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Bengal cat

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Looking a little like a scaled-down leopard, Bengal cats are very beautiful. They’re also lively, high energy, have strong prey drives, and prone to behavioral problems. They’re resolutely not a cat for a first time cat owner or for anyone with small furries in the house.

Cavalier King Charles spaniel

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Gorgeous, friendly little dogs though they are, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel has one significant drawback: its health. Bred over generations to select for the characteristic head shape it displays today, many dogs are at risk of a very serious condition called syringomyelia. Cerebrospinal fluid is forced out of the brain and down the spinal cord, where it collects in cavities that become increasingly distended.

French bulldog

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Hugely popular, French bulldogs are sociable and friendly dogs. However, in common with other flat-faced breeds, they frequently suffer from severe respiratory issues. As a result, their life expectancy is shorter than would otherwise be the case for a similar-sized dog. Additionally, the skin folds on their face are prone to repeated infections.

Sphynx cat

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The distinctive, hairless appearance of the Sphynx is probably behind the breed’s popularity. As a bonus, it’s also a loving and affectionate cat. However, to help ensure it stays healthy, its hairless skin requires regular baths – which, like most cats, it doesn’t usually appreciate. More seriously, the breed is prone to several serious conditions, including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Border collie

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High energy, attractive dogs, border collies are popular pets. Unfortunately, they are unsuited to most homes – something a new owner frequently discovers too late. These dogs’ high intelligence and instinctive need for a “job” makes them well-suited to farm life but not such a good fit in the average urban or suburban home.

Persian cat

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Mild-tempered and affectionate, the Persian is understandably one of the most popular cat breeds. However, its long coat and flattened face means that this is not a cat to commit to if you cannot also commit to the daily grooming it requires. Without this, its fur will quickly become matted and its skin vulnerable to infection.

Chow Chow

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It’s quite common for professional vets to query the temperament of the Chow Chow. At best aloof, they’re frequently also aggressive, which no doubt doesn’t go down well in a vet surgery. To complicate matters, the dog’s flattened face – a consequence of deliberate inbreeding – makes fitting a muzzle extremely difficult.

Scottish Fold cat

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With the distinctive folded ears that give it its name, the Scottish Fold cat is visually very appealing. They’re also sweet-natured, curious and sociable – at least with the one or two humans it admits to its trusted inner circle. It’s this very small circle of trust coupled with the cat’s lack of tolerance for other pets that makes the Scottish Fold unsuited to most homes.


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Bred to flush out burrow-dwelling animals like badgers, dachshunds are famously feisty and independent. While, with careful training, they can make good pets, they’re always best with a job to do. Unfortunately, their propensity towards spinal problems can make it very difficult to ensure they enjoy an ideal lifestyle.

Shar pei

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Territorial and notoriously hard to handle, the Shar pei is suitable for only the most experienced owners. These dogs are easily bored – and, if they reach this state, their size, weight and temperament makes them potentially very dangerous. From a veterinary perspective, their creased and folded skin fosters a moist environment that’s ideal for a range of challenging fungal and bacterial infections.


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Typically weighing over 100lbs, a bullmastiff is not a dog an owner can control through physical force. Though individual dogs tend to be loyal and protective of their family, the breed characteristic is for strong-willed animals, with high prey drives, that require clearly defined boundaries from a very young age. This is a requirement beyond the ability of most potential owners.

German shepherds

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Although hugely popular, temperament among members of this one-time herding breed varies considerably. This makes them a risky choice as a family pet, especially where children are concerned. The dogs are also prone to a number of health issues, including hip dysplasia and exocrine pancreatic deficiency.

Savannah cats

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A cross between the African serval and the domestic cat, Savannahs are large, elegant animals that are frequently affectionate with their owners but stand-offish with strangers. Like dogs, they’ll usually happily accept walking on a lead and may even play fetch. However, in many countries and several US States, it is illegal to own first generation (F1) crosses.


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Another flat-faced breed that suffers for the physical characteristics bred into it, pugs regularly experience respiratory problems. Meanwhile, infection is common on the folded skin of their face, as is eye ulceration. Many dogs also suffer from retained baby teeth, which may require surgical intervention.

Saint Bernards

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It’s not the breed’s appearance in Stephen King’s Cujo that should give a potential owner pause for thought. Rather, it’s the sheer size of this Swiss breed. Not only does it have an appetite to match its size, it’s incredibly slobbery and, as might be expected for a dog that originated in mountainous climes, it struggles in hot weather.

Siberian Husky

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All too often bought either as a status dog or by someone who’s fallen in love with their looks, a Siberian husky’s best environment is the one it was bred for. In a more urban environment, and especially with an inexperienced owner, these dogs are difficult to handle and require far more exercise than usually anticipated.

Bombay cats

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Playful and sociable, in many ways the Bombay is an excellent choice for an active family looking for an active, almost dog-like cat. Like dogs, Bombays form very strong bonds with their owners and seek out their company. On the flipside, these cats have a style of play that, without careful attention, can very quickly tip over into aggressive scratching and biting.

Siamese cat

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Perhaps the most instantly identifiable of domestic cat breeds, the Siamese has a reputation as a fearsome hunter. If you love your local birdlife and small mammals, this definitely isn’t the cat for you. Then there’s the cat’s distinctive yowling cry, which, if it so chooses, is pretty much guaranteed to keep whole neighborhoods up at night.

Labrador retriever

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The Labrador is one of the most popular family pets but also one of the most frequently abandoned. These are large, high energy dogs, which shed large amounts of fur. They are also notorious scavengers – and this can ultimately prove the deal-breaker for many owners.

Egyptian Maus

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A relatively rare breed, with its spotted coat, the Egyptian Maus is also a very pretty cat. Although often considered to make a good pet, it’s well worth noting that the Egyptian Maus’ social skills frequently extend no further than its immediate family. Strangers, including children, can find themselves on the end of its claws.


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Beautiful to look at, with a velvety-soft coat, affectionate and intelligent, the Weimeraner’s appeal is obvious. However, the Weimeraner was bred as a hunting dog. As such, its energy levels may put it beyond what an average family can cope with. Moreover, the dog’s size and physical robustness can make it unsuitable to be around young children or frail older people.

Belgian Malinois

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Once little-known outside of Belgium, the Malinois experienced a boom in popularity after one of the breed apparently helped capture Osama Bin Laden. Unfortunately, the innate skill that allowed the dog in question to do this is exactly why a Malinois is unsuitable as a pet. Ideal police or military dogs, the Malinois needs a specific job, very good training and a knowledgeable handler.

Dutch Shepherd

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Like the Malinois, Dutch Shepherd dogs are well-suited to life as police or military dogs. They need a job to do and a handler who understands them. Without regular, rigorous training, the Dutch Shepherd is difficult to handle and may quickly become aggressive out of frustration.

Patterdale terrier

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It’s not uncommon for a terrier fan to decide to branch out from a Westie or a Jack Russell and land on a Patterdale as their new dog of choice. However, while a Patterdale can be a great asset for someone who uses their terriers to hunt, their very strong prey drive makes them more than a handful for anyone else.


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This Belgian breed was bred – and still used – for herding. Though smaller than many herding breeds, the Schipperke’s exercise needs frequently surprise new owners. Those same owners may also struggle to manage their dog’s strong herding instinct and exceptionally headstrong nature. For inexperienced owners, these are not easy dogs to train or manage.

Rhodesian Ridgeback

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Bred to be large, strong enough and brave enough to tackle lions, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is a big, powerful dog. Its reputation for aloofness and occasional outright wariness of strangers also makes it a good guard dog. However, all these characteristics combine to make a dog that’s not an ideal pet for most people.

Australian cattle dog

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Another working breed that has fallen foul of pet owners’ desires for a dog that’s a bit “different”, the Australian cattle dog does really well on – surprise, surprise – a cattle ranch. Elsewhere, this intelligent, confident dog, and its owner, will struggle to keep its strong herding instinct in check. Sadly, this all too frequently results with the dog in a shelter.


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Beloved by generations of kids, this elegant dog is a popular family pet. However, its origins as a carriage dog mean that its exercise requirements can far outstrip expectations. Equally concerning is a common genetic fault that makes affected dogs go deaf in young puppyhood. As deaf dogs are easily startled and can be prone to reactive aggression, affected animals need careful, experienced handling.


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The striking, dignified appearance of the akita perhaps hints at its temperament. It’s a temperament that makes the dog unsuited to most domestic arrangements, especially where children are concerned. Though these dogs tend to be loyal and bond hard with their owners, they may be aggressive towards strangers and, no matter who it’s from, dislike too much attention.

Devon Rex cat

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The soft, curling coat and elegantly-shaped head of the Devon Rex make this cat a very appealing prospective pet. However, unlike the stereotypically aloof and independent feline, the Devon Rex is a playful cat that thrives on interaction with its owner. It’s not suited to being left alone and, where that happens, may become destructive and aggressive.

Airedale terrier

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The largest of the terrier breeds, the Airedale possesses the typical terrier traits of alertness, strong prey drive – and a bite to match, high activity levels, and a propensity for destructiveness. In a dog the size of an Airedale, however, these traits are very difficult for novice owners to manage.

Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever

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Lively and super-intelligent, the duck toller, as they’re affectionately known, is the smallest of the retriever breeds. However, this is no golden retriever in a smaller package. It has the energy levels and drive of a border collie, and will quickly become very destructive or even reactive if it doesn’t have enough to do.

Korean Jindo

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Relatively unusual outside their native Korea, these cream-colored dogs are attention-grabbers. Unfortunately, the attention isn’t always the sort that their owners are after. The Jindo’s origins as a hunting dog and its very high prey drive means it can be difficult to control and to socialize with other dogs and people.

Great Dane

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Sometimes as large as a small pony, this giant breed possesses the major drawback of many other giant breeds of dog: a short life expectancy of usually no more than ten years. As well as the prospect of saying goodbye to their pet far too early, a Great Dane owner may also need to deal with a dog with significant health concerns, such as cardiomyopathy.

Himalayan Cat

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Affectionate and people-orientated, the Himalayan cat possesses two of the most important qualities most cat-lovers seek in their pet. And, while it’s true that this breed can make an excellent pet, it comes with one significant caveat. The Himalayan’s long, luxuriant fur requires daily and very thorough grooming – a commitment that is beyond most owners.

Irish wolfhound

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This rangy star of many a medieval tapestry, the Irish wolfhound is undeniably attractive. While wolf-hunting is no longer the prime occupation for most of today’s wolfhounds, their prey drive remains high. This can make the dogs hard to handle. Worse, an owner who finally learns how to control his dog may then discover that the Irish wolfhound’s lifespan is shorter than the average dog’s.


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This sensitive sighthound is sometimes described as a “one family dog”. That doesn’t mean it’s aggressive towards strangers although neither does it make it a particularly good guard dog. Instead, the Borzoi’s major drawback for anyone who falls in love with it is its shorter than average lifespan and its propensity towards a range of debilitating health conditions.

Afghan hound

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A well-cared for, well-exercised and well-groomed Afghan hound is a joy to behold. However, make no mistake: these are high needs dogs – and those needs are beyond the means of most owners. The coat requires constant attention, a point that’s complicated by the dog’s exercise needs, and training is made more difficult by the animal’s innate sensitivity.

Staffordshire bull terrier

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It’s not this breed’s (largely ill-deserved) reputation that makes it a dog most vets would hesitate to recommend. It’s the fact that it’s one of the most frequently stolen dogs. Losing a dog to theft is a heartache, no matter the circumstances. However, if a Staffordshire bull terrier is stolen, there’s a good chance the dog was taken to participate in illegal dog fighting.

Turkish Van Cat

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Intelligent and fun-loving, the Turkish Van apparently possesses two of the most desirable qualities for a pet cat. However, this is also a breed with a reputation for aggression – both towards other animals and towards people. Although breeders have made efforts to breed this trait out, the Turkish Van is still not a cat to choose without a great deal of thought.