Top 20 Dogs For First Time Owners



If you’re thinking of getting a dog for the first time, there are a number of things you need to look into.

One of the key considerations will be what type of dog to choose. As a novice, when it comes to canine ownership, it’s well worth looking at breeds that are most ideally suited for first timer owners. This can help to make your life easier, as you’ll have a pet that’s easier to manage and is perfect for those who have never owned a dog before.

There are certain factors you’ll need to take into account before you decide upon the breed you want. This includes looking at why you want a dog – for instance, is it for companionship, protection or as a playmate for the kids?

You also need to look at your household and the ages of your kids. Another thing to consider is where you live, as some dogs aren’t suited to apartment living whereas others are fine in any environment.

1. Golden Retriever

The fact that this breed tends to be so docile and gentle makes it ideal for first timers. This is a very people-oriented dog and is both affectionate and loyal. It’s also a great choice for families.

The golden retriever is a medium-large sized dog. They are very lovable, well-mannered and intelligent dogs. They have a great charm about them and are adored by many. Also, for first time dog owners, they are easily trained and very patient with children and toddlers. They are devoted to their owners and that makes them one of the most popular family dogs. They are energetic and happy.

This dog enjoys being obedient. If you adopt one, you’ll have a friendly pet who has very little, if any, guarding instincts. It’s all about fun and love with retrievers.

Goldens are very good watchdogs and they are known for signaling a stranger’s approach, but they certainly won’t frighten away intruders most of the time. They also need to be around people who are leaders. That makes them happy. They need to feel as if the belong to a family that appreciates them.

If they don’t get enough daily mental and physical exercise, they can become destructive, so you have to be very aware of the time that this type of dog requires. They need you to be a firm, but calm, confident leader and to be interactive. There are talented when it comes to hunting, tracking, retrieving, and the detection of narcotics. They also have great agility and performing tricks very well. The love swimming too.

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  • Kory Sampson

    Don’t listen to this. You’re going to dedicate 10-20 years of your life to this dog, first or not. Don’t pick one simply because it’s well-suited to “new owners.” Be smart, do your research, and pick the dog that you want, that is well suited to YOU and your lifestyle. You’ll get the hang of the rest, and if you love your dog, he’ll forgive you for fumbling a little the first few months.

  • Mingo

    After looking through the article, I think what bothers me about this is the promotion of a breed when there are so many dogs and cats in shelters across this country. Sure there are characteristics to each breed of dog, but dogs within the breed are unique. It is best to take into consideration temperament, energy levels, training, etc. when choosing a dog for your family. A shelter will often have some knowledge of those considerations if you visit one and find an animal to adopt.


    Almost every shelter dog (small sample of course) I’ve had has been damaged–won’t bond, runs away when you call them, terrified most of the time.

    I gave up. I bought a Standard Poodle from a reputable breeder (health, temperment, more than looks.) And she’s one of those great, once or twice in a lifetime dogs.

    Great to go to the shelter to look, but newbies don’t know what to look for and the dogs are so upset by the surroundings.

  • Zetal

    Mingo, thank you. I fully expected #15 to be “mutt” on the grounds of shelter dogs tend to be needed. I’ve had three dogs, one from a breeder whose birth was a great embarrassment (who knew that a Pekingese could climb a fence to reach a Beagle in heat?) and two from shelters. Three mutts, three very good wonderful dogs who first-time owners would have been lucky to have. While it’s true that with mixes you get less insight into their personality from breed, you also get less of the bad stuff that goes with them. (At least theoretically. My German shepherd mix has an eye condition that is congenital and known to be common to German shepherds.)

  • cleos_mom

    But it’s worth remembering that a LOT of purebred dogs end up in shelters. “Dogs and cats in shelters” includes purebreds.

  • Carlos Danger

    All dogs love attention, make sure you can give it to them. I regret not doing so for our first couple dogs. Spoil the current ones rotten.

  • Kit Kitt

    After reading below comments and agreeing with them, I would also like to point out my disappointment in the lack of information per breed, the how and why it is ideal, the cons as well as the pros. One thing that bugged me the most was that most of the breeds listed for first time owners take a while to groom or brush out, as they have much coat and undercoat on them. People need to know that if they are a first time owner. Growing up, I used to bathe dogs and cats for a few years. So many of these breeds mentioned in this article came in terribly matted and ratty furred to us because their human mommies and daddies where too busy with life to regularly groom them their-selves. If you get hairy dogs, expect regular brushing out and grooming sessions about every other day for the well being of your dog, other than that, get a short haired breed. Pit bulls make wonderful first time dogs as well.

    I recommend adopting a shelter dog instead of going for a papered pure breed, as when you get a shelter dog, you are saving that dog’s life.

  • kristen

    Agreed. And if the shelter is no-kill, you’re saving two lives. One for your new friend, which opens up a spot for another rescue for the shelter to take in!

  • Jemima Strutt

    The only thing that bothers me is that they’re all little, yappy dogs I prefer bigger quieter dogs and there are quite a few that would be excellent for families with children or just as a companion for a single person.

  • Kim Miller

    A year ago I bought a Bichon Frise puppy. This is the second one I have owned. They are by far the best dogs ever! Very smart, affectionate and adorable looking. They are very easy to be housebroken with little accidents. Both of mine were totally trained in days. They love everybody and are great with children.

  • Mingo

    I couldn’t do anything but “like” your post 9 days ago because it was hitting too close to home. I adopted a male shihtzu mix from a no kill shelter near me approx. 14 mos ago. He was damaged as you point out with bonding issues, etc. He was “numb”. When I first met him, I knew these things but I saw the bounce in his step and he was mine. He had been terribly abused by life and probably on his own for quite some time. I think the bounce I had seen may have been from a broken bone that didn’t get treated or heal right.

    He was ill when I made the earlier post and today, my little guy died. I am heart broken as you can imagine but I remembered your comments and I can tell you without a doubt he is one of the greatest loves of my life. We found a way to bond on his terms. He found a way to communicate with the other two dogs I have. I watched him try his little heart out to overcome what life had dealt him. I would have done anything to save his life, again.

  • derk

    I cannot stand it when a little dog yips and yaps all day. makes me want to rip out my ears. big dogs are great :)

  • Brian Richards

    Greyhound? They love to run away, require a lot of space and very tall fences.

  • Melony Cleveland

    Where did you hear this? They are very lazy. Require only one good daily walk/ play time in a fenced area in addition to regular potty outings. As for fence jumping, for most a standard four foot fence is all that is necessary. Of course, there are those individuals that will jump fences but those are the exception. I have spent the past 20 years working with this amazing breed, the most recent five years as the director of a Greyhound Adoption program. For the record, the dog in the picture is NOT a Greyhound, it is an Italian Greyhound.

  • Julie Marie Totsch

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ve rescued two dogs and there is nothing that compares to the love of a rescue dog.

  • gabriela58blue

    All my dogs were/are either shelter or rescue dogs. My first shelter dog was about 1 1/2 years old, a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix, he was found on the street, skin and bones, scars, they even found some buckshot in his neck. His history was not known, but he sure had a tough life before he became my dog. He was a soul of a dog, I still miss him after more than a decade has gone by. Like most shelter dogs, he had to overcome the shelter trauma first, being in a shelter for a while screws them up badly, but most of them bounce back, they just need love and patience.
    He not only was a shelter dog, he was my first dog ever, a large dog too, but he was so laid back, affectionate and non aggressive, I never had a problem. My kids were 3 and 5 years old when I adopted him, he loved those kids and they loved him back! They took naps together all the time.
    I’ve had good dogs since, but I always say, there’s never gonna be another one like him.

  • Mendenhall-Poole Carol

    I adopted a rescue puppy from Joplin Missouri. It was a 4-month-old German Shepherd. I was a bit worried that it might be too much to handle. I started puppy kindergarten right away so that I could get a start on socializing him. I followed that up with obedience training and also spent a lot of time socializing him with other people and dogs because I did not want to have an aggressive dog. I have to say it worked out perfectly. He is the best dog I have ever had! He is now 2 years old and is the opposite of an aggressive dog. He loves people, children, and other dogs. And yes, I spoil him rotten! When I am doing yard work, he is always by my side. If people are walking their dogs along the street, he just stays contently by my side and watches them go by. If the people ask if our dogs can meet, I give him permission to go say hello, and he always approaches happily wagging his tail. Best dog ever!

  • Lauriesheri

    Pit Bulls – What ???? I would feed rat poison to any pit bull who lived near me.

  • rmurray

    Agreed! After owning several breeds, we chose to adopt a greyhound. He’s now a wonderful family member – bright, calm, humorous, a tad aloof and very low maintenance. GHs are sight hounds so they require a fenced enclosure and can never be off leash in an open area. And other than a brisk walk, and perhaps a quick run at a local off-leash dog park, they truly are couch potatoes. All breeds require different needs but if a GH fits your lifestyle, of all the dogs that we’ve owned, our greyhound rates probably #1.

  • nicole

    I would recommend you feed yourself rat poison for having such an ugly heart. Its not the breed, its the owners fault if the dog is raised aggressive… which BTW any dog can be neglected and become aggressive regardless of breed. … Just as guns dont kill people…people do. same concept

  • Julia M

    Hmmm … they just had a similar photo article about the 10 most difficult dogs to own and some of these breeds were on that, too. Seriously? First time dog owners need to find a gentle, submissive temperament dog no matter what the breed and it’s best they have help choosing a dog from someone who is knowledgeable about them – not going off of vapid, misinformed articles like this one.

  • Julia M

    All but one of my dogs (purebred from my cousin who is a reputable breeder) have been shelter dogs. All of them took a little training and work at first but have been the most wonderful companions I could ask for. If someone wants a dog but knows nothing about them and doesn’t want to educate themselves and take the dog to obedience classes then I don’t think they should get *any* dog. There are plenty of purebreds from breeders who will have issues too if owned by someone who doesn’t know dogs and isn’t willing to learn.

  • Julia M

    Wow. I hope I never live near you. One of our family dogs is a pitbull and we got her specifically because she was so good with our toddler. Your comment is about as educated as someone saying that about another person because of the color of their skin. Get some education.

  • Julia M

    I do have to agree with you about them not being good first dogs. The terrier in them does make many of them stubborn and because of their history of breeding for dog aggression for fighting they have the potential to be dog-aggressive. And they’re really strong. But they are rarely ever people aggressive (unlike other breeds which have a higher tendency toward people aggression) which makes them very safe if a novice is never going to have them around other animals.

  • Julia M

    Much as I love Bichons, we had one when my daughter was born and no matter how hard we tried to socialize him to her he was far too aggressive and dangerous with infants and toddlers and we had to re-home him. So, not every Bichon is safe with children. Like all breeds it’s an individual dog thing :( (the irony is we got a pitbull and he is great with toddlers – our Bichon’s new owner who was quite elderly used to joke about how if he was bad she’d replace him with a pitbull)

  • Julia M

    Really? I have a few friends with Greyhounds and they sleep on the couch all day.

  • JR

    I’ve always had mutts and had great success with them. One of my favorites is the pit bull/pointer that I got from the humane society as a large puppy. She cowered in corners for a couple years and always seemed fearful but in latter years has undergone a complete transformation and become a social butterfly. Despite a ferocious bark and appearance, she is gentle and loving, and really wants to talk – so much so that we’ve renamed her R’Astro (after the Jetsons dog Astro). She wanders the house and property with ease and peace, snuffling and making friendly doggy sounds, and rushes to greet visitors – by dashing up to them and flopping down upside down on their feet. She won’t be ignored – “Pet me or else!” I know the pit bull’s reputation but I have seen no signs of aggression whatsoever. Although, I do think R’Astro would defend me with her life. I have no fear of having her around children, other animals, etc. She’s won over many a heart, including mine.

  • Felicia Faulkner

    My husband and I have been saving up for a down deposit on our first home, and once we get there it’s a given that a dog will probably be packed in the Uhaul on the same day (we’ve been without a dog for way to stinkin long bc of being in apartments). Anyways after going over many different breeds for many years, we are without a doubt getting a Pit Bull. We both had many different breeds of dogs between us growing up, but we think a Pit Bull will be a perfect fit. We love being outside, being semi-active, exploring new things, meeting new people. It has “we must own a Pit Bull” all over it. My husbands cousin just rescue a Pit Bull puppy a couple months ago and its hard not to want to steal her, lol.

  • Felicia Faulkner

    I read an article just the other month stating that dogs bought from breeders instead of from shelters are 50% less likely to bite someone.

  • Felicia Faulkner

    Very true. I’ve always loved bigger breeds that are protective to an extent (my childhood Boxer passed away at 11 years old last June from MRSA). I couldn’t imagine having really any of the dogs listed above. Def not my cup of tea.

  • Felicia Faulkner

    Attention whore much?

  • BC

    I have a purebred Shih Tzu and he was a puppy mill dog set to be euthanized. In fact, MOST rescues are purebreds from puppy mills that have been bred to death and are “useless.”

  • terrysmith

    Please dont recommend the King Charles Spaniel in the UK. The British Kennel Club has destroyed this dog by advocating a flat and receded face as the BREED TYPE. The result of this is a lethal condition where the brains of these dogs , on reaching maturity, have not enough room in the skull to expand. The adult becomes agonised with this condition and has to be put down. Breeders are known that still breed from dogs known to have this condition. ( I do not know if the USA King Charles Spaniels have also been affected by this selective breeding process. ) There are many other pedigree dogs that have lists of genetic defects caused by the Kennel Club and Crufts. This show dog phenomena causes the owners of winning dogs to proceed to inbreed the winners with their nearest relatives, mothers , siblings and fathers. By doing this the winner hopes to maintain the facors that caused the dog to win. Get a mongrel unless you can afford constant vet bills.

  • Sarah

    Yappy dogs? Cavaliers definitely aren’t yappy. Our Cavvie is very relaxed and docile and doesn’t bark much at all.

  • beagal

    So, were the puppies “Pekgles”? : )

  • Richard_Pietrasz

    The only dog I’ve known that I knew was abandoned & in the shelter works out fine. Not perfect, of course, no dog or owner is, but even my wife is better behaved with him around.

    He was poorly trained, 2 years old, and the wrong dog for the next 2 owners (2 in 4+ months), but now he has been with my family for 3.5 years and it works out fine. He is a sure-bred Shih-Tzu and needs someone home much of the time.

  • Richard_Pietrasz

    Or Beaglingese. Peagle sounds better.

  • Tori

    I’m beginning to think that showing of animals (dog, horse etc) is just one more arena of abuse. People’s egos keep them from seeing the inherent cruelty in these activities.

  • Ben

    We adopted a lab (well, mostly lab) from a local shelter, about 3 years old. She has been the best dog! I had raised a golden retriever from a puppy (breeder), and when we lost her, I never thought I wanted to have a dog again, because it hurt so much! A few months later though, I realized that taking a dog in, and giving it a loving home was a gift was so totally worth it. I found this lab at a shelter, and she is the best!!

  • Joslynn Pelletier

    I disagree with several on this list, but none more then the Pomeranian. They are notoriously hard to train due to their napoleon complex and their high intelligence. I would never recommend a pom to anyone looking to get a dog for the first time. Ever.

  • artie help

    What are you talking about?…

  • dodosareextinct

    I suggest talking with the local animal shelters and adopting mixed breed shelter dogs. I have had pedigreed dogs and the shelter dogs with the easiest to live with being the shelter dogs. Plus, the shelters will tell you how the temperament of the dog will fit in with you. It may be impressive to own a high-dollar pedigree dog, but shelter rescues are the best.

  • Jason

    I’m surprised at the lack of affection for the Collie. My family has had several, as have many of my friends, many who have been first-time dog owners. With the exception, perhaps, of the Golden Retriever, they are more intelligent and learn naturally. There’s a reason Lassie is a Collie and the breed is a top choice for frisbee competitions, etc. They behave very well. They are gentle and lovable–infant-safe. They fare well home alone during the workday. Extremely loyal. They are protective but not aggressive–you never hear of collies attacking people. Excellent temperament. Only two considerations are that they need plenty of exercise and regular grooming.

  • altheajj

    I am sorry for your loss. Losing a pet is absolutely heart breaking.

  • Tommygun

    I’ve found that Poms are literally 50/50. By that I mean every Pomeranian I’ve dealt with is either a total joy, or a total terror. I agree that they are not a good dog for first time owners.

  • Jacqui Kent

    This just boke mt heart…

  • James

    English Springer Spaniel… dog ever!!

  • Waiting to be approved

    I have a Maltese-Pomeranian mix. Its a great dog that’s very attractive and friendly. It’s also the last dog in the world that would bite you, but it sure does bark a lot when someone rings the bell.

  • Waiting to be approved

    Yeah, nice because he’s waiting for the toddler to fatten up for the feast.

  • Jeanne Smth

    Sadly, hydrocephalus is definitely present in US Cavalier lines as well.


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