers, there are several common reactive dog breeds, including the Bull Terrier, Chihuahua, Dalmatian, German Shepherd, Jack Russell Terrier, and Siberian Husky. These breeds may be more prone to reactive behaviors such as barking, growling, or lunging at other dogs, people, or objects.

It’s essential to note that reactivity is not the same as aggression. A reactive dog may exhibit fear or nervousness in specific situations, leading to an overreaction. In contrast, an aggressive dog may have the intent to harm others. We have also observed that reactivity can manifest even in positive situations.

The AKC Breed Temperament Guide can be a valuable resource for understanding the general characteristics of different dog breeds. However, it’s crucial to remember that each dog is an individual with a unique personality and behavior.

If you have a reactive dog, we strongly recommend seeking professional help from an animal behavior specialist. They can provide guidance on managing your dog’s behavior and creating a customized training plan tailored to their needs.

In addition to professional help, there are several things you can do to manage your reactive dog’s behavior, including:

  • Avoiding triggers that cause your dog to react
  • Using positive reinforcement training techniques
  • Providing plenty of exercise and mental stimulation
  • Using calming aids like pheromone sprays or anxiety wraps

It’s important to build an understanding of most reactive dog breeds, and by taking action to control their behavior, we can help our furry friends lead happy and stress-free lives.

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02/03/2024 10:24 am GMT

Most Reactive Dog Breeds

As we introduced earlier, as a dog-loving person, you know that every dog is unique. Nevertheless, some breeds are more reactive than others. We’ve pondered and explored the most reactive dog breeds and also considered where this reactive behavior actually comes from.

Border Collie 🐾

most reactive dog breeds border collie

The Border Collie is one of the most well-known breeds when it comes to reactivity.
Therefore, we consider them among the most reactive dog breeds. They were bred to be reactive to changes in the position of livestock. As a result, they can be highly reactive to other animals, people, and even sudden movements today.

German Shephards 🐾

most reactive dog breeds german shepherds

German Shepherds are also considered highly reactive dogs by us. They are exceptionally intelligent and loyal, but they possess a strong protective instinct as well. This can lead to overreactive behaviors, such as barking, lunging, or biting when they perceive a threat.

Basset Hounds 🐾

most reactive dog breeds basset hounds

Basset Hounds are particularly known for their keen sense of smell, but they can also be prone to reactive behavior. They easily get distracted by scents and may react to other dogs or people when they feel threatened or scared.

Australian Shepherds 🐾

most reactive dog breeds australian shepherds

Australian Shepherds are brilliant and active dogs but can also be prone to reactivity. Their high energy levels can make them easily stimulated, leading to reactive behaviors towards other dogs or people. We have already observed how their behavior can change from one minute to the next due to their reactive nature.

Dalmatian 🐾

most reactive dog breeds dalmatians

One of the most reactive dog breeds can also be a Dalmatian. They are known for their high energy and need for movement. This can make them easily excitable, and their reactive behavior can make them difficult to handle in certain situations.

Golden Retrievers 🐾

most reactive dog breeds golden retrievers

We typically know Golden Retrievers for their friendly and gentle nature, but they can also be prone to reactive behavior. Therefore, they are also considered one of the most reactive dog breeds by us.

Their strong prey drive can make them reactive towards other animals, and they may become overly excited or anxious in certain situations. Additionally, their heightened playfulness can lead to reactive behavior.

Bulldogs 🐾

most reactive dog breeds bulldogs

Bulldogs are considered relaxed and affectionate dogs. However, they can also exhibit reactive behavior. When they feel that their family is threatened, their protective nature can lead to overreactive behavior towards other dogs or people.

Belgian Malinois 🐾

most reactive dog breeds belgian malinois

Belgian Malinois are highly intelligent and easily trainable. However, they can also be prone to reactive behavior. Their high energy levels, coupled with a strong protective instinct, can lead to overreactive behaviors toward other dogs or people.

Pekingese 🐾

most reactive dog breeds pekingese

You can also consider Pekingese among the most reactive dog breeds. They are small dogs with big personalities, but they can also be prone to reactive behavior. Due to their small size, they may feel vulnerable and anxious, leading to reactive behaviors towards other dogs or people.

Labrador Retrievers 🐾

most reactive dog breeds labrador retrievers

Labrador Retrievers are typically known for their friendly and easy-going nature, but they can also be prone to reactive behavior. Their high energy levels and strong prey drive can make them reactive towards other animals, and they may become overly excited or anxious in certain situations.

Boxers 🐾

most reactive dog breeds boxers

Boxers are sometimes reactive dogs due to their strong protective instincts and high energy. They have an innate need to protect their family, and when they perceive potential threats, they can overreact by barking, growling, or displaying aggressive behavior in other ways. This reactive behavior can occur in specific situations, especially if they haven’t been properly trained or socialized.

Doberman Pinschers 🐾

most reactive dog breeds doberman pinschers

Doberman Pinschers can be reactive dogs due to their high intelligence, energy, and strong protective instincts. They are naturally alert and protective, which can lead to overreactive behavior in certain situations. When they perceive potential threats, they may bark, growl, or exhibit aggressive behavior. Proper training and socialization are crucial to control their behavior and ensure they minimize reactive tendencies.

German Shorthaired Pointers 🐾

most reactive dog breeds german shorthaired pointers

German Shorthaired Pointers are highly active and athletic dogs, but they can also be prone to reactivity. Their high energy levels and strong prey drive can make them reactive towards other animals, and they may become overly excited or anxious in certain situations.

Greyhounds 🐾

most reactive dog breeds greyhounds

Greyhounds are also among the most reactive dog breeds, in our opinion, due to their strong prey drive. This prey drive, which is pronounced in Greyhounds, causes them to be particularly responsive to fast movements or animals they may perceive as potential prey. This can lead to them exhibiting reactive behavior in certain situations, such as excessive excitement or anxiety.

Vizslas 🐾

most reactive dog breeds vizslas

Vizslas can exhibit reactive behaviors due to their high energy levels and strong prey drive. This breed often has a strong desire to seek out and chase prey because of their hunting instinct. In situations where they are restricted or unable to fulfill this drive, it can manifest as reactive behavior, such as excessive excitement or anxiety.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels 🐾

most reactive dog breeds Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are typically known for their friendly and affectionate nature. However, they can also be prone to reactive behavior. This behavior can stem from their innate sensitivity and their need for attention.

When they feel neglected or insecure, they may exhibit reactive behaviors such as barking, howling, or excessive clinginess. It is essential to train and socialize them properly to boost their self-confidence and minimize reactive tendencies.

Boerboels 🐾

most reactive dog breeds boerboels

Boerboels are typically known for their strong and protective nature. However, they can also be prone to reactive behavior. Their innate protective instinct can lead to overreactive behavior, especially when they perceive potential threats.

In such situations, they may tend to bark aggressively or exhibit defensive behavior. Careful training and socialization are important to control their behavior and ensure it is appropriate.

Irish Wolfhounds 🐾

most reactive dog breeds irish wolfshounds

Irish Wolfhounds are typically gentle giants, known for their calm and friendly demeanor. However, their large size and protective instincts can sometimes lead to reactivity. These dogs may become reactive if they sense a potential threat to their family or territory.

Their sheer size can make their reactions more intimidating, even if their intentions are protective rather than aggressive. Proper socialization and training from an early age can help minimize their reactivity and encourage them to be confident and well-behaved companions.

Jack Russell Terriers 🐾

most reactive dog breeds jack russell terriers

Jack Russell Terriers are small, energetic dogs known for their strong prey drive. Therefore, we consider them among the most reactive dog breeds. Bred for hunting, they can be reactive when encountering other dogs, people, or moving objects.

Their high energy may lead to barking and lunging. Proper training and mental/physical stimulation can manage their reactivity.

If you think we’ve forgotten one of the most reactive dog breeds in your opinion, please let us know in the comments.

Do you also have an interest in particularly funny dog breeds? Then be sure to check out our post on the funniest dog breeds.

Exercise Needs of Reactive Dogs

Having discussed the various most reactive dog breeds, we now aim to delve into the causes of reactive behavior. It’s essential to understand that these dogs often have high energy levels and require ample exercise to stay healthy, happy, and balanced.

From our own experience, we can attest that regular exercise not only helps to burn off excess energy but also promotes mental stimulation, which can reduce the likelihood of reactive behavior. It’s important to note that the daily exercise needs vary depending on the breed, size, age, and health condition of the dog.

Generally, it is recommended that reactive dogs receive a minimum of one hour of exercise per day, although a bit more is certainly welcome. This exercise can encompass outdoor activities such as running, hiking, and swimming, as well as indoor activities like fetch or going for a jog.

The key is to keep your dog active. For those of us leading active lifestyles, owning a reactive dog can be a fantastic way to stay motivated and in shape.

Many of these most reactive dog breeds are highly athletic and enjoy participating in outdoor activities with their owners. Through these activities, not only your dog benefit but you can reap the rewards.

It’s essential to emphasize that exercise alone might not be sufficient to control reactive behavior in dogs. Training and socialization are equally vital components of a comprehensive behavior management plan, a topic we’ll explore further.

The Importance of Training

Training is an equally essential part of responsible dog ownership, just like providing adequate exercise, especially for the most reactive dog breeds. We recommend starting obedience training as early as possible, ideally when the dog is still a puppy.

The goal of training is to help the most reactive dog breeds behave correctly and appropriately in various situations, with the aim of preventing undesirable behavior like aggression.

As almost always, in our opinion, reward-based training is the most effective way to train dogs, especially those that are reactive. Positive reinforcement encourages dogs to repeat good behavior by rewarding them with treats, praise, or play. This type of training also helps build trust between the dog and the owner and creates a positive association with training.

Obedience training is crucial for your dog as it teaches them basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “come.” With these fundamental commands, you can already prevent and manage some undesirable behaviors.

For example, if a reactive dog is trained to respond to the command “come,” it can prevent the dog from running toward another dog or person and reacting with reactive behavior.

Training can also help the most reactive dog breeds learn how to handle different situations. For instance, desensitization training can assist dogs in becoming less reactive to specific triggers like other dogs or loud noises. This training involves gradually exposing the dog to the trigger in a controlled environment while rewarding good behavior.

Mental Stimulation for Reactive Dogs


We now know that it’s important to satisfy your dog’s exercise needs and provide regular training. But mental stimulation can also help tire your dog’s brain, leading to a calmer and happier dog. Therefore, we’ve compiled some ways you can provide mental stimulation for the most reactive dog breeds:

Playing Games

Playing games with your dog is a great and perfect way to provide mental stimulation. Games like fetch and hide-and-seek can help tire out your dog’s brain. You can also try playing games that require your dog to use their brain, like puzzle toys or treat-dispensing toys.

At the same time, playing with your dog strengthens the bond between you. The possibilities for mentally engaging your dog through play are endless. If you ever run out of ideas, you can also contact us for assistance.

Dog Sports

But dog sports like agility, herding, and tracking are excellent ways to provide mental stimulation for your dog. These sports engage your dog’s brain and can help tire them out. You can also try nose work, where your dog learns to use their sense of smell to find hidden objects.

Training

Even regular dog training is another excellent way to provide mental stimulation. Teaching your dog new tricks and commands challenges their brain. Thus, even basic training contributes to mental fatigue. You can also try teaching your dog to perform tasks like fetching the newspaper or opening doors.

Walking

A simple walk is a great way to provide mental stimulation. Allowing your dog to sniff around and explore their environment can help tire their brain. You can also try changing your walking route to keep things interesting for your dog.

However, we also believe that if you are an owner of one of the most reactive dog breeds, you should seek advice from a professional dog trainer. They can provide you with many helpful tips.


Even with the most reactive dog breeds, our guide on long-leash training can be beneficial.

Our Opinion on the Most Reactive Dog Breeds

We continue to be captivated by the subject of the most reactive dog breeds. In our article, we’ve introduced you to a variety of the most reactive dog breeds, but this doesn’t mean that every dog of these breeds will necessarily be highly reactive.

Each dog has its unique personality and temperament. Reactive behavior in dogs isn’t always negative or aggressive; it can also manifest positively, such as when a dog shows excessive joy or a strong play drive.

The key is to understand what’s happening with our dogs and respond accordingly.

We’ve observed that factors like size, exercise needs, and social interaction play significant roles in a dog’s reactivity. It’s fascinating to see how these various factors interact, and as dog enthusiasts, we aim to help our furry friends better cope with their reactivity.

Research and information about the most reactive dog breeds are invaluable to us. With this knowledge, we can become better pet owners and provide our dogs with more fulfilling lives. Our perspective is that understanding the needs and peculiarities of these most reactive dog breeds is crucial in offering them the best possible living conditions.

FAQ

Which dog breed is most reactive?

Reactivity can be found in dogs of any breed, but it’s particularly prevalent in herding breeds, such as Border Collies and cattle dogs. These breeds were intentionally developed for their remarkable attentiveness and quick responses to changes in their surroundings, which places them among the most reactive dog breeds.

What dogs are reactive?

A reactive dog, especially in the case of the most reactive dog breeds, is usually a dog that experiences fear or anxiety. The causes of reactivity can sometimes have a genetic basis, but more frequently, they result from insufficient socialization, past negative encounters, or inadequate training. It’s crucial to understand that even though reactive dogs may exhibit signs similar to aggressive dogs, their primary motivation is not to cause harm or destruction.

Are all reactive dogs aggressive?

Reactivity is not aggression, but it has the potential to escalate. Resource guarding can encompass protecting people, toys, beds, or food. Animal behaviorists are valuable in addressing the underlying causes of aggression in the most reactive dog breeds.

Can reactive dogs be friendly?

Reactivity in dogs, however, doesn’t inherently imply aggressive intentions. Dogs, much like humans and other animals, frequently respond to stimuli in their environment. Occasionally, their reaction involves engagement, such as when your furry friend encounters someone they know or something that excites them. This kind of reactivity is common among most dog breeds.

Can a reactive dog be socialized?

When it comes to the most reactive dog breeds, preparing them for socializing is best achieved through the guidance of a professional trainer. These highly reactive dogs are not beyond help, but they do need a meticulous approach to prevent unintentionally reinforcing their problematic behavior.


Did you enjoy our post on the topic of the most reactive dog breeds? Do you have any suggestions or questions? Feel free to let us know in the comments!

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Thorsten Baumgarten
Articles: 135

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