Top 15 best dog breeds for first-time owners and how to choose

Top 15 best dog breeds for first-time owners and how to choose

Whether to be a playmate for your kids or your sole companion, bringing home your first dog is an exciting and rewarding journey. However, you must make the right choice when selecting the breed that suits your lifestyle and experience level. This article highlights the best dog breeds for first-time owners, as they are more adaptable, have lower maintenance, and are less intimidating than other breeds.

Best dog breeds for first-time owners
Here are some of the best dog breeds for first-time owners. Photo: Zoom Pet Photography, SeventyFour via Getty Images (modified by author)
Source: UGC


Pets, especially dogs, can help reduce stress, anxiety, depression and even improve your cardiovascular health. They also have a calming effect in environments such as nursing homes and hospitals. In addition, dogs can teach kids valuable lessons about empathy, responsibility and loyalty.

Best dog breeds for first-time owners

When selecting the ideal canine companion, certain breeds stand out for their friendly nature and ease of training.

To determine the best dog breeds for first-time owners, we analysed factors such as size, physical features and grooming requirements. Data from The Spruce Pets and Pure Wow significantly influenced this research.

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No.Dog breed
2.Golden Retriever
4.Shih Tzu
5.Yorkshire Terrier
6.Bichon Frisé
7.Great Dane
9.Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
10.Labrador Retriever
13.Bernese Mountain Dog

1. Boxer

Boxer dog breed
A Boxer dog looking forward with a blurred background. Photo: Ryan Murphy
Source: UGC
  • Group: Working (AKC)
  • Origin: Germany
  • Height: 22-25 inches (Males), 21-24 inches (Females)
  • Weight: 66-70 lbs (Males), 55-60 lbs (Females)
  • Coat and colour: Short and shiny coat; brindle and fawn are standard colours
  • Life expectancy: 9-15 years

Are you looking for a medium-large, high-energy dog? Then settle for the playful Boxer. Boxers are renowned for their loyalty and intelligence.

Even though they are harmless in the family, they can be defensive around strangers. This breed needs plenty of exercise and a strong foundation of training. They are naturally protective of kids. The Boxer’s grooming needs are basic.

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2. Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever dog breed
The Golden Retriever is a Scottish breed of retriever dog of medium size. Photo: Westend61
Source: UGC
  • Group: Sporting (AKC)
  • Origin: Scotland
  • Height: 22-24 inches (Males), 20-22 inches (Females)
  • Weight: 55-75 lbs
  • Coat and colour: Medium-length double coat; light to dark gold
  • Life expectancy: 12-13 years

Golden Retrievers are often considered the best dogs for first-time owners. Their high social drive and loving personality make them excellent therapy dogs, family pets and companions.

They are also eager to please their owners, making their training easy. Nonetheless, this breed requires regular grooming to ensure the coat is free of tangles and mats.

3. Papillon

Papillon dog breed
A Papillon dog standing on green grass during summer. Photo: Eudyptula
Source: UGC
  • Group: Toy (AKC)
  • Origin: France/Belgium
  • Height: 20-28 inches
  • Weight: 8-10 lbs (Males), 7-9 lbs (Females)
  • Coat and colour: Long, single-layered; white with markings
  • Life expectancy: 12-15 years

Do not let this breed’s miniature frame fool you. Papillons’ happy, friendly and adaptable behaviour makes them some of the best family dog breeds.

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They require an active lifestyle to prevent behavioural issues caused by boredom. The breed is easy to train, thanks to their intelligence. In addition, they need moderate grooming, making them easy to maintain.

4. Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu dog breed
A Shih Tzu dog lying on the carpet in a cosy space. Photo: SeventyFour
Source: UGC
  • Group: Toy (AKC)
  • Origin: China
  • Height: 7.9-11 inches
  • Weight: 5.8-16.5 lbs
  • Coat and colour: Long, silky double coat in solid colours
  • Life expectancy: 10-18 years

A Shih Tzu may be perfect for your first dog if you prefer an affectionate dog. They are playful and form strong emotional bonds with their owners.

This breed does not require extensive exercise, and may be the happiest when spending time with the family flopped on the couch. Although the dog’s coat requires regular grooming, it sheds very little.

5. Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terrier dog breed
A Yorkshire Terrier playing with a ball. Photo: Yevgen Romanenko
Source: UGC
  • Group: Toy (AKC)
  • Origin: England
  • Height: 8-9 inches
  • Weight: 5-7 lbs
  • Coat and colour: Long, straight, silky double coat; various colour combinations, including tan and black
  • Life expectancy: 13-16 years

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Yorkshire Terriers are one of the most shy dog breeds. They are friendly and affectionate to the owners but may act protective around strangers. Daily walks are great for these dogs as they possess moderate energy levels, requiring only basic exercises.

6. Bichon Frisé

Bichon Frisé dog breed
A Bichon Frisé is a small breed of dog of the bichon type. Photo: Peter Vahlersvik
Source: UGC
  • Group: Non-sporting (AKC)
  • Origin: France/ Belgium
  • Height: 9-11 inches
  • Weight: 7-12 lbs
  • Coat and colour: Curly white coat; may have traces of cream, buff or apricot
  • Life expectancy: 12-21 years

Bichon Frisés are the best hypoallergenic dogs for first-time owners. Therefore, if you are allergic to dogs, consider this versatile cutie.

This breed is a great all-round companion that adapts well to any lifestyle and only requires moderate daily exercise. One caveat: you will need to make regular visits to the groomer as their fur easily tangles. For lower maintenance, consider keeping your Bichon’s hair short.

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7. Great Dane

Great Dane dog breed
The side view of a Great Dane in the field. Photo: SarkaDohnalova
Source: UGC
  • Group: Working (AKC)
  • Origin: Germany
  • Height: 30-35 inches (Males), 28-33 inches (Females)
  • Weight: 110-180 lbs
  • Coat and colour: Short, smooth coat in almost any colour or combination of colours
  • Life expectancy: 6 years

Often referred to as gentle giants, Great Danes are some of the friendly dog breeds. They are known for seeking physical attention from their owners and familiar figures.

Unlike their size, Great Danes lack a high prey drive and do not exhibit extreme aggressiveness. Although they negatively respond to new environments and people, with proper training, they quickly adapt and fit in a home setting.

8. Maltese

Maltese dog breed
A Maltese puppy on green grass in a vibrant summer backyard. Photo: Sebastian Condrea
Source: UGC
  • Group: Toy (AKC)
  • Origin: Italy
  • Height: 8-10 inches (Males), 8-9 inches (Females)
  • Weight: 7-9 lbs
  • Coat and colour: Long silky white coat
  • Life expectancy: 12-15 years

As a first-time dog owner, it is hard to resist the adorable and friendly face of the Maltese. It requires minimal exercise and prefers relaxing on the couch or a lap.

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This breed’s silky coat drapes to the floor if left untrimmed. Consider the Maltese if you have dog allergies, as they shed less fur.

9. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel dog breed
Cavaliers are good with children and other dogs. Photo: Zoom Pet Photography
Source: UGC
  • Group: Toy (AKC)
  • Origin: United Kingdom
  • Height: 12-13 inches
  • Weight: 12-18 lbs
  • Coat and colour: Long, silky, sleek coat with a variety of colours around the feet, ears, tail and chest
  • Life expectancy: 12-14 years

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is affectionate, playful, and eager to please. They adapt quickly to new environments and people, making them good house dogs.

Additionally, this breed makes good lap dogs for patients due to their sweet and gentle nature. The Cavalier’s coat requires weekly brushing, but trimming depends on the owner’s preference.

10. Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever dog breed
A Labrador Retriever on a walk in a meadow. Photo: Anita Kot
Source: UGC
  • Group: Sporting (AKC)
  • Origin: United Kingdom
  • Height: 22-22.5 inches (Males), 21.5-22 inches (Females)
  • Weight: 65-80 lbs (Males), 55-70 lbs (Females)
  • Coat and colour: Short, dense double coat in chocolate, black or yellow
  • Life expectancy: 10-12 years

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The Labrador Retriever is one of the best medium-sized dog breeds for first-time owners. It adapts well to most environments and is excellent with kids. This breed is active, playful and intelligent and forms close bonds with their families.

Labs enjoy learning and can be trained to do almost anything, including running, fetching and snuggling. Fortunately, they have minimal grooming needs, like regular brushing, to prevent extreme shedding.

11. Pomeranian

Pomeranian dog breed
The Pomeranian is a small but energetic breed of dog. Photo: IzaLysonArts
Source: UGC
  • Group: Toy (AKC)
  • Origin: Poland and Germany
  • Height: 7-12 inches
  • Weight: 3-7 lbs
  • Coat and colour: Long, double coat with a variety of colours, including sable, brown, blue, red and orange
  • Life expectancy: 12-16 years

This dog breed is playful, active and friendly. However, Pomeranians can be aggressive in new environments to prove themselves. They develop a habit of barking excessively around other dogs or when they hear outside noises. The breed is also highly intelligent and, therefore, easy to train.

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12. Poodle

Poodle dog breed
Poodles have thick, curly coats with harsh fur. Photo: Tsik
Source: UGC
  • Group: Non-sporting (AKC)
  • Origin: France or Germany
  • Height: Over 15 inches (standard), 10 to 15 inches (miniature), 10 inches and under (toy)
  • Weight: 45 to 70 pounds (standard), 15 to 18 pounds (miniature), 5 to 9 pounds (toy)
  • Coat and colour: Curly coat; brown, apricot, grey, white or particoloured
  • Life expectancy: 10-18 years

The Poodle is a renowned, versatile dog breed that makes a fantastic companion. It is highly adaptable and responds positively to environmental changes.

This breed comes in different sizes, including toy, miniature and standard. Poodles are active and energetic dogs. They, therefore, require plenty of physical exercise and mental stimulation. Regular grooming is vital to maintain their curly, continually growing coat.

13. Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain Dog breed
Bernese Mountain Dogs are excellent guardians. Photo: Jill Lehmann Photography
Source: UGC
  • Group: Working (AKC)
  • Origin: Switzerland
  • Height: 25-27.5 inches (Males), 23-26 inches (Females)
  • Weight: 81-120 lbs (Males), 70-100 lbs (Females)
  • Coat and colour: Double; tricolour (white, black and rust)
  • Life span: 8-10 years

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This friendly breed is only aggressive if the owner is being attacked. Although well-behaved indoors, they require activity and exercise to avoid boredom. Guardians at heart, these dogs thrive around kids and may be protective of them sometimes.

14. Considerations when looking for a dog breed as a first-time owner

Beagle dog breed
The Beagle has an even temper and gentle disposition. Photo: Anita Kot
Source: UGC
  • Group: Hound
  • Origin: England
  • Height: 13-16 inches
  • Weight: 22-25 lbs (Males), 20-23 lbs (Females)
  • Coat and colour: Short, hard coat; Tricolor (black and brown/tan)
  • Life span: 12-15 years

Beagles are excellent pets due to their size, good temper and immunity against inherited health problems.

While they do not require extensive exercise, their inbred stamina means they do not tire quickly. Regular exercise is necessary to help them ward off the weight gain they are prone to.

15. Whippet

Whippet dog breed
Whippets have the highest running speed of any breed with their weight and size range. Photo: Fiona McAllister Photography
Source: UGC
  • Group: Hound
  • Origin: United Kingdom
  • Height: 18.5-20 inches (Males), 17.5-18.5 inches (Females)
  • Weight: 25-40 lbs
  • Coat: Short, fine, dense
  • Life expectancy: 12-14 years

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Whippets are a shy, quiet and reserved breed, which makes them good first dogs for people looking to get their first pet. They form strong bonds with their owners and may suffer separation anxiety when left alone.

Considerations when looking for a dog breed as a first-time owner

Before bringing a new dog into your space, consider the following factors to ensure a smooth transition and a happy life together:

Cost of ownership

Have a squint at the financial aspect of owning a puppy. Calculate the cost of food, veterinary care, grooming supplies, and other unexpected expenses.


Spend time interacting with the cat to gauge its temperament. Some cats are more independent, while others are social and affectionate.

Health history

Obtain your dog’s medical history, including vaccinations, spaying/neutering, and any pre-existing medical conditions.


A portrait of a Boxer
Boxers require adequate exercise to prevent boredom-associated behaviours. Photo: Westend61
Source: UGC

If you or someone in your home has allergies, consider hypoallergenic dog breeds. To ensure compatibility, you may also spend time with the dog before bringing it home.

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Grooming needs

Consider the dog’s grooming needs. Short-haired breeds generally require lower maintenance, while long-haired breeds may require regular and consistent grooming.

What is the best protective dog for first-time owners?

If you want to protect your home, Boxer is an excellent choice as a first-time dog parent. Their high intelligence makes them easy to train.

What is the easiest type of dog to take care of?

Consider the Labrador Retriever if you are looking for a low-maintenance dog. They do not require regular grooming due to their minimal shedding nature.

What age dog is best for first-time owners?

According to reports, the optimum age for a puppy to go to its new owner is about 8-9 weeks. During this time, the puppy is ready to bond strongly with its owner.

Above are the top 15 best dog breeds for first-time owners. When choosing a dog, it is essential to consider factors such as size, coat type, energy level and grooming to find the best match for your lifestyle.

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Source: Briefly News

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