The Best Dog Breeds for First Time Owners: Your Best First Dog

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Golden Retrievers Walking with First Time Owners

It’s time to finally adopt that sweet dog you’ve been dreaming about for so long! Before heading to the nearest animal shelter or breeder, new pet parents should know some dog breeds are better fits for inexperienced owners. All dogs are lovable of course, but when you’re still learning the basics of dog training, you don’t want to be up against a stubborn Siberian Husky (trust us, you won’t win!).

Instead, adopting a breed that’s known for its friendliness and trainability can make your first pet experience as wonderful as you’ve hoped. The best dogs for first-time owners also have qualities like low energy needs, minimal maintenance, and relatively few health problems.

Fortunately, there are plenty of breeds that meet these requirements.

Best Dog Breeds for First-Time Owners

The best first dog is one that meets your needs. If you have children, that means you’ll need a breed that doesn’t mind the constant chaos that comes with little ones running around.

Your home itself can also factor into your decision. Apartment-dwellers will want to think twice before adopting a massive breed like a Great Dane or Newfoundland because these dogs simply won’t have enough room to run around and get their energy out.

Let’s take a look at five breeds that are generally considered good dogs for first-time owners.

Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever is the go-to family dog for a reason. They’re typically great around kids and are incredibly affectionate. With regular training, these guys can make perfect companions for families.

Golden Retriever

Another popular option for dog newbies is the noble Golden Retriever. These flaxen-haired beauties have boundless energy but use those energetic powers for good! Their beauty comes at a cost, however, as you’ll need to groom them regularly.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Tiny and playful, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is suitable for a range of first-time pet owners. They’re not likely to get over 20 pounds, which means they’ll feel right at home in an apartment or other small home.


There’s another contender for the title of best dog for first-time owners: the Pug. This breed has a pleasant personality and adorable wrinkle-filled face. Pet owners that love colder weather gravitate to Pugs because these dogs are just as heat-intolerant as they are!

Bichon Frise

Are you interested in the best dogs for seniors? If so, the Bichon Frise could be the breed you’ve been searching for! These fluffy white toy pooches are ideal for older folks getting a dog for the first time. With their love of cuddling, these tiny cuties will stay by your side throughout the day.

Low-Maintenance Dog Breeds Make Great First Pups

The easiest dog breeds are typically the ones that don’t need a ton of exercise, space, or grooming. While all canines need to get out and about on a daily basis, the dogs in this section are widely known for being easy-going and asking little of their owners.

Basset Hound

One of the best dog breeds for first time owners is the Basset Hound. Also one of the lazy dog breeds, this dog is about as low maintenance as you can get. Their tiny stubby legs don’t get them very far, although their howl can be heard from perhaps too far away!

French Bulldog

Vying for its place as the easiest dog to take care of, the French Bulldog is a popular option for pet owners living in the city. These dogs don’t need sprawling backyards to be happy, but they will need lots of love!

Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is remarkable in appearance thanks to its radiant locks of gold and white hair. This breed is remarkable for something else though – its low maintenance. This toy dog is just right for people who are more likely to be watching a movie on Friday night than going on a long-distance hike.

Shih Tzu Sitting with First Time Owner

Breeds for Owners with More Canine Experience

People who have owned multiple dogs throughout their lives often note that some breeds are a bit trickier to raise. This doesn’t mean these pups are bad dogs! Instead, these breeds require more of a time investment. Some will need extra training, possibly with the help of a professional.

Others have complex grooming needs, requiring frequent brushing, bathing, and haircuts. Certain breeds are also known for being more territorial or impatient with children, which can lead to nips -- or worse -- bites.

Because of these factors, it’s probably a good idea to strike the following dogs off your list of first-time dog owner breeds.

Border Collie

Although the Border Collie can be one of the most loving dogs out there, their excessive energy is a no-go for many pet owners. They’ve been bred to herd and have become highly intelligent as a result. This means they’ll keep you on your toes trying to meet their physical and mental needs!

Siberian Husky

The astonishing appearance of the Siberian Husky draws many unwitting people in, but their constant need for exercise can be a huge problem. You should know this breed started out as sled dogs, so just imagine that energy confined to your living room for the afternoon!


We all had our hearts won over by Pongo, the star Dalmatian of 101 Dalmatians. But Pongo wasn’t the typical Dal. The breed is actually very high energy and can become destructive when they don’t get the attention they crave.

Jack Russell Terrier

The Jack Russell Terrier looks unassuming, but these dogs have a mischievous streak which can spell disaster for first-time dog owners. They love digging and barking and will likely need professional training to keep their behaviors in check.

Chow Chow

You might mistake the Chow Chow for a fuzzy bear the first time you set eyes on it. But don’t get any ideas about snuggling. The Chow Chow breed isn’t a great fit for people new to dogs because it can be incredibly stubborn and overly protective.

Deciding Between Male and Female Dogs

There’s a longtime debate concerning male vs. female dogs, with vocal proponents on each side. Are you team boy dog or girl dog? While you might not have a preference, there are definitely some things to keep in mind when it comes to adopting your first pup.

Spaying and neutering considerations are at the top of the list. Spaying female dogs is somewhat more complicated than neutering male dogs and thus, costs more. If you adopt a female dog, be sure to factor in a little extra for this difference.

On the other hand, an intact male dog (that is, one that isn’t neutered), could be more competitive than a female one. This could lead to them showing signs of aggression, although this isn’t always the case.

All Dogs Need Responsible Owners

Even the most low-key dogs need ample attention and care from their owners. No dog will be a breeze to raise 24/7, but investing in their needs early can save you a lot of time and money.

Training is a top priority from the moment you bring your furry friend home! Nip unwanted behaviors in the bud immediately by teaching your dog basic commands like “sit,” “come,” and “stay.”

Exercise is also key from the get-go, especially if you adopt a puppy. While puppies are especially known for having endless energy, all dogs need physical activity throughout the day. Otherwise, your dog may become overweight or start trying to get out energy in those not-so-great ways, like chewing your favorite pair of tennis shoes!

Grooming is equally important. Severe hair matting can lead to ear and eye infections and even restrict blood flow. Trimming your pup’s claws is also vital because long claws can cause problems with the way they walk.

Companionship is a necessary part of the dog-owner relationship. All dogs require love and bonding time with their humans. Adopting a breed that’s known for being good dogs for first-time owners can make this process incredibly easy. After all, it’s impossible to not fawn over a Golden Retriever that’s convinced he’s a lap dog!

Veterinary care should never fall by the wayside. Ensure your dog is up to date on all their vaccinations. Not only will doing so help your new family member stay healthy, but it can also cut down on future vet costs.

Keeping Your Pup Healthy: Budgeting for Veterinary Care

Regular checkups can identify potential problems early on, often before they become expensive emergencies. Owning a dog is a joy, but unexpected vet bills can be a financial strain. Even seemingly minor accidents or illnesses can quickly rack up a hefty bill. Just a simple broken bone can set you back thousands of dollars, imagine the cost of surgery for a swallowed sock or treating a serious illness like cancer.

That's where dog insurance comes in. Think of it as a financial safety net for your furry friend. Pet insurance plans reimburse you for a portion of covered veterinary expenses, like accidents, illnesses, and even surgeries.

While pet insurance protects you from unexpected costs, a wellness plan can be a helpful tool for budgeting for routine care. This optional add-on to your pet insurance plan can cover checkups, vaccinations, parasite prevention, and even training and grooming!

Rescuing a Dog as a First-Time Owner

Have you settled on a breed? Before heading to a reputable breeder, you should know that your local animal shelter is full of wonderful dogs for first-time owners!

Not only are you doing a good deed by giving an abandoned or lost dog a home, you can get lots of information about the dog’s behavior from the staff. They can inform you of the dog’s behaviors around humans and other canines. Employees at rescues and shelters are founts of knowledge when it comes to dogs!

No matter where your first dog comes from, you’re sure to fall in love with them immediately. Just remember that certain breeds will need less training, grooming, and exercise than others. Doing your research can ensure you and your new pup have the perfect bond from the start!