What Are The Best Dogs For First Time Owners?

Key takeaway

The breed you choose has a big effect on your job as a pet parent because some breeds are predisposed to certain health or behavioral problems. There are several great breeds for first-time dog owners, including boxers, labs, and poodles. As long as you’re prepared before you get a dog, lots of breeds are great.

What Are the Best Dogs for First Time Owners?

Getting your first dog can be an overwhelming experience, especially when it comes to choosing a breed. There are hundreds of dog breeds you can choose from, and many breeds are actually a cross between other breeds on the list. So, what’s the difference between all these dog breeds, and what are the best dog breeds for first-time owners?

Not only does breed affect your dog’s size and appearance, but it also plays a role in their behavior and the health issues they may experience. Some breeds have a tendency to get more excited than others, while some breeds may be more prone to back problems. Finding the best dog for a first-time owner is all about assessing your needs and deciding what you’re comfortable with.

In this article, we’ll talk about some of the best dogs for first-time owners to help you find the perfect pup. If you’re looking for a great first dog, here are some breeds to check out.

15 Best Breeds for First Time Dog Owners

Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best dog breeds for first-time owners.1 Whether you’re looking for a small dog, a large dog, or something in between, there’s a dog for you on our list.

1. Mixed Breeds

Without mentioning any specific breeds, mixed breeds are a great choice for a first dog. Mixed breeds get some traits from different breeds, and those traits can vary quite a bit based on the breeds. Many mixed breed dogs are medium size, which is also a benefit if you’re looking for an easy breed to take care of.

2. Boxer

Boxers are smart, active, and love to have fun. While boxers can get fairly large, they’re far from the largest of dog breeds, which makes them a little easier for first-time owners. Boxers also have short hair, so they don’t shed as much as longer haired breeds.

3. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a good small breed for first-time dog owners. This breed only grows to be about 18 pounds on the higher side, and they love to cuddle and spend time with people, which makes them great dogs for smaller homes and apartments.

4. Papillon

Friendly dogs are great, and that’s exactly what you get with a papillon. These toy breed dogs are friendly and energetic, so they’re a great choice if you have young children around the house.

5. English Springer Spaniel

If you want something a little larger, English Springer Spaniels are wonderful dogs for first-time owners. Keep in mind that this is a longer-haired breed, so you may have to do a bit more cleaning.

6. Poodle

All types of poodles are great if you’re looking for an active, smart dog breed. There are standard poodles, smaller miniature poodles, and even smaller toy poodles. As a long-haired breed, regular grooming is crucial with poodles.

7. Wheaten Terrier

Originating from Ireland, Wheaten terriers make great farm dogs. Wheaten terriers are on the lower end of the medium size spectrum, and they’re great with children, making them an excellent family breed.

8. Whippet

Whippets are well-behaved around children and other dogs, so they’re great if you’re looking for an easily manageable first dog. Whippets are very playful and only reach about 40 pounds, so they’re great with kids.

9. Labrador Retriever

Labs are one of the most classic dog breeds, known for their infectious energy and friendliness. While labs aren’t always the calmest, they’re a great all-around medium dog breed.

List of 15 best dogs for first time owners

10. Shih Tzu

Shih tzus are an excellent toy dog breed if you want something smaller for an apartment or crowded house. While they only reach about 15 pounds, shih tzus pack a lot of playfulness in a small package.

11. Yorkshire Terrier

Another toy dog breed, Yorkshire terriers are affectionate and fun to be around. The biggest problems with this breed is their long coat and the fact that they take some extra socialization training in order to play well with other dogs.

12. Pomeranian

Pomeranians may be small at just 3-7 pounds, but they’re bold and energetic for their size. While Pomeranians are a lot of fun to have around, they’re better for families without kids.

13. Golden Retriever

Another classic larger dog breed, golden retrievers are known for being smart, friendly, and loyal. In fact, goldens are often used as therapy dogs, thanks to their intelligence and devotion. As a longer-haired breed, golden retrievers can make a mess of your home if you don’t groom them properly.

14. Bichon Frise

Bichon Frise are small dogs that are great all-around family pets. This breed is known for being great with families, young children, and other dogs, and they’re playful and peppy.

15. Basenji

Weighing just over 20 pounds as adults, Basenjis are a good smaller breed because they’re smart and independent. However, some Basenjis may not be great around smaller children and other dogs. Things to consider before getting a dog

What to Consider Before Getting a Dog

If you’re thinking about getting a dog, you should consider whether you’re in a good position to be a pet parent right now. Here are some of the things you should consider before you get a dog:

  • Your work schedule
  • Your household environment
  • Whether you have other pets
  • Your upcoming travel schedule
  • Your financial situation (for breeds that are prone to health issues)

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most challenging dog breeds to train?

Some of the hardest dog breeds to train include beagles, rottweilers, Siberian huskies, basset hounds, Chinese shar-peis, and Afghan hounds. Some dogs are simply more energetic than others, while some are more independent or stubborn. Hard-to-train dog breeds aren’t typically a good choice for first-time dog owners unless you’re working with a training group or professional trainer.

What is the best dog breed to own?

The best dogs for first-time owners depend on several factors. If you have a smaller home or apartment with small children, a small dog might be better for you. If you want an active dog that enjoys farm life, you may prefer a Wheaten terrier. It’s important to choose dog breeds based on the characteristics you’re looking for if you want the best companion.

What are the easiest dog breeds to take care of? 

The easiest dog breeds to take care of are the ones that require less maintenance, such as training and grooming. That being said, taking care of a dog is a lot of work, so don’t expect any breed to be easy. You’re taking on a big job when you sign up to be a pet parent.

Which dog breeds have the most health issues?

There are lots of dogs that are prone to health issues as a result of the breeding process. Some of the breeds that are susceptible to health issues include2:

  • Siberian huskies
  • Bulldogs
  • Pugs
  • German shepherds
  • Labrador retrievers
  • Beagles
  • Shih tzus
  • Boxers
  • Daschunds

Because these breeds can be harder to care for due to their potential for health problems, they may not be ideal for first-time dog owners.

Owner running two dogs at the beach

Final Notes

There are lots of great dog breeds out there, so you really can’t go wrong. The important thing is that you choose a breed based on your family, your lifestyle, and your environment. As long as you stick to this list of good first-time dog owner breeds, you can find a great companion.

If you need help taking care of your dog, Dutch can help connect you with vets who can help. You can schedule a video chat to get online vet help in no time, so you don’t have to visit the vet every time you have a question. If you’re a first-time dog owner, give Dutch a try today and see how simple vet care can be.


  1. “Dog Breeds - Types of Dogs.” American Kennel Club, https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/

  2. “Common Health Problems for Popular Dog Breeds.” WebMD, WebMD, https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/ss/slideshow-dog-breed-health-problems