Top 20 Dogs For First Time Owners


Before getting a dog, first-time owners should think about why it is they want a dog – for protection, hunting, herding or for kids to play with? As soon as you figure that out, certain breeds will become more or less desirable. Beginners should also try not to get a dog that is especially demanding, in terms of training or health. You want a dog that is reliable, safe, healthy, trainable and has a good temperament. You should also take into account the size of your household and choose a dog accordingly.

Here are some of the breeds that are proven to be particularly suited for beginners, whatever your needs are.

1. Golden Retriever

Golden retrievers are probably the most popular dogs among young families with children. This is for a good reason too – these dogs are very affectionate, warm, loyal, protective, gentle and docile, especially with children.

Unlike some other cuddly and docile breeds, golden retrievers are by no means couch potatoes. They are energetic and fun-loving and need their exercise, preferably through games. They are easy to train since being obedient and doing what their owners want them to do is one of their greatest joys. Retrievers, like so many dog breeds, need a leader or an alpha. Without one, they can get lost and even become destructive (although rarely in an aggressive manner). [mnleft]

Golden retrievers are amazing with children, even with babies. They are very protective of them and simply love playing with little humans.


2. Standard Poodle

Although they may seem like they have a bit of an attitude, because of their graceful and a somewhat snobbish disposition, standard poodles are actually sweethearts and a great addition to any family. They are a bit more low-key than mini poodles and they love the attention but aren’t too clingy, which is great for beginners.

Poodles are good-natured and very intelligent. They are actually one of the most trainable dog breeds, which is another reason why they are recommended for first-time dog owners. They are great with children and very attached to their owner.  [mnleft]

As for the owner, poodles require a calm, neutral authority and don’t respond well to harsh discipline. It’s not recommended to have them stay outside all of the time. Poodles are house dogs and they need the company of people or other dogs.


3. Labrador Retriever

Much like golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers are among the most highly recommended dogs for families, especially active ones with children. In fact, they are the most popular family dogs in the United States, so that should count for something.

Labrador retrievers are very energetic and playful but they are not at all rough or aggressive. As a matter of fact, they are amazing with children, babies and toddlers and are able to stand even rough playing and teasing without getting annoyed or angry.  [mnleft]

They are great for first-time dog owners since they are very reliable, good-natured and intelligent, and, most importantly, highly trainable and eager to please. They should be trained since the earliest age, because when they grow up and become bigger and stronger, they may be less willing to obey rules and commands.


4. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a great dog for beginners since they are people-oriented dogs that are usually friendly to everyone, even to strangers, as well as to other pets, including cats. These dogs love company and are very cheerful and good-natured. They are elegant and well-behaved and relatively easy to train.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel can live in small houses and in apartments, as they aren’t overly active. They can be left alone in the house for a while without making a mess, but it’s still recommended to take the dog out for a good, long walk to tire them out before leaving. [mnright]

These dogs need a clear set of rules and firm but gentle authority. They do well in obedience training and in competitive training as well. One thing to bear in mind before getting this dog is that they don’t do well in hot climates.


5. Bichon Frise

The bichon frise was actually bred for the purpose of being a companion dog, so it makes perfect sense that this breed is highly suitable for people who never owned a dog. These dogs are a delight – they are like little snowballs of joy and love, extremely loyal and ready to cheer you up or cuddle with you when you’re down.

They are intelligent and energetic dogs with great personalities. These small cuties are wonderful companions, thanks to their happy, outgoing temperament and the deep affection they feel for their owners and their family. They are good with children and they usually get along with other pets, even non-canine ones. They can live in an apartment and you can even travel with them.  [mnleft]

Like all dogs, the bichon frise needs to be trained well from a young age, but they are quick learners.


6. Boston Terrier

One of the dog breeds that are becoming increasingly popular in the United States, Boston terriers are a perfect choice for people who are interested in getting a dog for the first time, as they are highly intelligent, energetic, caring and full of life.

Boston terriers are in high demand thanks to their delightful temperament and affectionate personality. They grow attached to their owners and they are eager to please and make everyone happy.  [mnleft]

Boston terriers are kind to strangers, whether they are people or animals. They are also great with kids and simply love being part of a family. They need to be trained well, like all dogs do, with a firm authority of their owner, but they are not difficult when it comes to obedience. In fact, they love to learn and they never resist training.


7. Brittany

The breed whose name suggests origins from the United Kingdom but actually hails from the eponymous region in France, the Brittany is a loving, affectionate, easy-going dog that goes well with children and makes a great companion, which is why they are suitable for people who previously never owned dogs. They are caring, warm and enthusiastic dogs that are eager to please.

These kind-hearted pooches are independent and energetic and absolutely need their exercise, otherwise they may become nervous. Because of this, they are not suitable for apartments and thrive in houses with a backyard. [mnleft]

They can handle cold and damp weather quite well and usually love water. They are easy to train but they need strong authority so the owner must present him or herself as an alpha. They can also be trained to hunt and have great instincts.



8. Greyhound

The greyhound is known as the fastest dog in the world and most people associate them with dog racing. But the truth is that these dogs have so much more to offer, even to first-time dog owners. They have a very good character, although they can get a bit stubborn or overly independent if you allow them.

It’s important that the greyhound knows their place in the family – that way they will be happiest and calmest and won’t cause any problems. To achieve this, the owner must have strong natural authority, but without being rough or aggressive. Greyhounds are good with children, although toddlers may be a bit too much for them. [mnleft]

As for the character, they are calm, affectionate, curious, brave and devoted and have strong maternal instincts. Sometimes they can be a bit reserved towards strangers.


9. Papillion 

The Papillion, which means “butterfly” in French, is a small dog with a big heart, who sometimes forgets their own size. These dogs are smart, funny, playful and friendly even to people they see for the first time. It’s not uncommon for a Papillion to hand out kisses to everyone they meet.

The Papillion is a lap dog only by their size. They are definitely not toy dogs and you shouldn’t expect them to spend much time on your actual lap. These dogs are very energetic and able to play around all day. They are very intelligent and fast learners. [mnleft]

This breed is known for not shedding much, which is a plus for beginners who don’t feel like cleaning the house from hair every single day. They are good watchdogs and reliable, super-cute companions.


10. Pug

Pugs have become one of the most popular dog breeds worldwide over the last decades, and rightly so. Even though they have a proud and dignified posture and attitude, they are actually big clowns who love being in the center of attention. They crave human companionship and don’t like being left alone for extended periods. Pugs love children and can play with them all they long. [mnleft]

These wrinkly little dogs are charming and playful, sometimes mischievous, but good-natured and generally obedient. They are very loyal and grow extremely attached to their owner, which is great for first-time owners.

As for the training, it can sometimes be a bit challenging, as some pugs can be stubborn or uncooperative. It is best to start obedience training since the earliest age. They need exercise but simple games around the house and a couple of walks per day will do.


11. Pomeranian

The Pomeranian, or Pom Pom, is one of the cutest dog breeds out there, so cute, in fact, they are favorites among the members of the British royal family. These little teddy bears have long, luxurious coat that looks like it requires extensive grooming, but in reality simple but regular brushing will do the trick.

Pomeranians are very loyal and love their owners and their families to death. Because of their small size, they can live in apartments or smaller houses, provided they get all the exercise they need through games and walks, because they are quite energetic. [mnleft]

With proper socializing, Pomeranians get along well with other animals, even with cats. They are very alert, which makes them good watchdogs, although their size prevents them to be anything more than that when it comes to security and protection.


12. Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire terriers or Yorkies are another popular breed, especially for families, as they get along with children quite well. However, they do better with older children who already know that you can’t pull a dog’s hair or ears. Yorkies can also be taught to get along with other pets in your household.

Though these small dogs have a big heart, they are are sometimes oblivious to their size, especially if they feel there is an intruder in their home. They are very attached to their owners and don’t appreciate being left alone. They handle travel well so you can take them with you on your vacations and family trips. [mnleft]

Yorkies have a friendly, mild, non-aggressive character and a loving, warm personality, which makes them great companions for beginners. Bear in mind, though, that one of their best features – their beautiful coat, does require careful grooming.


13. Havanese

The Havanese is not just one of the cutest dogs in the world, but also one of the best companions. In fact, they were bred for the purpose of keeping the Cuban aristocrats company. This breed has an interesting nickname – The Velcro – because they stick to their owners and never stray far from their side.

The Havanese can live in small houses and apartments as well as in big ones, with a large yard. They are known to bark when someone passes by your front door, but they don’t bark just for the sake of barking, which is good news for your neighbors. [mnleft]

They are very loyal, playful and jolly by nature and they are just great with young children and other pets, as they are not at all aggressive. They are also very intelligent and easy to train.


14. Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu or “The Lion Dog,” as this breed’s name translates in Chinese, is one of the easiest dogs to train. Their coat seems a nightmare to groom but it’s actually not that demanding at all – a good brushing once a week will do, along with an occasional bath.

These dogs are also among the friendliest breeds in the world. They make friends everywhere they go, whether it’s with people or with other animals. They love to play with children, other dogs and even cats and their open, friendly and good-hearted nature will make you fall in love with this breed. In fact, people love Shih Tzus so much they often get two or three of them. [mnleft]

These are highly adaptable dogs, they are incredibly fast learners and they can live even in small apartments.


15. Shetland Sheepdog

A lot of people tend to confuse Shetland sheepdogs and collies, but in reality, they couldn’t be any more different. If you are a first-time owner, then you should definitely be considering getting a Shetland, not a collie. The major difference between the two dog breeds is how trainable they are. Shetlands are pretty easy to train, while collies are actually quite stubborn.

Shetlands are also perfect if you have a family. They are excellent with children and they are incredibly loyal animals.

If you like dogs that are fun and goofy, then you are going to love Shetlands, because they really have a fun and outgoing personality. Also, if you want a dog that is going to run around the yard all day with your kids, this is the ideal breed. They have tons of stamina and will actually tire out even the most hyperactive of children.


16. Maltese

If you are someone who lives in a small home and you are looking for a drama-less, stress-less small dog, you might want to consider getting a Maltese. They are very low maintenance and are actually ideal for people who need to be away from home a lot.

And even though they can totally handle being alone without getting angry or depressed, they will cherish every moment they have with you. They are small dogs that pack a huge personality and they are tons of fun to be around.

Another great thing about the Maltese is that they do not need a lot of exercise either, so if you have a small apartment with no backyard, they are really the ideal breed for you. So if you want a small dog with a big personality that will always be ready to cuddle and play, you can’t go wrong with a Maltese.



17. Puggle

As you will see at the end of this list, the so-called designer mixes really make great pets for beginners. That is because they were bred to be perfect dogs, both in terms of personality and maintenance. One of the best cross-breed dogs to consider if you are getting a dog for the first time is the puggle. Of course, they are incredibly cute since they are a cross between a pug and a beagle, but there are more reasons to love this breed.

You are truly getting the best of both breeds when it comes to the puggle. You are getting a great guard dog from the side of the beagle, and you are getting a cuddly and loveable little dog from the pug side.

Another cool thing about the puggle is that while they love to play with your kids, they are bigger and more stable physically, which will ensure that your children won’t be able to accidentally hurt the dog while playing with them as easily as they could potentially hurt a pug.


18. Cockapoo

If you are going to get a designer dog breed, why not get one that is a combination of two dogs that are already well known as being perfect for beginners? That is exactly what you get with the cockapoo. You get a combination of a cocker spaniel and poodle.

There are two main things that make this dog really great for first-time owners. They are a very affable and loving breed, and best of all, they don’t shed. So if you are someone who wants a nice, gentle and low maintenance dog all at once, this is the perfect designer breed for you.

One thing that you need to know about these types of cross-breeds is that they are sometimes more susceptible to illnesses, and the cockapoo in particular is known to have troubles with ear infections. But don’t let that scare you too much, they are still great dogs for beginners.


19. Labradoodle

And yet again, another great designer breed makes the bottom of this list. You can probably guess by the name what this dog breed is – a mix between a Labrador and a poodle. So you are getting a dog that is tons of fun to play around with (like the Labrador) and a companion that is very mild-mannered and calm (like the poodle).

Of course, you are getting an incredibly smart dog, since both Labradors and poodles are known for their intelligence. They are also very energetic breeds and will accompany you everywhere.

If you are getting one of these, you should know that their size can vary. That’s why it might be better to get a Labradoodle that is a bit older, so you know how big they are going to be and if the size fits your needs.


20. Goldendoodle

Here is another designer breed that you really can’t go wrong with. In fact, this actually might be the perfect designer breed for first time owners, since it combines the top two breeds on this list, the golden retriever and the poodle.

So what you are basically getting is an ideal dog that has all of the traits a beginner dog owner needs. The dog is obviously very intelligent, considering the two breeds they come from, and they are very friendly and great with children. Goldendoodles are also very active and love to play, but they are extremely mild-tempered. This means that while they love to run around, these pups are never loud and aggressive while playing.

They are great guard dogs, but goldendoodles certainly don’t bark when there’s no reason to bark. They will protect your family, but the clever breed also has no problems interacting with strangers.

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