Best Dog Breeds for First Time Owners


Getting your first dog can be an overwhelming experience. There’s a lot to learn about dogs, and a lot of different dog breeds to choose from. There are nearly 350 different types of dog breeds in the world. Figuring out the right one for you can be difficult to determine.

There are plenty of breeds that are great for first-time dog owners, and there are some that are better left to those with more experience. As a first-time owner, you want to make the experience pleasant for you, your family and your dog.

There are a lot of variables that go into making the relationship work between dogs and first-time owners. No matter what breed you choose, you will need to effectively train your dog from a young age. Training is the key for first time owners. Without proper training, dogs will get bored and can even become destructive. Some dog breeds are easier to train than others, so new owners may want to gravitate to those breeds.

Family is a consideration. If you have children or other animals in the home, you’ll want a dog breed that traditionally works well with others. Where you live is a consideration as well – if you live in a small apartment, you might not want a 180-pound Mastiff to share your space with.

There is a no perfect breed that fits every prospective owner’s wants and needs. But with a little research and a lot of work, the perfect dog is out there for every owner. The following breeds are generally considered good choices for first-time dog owners.

Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever is the ultimate family dog. They are friendly, loyal, and intelligent, and want little more than affection and to play fetch. Perhaps the greatest aspect of a Golden Retriever for first-time owners is the dog’s innate gentleness. You will rarely come across an aggressive Golden. A Golden Retriever will put up with just about anything – especially children.

They have a family-first instinct that makes them very loyal and forgiving. And there’s nothing like a Golden Retriever’s “smile.” They appear to be eternally happy, especially when they see their owners! Golden Retrievers do tend to shed a lot of hair, particularly during season changes so they may not be a great fit for families with allergies.


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If you are looking for a fun and exciting dog to spruce up your life, a Boxer may be for you. Boxers have endless energy and can be a bit of a handful, but they are loyal and sweet family dogs who want nothing more than to have fun. There’s something about seeing a Boxer’s endless zest for life that is inspiring. Boxers get their name from their penchant for jumping up and swinging their paws in excitement.

They are medium-sized dogs with short coats, so shedding is minimal. They do need a lot of exercise, so keep that in mind when finding your future fur baby. Boxers are very good with children – and protective as well – making them a great family dog. They are very affectionate and will be a loyal companion for life. Because they are strong and energetic, proper training is key for any Boxer owner. Without proper house training, a Boxer can wreak havoc on your home.


Greyhounds are fast, really fast. Originally bred as fox hunters, they became popular as racing dogs. In fact, Greyhounds still race in certain parts of the country today. While their genealogy doesn’t suggest they would make great dogs for first time owners, the reality is that they do.

Greyhounds can run. But more often than not, they don’t want to. A quick walk around the block is usually more than enough exercise. They were bred to be sprinters – not long distance runners.

Greyhounds prefer napping or sitting on the couch with their owners to hours at the park. They are sweet and gentle dogs who are very sensitive to their owner’s emotions. They are great with kids and adults alike and are not put off by strangers.

As one of the oldest breeds, they can trace their lineage back to Ancient Egypt. They have short coats but do shed a bit. Greyhounds are generally healthy dogs but can become overweight without the proper diet. If you are looking for a sweet and loyal dog, the Greyhound may be the perfect breed for you.

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English Springer Spaniel

The English Springer Spaniel has an “eager to please” disposition, making them very trainable and very obedient. They are friendly, playful, hardworking and very good listeners. They do require considerable exercise and will be happiest with a daily walk, run, or game of fetch. The Springer Spaniel was originally bred to “spring” prey, like doves, for hunters.

They are highly intelligent and enjoy learning new tasks. Springer Spaniels require a lot of grooming. Their fast-growing fur can become matted and knotty without proper and regular grooming.

They are generally a healthy breed, but like other breeds can suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia as they get older. Though they were bred as hunters, they’re just as happy at home interacting with their family.


Collies are easy to train and eager to please. They are loyal and affectionate family dogs. They will require at least a daily walk but do not need hours of exercise each day. The Collie’s coat is long and thick, but only requires brushing about once per week. They also lack the “dog” smell that most dogs have.

They live to be about 12-14 years old, and are generally healthy dogs. Collies will bark – often. Therefore, it is important to train your dog not to bark in inappropriate situations. They shed seasonally, but no more than most other dogs. Training is key with Collies. They want to learn and respond well to it. Herding is in their DNA, which means they have intelligence and energy. If you learn to work with them and fulfill their need for mental and physical stimulation, you’ll have a loyal friend for life.


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With a small, pudgy body and bulging eyes, Pugs are undeniably cute. Pugs are a great choice for the first-time dog owner. They are considered the clowns of the dog world, due to their hilarious personality and fun-loving nature.

Pugs are a big dog in a small dog’s body. They never back down from a challenge, and watching them try to be macho is highly entertaining. One of the oldest breeds in the world, the Pug was first bred in China and is the only dog bred specifically for human companionship. Pugs can be a handful, but with their small build, there’s not a whole lot they can destroy.

They make a great choice for first-time dog owners – especially those who live in apartments. Pugs can get all the exercise they need in a short walk around the block or a frantic run through the house.

While Pugs do have some health problems – most notably with their breathing – they have long lifespans, usually at least 12-14 years. Pugs love a good nap, and will hop up onto your lap for one anytime they get a chance.

Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever is perennially number one on the AKC’s list of most popular dog breeds in the United States – and with good cause. Labs are some of the most family-friendly dogs there are. They are smart, affectionate, athletic, and easily trainable. The Labrador, which can be brown, black or yellow, is the classic “do everything” dog. They’re just as happy in the home spending time with family and snoozing on the dog bed as they are hiking or swimming outside.

Originally bred to retrieve water fowl for hunters, they are excellent swimmers and love being in the water. Young Labs are extremely hyper and energetic. Therefore, you will need to take steps to calm these hyperactive dogs. The first two years of Lab ownership can be a trying time if you don’t put in the training effort. But once they are properly trained, they will become an amazing companion.

They’re happy when they’re playing and happy when it’s quiet time. If you’re looking for a loyal friend who will accompany you everywhere you go, from the park to the store to home, a Lab is a great choice.

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The Papillion might not be the first breed you think of when deciding what breed to get for your first dog. But the diminutive beauty might just be your best bet. The most difficult part of being a new dog owner is getting your dog to listen to you. The Papillion loves to listen, and loves to obey. Training the Papillion is easy, and so is caring for them.

Smaller dogs are easier to manage, with the added benefit that they are cute and cuddly. The Papillion is a confident dog, and despite its size, has a certain strut that says he belongs with the big boys and girls. They have a truly unique look, with raised ears topping a small head, giving off an air of constant curiosity. Though they only weigh 5-10 lbs, they have a big personality and are very athletic. Training your Papillion can be a rewarding exercise as they are curious, determined and ready to learn.

Rescue Dogs

Sometimes, the best dog breed for a first-time dog owner isn’t a breed at all. There are tens of thousands of dogs in need of a new home, ranging from purebreds to mutts, and puppies to seniors. You can find a lifelong companion at your local pound or from one of the countless rescue organizations across the country. Each rescue is unique, with varying histories. Some have been abused, some neglected, and some have no history of abuse at all.

They all have, for one reason or another, been stripped of a home and a loving family. Some rescue dogs are easy to train while others are not. But all rescue dogs have something that dogs with homes do not – an intrinsic sense of gratitude for the people that rescue them.

They truly realize what you have done for them, and will never forget it. This can make them the perfect dog for first-time owners. Of course, every situation and every dog are different. You will be able to learn a lot about these dogs before you agree to take one home, but as anyone who has rescued a dog will tell you, you don’t choose them –– they choose you.

One of the benefits of rescuing a dog is that you can choose a dog of any age. Senior dogs – who are the least likely to be adopted – are the easiest dogs to take care of. They are already trained, at least on a basic level. They don’t require a lot of exercise and they don’t get into things they shouldn’t. They simply want to be pet, fed and loved.

Adopting a senior dog is a great way to ease yourself into dog ownership, and a perfect opportunity to feel the love of an animal who feels appreciated. There are also lots of puppies in need of rescue if you want a dog you can train and build a relationship with from day one.

Every new dog owner has unique circumstances. Take some time and think about what you want out of your relationship with your dog, how much energy you are willing to put into that relationship, and what you are prepared to sacrifice to have a dog. But remember this: no matter what breed, or age of dog you get, you will have made a lifelong friend and companion who will love you no matter what.

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