Planning to get your first dog?
If so… you know how difficult it can be to pick the right one.
While you may already have a favorite breed in mind… it’s important to consider your lifestyle and your future dog’s needs before you settle on any particular dog.
After all: You need to make sure you’re compatible.
What’s more, some breeds are more “forgiving” for first-time owners, while others are higher-maintenance… and require extra time, more grooming, or have special requirements.
In this guide, we’ll explore a few of the best dog breeds for first time owners.
Let’s take a look.
What’s the Friendliest Dog To Own?
There are many friendly dog breeds.
Truthfully, most dogs are friendly if they’re properly trained and socialized at a young age.
The most well-known friendly breeds include Golden Retrievers and Labradors, but Irish Setters, and Corgis are great alternative options, too.
The Irish Setter is a large sporting dog (60-70 pounds). Known for their beautiful red coat, this breed is great for families or as sole companions.
They are very loyal and affectionate, making them one of the friendliest breeds. The Irish Setter responds best to positive reinforcement training, and their determination to please their owners makes them easy to train as well.
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
The Corgi is a small to medium herding dog (around 30 pounds). They’re great watch dogs, and they do well with families or with a sole companion.
They have a double coat so they are weatherproofed and protected, and regular brushing will keep shedding at bay. However, they are quite energetic and need some form of regular mental stimulation to be happiest.
The Best Dogs for First Time Owners With Cats
A dog’s compatibility with cats (and other pets) often comes down to a dog’s personality… which differ widely.
Fortunately, there are many dog breeds that do well with cats.
An affectionate toy breed, the Maltese is adaptable and does well in most environments.
They are low shedding but require daily brushing and regular baths… And they do best with daily walks.
Their small size makes them a great companion to cats, allowing both to happily coexist.
Beagles are another type of hound dog and can weigh up to 30 pounds. They’re very scent-driven and energetic, but their loving nature allows them to get along with other dogs and cats.
Beagles love to be outside and are food-oriented. As long as a Beagle gets lots of daily exercise, it will be a friendly, loyal companion to both you and your cat.
All of the friendliest dog breeds tend to do well, as well as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, the Poodle, and Labs.
The Best Large Dogs for First Time Owners
Large dogs are often very loyal and affectionate.
And with proper training… large dogs will be your best companion for life.
Large breeds such as the Lab or Golden Retriever make this list because of their eager to please demeanor, making them an especially great choice for first-time owners.
Labs are part of the sporting group and one of the more popular service dog breeds.
They can weigh up to 80 pounds but are great companions for a single person or family. Labs are very social and affectionate. Their eagerness to please demeanor makes them easy to train.
They do need lots of daily exercise and mental stimulation as well as weekly brushing.
The popular Golden Retriever is a large sporting dog (Goldens weigh up to 75 pounds). This breed is great for going on daily jogs or long hikes. They are very friendly and eager to please.
They do require weekly brushing as they have a longer coat and require early socialization and training. But with proper care, the Golden Retriever is a great breed choice for first-time owners.
The Best Small Dogs for First Time Owners
There are plenty of small dog breeds that are perfect for first-time owners.
However, the Boston Terrier and Maltipoo are featured here because of their affectionate nature combined with easy maintenance and trainability.
A companion dog in the non-sporting group, the Boston Terrier is very loving. The Boston Terrier does need regular exercise in the form of a walk or play session once or twice a day.
They are companion animals so they don’t do well if they are left alone for long periods of time, but their small size makes them great for apartment living.
A mix between a Maltese and Toy Poodle, the Maltipoo is a cute small breed that’s perfect for first-time owners. The Maltipoo is a “hypoallergenic” breed. They are easy to train, don’t shed, and are great with children.
The Maltipoo does require daily walks and can bark frequently if not trained from a young age.
The Best Dog Breeds for First Time Owners in Apartments
Apartments can be tricky because many dogs require space even inside the house, but there are quite a few dog breeds that will adapt to any environment.
Along with the breeds mentioned in this section, a lot of the smaller breeds are great for apartment-living, too.
The Japanese Chin is toy breed that adapts well to multiple living environments. As with most dogs, the Japanese Chin does require regular grooming and exercise.
This breed is more independent, making them a great choice for people who work longer hours, but they are very adoring of their families.
The Greyhound is one of the larger dog breeds (up to 75 pounds) that do well in apartments. As hound dogs, they do require a lot of exercise but will be very happy to lie on the couch all day.
They are also independent and require minimal grooming due to their short coat, making them perfect for first-time owners in apartments.
The Best Dogs for First Time Owners Who Work a Lot
The best dog breeds for those who work a lot are breeds that are independent.
These breeds may not be as affectionate, but this is precisely what lets them entertain themselves if left alone for long periods of time while you’re at work. Other options include the French Bulldog, Maltese, or Whippet.
The Basset Hound is a medium-sized, hound dog. They are low to the ground but powerful and scent-driven.
These dogs are independent and not quite as affectionate as other dogs… but as far as hound dogs go, this breed does not need much exercise.
They’ll do fine lounging around all day with a daily walk or outdoor roaming time.
The Lhasa Apso is a small dog but not quite toy-sized. Depending on breeding, the Lhasa Apso can weigh up to 18 pounds.
They do need regular grooming as well as bathing and conditioning to maintain their beautiful coat… And they’re very intelligent and independent.
Although they require a bit more grooming than most other breeds, they’re a great option for those owners that can’t be at home with a dog all day.
The Best Dog for First Time Owners With Allergies
You don’t necessarily have to let allergies stop you from getting a dog.
Hypoallergenic dogs are the way to go when it comes to those who have allergies.
There are many hypoallergenic breeds out there, but for first-time owners, the Maltipoo, Lhasa Apso, Poodle, or Bichon Frise are all awesome breeds to look at… and many allergy sufferers can cope with these breeds in the home.
Poodles are great because of their versatility. They come in standard, miniature, and toy sizes. They are non-sporting dogs and are all hypoallergenic.
Perhaps the only real difficulty with this breed is that they’ll need to have regular trims. This can be done at home with a pair of clippers or professionally. This breed does require regular exercise and is considered high energy.
The Bichon Frise is a small dog breed (up to 18 pounds). As with most hypoallergenic dogs, they’re not prone to shedding but need regular trims.
They need regular activity, preferably outside, such as a play session or walk.
What Type of Dog Can Be Left Alone During the Day?
The key thing to look for in a dog breed that is to be left alone during the day is independence, or at least the ability to entertain themselves if left alone with toys.
This breed falls into the terrier group but is still on the smaller side (up to 20 pounds). Miniature Schnauzers are adaptable and good for apartment or home living.
This is a very friendly breed that sheds infrequently. They can be left alone if they have toys or IQ balls left with them.
Breeds like the Whippet, French Bulldog, or Maltese are potential candidates as well.
Easy Going Dogs for First Time Owners
Many dogs are easy going and most will be content as long as they receive love.
Although easy-going is a label that can be attached to many dogs on this list, the Pug and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel make the top of the list due to their size, temperament, and versatility.
Pugs are also in the toy group of breeds and they make great house dogs.
Pugs are relatively easy to take care of as they require minimal grooming (brush once a week).
Pugs do require moderate exercise as they are prone to obesity. They have a good temperament and are loyal and loving.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is part of the toy group, but don’t let that fool you. This breed is athletic but also enjoys relaxing.
This breed gets along with children and other animals, and they are eager to please, making them great for people just learning how to train dogs.
Worst Dogs for First Time Owners
Breeds not recommended for first-time owners are those that are high maintenance, have a history of health problems, require vigorous training, have special diets, or are difficult to control.
These are breeds that have higher upkeep and have a huge learning curve associated with them… making them especially difficult for first-time owners.
Of course, this doesn’t rule them out entirely… but you need to be aware of the dog’s needs and ensure you can meet them before you get one!
Such breeds include:
- Siberian Husky
- Alaskan Malamute
- Shiba Inu
- St. Bernard
- German Shepherd