Skip to Content

19 Shy Dog Breeds: Meet The Timid Side Of Our Furry Friends

19 Shy Dog Breeds: Meet The Timid Side Of Our Furry Friends

If you have had a dog such as a German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever, or a Golden Retriever, you might not even be familiar with the expression ‘shy dog breeds’.

However, there are many dogs that have a shy side. There are some dog breeds, you would probably be surprised to hear that are actually shy!

If you have recently welcomed a new puppy into your home, it is very possible that you will notice that he is shy, maybe even scared.

Simply, dogs need a certain amount of time to get used to new surroundings and new people.

Many of them will be both distrustful and reserved until they feel that their new home is a safe place.

If your new dog has been in a shelter before, it is possible that it will take a long time for him to completely loosen up and be relaxed with you.

In fact, any dog can be shy. In order to help him get rid of his shyness, he needs adequate socialization. Also, it’s a good idea to let a shy dog have his own space and spend some time alone if he needs it.

So, which dog breeds are characteristically shy? Let’s find out!

9 Small Shy Dog Breeds

Our first category of shy dog breeds is our smallest dogs. All of these dogs are wonderful dogs, but you might have noticed their shy personality.

Let’s learn which are the small dogs that tend to be shy, and what the reasons behind their shyness are.

1. Beagle

shy beagle puppy lying on the couch

Beagles are a curious and loyal small dog breed who were bred to be hunting dogs.

According to the American Kennel Club’s list of the most popular dogs in 2021, the Beagle ranks a high 7th place!

Many people fall in love with Beagles because they are usually happy and 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.

Your Beagle might be afraid even to let you pet him at the beginning, but he will get more comfortable with time.

The key is to recognize the best method that your particular Beagle will respond to. Even when your Beagle stops acting shy around you, be prepared that it might take him longer to become comfortable with strangers.

2. Bichon Frise

bichon frise sitting outdoors

This small white dog breed is one of charming and comical dogs that will make you smile every day. He is sweet,affectionate and a great choice for a family pet, even if you don’t have a house with a big yard.

But can a Bichon Frise also be shy? Well, yes, these dogs can be shy.

This dog is a needy dog who does not like to be left alone, especially for long periods of time. At the same time, he can be timid and sensitive. If you have ever yelled at a Bichon Frise, there is a high chance this dog will remember it..

Any kind of harsh treatment can turn a Bichon Frise into a shy and frightened dog. So, be careful and try to be as gentle as possible with these small pooches.

3. Chihuahua

long haired chihuahua hiding in the garden

According to the Chihuahua growth size, this small pooch usually does not weigh more than 6 pounds. So, this charming dog is a perfect choice for all families that want to have a dog but are not sure whether they have space for one in their home.

You might have heard that Chihuahuas tend to be aggressive, despite their small size. Bu, 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.

Luckily, Chihuahuas are highly trainable, so you will be able to help your Chi with her shyness issue. For starters, if you are having new people over, it would be good to ask them to not be too loud in the beginning.

This way, your Chihuahua will slowly get used to new people and new sounds. Also, it is good to use the positive reinforcement method while you are trying to make your Chihuahua more adaptable and less timid with new people around.

4. Lhasa Apso

lhasa apso lying on a rug

A Lhasa Apso is a charming and funny small dog mostly recognized by its appearance which resembles a mop.

With their family, Lhasa Apso dogs are loving and comical pooches, but when it comes to strangers, they might act aloof and shy.

Also, these dogs can be pretty stubborn, so they need socialization even more compared to some other more obedient dog breeds. But, with an adequate approach, you can get out the best of this fierce small dog.

It is recommended that you don’t raise your voice while you are struggling to get your Lhasa Apso to be more outgoing. Also, punishment should be avoided in the process of training this small dog.

Instead of punishment, you should use this dog’s favorite treats as a reward for good behavior. With a little effort, your Lhasa Apso will become an obedient and well-socialized dog.

5. Maltese

maltese dog lying on the couch

Maltese is one of those small fluffy dogs every dog owner would love to snuggle and cuddle with! This gentle and charming small dog usually loves people and is always ready for new adventures.

However, this breed of dog might also sometimes be shy.

Maltese loves to have his humans around. So, if you are thinking about leaving this puppy home alone for the first time, be prepared that this might not go smoothly.

Luckily, there are some tricks, like leaving part of your clothing or leaving the radio on, for your Maltese to feel comforted while you are away.

In general, Maltese dogs are outgoing and if you are a Maltese owner yourself, you might be surprised to read that these pooches can be shy.

Well, some dogs inherit being timid from their parents, while some become shy due to the lack of puppy socialization.

Therefore, some Maltese dogs might act shy with new people or when they find themselves in new situations or surroundings.
Something that can definitely help is consulting a professional dog trainer or signing your Maltese up for puppy daycare.

6. Papillon

papillon dog sitting on the sofa

This dog is one adorable small dog that is a perfect choice for anyone looking for a lap dog. A Papillon is normally playful and energetic, but some of these dogs might be shy in certain situations.

So, most Papillon dogs will not show shyness or aggressiveness. However, as we have already learned, a lack of socialization can make even the most outgoing dog become shy.

This is why it is important to have people around, even if your Papillon seems aloof when you have guests at your home.

As soon as your dog gets used to the fact that he will be seeing new people all the time, he will soon become a well-behaved and socialized dog.

7. Pekingese

pekingese dog looking into camera

The Pekingese is one of the best dog breeds for people living in apartments who are worried about whether they have enough space for a furry companion. With these dogs, you don’t have to worry whether they are getting enough exercise.

Actually, you will probably have to remind your dog to go out for a walk! There is nothing a Pekingese loves more than spending a day napping on your sofa. So, this is one lazy dog breed we have here!

But, Pekingese dogs can also be timid. If you have had any other dog breed before, you might be surprised how long your Pekingese will take to become social with other people and other dogs.

The best thing to do is to take your small Pekingese to parks and even to puppy daycare as soon as you notice any signs of shyness in him. The sooner you start working on this problem, the better.

This way, your Pekingese can still become a well-socialized and outgoing pooch.

8. Pug

two pug dogs sitting together

Our next shy dog is a Chinese dog breed, and one of the oldest dog breeds in the world. The Pug is a laid-back and affectionate small dog that makes a great companion for people of all ages. But a Pug can also have a shy side.

Even if your Pug is perfectly outgoing inside your home, he might show shyness when meeting strangers.

This is because your Pug sees your home as a safe place now, but he might be afraid of new places and new people outside the house.

No need to struggle with this, the best thing you can do is start exposing your Pug to new surroundings from an early age. Also, explain to your Pug every time you are about to take him for a walk.

Take him for regular walks and make sure he is always on a leash and close to you all the time.

At the beginning, choose one park where you will be going on a regular basis. This way, your small dog will start seeing that place as a familiar and safe one.

9. Yorkshire Terrier

yorkshire terrier lying on rug

With the popularity of small dogs growing in recent years, it’s no wonder that so many people love Yorkshire Terriers as pets. Being one of the smallest dog breeds, this tiny dog is suitable even for families living in smaller houses.

Also, this dog is hypoallergenic, which is great news for dog lovers struggling with allergies. But did you know that the popular Yorkie also has a shy side?

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.

One reason this might be happening is due to some previous negative experiences.

To be able to help your Yorkie overcome this problem you need to be sure of the cause of the dog’s timid behavior first.

5 Medium-sized Shy Dog Breeds

Small dogs are not the only dogs that tend to get timid. We have a couple of medium-sized dogs that are not always outgoing and social.

Let’s see which dogs belong to the group of medium-sized shy dog breeds.

1. Dalmatian

dalmatian dog in the field

If you ask anybody what Dalmatians are known for, I am sure everybody would say their coat color – they have very distinctive black spots on white coats. So, their unique looks make these dogs widely recognized. But what about their temperament?

This dog is highly energetic, but also very sensitive. If not properly socialized, Dalmatians can be very shy around strangers and other dogs.

If shyness develops into fear, this can end up in a Dalmatian dog showing aggressive behavior with other dogs.

This dog needs both his space and an owner who will spend a lot of time with him. So, if you have experience in dog training and you are ready to properly socialize your dog, a Dalmatian might be the right breed for you.

2. English Bulldog

english bulldog puppy lying on the carpet

The English Bulldog is a calm and friendly medium-sized dog breed. This dog can adapt well to any surroundings. It is an extremely loyal and devoted family dog. However, there is a timid side of an English Bulldog, too.

An interesting fact about these dogs is that they are even more shy with other pets, than they are with people. To avoid this, it is crucial to expose English Bulldog to other dogs from an early age.

You can achieve this by taking your Bulldog on regular walks to parks. Also, puppy daycare is available for all dog owners who cannot watch over their pets for the entire day.

These are both good places for making your Bulldog a socialized and well-adapted dog.

3. Irish Water Spaniel

irish water spaniel dog sitting outdoors

This rare dog is the biggest among the Spaniel dog breeds. These are hardworking dogs that are always up for being given a task but can be playful dogs at home.,. This Spaniel dog belongs to the AKC sporting group.

These dogs will be the best company for their human family, especially children. However, they will not act the same way around strangers. With new people, Irish Water Spaniels might be very shy and distrustful.

With early socialization, you can make this trait less pronounced in your Irish Water Spaniel. This way, his other character traits, which are all positive, will be more apparent and cherished.

4. Siberian Husky

siberian husky lying on the floor

The Siberian Husky is a loyal and dignified sled dog breed. This dog is highly intelligent and might act independent. But is this dog also somewhat timid?

If you have met or owned this dog, you might already know that these dogs are not so dependent on the attention of people. So, while some other dogs might act clingy, the Husky might sometimes even want to spend time alone.

But, if you notice that your Husky is shy, this can be a result of a lack of socialization or due to some traumatic experience from the past. Sometimes, a new environment can also make Husky feel uncomfortable and shy.

This dog will not act shy for no reason. So, your first step should be determining what caused this kind of behavior in your Husky.

5. Whippet

whippet puppy lying in the grass

The Whippet can be characterized as a low-maintenance dog breed: this dog is calm, affectionate, and adaptable. A wonderful choice for a family dog, am I right? However, there is a slight chance that your Whippet will be a shy soul.

But this does not mean that this dog is not social at all. It just means it will take some time for him to relax and feel comfortable around you.

The truth is, Whippets are more genetically predisposed to be shy, more so than some other dog breeds.

So, this dog is likely to be very sensitive. It is good not to rush your Whippet into anything. The best thing you can do is let him have his own space and be really patient.

With time, your Whippet will start trusting you and will see his new home as a safe place.

5 Large Shy Dog Breeds

Finally, there are also some dogs that are big in size, but might be quiet and timid in their nature. So, shyness is not only a trait of smaller dogs, big dogs can also have some problems with adapting to new surroundings or having contact with new people.

Let’s take a look at these large shy dog breeds.

1. Akita Inu

akita inu lying on the armchair

The Akita Inu is a large, independent dog breed that loves to protect its family. This wolf-like dog breed is not a type of dog that will show its affection by licking your face or letting you cuddle it. However, they are very loyal to their owners.

Akitas are not friendly towards strangers. Most of the time, this dog will be very quiet and shy while strangers are around him.

Even if your friends or relatives try to make friends with your Akita, there is a high possibility that this dog will not show interest.

So, the Akita is quite timid when it comes to communicating with strangers and is also one independent dog.

Dog owners should be aware that they will have some serious work to do when it comes to the socialization of an Akita Inu. So, this dog can definitely not be described as a low-maintenance dog for first-time dog owners.

2. Great Dane

great dane in the nature

The Great Dane is one of the tallest dog breeds in the world. This large dog is loving and friendly and, despite his large size, he makes a great companion for people. Also, this dog is one of the most loyal dog breeds and is especially gentle with children.

The truth is that dogs as large as the Great Dane will always look intimidating to most people. Some will even conclude that all big dogs are aggressive dogs, which is of course, not true.

With proper socialization, any dog can be an obedient dog. On the flip side, if he is not socialized, every dog can show destructive behavior.

If you are thinking that the Great Dane is a dangerous dog, the truth is that this dog can actually be pretty shy. Many of these dogs are introverts who will not be friendly with strangers.

So, here again we can see the importance of socialization for a dog’s overall development. With the proper socialization, and of course, a lot of your love and cuddles, the Great Dane can be a wonderful, outgoing pet.

Also, one interesting fact about these dogs is that they mature slower than some other dog breeds. Therefore, although this is a large dog, he might act like a puppy for a long time. This might be an additional reason for his shyness and fear.

3. Greyhound

greyhound puppy lying on the sofa

The Greyhound is a pretty cool dog breed: it is one of the fastest dogs in existence and is also one of the oldest dog breeds in the whole world.

Despite their independence and assertiveness, many Greyhound dogs are timid. You will probably notice this as soon as your new dog comes to your home. Your Greyhound might show fear of new sounds and new people around him.

To help the dog feel safe, you will have to be persistent and patient. If you push this dog too hard, you might even make the shyness problem worse.

So, you need to do everything you can to help this dog understand that his new home is a perfectly safe place.

These dogs might even bite when they are in fear, so, if handling a shy Greyhound is too much for you, you can try with a professional dog trainer.

4. Newfoundland

newfoundland dog lying in the grass

Our next shy dog is a giant dog breed. According to the Newfoundland growth chart, this dog can weigh up to 150 pounds. Can a dog this big actually be shy? Yes!

These dogs are patient and loving. Despite their big size, they make wonderful pets for families with small children. A Newfoundland is usually a quiet dog who needs people around him all the time.

This giant dog does not do well when left alone. To prevent this dog from becoming shy, it is important to start with dog training and socialization when he is still a young puppy.

This dog is good-natured, but for him to have a stable temperament, you will have to work hard and start on time.

5. North American Mastiff

north american mastiff standing in the park

Photo from: @greatbambino_nx

This one might come as a surprise. Just like other Mastiff dog types, this dog is large – it might weigh up to 200 pounds. Pretty intimidating, right?!

You might think you have a big guard dog here, but, although this gentle giant will be protective over his loved ones, he can actually be a timid dog in many situations.

The North American Mastiff is a tolerant and quiet dog, who is in love with his owners.

Actually, this large dog might even act as a lap dog! So, he will not mind spending a lazy day inside with you. If you thought that separation anxiety is exclusively a problem withf smaller dog breeds, you’re wrong!

This large Mastiff dog can also develop anxiety if he spends too much time separated from his human family. He will probably not be fond of strangers, especially in the beginning.

There is a good chance that you will notice that this dog is quite shy, so the best way to overcome this is to expose these large dogs to new people, new sounds, and new surroundings from an early age.

Be careful: if the shyness you noticed in your Mastiff is the consequence of a previous traumatic experience, you need to be extra patient and supportive of your new family pet.

What Can I Do To Help Make My Dog Less Shy?

cute yorkshire terrier peeking from around a wall

If you have just recently welcomed a new dog into your dog, his shyness might come as a surprise to you. This is more likely to happen if your dog comes from a dog shelter rather than from a professional breeder.

However, it is what it is. Now it is up to you to make an effort to help your dog become less shy.

First, make sure your home is a safe place where your dog will feel comfortable. If there is anything inside your home that makes your dog feel timid, try to detect that thing, and get your puppy familiar with it.

Be as gentle and patient as possible. It might seem like an impossible mission, but don’t give up. You are getting there! Some dogs will just need more support and encouragement.

Pay attention to using a gentle and kind voice while you are encouraging your shy dog.

Be prepared for this process to happene gradually. After you notice that your dog has relaxed and become closer to your family members, you can slowly start introducing him to a wider circle of people.

Wait to see how he reacts and how long it takes him to get used to the presence of strangers. After that, your dog will be ready for regular visits to the park and meeting other dogs.


So, as we have seen, there are many shy dog breeds out there. Some of them are more genetically predisposed to become shy, while some become timid due to a lack of socialization.

Even if a dog is shy, this does not mean that he will not be a wonderful pet. Also, any dog can become shy due to some bad experience.

Shyness might be an obstacle in your dog’s everyday routine, so, sometimes, it will be up to you to help your dog overcome this problem.

Early socialization and adequate dog training are crucial in making your dog social and well-behaved. Even if it sometimes seems that your dog’s shyness is unsolvable, don’t give up!

If you feel like this is something that is too hard for you to do on your own, you can always ask for help from a professional dog trainer.

We assure you that there is help available for your dog’s shyness, you just have to be patient and wait for your dog to be ready to go out in the world in their own time!

Read Next:

Are Shih Tzus Good With Kids? Shih Tzu Character Traits

The 22 Healthiest Dog Breeds – Dogs Who Live Long And Prosper