The six most destructive dog breeds

Dogs often charm their way through even their naughtiest moments, but some really push their luck. Lydia Stangroom takes a look at some of the most notoriously destructive breeds, and the chaos they cause.

‘Dogs are the magicians of the universe’, claimed Clarissa Pinkola Estés. A quote that seems to both embody the indescribable bond we have with our four legged family members and also allude to the mischief and chaos they can cause.

Dubhe, our beloved Lakeland Terrier had a real penchant for stealing strangers’ underwear whilst at the beach and devouring entire blocks of goat’s cheese during dinner parties. Kicked out of puppy class after two weeks, he took it upon himself to personally see to the eradication of pet guinea pigs within the neighbourhood.

And rabbits. And the postman. Anything that moved, really.

I once met a lady with a Lakeland puppy, and when I told her ours was 18 years old, she asked ‘what age do they start to behave’… I said we were still waiting ourselves.

lakeland terrier

A Lakeland terrier: don’t turn your back for a second. ©Sarah Farnsworth for Country Life

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International Dog Day fell earlier this week, and to mark its arrival the people at GoodMove conducted a survey to find the six most destructive dogs, and naughtiest breeds, as well as looking at the most common damage they cause in the home.

Their research found that 35% of these breeds dug up the garden; 29% ripped soft furnishings; 28% couldn’t wait to be walked, and (ahem) defecated in the house; 28% scratched furniture ‘including doors and cabinets’; and 26% chewed their owners shoes and clothes.

And which breeds were reportedly the worst? Read on to find out, and then don’t forget to revisit the hair-raising tales we collated when finding Britain’s naughtiest dog a couple of years ago.

1. Labradors

Labrador puppies sitting on a log

Sure, they look cute as puppies…  BUT DON’T BE FOOLED!

Filling the number one spot — which may or may not come as a shock — are Labradors. Obedient, great with children and as endlessly loving as they are, soft furnishings are no match for their limitless appetite. Notoriously ‘great chewers’, my in-laws have two black labs who have a personal vendetta against bean bags — the destruction of which is still apparent three years after the first incident, with small polystyrene balls still appearing in cracks in the floor and under cupboards.

Are they the greatest chewers, though? We mustn’t overlook the sausage dog. ‘Dachshunds are sly’, one member of the Country Life team says, with ‘very strong jaws, so even though they don’t chew much, when the mood takes them an entire stuffed toy can disappear in an instant.’

2. Border Collie

Butter wouldn’t melt – but only because it wouldn’t get a chance!

Coming in at number two on the most destructive list is another breed that will surprise many dog owners, and leave you questioning, well, just about everything.

A breed that is famed for its sheep and livestock herding abilities, pin-sharp hearing and flawless response to commands, we’re not too sure the hard-working Border Collie is deserving of its number two ranking. No doubt it worked its way up the charts by virtue of the fact that when it does get destructive, its strength and cunning lets it cause true chaos.

3. Beagle

Ahhh, yes, don’t you look cute playing with that waste paper basket. WE’RE NOT FALLING FOR THAT TRICK, BUDDY!

We can already here howls of recognition and agreement from owners about this one. Originally bred for hunting hare, Beagles are hardy, active companions — and infamously chaotic. But, again, are they deserving of such a ranking? With German Shepards and Boxers having been known to devour entire arms of sofas, we’re curious to know what chaos a Beagle can cause.

4. Cocker Spaniel

Helping with the gardening? Hah! You wait until your back is turned…

Two whole slippers, one half trainer, sunglasses, cushions and a good go at the new leather sofa — all in day’s work for a six-month-old cocker spaniel on a Tuesday morning.

5. Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Just biding her time before mayhem strikes…

The Staffie makes a well-deserved appearance. One owner of the inappropriately-named Mabel — albeit only half-staffie — insisted that she ‘isn’t destructive at all. But she does kill squirrels… and rabbits… and the odd deer.’ Destructive if you’re small and fluffy, then; but the sofa will be safe.

6. English Springer Spaniel

Cockers and Springers both have huge followings, and there’s little to choose between them — so no surprise to see them close together on the list here.