While all dogs need human contact and should be treated as family members, some breeds are more independent than others.
This makes them the perfect match for pup parents who can’t handle an in-your-face attention hog!
These independent dog breeds can often occupy themselves better than most, making them better suited for owners who’re out of the house regularly or otherwise too busy to play endless rounds of fetch.
We’ll share the most independent dog breeds below and discuss why these pups are more self-sufficient than others.
Why Are Some Dogs More Independent than Others?
Canine independence is deeply woven into a breed’s roots.
Some dogs, such as Chihuahuas, were bred for companionship, so they’re hardwired to expect frequent attention; in fact, they struggle without it and may be more likely to suffer from separation anxiety.
Other breeds, like livestock guardian dogs and some working dogs, were bred to function alone, often problem-solving and deterring threats without us.
Just know that having an independent dog may sound fun, but it isn’t always sunshine and rainbows.
These breeds still require daily attention and can have plenty of other needs, whether it’s frequent exercise or ongoing training. An independent dog will also likely be more aloof in general, even when you’re home. Don’t expect an independent dog to all of the sudden turn into a cuddle monster when you get home – they’ll likely be the kind of dog who always prefers their own space.
As always, it’s best to do your homework before bringing any dog home. Be honest with yourself about your skills, time, and expectations too. This helps you find the best dog breed for your lifestyle.
It’s also important to note that not every dog will fit its breed’s mold –– some individuals of independent breeds will crave more attention than is typical.
You can undeniably find independent Chihuahuas and clingy Akitas, for example. This is why it’s crucial to investigate your dog’s breeder ahead of time and let them match you to a puppy or spend time with a rescue dog before adoption to ensure they’re the right fit for your family.
29 Independent Dog Breeds Who Can Be Left Alone
Not every dog wants constant attention. Some breeds like time to themselves between belly rubs, while others are content to hang out alone while you’re away from home.
These are some of the most independent dog breeds who don’t mind occupying themselves from time to time.
1. Basset Hound
The basset is a droopy gentleman content to catch Zzzs on his bed while you’re at work. He doesn’t need a ton of fuss or exercise, preferring a leisurely stroll over raucous play most days. You may need to encourage him to hit his daily step goal, however, as this low-maintenance dog breed is prone to packing on the pounds. Never trust him off-leash, either, since he’ll follow his nose wherever it takes him.
The Basset’s long, low frame and massive ears are unique, but they also come with health concerns. His back is sensitive to injury, so keeping him trim is a must, along with avoiding high jumps and steep stairs. His ears are prone to infection, too, making regular cleaning essential.
This long-haired low-rider is happy to do his own thing, whether he’s sunning himself in the foyer or curled up on the couch. His exercise needs aren’t all that crazy either, with a daily walk and some indoor playtime sufficing. That said, training your Peke can be a challenge. He has a tendency to go rogue, doing things as he sees fit more often than not, particularly if you bore him with repetitive training exercises.
The Pekingese’s long coat can be a hassle to maintain, though opting for a shorter “sport” cut can make daily maintenance easier. Make sure you comb through his coat a few times a week to avoid tangles, especially around his ears and tail. We’d also recommend a sanitary trim to prevent backside messes.
3. American Foxhound
The American foxhound is a leggy hunting dog breed, who prefers to be in the field working rather than fussing with us humans and our ideas of “fun.” He loves finding animals and giving out a spirited bark (called a bay) to alert everyone of his discovery. With that in mind, he’s not the best dog for apartment life, as he can and will voice his feelings more often than not.
As with most hounds, the American foxhound is incredibly independent. He thinks his way is best and will happily ignore your commands as he sees fit. For this reason, he’s not recommended for new dog owners. Upbeat, positive training works best for him, along with tasty treats like hotdogs and liverwurst.
This flat-faced Fido is a natural comedian, entertaining his owner with happy dances, snorts, and tail wiggles. He’s content spending the day on your lap, but he doesn’t mind hanging out alone as needed either. With a mischievous side a mile wide, he’s also more than capable of finding his own fun, so always pug-proof your home and give him plenty of interactive toys.
Grooming the pug’s short coat is easy, but the breed is well-known for his hatred of nail trims, often employing epic screams in pursuit of escaping the task. To prevent this, handle your pug’s feet from an early age and practice mock nail trims. Offer lots of treats and praise along the way to make it extra enjoyable.
5. Tibetan Spaniel
Despite his name, the Tibetan spaniel or “Tibbie,” as fanciers know him, isn’t actually a spaniel at all. Instead, it’s believed this cuddly companion is a relative of the Pekingese and Lhasa apso. This lineage is clear in his personality, as he’s more free-willed than true spaniels, frequently deciding that his way is the right way. To counter this, practice positive, reward-based training in short spurts to hold his interest and give him breaks to do his own thing.
The Tibbie has a long, lush coat that requires frequent brushing to prevent tangles. This is particularly important in areas with more feathering, such as around his ears, elbows, and tail. A sanitary trim helps keep his behind tidy too.
Like most other sighthounds, the greyhound is an independent thinker, preferring to solve his own problems instead of seeking your assistance. He also tends to react before getting your approval – a trait that can get him into trouble. For this reason, your greyhound should never be trusted off-leash in open areas, as he will give chase to perceived prey, whether it’s a squirrel, the neighbor’s cat, or a plastic bag.
The greyhound is a well-known athlete capable of great speeds, but he’s surprisingly mellow indoors, loving nothing more than curling up on the couch. His short coat and skinny frame make indoor life a must, and sweaters or coats will be appreciated for walks and potty time during cold snaps.
7. Chow Chow
The chow is somewhat of an introvert, often opting for solo time over constant attention. He’s happiest when spending one-on-one time with a trusted human or patrolling the house rather than partaking in group activities. A surprisingly intelligent dog breed, chows usually learn new tasks quickly, though they can be a bit stubborn. For this reason, your chow’s training sessions should always be short and feature lots of yummy rewards to keep him on track. Early obedience and socialization classes are essential in shaping him into a confident canine.
The chow’s thick double coat comes in rough and smooth varieties, though both shed heavily and require ongoing brushing to remove loose fur. His ears and mane can be prone to tangles, too, so make sure you pay extra attention to these areas.
8. Lhasa Apso
The Lhasa hails from remote areas high in the Himalayas, and his temperament remains that of someone who doesn’t expect many guests. He’ll happily snuggle with his family, but he isn’t a huge fan of social gatherings. Staying home alone for a spell won’t bother him much either, as long as you give him attention when you return.
As a relatively quiet pooch, Lhasa apsos make excellent apartment dogs. He doesn’t need much exercise and is mostly satiated with indoor play, though a daily walk is recommended for mental stimulation. Despite his size, he thrives in canine sports like agility, though training can be frustrating, as the Lhasa’s stubborn streak is as impressive as his long, flowing coat.
The Maltese is a legendary lap dog, but he’s also adaptable to modern human work and school schedules, so he can handle time alone as long as he still gets attention when you’re home. He’s not as clingy as other toy breeds and can entertain himself, with indoor play being sufficient to meet his exercise needs. This makes him a wonderful dog breed for apartment life.
Grooming a Maltese is where things get tricky. His long coat requires daily combing to prevent tangles, though this can be made easier by clipping him into a sport cut with a sanitary trim. Even when your Maltese is clipped, you should still brush him to keep him looking and feeling his best.
10. Japanese Chin
This dignified doggo takes himself very seriously, acting more like a cat than a canine companion. He keeps himself clean and prefers to observe more than participate, which can be frustrating to those seeking a rough-and-tumble pup. He may also ignore commands if he’s not in the mood for human activities. While this stubbornness can be frustrating, never use harsh corrections, as it can damage his sensitive spirit.
The Japanese chin’s long coat turns many heads, though it requires less maintenance than you’d expect. Luckily, his hair’s soft, straight texture isn’t as prone to matting as other breeds’ coats. This makes him a good option for those who love long-haired dogs but don’t want to contend with frequent clipping or daily combing. Just brushing him out every few days will do.
11. Shiba Inu
The internet’s favorite dog breed has legendary independence. Shiba Inus and Shiba Inu mixed breeds can happily entertain themselves and will do so whenever given a chance, so don’t trust them off-leash or in a space that hasn’t been pet-proofed.
Fun, interactive toys are recommended, along with plenty of exercise and brain games before he’s left alone. Your throw pillows and blinds will thank you.
The Shiba is not recommended for new dog owners, as he can and will test you. Frequently. He’s smart (almost to a fault) and learns new skills quickly, though he may not always want to follow your lead. High-value treats go a long way with winning him over, along with shorter, varied training sessions.
12. Great Pyrenees
The great Pyrenees (also called a Pyr by breed fanatics) is a large livestock guardian breed who loves his family as fiercely as he loves working. Raised to oversee animals alone for days at a time, he doesn’t mind some solo time around the house. While he has working roots, he isn’t super active either, preferring to patrol his backyard for threats over rounds of fetch.
As with other guardian breeds, early socialization and obedience training are essential for raising a well-rounded, happy Pyr. He can exceed 100 pounds, making leash manners and core commands a must. He’s independent yet sensitive, so opt for positive training methods with lots of treats to keep him interested.
13. Shar Pei
As a watchdog at heart, this wrinkly pooch doesn’t need to be doted on 24/7. He’s just as happy to keep an eye out for trouble while you’re away as he is by your side. Overall, he’s incredibly adaptable to his owner’s lifestyle, enjoying daily walks or jogs, depending on your schedule. He struggles with strange people and dogs, however, so community settings like apartment complexes or city life aren’t a good fit for him.
While the Shar Pei can be left alone occasionally, he needs special care to tend to his many flaps and folds. Always dry him properly after baths or walking in the rain to prevent skin irritation. His eyes and ears need frequent cleaning, too, as they’re prone to problems.
Unlike most breeds on this list, the poodle is a true people-dog, loving nothing more than pleasing those around him. Despite this sweet streak, he can handle some alone time as long as he’s properly exercised and spoiled when you’re around. Early days as a hunting dog remain deeply ingrained in the breed, and he thrives with a job, whether he’s wowing you in the obedience ring or retrieving. Interactive toys and brain games will be appreciated when you cannot entertain him too.
Like most dog breeds with curly hair, your poodle’s fur will keep you busy. But if kept short and groomed every four to six weeks, it’s not too daunting of a task. You can do this yourself or seek out a professional if you prefer.
The borzoi’s affection for his family is only matched by his independence. He’s happy to be with the ones he loves, but he’s also quick to choose his own path, which is why you should never trust this leggy lovebug off-leash in unsecured areas. As a sighthound with a strong prey drive, he can and will chase anything. This makes him less than suitable for homes with small animals, like cats.
Training the borzoi can be a challenge, but with patience, you can mold him into a mild-mannered friend who thrives in family settings. He’s incredibly gentle with children, though his size can be intimidating to toddlers. Daily walks and play are essential, especially if he’s to be left alone for any length of time.
16. Anatolian Shepherd Dog
Independence and Anatolians go hand-in-hand, as this long-legged livestock guardian is used to spending days away from his family to watch over animals. A little alone time won’t hurt his feelings, but harsh corrections can do lasting damage, so always treat your Anatolian with kindness and patience, no matter how challenging he may be. He’s intelligent, too, so stay one step ahead of him with treats and always deploy brain games to keep him from getting into trouble.
Since the Anatolian is one of the most territorial breeds, he is not recommended for busy households with a lot of visitors. He’s one of the best farm dog breeds, and he loves having a flock to tend to, though he’s also happy to warm your couch at the end of a hard day’s work.
17. Scottish Terrier
The Scottie is a distinguished gentleman who’s more confident than most canines. This means he can often handle time alone around the house and won’t hold it against you. He will, however, put up a fuss if you bore him during training, so much so that he’ll outright ignore you. Keep training sessions brief and to the point without much repetition. He’ll pick up commands faster and stay on track that way.
As with all terriers, Scotties are pretty scrappy and not always a fan of other dogs. The Scottie is also especially fond of chasing cats and small animals. Early socialization with other dogs is critical. Remember to screen these doggy friends carefully, as he may remain standoffish with strange canines for life if he has a negative experience.
18. Alaskan Malamute
As a natural-born worker, the malamute is used to functioning independently from his owner, generally strapped to a sleigh, pulling goods. This also means he has some impressive exercise requirements to contend with when he’s not lounging around. Jogging, hiking, and weight-pulling are just some of the best ways to work out his energy. While he can be trusted around the house alone, you should always walk him for a while first to tire him out and ensure he doesn’t get into any trouble.
Malamutes are cold-weather dogs, so you might have a hard time convincing him to come indoors during snowstorms. Living in warmer climates with a malamute requires adequate air conditioning and drying after rainstorms, as he’s prone to overheating and hot spots. Those who aren’t a fan of hair around the house should look elsewhere, as malamutes shed heavily throughout the year, including two “coat-blowing” seasons that leave fuzz everywhere.
Already have a Malamute? Check out some of the best Malamute dog foods!
19. Central Asian Shepherd
This colossal canine is a protector at heart and doesn’t mind spending time alone. He’s happiest when he’s on watch, whether he’s roaming the pasture for threats or peering out the window. Unfortunately, this instinct to protect doesn’t come with an “off” switch, so roughhousing around him isn’t recommended, nor are large parties.
Start training your central Asian shepherd early with puppy socialization and obedience classes. He grows quickly and will soon clock in north of 100 pounds, so establishing good manners early is a must. Due to his size, independence, and guardian instincts, he is not a good dog for first time owners.
This Korean canine is a lover at heart, though his affections are reserved for those closest to him. He’s not a big fan of strangers or excitement, so being home alone won’t leave him terribly upset as long as he receives attention when you return. He’s as picky with people as he is with other dogs, making early socialization a must to prevent aggression issues.
The Jindo started as a hunting dog and remains an active breed to this day. Daily exercise like jogging is best, though a sport like lure coursing is even better for burning excess energy. While sometimes strong-willed, he’s a smarty pants too, so incorporate plenty of mental stimulation into his routine to help him flourish.
21. Afghan Hound
An ancient dog breed, the Afghan hound is a handsome sighthound who is as sweet as can be but also super independent. He will happily cuddle those closest to him in one heartbeat and sprint after a target the next, making leashing him in non-enclosed spaces a must for safety’s sake. While independent, he’s also quite smart. Just don’t bore him with repetition or expect him to listen every time.
Your Afghan can be left home alone while you’re at work, but he requires daily exercise, with his needs best met through leashed jogs or off-lead sprints in safe areas. Lure coursing is a great sport to involve him in and is a fun way to bond over him doing what he loves most: running.
22. Karelian Bear Dog
The Karelian got his start working on his own as a hunting dog in the field. With his primary target being large, dangerous game, he was forced to solve problems on the fly in life-or-death situations, so handling an afternoon alone at home is a walk in the park. He still needs one-on-one time with you, however, preferably combined with exercises like jogging or hiking.
The breed carries himself with confidence, but he can be dog-selective. Early socialization and training classes can help curb issues. This should be ongoing, and sessions should always be positive to keep him moving in the right direction.
This so-called “barkless dog” is more akin to a cat than a canine with his cleaning habits, hatred of water, and infamous independence. He’s a big fan of digging backyard burrows to sit in alone, though you shouldn’t leave him unattended outdoors since he’s an escape artist. As a frustratingly smart dog with a desire to play by his own rules, he will test you at every step of training (and beyond.) With that in mind, he isn’t recommended for new dog owners.
The basenji’s expressive nature has earned many fans, as he’s quite the comedian and singer. Despite the “barkless” label and reputation as a distinctly quiet dog breed, the basenji can emit a bark here and there, though he prefers to scream or yodel. This ranges from adorable woos of glee during play to ear-piercing shrieks that could wake the dead. For this reason, he isn’t suitable for apartment living.
Also known as “monkey dog,” this pint-sized pup is a loyal lap warmer who doesn’t shy away from occasional alone time. He’s malleable enough to adapt to your schedule as long as you squeeze in time for him. Daily walks are best for keeping his spirits high, as he needs a bit more mental and physical exercise than other toy breeds.
The Affenpinscher is very friendly with his family and even visitors, but he can be a bit of a stinker when it comes to training. He’s adorable(and he knows it), opting for entertaining you with everything but following commands sometimes, usually in the form of dancing on his hind feet. Keep his training sessions brief and focused around delicious treats to help him learn the basics. Remember to laugh, too, since he’s bound to go off script more than once.
While the Akita’s legendary loyalty seemingly knows no limit, he doesn’t mind some alone time, either. More catlike than many other breeds, the Akita is mighty yet mellow, keeping to himself and cleaning his plush coat. He doesn’t want to be in your business at every waking minute, preferring to check in occasionally between naps and patrols, as this breed is a dedicated watchdog.
Akitas are not party puppers, so don’t expect him to be a social butterfly at gatherings. In fact, groups of people are likely to stress him out. He’s best suited for quiet households where he can enjoy a daily walk or romp around the yard. Early and ongoing socialization with people and other dogs is essential with this breed to prevent aggression and anxiety.
This larger-than-life livestock guardian loves his family, but he also thrives in solo settings, especially while protecting his land or animals. Time alone won’t upset him much as long as he’s properly pottied ahead of time and receives adequate attention otherwise. A daily walk will help build your bond with your Akbash along with sports, like weight-pulling.
The Akbash is not a breed for novice owners. He’s both physically strong and strong-willed, choosing his own path as he sees fit. Early obedience classes are important for learning basic commands and leash manners since he grows quickly. Socialization classes with other dogs and people are recommended too to prevent fear-based behaviors.
27. Norwegian Elkhound
This Norse hunting dog was bred to work independently, so a little time to himself won’t upset him much. As long as you provide adequate daily exercise through walking or jogging and plenty of attention upon your return, he’ll adjust to your schedule. Don’t trust him off-leash, however, as he’s not afraid to wander.
The Norwegian elkhound is intelligent and learns quickly. This includes housetraining since he’s also catlike in his need for cleanliness. He can be a bit headstrong , though, and since he’s smart, you’ll need to remain a step ahead. Mix up training and keep rewards in focus to help him remain on task.
Renowned worldwide for his tracking skills, this breed is known to enjoy some downtime alone between sniffing sessions. He’s fine spending time alone as long as his needs are met, including frequent leashed sniff walks where his nose leads the way. As a scenthound, this is truly when his brain gets a workout and an instinct he should be allowed to enjoy. Denying him this is as harmful as refusing him exercise.
The bloodhound is incredibly independent during training, so he’s not a good choice for new dog owners. Like other hounds, he needs encouragement to commit to obedience sessions, often opting to sniff everything instead of following commands. Strong-scented treats like hotdogs are the secret to keeping him focused.
29. Rhodesian Ridgeback
The ridgeback was originally a hunting dog who tracked lions, meaning he spent a lot of time in the brush without careful oversight. He’s still equipped to function independently today and doesn’t need constant attention like other breeds. He does need daily interaction with his family and exercise, however. His favorite activities combine the two, like jogging or hiking.
Ridgebacks (and most Rhodesian ridgeback mixes, to be honest) have strong prey drives, so never trust yours off-leash. He will give chase without warning and won’t always come back when called. Due to his deerlike coloring, he should wear an orange vest when outdoors during hunting season, especially if you live in a rural area.
Common Traits of Independent Dog Breeds
Independent dog breeds aren’t all alike, but they tend to share a few traits, including:
- Courage: Many independent dog breeds started as hunting dogs or livestock guardians, meaning they regularly put life and limb on the line. The most independent breeds don’t need constant reassurance: They have built-in confidence. Let your dog harness this instinct in ways that are safe yet stimulating, such as allowing him to patrol the yard or monitor the window for squirrely trespassers.
- Working drive: All dogs were bred with a purpose, and those designated to tackle the toughest jobs tend to be the most independent. These dogs excel at thinking for themselves while putting their brains and bodies to work. Channeling this drive into something positive, such as canine sports and exercise, is essential in avoiding frustration.
- Socialization issues: Independent dogs may struggle with meeting new people or animals. Early socialization can help prevent problems, though some dogs remain aloof with outsiders and are happiest with just their families.
- Intelligence: Due to their working dog breed roots, many independent breeds are quick thinking and learn easily. While this can wow you during training, it can also be a handful at home. Daily mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise in preventing destructive behaviors or mischief.
- Difficulty in training: Independent breeds tend to lose focus if presented with repetitive training sessions. They may also choose to ignore you entirely because they aren’t in the mood to train. This is frustrating, but it’s important to remain positive and adjust to your dog’s needs. High-value treats are your best friend in this fight, along with a sense of humor.
Do you have any of these independent breeds at home? Or do you have an independent individual from a typically clingy breed?
Let us know all about your pooch in the comments!