13 SHY Dog Breeds (Most Timid Dog Breeds)

People often think of dogs as outgoing and social pups like Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds. But many shy dog breeds go overlooked due to their timid nature. These dogs make excellent pets but may require special attention to please their fearful tendencies. 

In this guide, we’ll cover the 13 most timid dog breeds. If you can set aside extra attention and time to socialize, these dogs are some of the sweetest pups you’ll ever meet. In addition, these dogs will also show extreme loyalty to owners who treat them with kindness and care. 

shy dog breeds
13 Shy Dog Breeds (Most Timid Dog Breeds)


The Maltese is a dog in the toy group, weighing under nine pounds. These dogs are well-known for their beautiful, silky white coat, which can grow to the floor. The Maltese are an ancient species known to be loved and housed in Ancient Greece and Rome. 

The name “Maltese” comes from the island country of Malta, located in the Mediterranean Sea. The modern breed variety is playful, affectionate, and fearful of strangers. Despite their timid nature, they are pretty vocal and frequently bark or yap to communicate with you. 

two Maltese dogs
Two Maltese dogs standing beside each other.


Papillons are a breed in the toy group. These dogs range from eight to eleven inches in height and weigh between five to ten pounds. The different fluffy ears are the most well-known feature of the Papillon breed. 

These dogs are very affectionate and perfect for families as they are good with children. However, their trust needs to be earned, as they will be shy with strangers at first. Papillons are great for those living an active lifestyle, as these dogs can play all day and night. 

Papillons are tiny and cute pups! But they are ENERGETIC

Great Dane

The Great Dane is well-known as the “gentle giant” of dog breeds. These massive dogs weigh between 100 and 120 pounds and measure between 30 and 32 inches in height. 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. Great Danes are affectionate family dogs who get along well with children and other pets. 

Great Dane owner
Great Dane with his owner in a blue background.

Akita Inu

The Akita Inu is a Japanese dog breed. These dogs weigh between 55 and 65 pounds for females and between 65 and 75 pounds for males. The breed measures between 23 and 27 inches in height. 

The Akita Inu is often compared to a cat due to its individualistic nature. The breed is known to be territorial and may see strangers as threats. Akitas are fiercely loyal to their owners and family but often act shy and aloof towards strangers.

In addition, the breed typically doesn’t work well with other dogs. If you take in an Akita, expect them to want some alone time, as it is simply their nature. 

alert Akita Inu
An Akita Inu standing on a rock.

Yorkshire Terrier

The Yorkshire Terrier, also known as “Yorkie,” is another shy dog from the toy group of dog breeds. These tiny dogs weigh around seven pounds and measure between seven and eight inches in height. 

Yorkies are known for their strong personalities and extreme playfulness. Watching a Yorkie play may appear as a tiny blur of fur as it darts back and forth almost too quickly to see. These hyper pups are popular with people living in cities where space is scarce, as the tiny dog takes up little space.

Yorkies may be scared or threatened by outsiders but are one of the more affectionate breeds once you get to know them. 

a Yorkie dog outside
A Yorkie dog standing outside.


Greyhounds are well-known as “racing dogs,” dogs that have been bred and raised for track racing. These leggy dogs measure between 27 and 30 inches in height. They weigh between 60 to 65 pounds for females and 65 to 70 for males. 

Greyhounds are a gentle breed who require a bit of a delicate hand to earn their trust. In return, these dogs are very affectionate and perfect for families with children and other dogs. Greyhounds have an independent personality and often spend periods alone. 

greyhound dog
A greyhound standing proud (and tall and skinny)


The Newfoundland dog breed is among the giant dog breeds in the world. These dogs weigh between 100 and 120 pounds for females and between 130 and 150 pounds for males. Newfoundlands measure between 26 to 28 inches in height. 

Newfoundland dogs are some of the sweetest pups you’ll ever meet. The dogs were initially bred in the Newfoundland province of Canada as working dogs for fishers. These dogs are incredible and powerful swimmers, making them effective water rescue dogs.

Many people know these large pets as “nanny dogs” due to their love of children and protective nature. Due to their sweet nature, they are often used as therapy dogs

newfoundland dog large
A large and in charge Newfoundland dog


The Dalmatian breed is famous for its black (sometimes brown) and white spotted coat. These medium-sized dogs weigh between 45 and 70 pounds and measure 19 and 24 inches in height. 

Dalmatians are often associated with firefighters in America. This association is because Dalmatians were initially raised as “coach dogs,” dogs who trotted alongside horses and carriages as either protection or a status symbol. Back when firefighters were still using horse and carriage transport, Dalmatians would run along with the horses to clear the way. 

Though they are timid, Dalmatians are intelligent, affectionate companions. These dogs will often hide behind their owner when encountering a stranger. 

Dalmatian lying in bed
Dalmatian lying in a white bed.


The Whippet is a British dog breed often compared to the Greyhound. These dogs are smaller than Greyhounds, weighing 25 and 40 pounds and measuring 18 and 22 inches in height. 

The comparison to the Greyhound breed isn’t unfounded, as Whippets are descended from Greyhounds. These quick dogs were bred for speed and often used for racing in the 19th century. Today, these dogs are seen as a quiet, calm breed.

They thrive when surrounded by a loving family. Whippets enjoy the company of other dogs as well as children. 

gray whippet
A gray Whippet. Ash would be a great name for such a cute gray dog?


The Chihuahua breed is a tiny dog in the toy category. These dogs weigh under six pounds and measure between five to eight inches in height. Despite their small size, these dogs are known for their prominent personalities. 

Chihuahuas are often known as nervous dogs, as they frequently bark at or become uneasy around strangers. This is primarily due to their size, which makes unknown people and situations look and feel more threatening. As long as you show love and respect, these small dogs make loyal, playful companions. 

Chihuahua runs with a stick
Chihuahua in a pink ribbon runs with a stick.

Lhasa Apso

The Lhasa Apso breed originated in Tibet and is in the toy category. These dogs weigh between twelve and eighteen pounds and measure between ten to eleven inches in height. Lhasas are well-known for their silky coat, which grow to the floor, similarly to the Maltese breed. 

Lhasas are an ancient dog breed and were seen as symbols of royalty throughout much of history. These dogs would roam the halls of palaces and monasteries in Tibet. Their royal disposition can come off as a bit aloof.

Lhasas are very smart and will seldom let strangers in easily. They were originally bred as palace alert dogs, so they are quite protective. 

lhasa apso
A Lhasa Apso proudly trotting


The Beagle is an English breed in the Hound category. Beagles who measure under thirteen inches in height weigh under twenty pounds, but dogs in the breed who measure between thirteen and fifteen inches will weigh between twenty and thirty pounds. 

The adorable face of a Beagle can melt the heart of any pet owner. They can be a bit reserved when meeting strangers, but in a family setting, they will want to be very affectionate. These dogs are quite playful and need to expend their endless energy frequently. 

Beagle lying on the floor
A Beagle wears onesies to prevent the diaper from coming off.

Gordon Setter

The Gordon Setter breed is Scottish and in the sporting category. Gordon Setters weigh between 45 and 70 pounds for females and between 55 and 80 pounds for males. Females measure between 23 and 26 inches tall, and males measure between 24 and 27 inches tall. 

Gordon Setters are known as outdoorsy dogs, well-accustomed to the harsh weather of their native Scotland. These large dogs are known to be patient and loving, so if you’re willing to put in the time, they’ll pay it back double. Gordon Setters are known to drool heavily on their beloved owners, so just keep a towel handy for when they show you love. 

Gordon Setter
Gordon Setter sits on the grass one afternoon.

The Takeaway

Though they may be a bit timid, any of these dog breeds will make wonderful additions to your home.