Maybe you’ve recently decided to adopt a dog from local shelters but aren’t quite sure how to get started because you’ve never owned a dog before. It’s important to understand how to love and care for a dog before you take one home, but it’s just as essential to know which breeds will be easy enough for novice owners to handle. In this guide, we discuss the 15 best dogs for first-time owners.
Things to Consider Before Adopting a Dog
First-time dog owners will need to think about a few things ahead of time before deciding whether or not they’re ready to adopt. Below are just a few factors to consider before getting your first dog:
- Your schedule at work
- The environment at home
- If you have other animals and pets
- If you have any upcoming trips
- Whether your financial situation can help breeds with known health issues
Those who have assessed these questions and are confident in their capability to become first-time dog owners can choose from the many great dogs below.
Best Dogs for First-Time Owners
Whether you’re looking for little dogs or larger dogs, the options listed here are the best dog breeds for new owners. All of these canines are among the easiest dog breeds to train and care for and can be a great choice to add to your family.
1. Golden Retrievers
Their reputation for being affectionate, gentle, and lovable dogs are known all over the world. These traits also help them thrive in any kind of household and will get along with everyone, including other pets and children. They also love to learn new things, making them a good fit for a first-time dog parent.
Because Golden Retrievers need plenty of exercise, you’ll also reap the benefits of living an active lifestyle which will also keep them healthy and happy.
2. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
These sweet and small dogs are just the perfect option if you want a cuddle buddy. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel loves to spend time with their humans and makes for a great companion. Their attentive nature and calm demeanor allow them to respond to training quickly and are always ready to please their owners.
One of their favorite things to do is chill out with their humans on the sofa, but be sure that you also encourage them to go on daily walks. Doing this will help to keep them in top form for more days of fun.
3. Shih Tzus
Don’t let their small size fool you — the Shih Tzu comes with a big heart and a high energy level. Originally bred to be companions for Chinese royalty, this toy breed doesn’t have strong hunting or herding instincts which is why they don’t show any kind of aggression. They are also playful but in a gentle manner and can quickly form bonds with their humans, making them great for any household.
While they would love nothing more than to fulfill their purpose as lap dogs, they may become independent if you spoil them too much. This could make it harder to handle them but if you establish yourself as a leader, they can be among the best choices for new dog owners.
4. Labrador Retriever
Intelligent, active, and playful, Labrador Retrievers are among the most popular dog breeds in the world. These dogs are both loyal and highly versatile which means you can take them with you wherever you go. They are just as happy to go for a long walk as they would be when relaxing outside a coffee shop while waiting for you.
However, it’s best to keep an eye on what they eat because this breed will indulge in anything you give them and is prone to becoming overweight. As such, they will do well in a home that can provide them with plenty of attention, training, and lots of exercise. Alternatively, you can limit treats and make use of weight management tools to ensure that your Lab is always healthy.
5. Bernese Mountain Dogs
These gentle giants are well known for their loving nature — they’re also patient with young children, eager to please, and loyal to their humans. Bernese Mountain Dogs also have an even and calm temperament, making them a great addition to families with other pets and children. This affectionate dog is trainable and intelligent which is why many choose them as their first dog.
But there are a few potential health problems with this big dog such as bloat, cancer, and hip dysplasia, all of which can lead to expensive treatments. Moreover, they shed quite a bit, so they may not be the best choice for people with allergies or those who want to keep their houses clean. Finally, they may be harder to train than other dogs due to their independence, but it’s nothing that a little positive reinforcement can’t change.
6. Bichon Frise
Both new and experienced dog owners simply adore this small breed and it’s no surprise since they have great temperaments that make it easy for them to become part of the family. They’re also low-maintenance pets which only require daily exercise and regular grooming. Just keep in mind that these pups will need plenty of hugs and kisses because they become so attached to their owners.
While it might be a smaller breed, the Bichon Frise is a ball of fluff that can adapt to any kind of lifestyle. They also have hypoallergenic coats that make them an excellent choice for those with allergies. This pup can also be shy with strangers at first, but you can easily eliminate this through early socialization.
7. English Springer Spaniel
This dog comes in a small package and is highly remarkable; they are playful, loving, and huge cuddlers. They were initially developed to be gun or hunting dogs, and as a result, they have boundless energy that needs to be used by spending time on regular exercise. The English Springer Spaniel also has a great temperament — they aren’t rebellious but are very playful, making them great for first-time owners.
However, they will require training but this should run along smoothly because they’re smart and eager to learn. These excellent dogs only want to do their best, so that they can see you happy.
8. German Shepherds
These guard dogs are a wonderful choice for any first-time owner; they’re easy to train, smart, and can adjust to any kind of living situation. They’re protective of their humans and have a lot of energy which means they’ll need a lot of exercise. While these dogs are quite sensitive, they are good dogs and love to interact with their family members.
However, German Shepherds were bred to have protective instincts that make them the perfect dog for families, but they will also do well in rural locations and urban environments. Their coats will require regular brushing but these large dogs will get along with pets and children in general.
9. Yorkshire Terrier
This is one of the most popular breeds in the small dog category — they’re also fun and affectionate, making them one of the best choices for your new best friend. The Yorkshire Terrier, or Yorkie is a wonderful starter dog to have if you’re looking for a small lap dog. Yorkies are always affectionate towards their owners and despite being smaller dogs, they can become protective when around strangers.
These dogs also have moderate energy levels, so they won’t need much exercise — daily walks will be enough for this friendly dog. The biggest problems with these dogs are their long coats which will require a lot of work to maintain. They may also require a bit more attention when it comes to socialization training to make sure that they’ll get along with other pets.
10. Boston Terriers
These intelligent, loving, and amenable dogs are a great choice for first-time dog owners. Even with their high prey drive, they get along well with other pets and animals and will also be loved by children. They’re happy in all kinds of environments, but because they’re such affectionate dogs, they may develop separation anxiety when left alone for too long.
As such, they may not be the best breed for people who aren’t at home a lot.
11. French Bulldog
French Bulldogs, or Frenchies as they’re affectionately known, are constantly seeking the attention of their humans. While they love being the main attraction, they are generally easy-going and will do well with everyone in the family. Their relaxed temperament and short coat with minimal requirements mean that they can be a great choice for new fur parents.
When given enough affection, these mini Bulldogs can become the perfect dog for your family. Even if you have a busy lifestyle and don’t have enough time to provide them with enough exercise, Frenchies are a great match.
12. Cocker Spaniel
These purebred dogs are lively and will be ideal for active families with small children who want to play a lot. Cocker Spaniels are clever dogs who love pleasing their owners and can be easily trained when handled properly. When properly socialized with people and other dogs, they can be very friendly.
Because of their gentle nature, this dog is a popular choice for new owners but their long hair could mean more work. Like all dogs, Cockers will prefer to have their owners accompany them at all times. But without the proper mental stimulation, they will try to entertain themselves by chewing and nibbling on your belongings and furniture.
13. Basset Hounds
Basset Hounds are also among the most popular choices for first-time dog owners — and for good reason. These highly affectionate pups can easily adapt to any situation while keeping their cool. While they may protest every now and then, their calm and laid-back nature means that they could gain weight when left stationary for too long, so it’s important to take them out for exercise.
They are very friendly dogs that can’t wait to spend all their time with their families. If you’re ready to try your hand at dog ownership, then this might be the dog for you.
14. Mixed-Breed Dogs
While there are plenty of breeds to choose from, mixed breeds could be a great choice for your first dog. They will get traits and characteristics from different parents and will vary quite a bit depending on their breeds. These dogs will usually be a medium size which is an added benefit when you’re after dogs that are easy to train and care for.
While people will often overlook these dogs at the shelter, having different breeds in one dog can actually deliver a great companion. They will often retain the best qualities of their parents and will sometimes get fewer health issues.
What are some of the Easiest Dog Breeds to Care for?
Some of the easiest dogs to care for will usually be the ones that need a minimum amount of maintenance, such as grooming and training. However, all dogs will need some form of work done on them, so you can’t expect any kind of breed to be easy to handle. Know that the moment you sign up to become a pet parent, you will be taking on a big responsibility.
Which Dog Breeds Tend to Have Health Issues?
There are quite a few dogs that may be prone to health problems as a result of their breeding. Some of these breeds will include the following:
- Siberian Huskies
- German Shepherds
- Shih Tzus
These breeds, along with any older dog, could be harder to care for as a result of their health issues. As such, they might not be the best choice for a new pet parent.
While there are a lot of great dog breeds available, it’s up to you to do the research on your needs and your preferences should guide which dog will be right for you. Be sure to choose a pup that’s based on your lifestyle, family situation, and the environment around you. Fortunately, the dogs above are a great place to start if you’re wondering about the best dogs for first-time owners.
However, make sure to steer clear of Border Collies and Australian Shepherds as these breeds can pose quite a challenge to those who are new dog parents. Even so, every dog deserves to be loved — be sure to look for your new dog at a shelter rather than purchasing a new one. This will really help provide new homes for forgotten dogs while adding a new member to your family.