10 Best Dog Breeds For First Time Dog Owners

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If you are considering getting your first dog, then this list of the best dog breeds for first-time dog owners will be a helpful resource when deciding the best dog for you.

There are many breeds of dogs available, but here are some of the best breeds for first-time dog owners.

1. Bichon Frise

2. Boxer

3. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

4.  Golden Retriever

5. Labrador Retriever

6. English Springer Spaniel

7. Papillon

8. Bernese Mountain Dog

9. Pug

10. Whippet


Key Takeaways:

If you’re someone who is looking to get their first dog there are certain traits that you want that dog to possess:

  • is easy to train
  • is eager to please
  • is very friendly
  • is even-tempered
  • is naturally devoted to their people
  • has manageable energy levels

Types of dogs to avoid if you are a first-time dog owner:

  • stubborn breeds
  • independent breeds
  • dogs with unpredictable temperaments
  • highly intelligent breeds

Following is a description of each breed that we recommend for first-time dog owners.


10 Best Dog Breeds For First Time Dog Owners

Bichon Frise

Bichon Frise

The Bichon Frise is an affectionate, outgoing canine with a passion for making friends of both the human
and canine variety. They go out of their way to make a good impression on guests but won’t hesitate to speak up for their owners when they sense danger.

Weight

Most people tend to adopt their first dog while still in college or living on their own in an apartment. Thus, smaller dogs tend to be easier fits for those early-adult lifestyles. The Bichon Frise tops out at 11 pounds, making them the perfect roommate for those with smaller domiciles.

Coat Type

Perhaps one of the only setbacks for the bubbly Bichon is its long, curly double coat. Owners should expect to brush their dog frequently, if not daily.

Shedding Level

Fortunately, even with a crazy coat, the Bichon Frise isn’t prone to shedding. First-time owners will find their cleaning practices relatively unfazed.

Life Expectancy

Owners who welcome this breed into their home will be pleased to know that their first dog is likely to stick around for many years to come – upwards of 15, to be precise.

Temperament Around Kids

Given their cheerful disposition towards most people and animals, it should come as no surprise that the Bichon Frise is a terrific companion around young children. Their small size means limited opportunity for accidental harm, and their gentle demeanor is sure to have your kids fawning for extra playtime with their new, four-legged bestie.

Energy Level

The Bichon Frise is no couch potato. They’re one wound-up pooch. Fortunately, regularly scheduled zoomies around the home will be more than enough to satisfy their exercise requirements when combined with morning and afternoon walks around the block.


Boxer

Boxer

The Bichon and Boxer might be like David and Goliath, but the two animals’ personalities are very similar. The Boxer is just as affectionate with its pack members and owners.

Weight

This is one big boy (or girl). Most Boxers settle around 70 pounds, but the biggest can get up to the heavy 80’s!

Coat Type

The Boxer coat is short and smooth, with minimal shedding. Most Boxers have brown-colored hair, which means any fibers that do shake loose should be easy to spot on light-colored carpet or wood.

Shedding Level

As stated, Boxers do not shed too much or too often. Plus, unlike bigger, fluffier dogs, they also aren’t prone to seasonal undercoat “blowing”.

Life Expectancy

Boxers live a considerable 10-12 years if kept on a proper diet and given adequate healthcare. However, they are subject to certain heart conditions, and owners should also keep an eye out for gastrointestinal distress.

Temperament Around Kids

The Boxer is a family dog, through and through. However, given their strong jaws and large size, playtime should be supervised.

Energy Level

The boxer is easily trainable but also relatively high-energy. Those who live close to dog parks or open fields will find much to enjoy with such an athletic companion at their side.


Cavalier King Charles Spaniel 

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel 

New owners searching for a sweet, gentle breed should look no further than the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. These mild-mannered sweethearts are kind to any and all, generally tolerant of even the most obnoxious housemates (looking at you, cats and kittens).

Weight

Their size also makes them a viable candidate for most types of homes. In fact, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel rarely tops 16 pounds, making them the perfect lap dog for afternoon snoozes.

Coat Type

This Spaniel’s coat is long and wavy, but to the surprise of many, not very high-maintenance. First-time owners will want to watch for matts and knots, although in general, one thorough brushing every few weeks should be perfectly adequate.

Shedding Level

Along with being a relatively simple dog to groom, the Cavalier King Charles also isn’t much for shedding.

Life Expectancy

First-time owners can enjoy a solid 12-15 years of happy memories with their new dog, so long as general health needs are attended to.

Temperament Around Kids

Energy Level

Interestingly, the Cavalier King Charles is pretty hit or miss when it comes to physical activity. They’re equally as content to enjoy a rainy day inside as they are to thrive at the local bark park. Unlike some other small breed dogs, they won’t stay so high-strung throughout the day, which means you can enjoy peace and quiet when it matters most.


Golden Retriever 

Golden Retriever 

What can anyone really say about the Golden Retriever that hasn’t already been said? They’re America’s sweethearts…well, sort of. They’re actually Scottish. Even so, first-time owners would be hard-pressed to find a more loving, nurturing companion than a Golden Retriever.

Weight

While not necessarily a drawback, Goldens do grow to a considerable size. On average, owners can expect a mature pup to weigh somewhere in the neighborhood of about 60-70 pounds.

Coat Type

Golden Retrievers are the first dogs on this list with a double coat (more on that in a moment). As for the length, most would consider this dog to have a medium-length coat, although some do grow longer hair than others.

Shedding Level

Now, because of their double coat, first-time owners should brace themselves for seasonal shedding and significant upheaval to their current cleaning routine. Adopting families would do well to add a new vacuum to their list of puppy pet supplies.

Life Expectancy

The Golden Retriever will provide its new family with at least 10 solid years of joy before old age takes its toll. But unlike some other breeds, Goldens will stay active and committed well into their old age.

Temperament Around Kids

Golden Retrievers are family dogs in every way, especially when it comes to kids. So don’t be surprised if your pup takes off the mantle as resident nana when you’re out of the room.

Energy Level

Along with their great temperament, Golden Retrievers also love their playtime. First-time owners who live an active, outdoor lifestyle will love their new friend’s enthusiastic attitude towards new adventures.


Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever 

The Labrador Retriever is one of the most common breeds found in the United States. And it’s easy to see why! Their goofy, playful, family-first mentality makes for a personality that’s hard to beat.

Weight

Labradors run the gamut with their weight, ranging anywhere from 50-80 pounds. Females tend to top out on the lower end of the range, while males typically reach more massive sizes.

Coat Type

The Labrador Retriever is another double-coated dog with short hair. Monthly brushing should do the trick, but more frequent brushing is not likely to be something they complain about.

Shedding Level

Despite their short hair length, the Lab is an insane shedder. Fortunately – and unlike the Golden Retriever – their hair is far less likely to clog up your vacuum.

Life Expectancy

Like many other animals of their size, Labrador Retrievers will live a healthy 10-12 years before the onset of those medical issues often associated with old age.

Temperament Around Kids

Labs are arguably the best dogs for families. End of story. And even with their large frames, new owners would find a challenge in selecting a more attentive, careful playmate for their young ones.

Energy Level

Labrador Retrievers are, well, retrievers. That means they were bred to work in tandem with their human handlers. So first-time Lab owners should be willing and able to commit a solid hour or two of activity for their dog daily.


English Springer Spaniel 

English Springer Spaniel 

The English Springer Spaniel is a noble, obedient dog that is sure to light up the life of any first-time owner. Nothing excites them more than a playful day with their human counterpart.

Weight

English Springers boast a modest 40-50 pound weight average, with females topping out closer to the lighter half of the range.

Coat Type

The English Springer Spaniel requires bi-weekly brushing due to its medium double coat. However, owners with an affinity for soft and healthy coats would do well to groom their pet even more frequently for optimal care.

Shedding Level

This pup isn’t as bad a shedder as a Lab, but it does purge its coat with time. First-time owners might be surprised at the way it impacts their cleaning schedule but will by no means find the mess to be unbearable.

Life Expectancy

English Springer Spaniels will live between 12-14 years, happy, healthy, and committed to play.

Temperament Around Kids

While this Spaniel isn’t terrible with kids, it isn’t as attentive or careful as some of the other dogs on this list. Therefore, play should always be supervised.

Energy Level

The English Springer Spaniel is playful and active. Daily walks are a must. The occasional trip to the dog park is also sure to get their tail wagging.


English Springer Spaniel 

Papillon 

Papillon means “butterfly” in French. And while it likely earned this name due to the shape of its ears, the Papillon dog flutters with just as much grace. The Papillon is playful and bouncy, ready to romp at a moment’s notice.

Weight

Considered a toy breed, the Papillon is tiny. Most won’t ever reach a weight above 10 pounds.

Coat Type

The Papillon’s coat is shiny, silky, and medium length. New owners should set aside about an hour every few weeks to brush out any matts or twists in the coat to keep their furry friend comfortable and looking spiffy.

Shedding Level

Papillons shed a fairly consistent rate, but given their small size, owners are unlikely to feel overwhelmed or inconvenienced by the amount of hair.

Life Expectancy

Papillons can live to the ripe old age of 16 if properly cared for by their owners.

Temperament Around Kids

Children will love the compact frame of the Papillon since it fits right in with any usual assortment of stuffed animals. Papillons are also gentle and unlikely to nip or harm younger children.

Energy Level

The Papillon’s energy level is immense. First-time owners should prepare themselves for a dog that wastes no time jumping into their lap or popcorning around the home with excitement.


Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain Dog

The Bernese Mountain Dog is careful, affectionate, and possesses a natural yearning to explore the great outdoors.

Weight

The Bernese Mountain Dog is easily the heaviest animal on this list, with males topping out well over 110 pounds.

Coat Type

The Bernese Mountain Dog’s coat is medium length and bulky, although not as fluffy as some other mountain dogs, such as the Great Pyrenees.

Shedding Level

Because of their double coat, Bernese Mountain Dog’s shed quite a bit. They also require near-weekly brushing to keep their hair from matting, which can cause them pain. First-time owners should make peace with the fact their home will be littered with hair every spring and fall.

Life Expectancy

Unfortunately, their massive stature has a toll on their life expectancy. Most Bernese Mountain Dogs enjoy a short but happy life of about 7 to 10 years.

Temperament Around Kids

First-time owners with children need not worry about the Bernese Mountain dog. These pups are the definition of gentle giants.

Energy Level

First-time owners should keep in mind that Bernese Mountain Dogs have a natural inclination to the outdoors. Therefore, daily walks, weekly hikes, or frequent trips into the yard are essential.


Pug

Pug

Pugs might look bizarre, but their personalities are anything other than loveable. Though, newcomers should exercise caution – pugs are fiercely protective of their pack.

Weight

On the smaller side, Pugs weigh anywhere between 12-20 pounds.

Coat Type

Smooth and short are two of the best adjectives to describe Pugs’ coats. Owners will appreciate the limited amount of brushing necessary to keep them happy and looking great.

Shedding Level

Just like other smooth, short-haired dogs, Pugs shed a lot. First-time owners will want to keep this in mind.

Life Expectancy

Any Pug can easily live up to 15 years, so long as their common breed ailments are attended to. However, respiratory and skin infections are not uncommon, so first-time owners should pay close attention to their dog’s health, especially in old age.

Temperament Around Kids

Pugs are surprisingly wonderful with children. Sometimes, even too wonderful, as they might guard the youngest of their pack from guests they don’t recognize.

Energy Level

The Pug’s energy level is pretty high, although due to their facial structure and issues with breathing, owners should monitor their dog’s activity level when at the park or out in the yard.


Whippet 

Whippet 

The Whippet is easily the most interesting dog on this list. Their face might look constantly concerned, but on the inside, they’re beaming with love for their pack members.

Weight

The Whippet sits at a lean 25-40 pounds, and both males and females grow to be about the same size.

Coat Type

The Whippet is arguably one of the best dogs for those without much time for grooming. This pup’s coat is smooth, short, and requires little-to-no serious, regularly scheduled attention.

Shedding Level

Shedding is also not a problem with the Whippet. First-time owners will hardly see any change at all to their normal cleaning regiment.

Life Expectancy

Another thing working in the Whippet’s favor is its exceptionally long life expectancy. Most can live up to fifteen years!

Temperament Around Kids

The Whippet is a great watchdog and loves kids. Plus, their short coats and limited shedding mean even some children with allergies can get along with this wonder dog just fine.

Energy Level

The Whippet is playful and fast. Large, open fields are its favorite place to play, and if owners with good throwing arms will find the Whippet perfectly eager to chase down balls at long distances.

BEST DOG BREEDS FOR FIRST TIME OWNERS - PICTURES OF EACH DOG BREED


Why Breed Matters for First-Time Owners

Keep in mind that every dog breed was bred with a goal in mind. Some were bred for guarding, some were bred for hunting, some for herding, and some were even bred as lapdogs.

So understanding your lifestyle and needs will be helpful in figuring out what type of dog would be the best bit for both of you.

Understanding that a lap dog and a sledding dog will have VERY different energy levels, personalities, and temperaments. This is very important to know and keep in mind when looking for that perfect dog.


Reasons for getting the correct type of dog as a new pet owner are:

Training

Some dog breeds are extremely hard to train, if for no other reason than their degree of stubbornness. Some dogs are considerably more stubborn than others, and if these dogs are in the hands of an inexperienced dog owner, they will inadvertently out-smart their owner.

Eagerness to Please

Dogs that are eager to please will be much easier to work with and train, which will make the learning curve for a new dog owner much smaller than if your dog is stubborn and independent-minded.

Friendly

If you have a dog breed that is friendly by nature, it will make going on outings and socialization much more manageable and enjoyable. With a friendly dog, you will be more likely to want to take your dog places with you.

Even-tempered

As a new dog owner, you do not know enough about dogs to recognize if your dog is uncomfortable or uncertain about something or some situation. This could inadvertently put you and your dog in a dangerous situation. Having an even-tempered dog will make you more at ease while you learn the nuances of your new dog.

Devotion

Having a breed that has a strong sense of devotion towards its owners will make that bonding experience easier for both you and your dog.

Manageable Energy Levels

Getting a dog that is not crazy hyper will be a big plus in helping you learn the ins and out of dog ownership. High-energy dogs can be challenging to manage, even if you are an active person. And dogs that do not get the necessary exercise can become destructive in other ways to help them wear off some of that excess energy. So getting a dog with a mild to moderate energy level will allow you to focus on other skills necessary for dog ownership.


Don’t Be Afraid

One of the biggest fears that we, as first-time dog owners, have is the fear of failing or doing something wrong. This is natural. We’ve all been there.

I grew up and was raised with a lot of dogs. But when I moved out and got my first dog, I was petrified that I would fail my dog. But guess what, I didn’t, and neither will you!

So many dogs in shelters are there due to incompatibility between owner and dog. And many of those could have been avoided had the dog owner been more careful when matching up with a dog that is ideal for their lifestyle, as opposed to getting a dog because they are ‘cool’ or ‘fun to watch’.

Do your research and start out easy to help you become comfortable with dogs before moving on to the more challenging breeds.


Conclusion

Being a first-time dog owner, it is essential that you get a breed (or mixed breed) that is compatible with inexperienced dog owners.

By getting an easier breed as your first dog, you increase your chances of it being a successful match and less likely that the dog will end up in a shelter, where there are already so many unwanted dogs.

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