Photo by Alicia Gauthier

Chihuahua (Photo by Alicia Gauthier on Unsplash)

For those who are unfamiliar with the term, a skittish dog is shy and timid. These breeds are reputed to scare easily, react poorly to strangers, and remain on high alert for sudden changes in their surroundings. Though they can be tricky to raise, introverted pups can be every bit as loving as their more gregarious cousins. Our list of the top seven most skittish dog breeds might not love every new person they meet, but they are still able to form strong bonds with their family.

Many dogs appear adorable from afar but can turn terrifying quickly when someone approaches them, especially for wary breeds. Picking up on subtle facial changes and expressions in dogs can help people of all ages avoid unwanted canine encounters. Now, new research out of Finland suggests both age and ownership experience have a connection to a better ability to recognize dog emotions from facial expressions.

Whether or not your dog is a little skittish, there is no doubt how strong our bonds are with our pets. In fact, a study shows seven in 10 dog owners consider their dogs their best friend. It wouldn’t be surprising if your dog thinks so, too, especially if strangers unsettle them a bit.

These most skittish dog breeds don’t always do well with loud places and busy homes. On the other hand, they might be just right for owners that are able to provide a relaxed and quiet home. In fact, a recurring theme with skittish dog breeds is that they develop undesirable behaviors in the absence of adequate care. Let us know your favorite skittish dog breeds in the comments below!

The List: Most Skittish Dog Breeds, According to Experts

1. Vizsla

This energetic breed craves attention and strenuous activity. Without adequate exercise and engagement, Vizslas can develop behavioral and anxiety problems. paw cbd tells, “Vizslas tend to be a high anxiety dog breed because they hate being away from their owners… They are known as very affectionate and even great with children, so this breed is really perfect for an active family or a super active person with plenty of time to share with their pet.”

brown short coated dog on brown sand during daytime
Vizsla (Photo by Cole Wyland on Unsplash)

“Vizslas are pointers but, at an average height of 22 inches and weighing around 50 pounds, they are a bit smaller than the larger bashful breeds. Because they are bred to spend time outdoors tracking prey, it is unexpected for a hunting dog to have a timid streak. However, vizslas are gentle, sensitive and some are downright timid,” praises

“Certain breeds have a reputation for being timid, meaning they may be shy and unwilling to join in games with other dogs, or welcome strangers to your home… Vizsla’s are large dogs that have been bred to hunt – so it’s perhaps surprising that they can be very shy and timid if not widely socialized at a young age,” exclaims The Scotsman.

2. Beagle

This beloved breed was made famous by Snoopy in the “Peanuts” comic strip by Charles M. Schulz. It may come as a surprise that these affable hounds can be quite timid. The Pawsitive Co. describes, “Beagles are social dogs that bond strongly with their people and show plenty of love and affection. They like companionship and attention, so they are prone to developing separation anxiety or bad habits (like barking or digging) if left alone too long.”

shallow focus photo of short-coated white, brown, and black dog
Beagle (Photo by Luke MacGillivray on Unsplash)

“Many people fall in love with Beagles because they are usually happy, affectionate, and make wonderful family dogs. But Beagles can sometimes be timid. If your Beagle is timid, what can you do to help? We suggest giving him a lot of attention, treats, and pets,” says Pup Vine.

“Last but not least, we have the Beagle as a timid dog breed. Granted, this dog is very energetic and excitable. He’s just also on the shy side by nature making him a great companion for a calm person,” elaborates Healthy Homemade Dog Treats.

3. Great Dane

These gigantic puppies are widely considered to be super affectionate. Additionally, they tend to exhibit strong separation anxiety and dislike being alone for prolonged periods. “Another gentle giant that doesn’t tend to be very sociable is the Great Dane. They can be as shy as they are big and their perfect idea of company is their owner – and nobody else,” comments yahoo!news.

A sleeping Great Dane puppy
A sleeping Great Dane puppy (Photo by Dora Zett on Shutterstock)

Animal Corner adds, “Here’s a dog that many people are surprised to see classified as ‘timid.’ The Great Dane is a massive dog… But when you own one, you quickly realize that these dogs are nothing more than gentle giants. They’re one of the sweetest breeds around, and the juxtaposition of their size and shy behavior can be hilarious to witness!”

“This breed is quite vigilant, which makes it a protective guard dog, but it also means it will be slower to accept strangers. Their size is misleading, as some may mistake these large dogs as the kind who may tend toward roughhouse play. However, these slow-moving giants are very loving and gentle,” details OodleLife.

4. Chihuahua

Chihuahuas are tiny bundles of nervous energy. When they are not properly socialized as pups, they can develop antisocial behaviors. “Chihuahuas tend to be afraid of heights and loud noises… However, the fear may also be rooted in the Chihuahua’s genes and reinforced by their upbringing and experiences with other people and dogs. In a Chihuahua, which is genetically a very social dog, the fear may be due to abuse, neglect, and lack of socialization,” explains AnimalWised.

brown chihuahua on green grass during daytime
Chihuahua (Photo by Jairo Alzate on Unsplash)

“You might have heard that Chihuahuas tend to be aggressive, despite their small size. But, have you ever heard of a shy Chihuahua? Well, this isn’t as uncommon as you might think! A timid Chihuahua might become an aggressive Chihuahua, which is something we definitely want to avoid,” offers Pup Vine.

“Chihuahuas can be fierce protectors and are not afraid to let you know they don’t like you! This dog breed isn’t crazy about meeting other people. They are too shy for introductions, and that timid behavior often turns into fear and aggression,” states Animal Corner.

5. Labrador Retriever

Another surprising breed on the skittish list is the well-loved Labrador. While these dogs are remarkable, they can also suffer from lack of attention and stimulation as well as a fear of heights. AnimalWised claims, “Remember that just because they are naturally sociable and friendly does not mean they do not need to be socialized… In fact, both physical activity and mental stimulation, as well as proper socialization, are essential to avoid problems when interacting with other dogs.”

chocolate Labrador retriever sitting on floor
Chocolate Labrador retriever (Photo by Jen Vazquez Photography on Unsplash)

“The Labrador retriever isn’t the most popular dog in the United States for nothing… At his best he’s an outgoing, friendly dog who thrives when he’s included in family activities. Because of his high energy level, he needs plenty of exercise and firm, consistent training,” relates

“They are bred for their sunny, relaxed disposition, but they need a lot of affection and attention in order to maintain that cheerfulness. If left alone for long periods of time, or dropped off too regularly at the boarding house, Labradors can really struggle with separation stress,” reviews paw cbd.

6. Akita Inu

Akita Inus are fiercely independent dogs. These extremely intelligent dogs can vent their frustration in destructive ways with inadequate training. “Dog owners should be aware that they will have some serious work to do when it comes to the socialization of an Akita Inu… this dog can definitely not be described as a low-maintenance dog for first-time dog owners,” according to Pup Vine.

brown and white short coated dog
Akita Inu (Photo by Mikhail Vasilyev on Unsplash)

“When it comes to strangers, this breed can be very fearful and timid around them. Don’t expect him to socialize with your mother when she comes over to visit. He is likely to maintain distance from her the entire time. He just has a hard time trusting people that are not his owners,” asserts Healthy Homemade Dog Treats.

“This breed is notoriously independent. They don’t necessarily need your approval 24 hours a day. As a result, they can get into a lot of trouble. Good training is a must for Akita Inu. When strangers come around, don’t expect any more socialization. The breed likes to do its own thing,” evaluates Animal Corner.

7. Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkies are adorable balls of silky hair, and they love to snuggle. However, they can display skittish behavior around strangers. “Yorkshire Terriers are tiny dogs that can be rattled by the big world around them – imagine how it feels to have lots of enormous humans towering over you. It’s best to avoid large crowds when you are out walking with a Yorkie,” assures yahoo!news.

shallow focus photography of Yorkshire terrier
Yorkshire Terrier (Photo by Fernanda Nuso on Unsplash)

“The Yorkshire Terrier is a very intelligent dog breed and affectionate as well. Their shyness depends significantly on their socialization and life circumstances. Some of these dogs are extremely friendly when they are with their human family, but then become very quiet when there are visitors in the house,” states Pup Vine.

“Yorkshire Terriers are beloved and highly sought-after. They have unique looks, small stature, and playful personalities… When it comes to timidness, Yorkshire Terriers are notoriously skittish. They get scared easily and don’t do well with strangers and new experiences,” articulates Animal Corner.

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