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15 Best Dog Breeds for First Time Owners

| Published on July 9, 2023

Thinking about getting your first dog? While it seems absurd to many of us, some people have never owned a dog before – and that’s okay! We welcome you to the dark side. While there is a lot of research that goes into general dog ownership, there are some breeds of dogs that are better suited for a first-timer than others.

While all dogs are individuals within a breed and can vary greatly in personalities and needs, it’s safe to say that your chances of finding a good novice dog are better within some breed limits than others. Remember that there is no bad dog breed, and if you’re set on a breed that’s not on this list, that’s perfectly fine! Any first time owner can be successful with any dog, so long as they’re committed. But for those looking for suggestions on breeds that might fit their newbie needs, you can use this list as a guideline!

#1 – Bichon Frise

Bichon Frise in Window

Bichons are a very popular breed for both experienced and novice owners alike. It’s no surprise, they have excellent temperaments and make wonderful family companions. They are very low maintenance, requiring only regular grooming and a daily walk. They do need plenty of cuddles and love, however!

#2 – Maltese

Tiny Maltese outside

Bred to be companion dogs, the Maltese makes a great addition to families. While these tiny dogs may be snappy or get injured by toddlers, they adore older kids. The Maltese gets by with short walks outside and brief runs inside your house.

#3 – Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel for First Time Owners

Looking for a smaller breed? Cavaliers are adorable little couch potatoes that enjoy curling up and relaxing with you at any time of the day. They’re great for a first time owner because they’re relatively lazy dogs, although they do require regular grooming for their long coats. Cavaliers are extremely sweet and love being with their people wherever they go.

#4 – Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever fetching stick

Goldens are one of the most popular breeds around because they’re such great dogs. They are perfect family companions, are relatively low maintenance, friendly with all children and adults. They love relaxing on the couch with you but are still active enough to keep up with the family. Golden Retrievers have wonderful temperaments and are easy to train, making them an excellent choice for the first time dog owner.

#5 – Greyhound

Lazy Greyhound for first time owners

Another large breed, Greyhounds are actually a lot more apt to take over your couch space than you’d imagine. They are incredibly docile animals that love to sleep. Of course, they do need regular exercise, and they’d make great running companions. But Greyhounds are probably one of the most low-maintenance breeds around, and that does include the activity department!

#6 – Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever relaxing on bench

Just like his Golden Retriever cousin, Labs are excellent family companions. They are very easy to train but do require a bit more exercise than Goldens, but they are very social dogs and love being with their people. Labs are a great “take anywhere” dog, meaning they’ll sit with you outside a coffee shop, watch the kids at their baseball games, or keep you company on your 5k training!

#7 – Papillon

Papillon playing with toy

These cute little guys are great for someone looking for a low-maintenance, easy-going companion. They have great temperaments and love being with their people. Despite their size, they are very playful dogs and love being active – so don’t be surprised if your Papillon kicks butt on the agility field! Overall, these tiny guys carry a big personality and are great for novice owners.

#8 – Poodle

Poodle for first time dog owners

No matter the size, Poodles are great dogs for beginners. They have incredible temperaments and are probably one of the easiest dog breeds to train. They love being with their people and make excellent exercise partners, as well as snuggle buddies. Despite the regular grooming needed for these guys, Poodles are one of the few minimally shedding dog breeds!

#9 – Pug

Pig walking by water

Who doesn’t love these squishy faces? Pugs are great dogs for novice owners, as they are very low maintenance but still active enough to keep you on your toes. Pugs have wonderful personalities, and you’d be surprised to find them as hilarious little guys that will end up being the life of your party!

#10 – Shetland Sheepdog

Shetland Sheepdog agility

While their coats might look intimidating to the first time owner, Shelties are very easy dogs to care for. They do require regular grooming, but they are great companions for everyone. Shelties are small dogs packed with a ton of personality, and they excel in many dog sports like agility, flyball, and obedience!

#11 – Whippet

Whippet face close up

Like Greyhounds, Whippets are fast dogs that also have a lazy side. These little canines are quiet and friendly around almost everyone they meet. Their thin coat is easy to maintain, but they may require a jacket during the winter months.

#12 – Shih Tzu

Fluffy Shih Tzu puppy

Despite needing regular trips to the groomer, this small breed is fairly easy to care for. Most Shih Tzus are friendly and loving toward humans. They’ll be content whether you want to play and explore or lounge on the couch. As long as you’re willing to be extra patient and repetitive with training, they’ll be loyal and obedient.

#13 – Boxer

Boxer dog head tilt

If you’re looking for a family dog that loves to play, Boxers are perfect! It doesn’t take long for these large dogs to fall in love with their family members. They have silly personalities that all ages will adore. However, they need to go to a family that has an active lifestyle.

#14 – Great Dane

Great Dane relaxing outside

Don’t be intimidated by the Great Dane’s massive size. These gentle giants can be easy-going couch potatoes. They need enough space to stretch their legs, but they’re one of the best dog breeds for first time owners because they’re calm, patient, and adaptable. They also have minimal grooming needs.

#15 – Mixed Breed

Happy mixed breed


What are some characteristics that make a dog breed good for a first time owner?

First-time dog owners often benefit from breeds that are generally friendly, trainable, adaptable, and have manageable energy levels. Here are a few key characteristics to look for:

  1. Trainability: Breeds known for their intelligence and eagerness to please, such as Labradors and Golden Retrievers, are often easier to train. These dogs are likely to pick up commands quickly and are generally keen on pleasing their owners, which can make the training process smoother and more rewarding.
  2. Temperament: A dog with a calm, friendly temperament makes an excellent choice for a first-time owner. Breeds like the Bichon Frise or Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are known for their gentle and affable nature, getting along well with other pets, kids, and strangers.
  3. Size: While not a definitive factor, size can influence the dog’s manageability. Smaller breeds can be easier to handle physically, particularly for families with young children, while larger dogs may need more space and exercise.
  4. Energy Levels: Breeds with moderate energy levels are often good for first-timers. Extremely high-energy dogs can be a lot to handle if you’re not used to providing the level of activity they require.
  5. Health: Breeds with minimal known genetic health problems can be easier and less costly to care for in the long run. Do research on the breed’s common health issues before making a decision.
  6. Maintenance: Dogs with simpler grooming needs are easier for novice owners. Breeds like the Dalmatian or Boxer, for instance, have short coats that require minimal grooming.

Remember, it’s important to match a dog’s traits with your lifestyle. Think about your living situation, activity level, and personal preferences before choosing a breed.


Conclusion on the Best Breeds For New Dog Owners


Many people overlook mixed breed dogs at shelters, but they can make the best companions! They often gain the best qualities of their parent breeds, sometimes with fewer health problems. Plus, they have just as much love to give!

When it comes to getting a dog, personality matters much more than breed. So, visit a wide variety of dogs at local shelters and rescues to find one that gets along best with your family. It could be one of these purebreds, a mixed breed, or another dog not on this list. It’s up to you to decide which dog is perfect for your lifestyle.

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