There is a substantial difference between the trainability of a dog and their ability to become easily housebroken. Highly trainable dogs are usually intelligent, eager to please you and not too independent in character. Some breeds may be very independent, even stubborn in character, and still be very clean. Other breeds, especially those that have kept close to the primitive dog, will be clean almost instinctively without too much training involved.

Chow Chow
Photo: Alex Potemkin

Small and toy dog breeds are generally more difficult to housebreak.  Northern dog breeds (including the native Japanese dog breeds) are exceptionally ('cat-like') clean. Not only do they clean themselves very regularly, but they also tend to keep what they consider their den very clean. That trait is based on natural instinct have to keep their den clean and dry. In the wild dogs will never relieve themselves in their dens. One of the reasons for this is that they have to keep predators (who would be attracted by the odors) away from their retreat. All dog breeds that have kept close to the primitive dog will display a similar behavior.

Toy dogs are genetically furthest away from the primitive dog. Due to their small size, they also tend to have difficulties to consider an entire house as their den. Crate training or confinement within a single room during the housebreaking period can help triggering the 'clean den' instinct.

All dogs will be housebroken at some point; the time it takes to get there may just vary quite a lot. With some breeds, such as the Pug, it can take up to one year.

Note that in dog breeds that are difficult to housebreak, males tend to be even more difficult to housetrain than females. Male dogs have a natural tendency to 'mark' the space they consider as their territory and this trait is even more pronounced in dog breeds that are difficult to housebreak.

Some dog breeds may be not too difficult to housebreak, but very attachad to routine and structure. These dogs tend to mark on objects that are new or not in their usual spot. Although marking is not strictly speaking related to housebreaking and should be approached in a different way, dog breeds that are difficult to housebreak are also often more prone to keep marking. Male dogs and dominant females tend to mark more than other dogs. Marking may also be motivated by a challenge to a dog's social status within a multi-dog household. In that case the other dogs will often urinate over the spot that has been marked by the first dog.

Easiest Dogs to Housebreak

Boston Terrier
Chow Chow
Kai Inu
Norwegian Elkhound
Shar Pei
Shiba Inu
and other Japanese dogs

Among the small dogs the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is one of the easiest to housebreak.

Most Difficult Dog Breeds to Housebreak

Basset Hound
and most other Hounds
Yorkshire Terrier
and most other Terriers
Chihuahua and most Toy Breeds

Easiest Dog Breeds to Housebreak

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