10 Best Dogs For First-Time Owners

10 Best Dogs For First-Time Owners

Getting your first dog is hugely exciting but it’s important to carefully consider which breed is right for you. Think about what you want your new dog to be like and don’t choose a dog just based on how they look. 

Not all dog breeds are suitable for first-time owners, some breeds are challenging, independent, and have specific handling/ training requirements to ensure they are manageable in a home environment. 

Dogs that are best for first-time owners are often easy to train, laid-back, and friendly. Bringing home a dog that is well-suited to first-time owners will make your overall experience much more positive, fun, and rewarding. 

To help you narrow down your search, we’ve listed the 10 best dog breeds for first-time owners below. At the end of this article, we’ve also listed 5 dog breeds new owners should avoid. 

Top Tips For First-Time Owners Of Cross-Breeds

Mixed-Breed dogs are very popular and can be an excellent choice for first-time owners. However, cross-breeds are often inconsistent in their temperament and physical appearance as these dogs get traits from both parent dogs and this doesn’t mean they are guaranteed to get the best traits of both breeds. 

Most mixed-breed dogs average out any extreme behaviours the parents have but this is the gamble of choosing a cross-breed. 

Cross-breeds are also not the best option for owners who have strict needs or goals for their dog such as service dogs or competitors. With that said, there are plenty of mixed-breed dogs that are successful in these roles so it’s about choosing the right dog for you. 

Keep these tips in mind when choosing a cross-breed dog:

  • Carefully consider all the traits associated with the breed

  • Meet the puppy and parents before committing to the puppy

  • Don’t pick a puppy based on its appearance alone 

  • Consider adopting an older mixed breed dog - their behaviour will be known and they will have had previous training 

  • Remember that choosing a crossbreed is a gamble and be prepared for a dog that may not be exactly as you imagined (don’t think the dog is guaranteed to exhibit the best traits of both breeds)

Now, it’s time to discover the 10 best dogs for first-time owners

1. Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are wonderful dogs for first-time owners, they are friendly, relaxed, and excellent around children and other dogs. This is a large, energetic breed that enjoys regular walks, running, hiking, games of fetch etc. so is best suited to an active family. 

Golden Retrievers are also one of the most intelligent dog breeds, they are eager to please and are able to learn new commands quickly with very few repetitions.  One thing new owners should be aware of is the long coat of the Golden Retriever needs to be brushed regularly and does shed seasonally too.

  • Height: 50-60cm

  • Size: Large

  • Character: Devoted, friendly, intelligent 

  • Life Expectancy: 12-14 years

2. Whippet

Although the Whippet was originally bred for racing, they are known to be quiet and relaxed at home. Whippets are great for first-time owners as they are gentle, loving companions that are highly adaptable and suitable for apartment living. 

Whippets are low maintenance when it comes to grooming as they have short fur that needs a weekly brush. It is best not to let whippets off lead unless in secure areas as they have a high prey drive and can run exceptionally fast.

  • Height: 44-52cm

  • Size: Small

  • Character: Athletic, loyal, affectionate

  • Life Expectancy: 12-14 years

3. Pug

Pugs are small dogs with big personalities, they are happy-go-lucky, friendly, and love to entertain. Thanks to their compact size and adaptable nature, Pugs are suitable for any environment and they don’t need a lot of exercise. Pugs make excellent companions but they don’t like to be left alone. 

New owners should be aware that Pugs are a brachycephalic breed meaning they have a short skull and can be prone to certain health conditions. 

  • Height: 25-36cm

  • Size: Small

  • Character: Affectionate, quick-witted, loyal

  • Life Expectancy: 12-14 years

4. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is an affectionate dog that loves to be around people. Cavaliers are gentle, eager to please, and love to walk and play just as much as they love to lay on the sofa and relax. These dogs suit a variety of homes and lifestyles. 

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are fantastic first-time dogs for owners who have enough time to give them plenty of attention. Cavaliers don’t like to be left alone and they can get bored easily.

  • Height: 30-33cm

  • Size: Small

  • Character: Laid-back, social, affectionate

  • Life Expectancy: 12-14 years

5. Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus are small dogs that are highly social and make excellent companions. They are loving, adaptable, and energetic. Shih Tzus are adorable dogs that are a lot of fun to be around, they are great with kids and love to play. 

Shih Tzus thrive on human attention and are known to suffer from separation anxiety and they do tend to like the sound of their own voice too. 

  • Height: 20-30cm

  • Size: Small

  • Character: Energetic, social, affectionate

  • Life Expectancy: 14-16 years

6. Great Dane

The Great Dane is a fantastic choice for first-time owners looking for a huge dog. Great Danes are affectionate, goofy, and gentle. Despite their size, Great Danes are relaxed at home, are generally quiet, and tend to be quite sensitive. They are also very energetic and need lots of exercise and play daily to keep them happy. 

  • Height: 71-81cm

  • Size: Huge

  • Character: Loyal, playful, affectionate

  • Life Expectancy: 8-10 years

7. Papillon

The Papillon is a little dog with a bright, energetic personality. These dogs are elegant, outgoing, and intelligent. Papillons are great for first-time owners as they are adaptable, love to be around people, and are very eager to please. The Papillon is a fantastic companion and, although small in size, is so much more than a lap dog. 

  • Height: 20-28cm

  • Size: Very Small

  • Character: Intelligent, friendly, outgoing

  • Life Expectancy: 12-14 years

8. Bichon Frise

The Bichon Frise is a small, fluffy, and easy-going dog. They are well-known and are excellent first-time dogs as they are relaxed, friendly, and get along with everyone. Bichon Frise dogs are confident, curious, and make wonderful companions. 

Bichons enjoy moderate daily exercise and need to go to the groomer regularly to keep their long white coat in good condition. 

  • Height: 23-28cm

  • Size: Small

  • Character: Loving, confident, playful

  • Life Expectancy: 12-14 years

9. Labrador Retriever

One of the most popular dog breeds in the world, the Labrador Retriever is an excellent choice for first-time owners. Labs are easy to train, have friendly natures, and are well suited to a family environment. 

Labrador Retrievers are dependable, they enjoy being around children, and they love to play. These dogs are very active so are best suited to owners who enjoy walking and hiking.  

  • Height: 56-61cm

  • Size: Large

  • Character: Intelligent, energetic, friendly

  • Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

10. Boston Terrier

For first-time owners looking for a small dog that is playful, intelligent, and a little bit goofy, the Boston Terrier is a great choice. Boston Terriers are compact but sturdy dogs that have a short, low-maintenance coat and an adaptable nature. Boston Terriers can suit most lifestyles, they thrive on being with people and are eager to please their owners.  

  • Height: 38-43cm

  • Size: Small

  • Character: Friendly, social, intelligent 

  • Life Expectancy: 12-14 years

Breeds To Avoid 

First-time owners will generally want to avoid these dogs as they often need experienced handling and training. These are not bad breeds, they just need to be in the right home to thrive. 

The kinds of traits that are best to avoid for first-time owners include “reserved with strangers”, “strong-willed”, “independent”, and “unpredictable”. 

Belgian Malinois 

The Belgian Malinois is an intelligent, alert, and confident dog that is well-suited to working environments. These active dogs thrive when they have a job to do and often work in roles where they are mentally engaged and physically active such as in the police and military. This is not a good dog breed for first-time owners. 

Siberian Husky 

Siberian Huskies are not the best choice for first-time owners as they are stubborn, dominant, and can be difficult to train. Huskies have high training requirements and they like to challenge boundaries so consistent training and obedience classes are recommended. These dogs also have a lot of energy and require regular exercise to prevent them from feeling bored.  

Border Collie 

Border Collies are fantastic working dogs but they are not the best breed for first-time owners. Border Collies require a lot of mental and physical stimulation each day and they are generally high-maintenance dogs. This breed is best suited to work environments or experienced owners who live an active, outdoor lifestyle. 


The Akita is not a good choice for first-time owners as they are independent and almost cat-like, very different from most other breeds. Akitas are difficult to train as they are determined, stubborn, and can be dominant. As Akitas are large dogs, they can be difficult to handle. They also have complex temperaments that make them less predictable than other breeds. 


Rottweilers are not the best choice for new dog owners as they are large, strong, and can be very protective of their home and family. Rottweilers need confident training and handling, they require strong leadership to keep them well trained and avoid stubbornness. 

Finding The Right Dog Breed For You 

When it comes to choosing a dog, it is extremely important to carefully consider the breed and ensure they are right for you, your family, and your lifestyle. A great way to help you find the right breed is to make a list of what you don’t want and keep this on hand when researching different breeds. Once you find the right breed for you, use Puppies to find a healthy puppy from a responsible breeder.

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