9 Best Dog Breeds for First-Time Owners

Feb 29, 2024 | Dogs & Puppies | 1 comment

Written by: Alex Ramsey. Explore our editorial process.

Bringing a furry friend into your life is an exciting adventure, but it can also be overwhelming for first-time dog owners. Choosing the right breed is crucial, as it can significantly impact your overall experience.

While all dogs have unique charms, some breeds are more suited to novice owners due to their temperament, size, and energy levels.

Let’s explore the 9 best dog breeds for first-time owners, considering their adaptability, trainability, and overall compatibility with beginner pet parents.

Why Breed Matters for First-Time Owners

Choosing the right breed is crucial for first-time dog owners for several reasons:

  • Temperament: Different breeds have different temperaments, and selecting a breed whose personality aligns with your lifestyle and preferences is essential.
  • Size: The size of the dog matters, especially if you live in a small apartment or have limited outdoor space. Smaller breeds are often more suitable for compact living spaces.
  • Exercise Needs: Some breeds require more exercise than others. Choosing a breed that matches your activity level and commitment to daily exercise is essential.
  • Trainability: First-time owners may prefer easier breeds to train and be more willing to please.
  • Grooming Requirements: Long-haired breeds may require regular grooming, which is an essential consideration for those with busy schedules.

Labrador Retriever dog breed looking for you

Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retrievers are often dubbed the “perfect family dog” for a reason. Their friendly and gentle nature makes them an ideal choice for first-time owners. Labradors are highly trainable, affectionate, and eager to please. They also get along well with children and other pets, making them a versatile and popular choice for families.

golden retriever dog breed picture

Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are another excellent option for first-time owners. Known for their intelligence and friendly disposition, these dogs are quick learners and highly sociable. They thrive on human interaction and are often great with children, making them a loving addition to any household.

beagle dog breed picture


Beagles are small to medium-sized dogs known for their loving and friendly personalities. They are curious by nature and enjoy exploring their surroundings. Beagles are relatively easy to train, and their compact size makes them suitable for apartment living. They are also known for their gentle temperament, making them an excellent choice for families with kids.

english bulldog breed picture


Bulldogs may have a tough exterior but are gentle giants at heart. They are calm, laid-back, and love lounging around the house. Bulldogs don’t require a lot of exercise and are relatively low-maintenance, which can be a relief for first-time owners. Their affectionate nature and loyalty make them excellent companions.

poodle dog breed picture


Poodles come in various sizes, including standard, miniature, and toy, making them adaptable to different living situations. They are brilliant and eager to please, which makes training a breeze. Poodles are also known for their hypoallergenic coat, making them suitable for allergy sufferers.

cocker spaniel dog breed picture

Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniels are known for their cheerful and affectionate personalities. They are friendly dogs that enjoy being part of a family. Their moderate exercise needs and trainability make them suitable for first-time owners. Cocker Spaniels are known for their beautiful, silky coats requiring regular grooming.

male and female shih tzu dogs breed

Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus are small, friendly dogs with charming personalities. They are well-suited to apartment living due to their compact size and low exercise requirements. Shih Tzus are known for their long, flowing coats requiring regular grooming. Their sweet disposition and adaptability make them a favorite among novice dog owners.

maltese dog breed picture


Maltese dogs are tiny bundles of joy, perfect for people living in smaller spaces. They are known for their elegant appearance and gentle temperament. Maltese dogs are relatively low-maintenance in terms of exercise and are well-suited to a relaxed lifestyle. However, their long, silky coats require regular grooming to keep them looking their best.

bichon frise dog breed picture

Bichon Frise

Bichon Frises are cheerful, affectionate, and highly sociable dogs. They efficiently train and adapt well to different living situations, including apartments. Bichon Frises have a curly, hypoallergenic coat that is relatively easy to maintain. Their friendly nature and love for companionship make them an excellent choice for first-time owners.

Mixed-Breed Dogs

While we’ve discussed some of the best purebred dog breeds for first-time owners, it’s worth noting that mixed-breed dogs can also make fantastic pets. Mixed-breed dogs often exhibit a combination of traits from various breeds, which can result in unique and charming personalities.

Adopting a mixed-breed dog from a shelter or rescue organization provides a loving home to a needy dog and can be a rewarding experience for first-time owners.


Bringing a dog into your life as a first-time owner is a decision filled with joy and responsibility. Choosing the right breed can significantly impact your overall experience, and it’s essential to consider factors such as temperament, size, exercise needs, and grooming requirements.

The breeds mentioned in this article are excellent options for novice pet parents. However, remember that every dog is an individual, and their personality will also play a significant role in your shared journey.


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How can I ensure my first-time dog ownership experience is successful and enjoyable?

To ensure a successful and enjoyable first-time dog ownership experience, focus on training, socialization, and consistent routines. Provide plenty of exercise, love, and attention.

Which of these breeds would be best suited for a household with small children?

Labrador and Golden Retrievers are known to be excellent with kids due to their gentle nature. However, every dog’s temperament can vary. Constantly monitor interactions between dogs and young children.

What’s the lifespan of these dog breeds?

Due to their unique health concerns, Bulldogs have a shorter lifespan of around 8 to 10 years. Smaller breeds like Maltese and Shih Tzus often have longer lifespans, averaging 12 to 15 years or more.

How can I determine if a specific breed suits a family with young children?

Look for breeds with gentle and patient temperaments. Breeds like Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and Beagles are often great choices for families with children.

Can a small apartment accommodate larger dog breeds?

While it’s possible to have a giant breed in a small apartment, providing them with enough exercise and mental stimulation is essential. Some larger breeds, like Great Danes, can adapt well to apartment living if their exercise needs are met.

How can I determine the exercise needs of a particular breed?

You can research a breed’s exercise requirements but also consider your lifestyle. A more energetic breed might be suitable if you’re an active person who enjoys outdoor activities.


1 Comment

  1. NewDogOwnerNick

    As a first-time dog owner, I found this article super helpful! Can you share more about the grooming needs of these breeds?

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