Dogs for First Time Owners

Published: 20 Apr 2024
Kathy R. Conner
Kathy R. Conner
Kathy is a licensed veterinary surgeon and writer in Miami. With over 20 years of experience in deal with pets and small animal, she hopes to share her knowledge on what she learned throughout her life to all animal lover. On her free time, she likes to attend Yoga and Meditation classes.
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Our articles are meticulously composed and vetted by veterinary professionals, guaranteeing precision and pertinence by consulting credible sources, chiefly scientific journals and veterinary manuals. Prior to publication and major revisions, we thoroughly validate the factual correctness, providing well-researched content rooted in veterinary science.

Becoming a dog parent is incredibly fulfilling. Moreover, choosing your first dog when you’re new to dog ownership is an exciting adventure. It’s fantastic if you already have a particular breed in mind! However, it’s crucial to recognize that some breeds may be better suited for those experiencing dog parenting for the first time than others. 

There’s so much to consider before bringing home a new family member. One of the most common factors to begin narrowing your hunt is breed. While dog breed alone isn’t everything, it’s a great starting point in searching for your perfect match. Let’s get right into it so you can decide and look for your new family member sooner!

What to Consider Before Getting a Dog?

Becoming a first-time dog owner can be a thrilling experience but it can also become a bit overwhelming especially if you’ve never raised one before.

With tons of different breeds out there, it can be difficult to know which one is right for you. So before we delve into the best dog breeds for first-time owners, there are a couple of things to consider.

Your Lifestyle

It’s vital that you choose a dog that fits your lifestyle in order for both of you to get along happily. If everyone is out of the house at work for 12 hours a day, don’t get a dog that suffers from separation anxiety. Make sure to provide your new dog enough exercise.

If you prefer a lazy lap dog, then it’s best to skip high-energy dog breeds that require hours of exercise every day. But if you want a work-out buddy, choose an athletic breed with endurance. If you need a dog to snuggle up with you on the couch and keep you company, there are plenty of small dogs that are happy to spend time with you.

The point here is to be realistic about how much time you can spare with your new dog and the types of activities you plan to do together. Once you figure that out, you can make a sound decision about the best dog breed for you.


You should also know that dogs need regular checkups, grooming, and feeding. If you choose a dog that is prone to health problems like a Pug, that can be another significant layer to your expense. These kinds of expenses are nothing compared to the companionship and love that you receive from your dog in return, but these are something that you should be prepared for.

What Dog Should You Get for Your First Dog

Living Space

Along similar lines, some breeds will require wide, fenced-in yards to run around in whereas others are fine sticking to the couch in your apartment. It’s also crucial to contemplate what your living situation will be a few years from now. Do you anticipate moving to a small apartment that restricts pets? Are you saving up for a house in far areas with a neighboring dog run?

Dog Biddability

No matter what breed you choose, you’re going to have to put effort and time into training. With that said, some dog breeds can learn wider skillsets and naturally pick up training than others–also called biddability. This does not mean that other breeds won’t train well, you just may have to offer a lot of effort and time.

If you’re seeking an easily trainable breed, some recommendations include Border Collie, German Shepherd Dog, Poodle, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Bernese Mountain Dog, and Pembroke Welsh Corgi.

10 Breeds for First Time Dog Owners

A dedicated first-time dog owner will already be glad with only one of a plethora of breeds that fit his activities and needs. But make sure to look for breeds that are generally described as friendly, eager to please, and trainable when determining your new dog.

The following ten breeds for first-time owners vary by coat type, intelligence, energy level, and brawn. Some of these breeds are small and some are large, some are more laid-back while some are highly-active. Regardless of your lifestyle, there is a dog breed for you!


All three varieties of Poodle can be good dogs for first-time owners, fitting any exercise regimen or any room size. Besides being easy to train, the Poodle can adapt fast to any household or situation as well. Well behaved and smart (particularly the Standard), the Poodle also adores human company and is surprisingly adept at adapting his owner’s lifestyle. Different Poodle crosses–Labradoodles, Goldendoodles, and Cockapoos) offer further clarification on your choices.

Get a First Dog You Will Enjoy


This relaxed breed is the best dog for first-time owners who need a laid-back dog. They get along with everyone and have a rare and wonderful open temperament. A pug’s energy level ranges from low to medium. While pugs enjoy a good romp and are playful, their short nose and short legs make it difficult for them to breathe and run.

Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus are the best dogs for first-time owners who are looking for the ideal lap dog. In fact, the gentle Shih Tzu is a snuggler of the highest level and a great family dog for small homes. Their energy level ranges from medium to high.

They are alert and enjoy doing activities. Unfortunately, Shih Tzus aren’t known for their intelligence so it can be challenging to train them. It is said that in order to learn something new, they will need 80 to 100 repetitions.

If you don’t have experience in training pets, it’s probably wise to invest in a professional dog trainer to teach them the basics. When it comes to food, Shih Tzus can be light on the wallet due to their small appetites. Unfortunately, their coats do need regular grooming. That means more time commitment from you and you might need to bring them to a professional groomer as well periodically.

Bichon Frise

These breeds are happy-go-lucky little dogs that look a bit like a spongy cotton ball. The Bichon Frise is an all-around amusing companion. They adapt well to any lifestyle and are fairly easy to train. Just make sure to dedicate your money and time to regular groomer visits.

Due to their curly coat, they will need regular brushing and careful trimming. You could keep your Bichon’s hair trimmed short for a lower-maintenance coat. The Bichon Frise is a great choice for apartment living or for families with children. The daily basic exercise is enough to keep them healthy and happy.

The only fault in this breed may be some struggles in housetraining which is not uncommon in small dogs.

Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terriers are also one of the best first dog breeds for new owners who want a little lap dog buddy. In fact, they are known as great “starter dogs”. However, you need to pay attention to their grooming needs.

The Yorkshire Terrier has continuously growing hair that must be trimmed and need regular brushing. If you have the budget and time for regular groomer visits, it will be fairly simple to just keep them in good condition.

The Yorkshire Terrier only requires basic exercise due to its moderate energy level. Daily walks are great for Yorkies.

Labrador Retriever

One of the most popular and appreciable medium-large dog breeds is Labrador Retrievers. Labs are affectionate and deeply loyal dogs that establish close bonds with their families–which make them the best first dog for novice owners.

The Labrador Retriever is smart, active, and playful, which is one of the reasons why this breed is often chosen as a service dog. This breed loves to learn and can be trained to do almost anything.

The Labrador Retriever thrives in active households that will need plenty of exercise and training. Without mental simulations and plenty of exercise, however, a young lab may get bored and act out.

What is a Good First Dog to Have

Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are the quintessential family dog. This medium-large dog is loyal, affectionate, happy, and active–making them one of the best first dogs for new owners with families. Besides being smart, they are also eager to please and adaptable breeds that can thrive in most households.

Though, these breeds do need regular brushing to keep their coat free of mats and tangles. Goldens require a good amount of exercise as well to prevent boredom and keep them in good physical condition. Training is necessary but not difficult. They enjoy learning and can be trained to do a lot of things.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are a great choice and ideal dogs for beginners who are also looking for a lap dog and love to explore local trails at the same time. These little dogs are surprisingly resilient and energetic, but they love cuddles and highly affectionate too.

A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has a low to medium energy level and is always up for a walk or game. They are pretty intelligent and learn fast that you can train them yourself, even if you’re new in training dogs.

However, due to their long coat, they will require regular brushing. But despite the need for regular grooming, most dog owners find this to be a fun bonding experience.


The playful Boxer makes good first-time dogs for those who seek a medium-large high-energy dog. They are loyal breeds that form a close bond with families. Their grooming requirements are very basic.

But Boxers need plenty of exercise and a strong base of training. To teach them appropriate behavior, they need to undergo strict obedience training at an early age. While young Boxers can a bit hyperactive, they enjoy the attention during training and are not difficult to train.

Once socialized and train, Boxers can get along well with kids and can thrive in active households. Guardians by nature, this breed is naturally protective of its family, particularly children.

Ideal Dog for First Time Pet Owner


Greyhounds are pretty intelligent breeds, so they are easy to train, making them good first dogs for novice owners. They have a medium energy level and enjoy a good sprint but also contented to hang on the couch.

This breed is very low maintenance to groom as well due to its thin coat. Then again, this also means they don’t do that well in cold temperatures. So make sure you keep them warm in a nice snuggly bed during the winter months.

Consider adopting a retired racing greyhound who’s mostly already trained up for you and is now looking for a loving home to relax in.

Dog Breeds to Avoid for First Time Dog Owners

Now that you’re aware of the best first-time dog breeds for you to choose from, there are some things you still need to take into consideration. Apart from Border Collie, there are a few more breeds that you should be wary of. These breeds will offer some insight into the pitfalls that first-time owners can encounter if they don’t select their dog carefully.

Shiba Inu

Shiba Inus are adorable pets that appear to look like small wolves. However, first-time owners will struggle with them since a Shiba Inu often likened to cats in its independence. What’s more, despite being intelligent, Shiba Inus are also notoriously hard to train. That, coupled with its relatively large size, can a recipe for disaster if you won’t do your research beforehand.

Good Breed Choice for First Dog

Siberian Husky

Another attractive breed that bears a resemblance to a wolf is the Siberian Husky. You are unable to give this breed enough exercise unless you spend all day out on the trail yourself to keep them out of mischief. Furthermore, unless you are very experienced at working with Huskies, you’ll know that they aren’t just barkers, but howlers, which is likely to keep the entire neighborhood up at night.


Everyone loves the purple tongue of a Chow but they are also notoriously aloof. Chows can be heartbreakingly disinterested in training or people and they’re quite suspicious of strangers. These breeds are very dignified and cute but Chows are not great for first-time owners since they’re also not cuddly.


Popularized by moving film, Hatchi, Akitas may be gorgeous dogs but they are not for the faint of heart. Their origin roots are in dispute, but these breeds were probably bred for dogfighting, bear hunting, guard dog work, or a combination of the three.

All of this means that Akitas have unusually high levels of aggression towards dogs and people and suspicion with strangers [1]. When socialized and well-trained, however, Akitas can be a dignified and beautiful companion, but they’re not a good pet for a first-time owner.

Dogs to Avoid for First Time Dog Owner

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Should I Keep My Dog While At Work?

Choose a place or room in the house for your dog. If you don’t want to use a crate or your pup is not comfortable in it, but you also don’t want your dog having free run of the house while you’re at work, consider making a space just for them. 

It could be a guest room, the kitchen, or your bedroom. Either way, you also need to puppy-proof the house before leaving them alone for your work.

Is It Wrong To Keep A Dog In A Crate?

Yes, it’s wrong to keep a dog in a crate, especially for long hours. Animal experts claim that leaving a pup in a crate for 8, 10, or 12 hours a day is tantamount to abuse and is cruel. Then again, the decision is yours to make. 

If you know that your pup truly enjoys spending time in his crate, perhaps you can leave it open to him during the day, but provide him access to other parts of your backyard or home so he can go and come as he pleases. 

But if you’re concerned that your dog can put himself in danger or might exhibit destructive behaviors while you’re away, take steps to limit your pet’s access to specific areas in the house.

How Often Should You Walk A Dog?

As a general rule, most healthy, large-breed dogs require a minimum of 30 minutes to two hours of walking each day. However, if your dog has high energy levels, he may need more than two hours.

How Much Food Does A Dog Need?

When determining exactly how much food a dog needs, you should account for several factors. The correct meal size depends on factors like the number of meals, the type of food, the dog’s metabolic rate, body weight, and amount of exercise. 

But generally, an adult dog should eat two meals a day while puppies often need three or more feedings. Thus, you’ll have to divide the amount in the table by the number of meals you are serving.


There you have it! We’ve established the list of best breeds for first-time dog owners and which breeds to avoid. But one quick lecture before we wrap up our topic about the best first-time dog breeds for new owners.

There have been a lot of questions about mixed-breed dogs for novice owners if they’re also a good option–so let’s quickly sort out these questions. Well, there’s nothing wrong with it actually.

In fact, adopting a mixed-breed dog from a shelter can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience. But a mixed breed dog is a mixed bag. Especially when its parents are unspecified, it will be unpredictable to determine what the mixed-breed dog will grow up to be like.

Luckily, most mixed-breed dogs are charming dogs that mostly take after good personality traits–perfect for the new dog parent!

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