Getting a new dog is always exciting, especially if it’s your first time.
If you’re like most beginner dog owners, you may already have an idea of the breed of dog that you want, probably based on its looks. Maybe you want a cute Yorkie that you can cuddle with at home. Or maybe you want a powerful Doberman to impress all your friends.
That said, while all dogs are equally charming and lovable, there are still some essential considerations that you must take before choosing your first breed. Not all dog breeds were created equal, which is why it’s important to narrow down your choices.
- Why Your Choice of Dog Breed Matters
- Top 10 Best Dog Breeds for Beginners
- 4 Quick Tips Before Getting Your First Dog
- Which Dog Breed Is Best for You?
Why Your Choice of Dog Breed Matters
Your choice of dog breed matters because certain dogs were originally bred to do certain things. Some dogs were bred to herd cattle, while others were bred to sit snugly on laps. This means that everything about them, especially their basic characteristics like size, temperament, energy levels, grooming requirements, and preferred environment, depends greatly on their breed.
- First of all, if you’re a beginner dog owner, it’s best to stay away from breeds that can be quite hard to train. Although training a dog can be a very satisfying and rewarding experience, it can also be quite overwhelming to beginners.Dog training has caused many frustrated dog owners to quit prematurely, when in fact they had simply chosen a breed that wasn’t meant for a newbie.
- Second, while all dogs need to be taken care of their whole lives, not all dogs require the same level of care, especially when it comes to grooming. Some dogs, like the French Bulldog, have extremely short coats and thus have very minimal grooming needs.
Others, like the Chow Chow, need to be brushed and groomed regularly to prevent their fluffy coats from becoming matted.
- Lastly, as mentioned above, you should choose a breed that will match your lifestyle. Remember, even a dog’s personality goes hand-in-hand with its breed. The activity level of even the most energetic Chihuahua, a toy dog bred to be your daily companion, is no match for that of the laziest Belgian Malinois, a working dog originally bred to herd sheep all day.
This means that if you don’t think you can dedicate enough time and effort to exercising your pet, you’re still better off with the energetic Chihuahua than the lazy Belgian Malinois.
Curious about which dog breeds are most suitable for beginners? Without further ado, here are the 10 best dog breeds for first-time owners!
Top 10 Best Dog Breeds for Beginners
1. Shih Tzu
Born without natural herding or hunting instincts, the Shih Tzu is a terrific little dog for first-time dog owners. These dogs were originally bred in ancient times to serve as the official pets of Chinese royalty. In fact, the name Shih Tzu comes from the Chinese word for “little lion,” alluding to their reputation as royal dogs.
Despite this, however, the Shih Tzu is nothing like the King of the Jungle. For one, Shih Tzus have little to no aggression because they were bred to be companion animals from the start. This makes them great family pets since you don’t have to worry about your child accidentally annoying them.
Most Shih Tzus spend the majority of the day sleeping, which is also why they don’t need a lot of space to move around. Although they can be quite playful and energetic at times, their energy tends to fizzle out after just a few minutes. They can’t stand long walks so playing fetch inside the house is typically enough exercise for the day.
Shih Tzus are complete sweethearts and are friendly to everyone they meet, even to complete strangers. If you want a guard dog, it’s best to look elsewhere, as this adorable little pup will simply welcome all guests–wanted or not–with a happy wagging tail!
2. Golden Retriever
There’s a reason why Golden Retrievers are widely considered to be the ultimate family dog. For years, they’ve always topped the charts of the best dog breeds in the world, not just for beginners, but for every aspiring dog owner in general.
Goldens are highly active dogs who can play all day without a problem. When they’re not out in the yard playing with their favorite ball, they’re probably indoors snuggling with you on the couch. Indeed, despite its high energy level, the Golden’s favorite hobby is spending time with its family.
They have such big hearts that they instantly fall in love with everyone they meet, be it an adult human, a small child, or another dog. They’re very affectionate and enjoy giving hugs and kisses as much as they love receiving them.
These dogs are highly intelligent and are very easy to train, making them an attractive choice for new owners who have no experience with dog training yet. Their gorgeous coats can be kept shiny and silky with regular brushing, which means maintenance isn’t too much of a hassle.
With all these traits, it’s no wonder everyone loves Golden Retrievers!
The Pomeranian is a dainty little dog with a fierce personality. They are the smallest dogs in the Spitz line, which includes larger, but just as furry, breeds such as the Siberian Husky, the Samoyed, and the Japanese Spitz. Despite their small frames, they’re very bold and brave, unafraid of dogs who are thrice their size.
Pompoms are very affectionate towards their owners, but the same can’t be said about children and fellow dogs. They get annoyed rather easily and wouldn’t hesitate to snap at annoying things, regardless if it’s your neighbor’s equally snappy Chihuahua or your brother’s naughty 3-year-old kid. They can still be good family pets though, provided that they’re around gentler children or quieter dogs.
Poms may have a large and fluffy coat, but they’re surprisingly not very high-maintenance. Regular brushing is required but they don’t get matted very easily. Due to their naturally feisty personality, training is absolutely required for Pompoms.
Don’t worry, they’re not very difficult to train, as Poms are highly intelligent and thrive well with consistent positive training. With an energy level that matches their big personalities, you’re definitely going to love exercising with a properly trained Pom!
4. Yorkshire Terrier
If you’re looking for an everyday companion that will give you lots of hugs and kisses, the Yorkshire Terrier is a great choice. Not only do they look elegant, but they’re also very smart as well, making them a popular breed in dog shows.
Despite its size, the Yorkie is a loyal dog that will protect you to the best of its abilities, no matter how big the opponent may be. Yorkies may love giving and receiving attention within the family, but like all terriers, they can get pretty aggressive when it comes to new faces. You should always be careful when introducing them to new playmates.
Also, training them isn’t always easy due to their stubborn personality, but their high intelligence means that they can be trained to do almost anything.
As for maintenance, Yorkies need regular grooming since their beautiful coats tend to grow long when left unattended. If you want to keep your dog’s coat shiny and silky, regular trips to the groomer are required.
Other than that, they are very playful and have high energy levels, but basic exercise and daily playtime are all you need to keep this furbaby happy and healthy.
Named after the French word for “butterfly” due to its large, wing-like ears, the Papillon is a very hardy and adaptable dog breed that thrives in all kinds of environments. In fact, Papillons thrive so well that it’s not uncommon for them to live well into their teens.
Papillons may be small, but they’re quite a big bundle of energy. Considering their petite size, they don’t actually need a lot of exercise, but they do love running around every chance they get. Although they’re classified as lap dogs, most Papillons would much rather play around the house than actually stay in your lap.
As a family pet, they get along well with other pets and children alike. Smaller kids shouldn’t be left unsupervised with this tiny breed though since the Papillon’s fragile frame can’t handle rough play well.
Papillons are also not very hard to maintain, even though they have extremely fluffy and cuddle-worthy coats. Luckily, they aren’t prone to matting so regular brushing should be enough to keep their coats smooth and silky.
They’re also very intelligent dogs that can be trained to do all types of tricks. If you’re interested in joining a dog show or two in the future, you may want to look into this breed.
Poodles are known for their longtime portrayal of a typical prim, posh, and pampered pooch. Think about the last time you saw a Poodle portrayed in media. Was it in a movie? A TV show? Whatever it is, it probably depicted a Poodle living an obviously lavish and elegant lifestyle with its equally sophisticated owner.
Indeed, the Poodle has become a popular dog breed for owners who seem to value looks and style above all else. This breed comes in three different sizes: toy, miniature, and standard. Aside from the size, Poodles typically have the same general personality. They’re very intelligent creatures who are always eager to please, making them highly trainable.
On the other hand, they can get pretty irritable without sufficient exercise and mental stimulation, so be sure to set aside some time for that in your schedule.
When it comes to grooming, Poodles can be quite high-maintenance. Their continuously growing coat can become unkempt if left for too long, which is why regular brushing is required with this breed. Since they don’t shed, however, they’re perfectly suitable even for those who tend to have fur allergies.
7. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel looks like an eternal puppy with its big eyes and fluffy coat. It’s known to be very affectionate and gentle even towards rambunctious little children, making it a great family pet.
Basic daily exercise, like a 15-minute-walk around the neighborhood, is all you need to keep this dog breed healthy and happy, as well as regular grooming due to their long coats. Outside of that, the Cavalier is a generally low-energy dog that likes sleeping and just lounging around the house.
Don’t mistake their laziness for indifference though! These dogs can suffer from separation anxiety when you leave them for too long. They tend to be quite clingy, always following you wherever you go. Indeed, there’s no such thing as private time when you’ve got this furbaby in the house!
If you’re the kind of person whose idea of a perfect weekend involves snuggling on the couch and binge-watching movies until you fall asleep, then you and the Cavalier Spaniel are a match made in heaven.
The Greyhound is an iconic large breed with the personality of a tiny little lap dog. Originally bred to be hunters, these dogs can reach top speeds of 45 miles per hour, making the Greyhound the fastest dog breed in the world.
Surprisingly, when they’re not competing in agility contests or accompanying their owners in outdoor running, Greyhounds are actually quite lazy dogs. They were designed to be sprinters, not distance runners, which means that although their energy level is high, their endurance level is not. In fact, their favorite pastimes include eating yummy treats and sleeping on soft pillows.
Greyhounds are incredibly docile and love receiving attention from their human owners, especially in the form of hugs and snuggles. They don’t mind strangers and have no problems socializing with other dogs. They’re also extremely patient around children and can be left unsupervised even with smaller kids.
That said, it’s best to keep Greyhounds away from small animals like hamsters or guinea pigs due to their hunting instincts. Even cats and rabbits are nothing but prey to the powerful Greyhound, so be sure to always keep yours within a solid fenced area.
In addition to this, Greyhounds are generally low-maintenance, but they do tend to get cold easily because of their thin coats. Putting a nice warm blanket in their bedding during colder weather is ideal.
9. Labrador Retriever
The Labrador Retriever is a large breed of dog that is very popular among families. These dogs have an even temperament that makes them very easy to care for, even for beginner dog owners.
Labs are known to be very loyal and affectionate to everyone they meet, humans or animals alike. They are extremely intelligent dogs that can be easily trained to do anything you want.
Labs also don’t need much grooming aside from regular brushing to prevent excessive shedding. Just make sure you have a lot of extra money to spend on food costs, as these gentle giants can be quite voracious eaters.
The biggest issue with Labs is that they tend to act out when they don’t get enough exercise, especially when they’re younger. They require plenty of playtimes and mental stimulation or else they’ll get bored and start chewing on your favorite couch or beloved pair of shoes.
They also don’t do well in apartment living and thrive best when they have a large space to play in. But if you’re the kind of person who is already living a healthy and active lifestyle, a Lab can be your perfect exercise companion.
10. Bichon Frise
The Bichon Frise is a great dog breed for first-time owners who live in the city. Because of their cute size and quiet nature, they’re perfect urban dwellers, able to live in a busy apartment without bothering any neighbors.
That said, it’s important to note that Bichons can suffer from separation anxiety and shouldn’t be left alone for long periods of time. If you live by yourself and you often go to work early and come home late, the Bichon is not the right dog for you.
Bichons are known to be very friendly and affectionate. Although they’re very good around children, they shouldn’t be left unsupervised with younger ones as they are quite fragile due to their size.
They are also quite attentive to commands, making them fairly easy to train. Bichons can be pretty playful sometimes but they also tend to get tired easily, so a short daily walk is usually enough to keep them fit and healthy.
Maintenance can be a problem for some due to their curly coats, which require daily brushing and grooming. If you want to spend less time on maintenance, it’s best to keep their coats as short as possible. On the upside, Bichon coats are hypoallergenic, so you don’t need to worry about this furbaby triggering your allergies.
4 Quick Tips Before Getting Your First Dog
Before you get your first dog, here are a few tips that you should keep in mind first.
Make Sure Everyone’s on Board With the Idea
If you’re living with family or friends, it’s best to let them know about your plans before surprising them with your newest buddy. Sure, dogs are definitely a joy to be with, at least for most people. But your sister or your roommate who suffers from allergies may not agree with the idea no matter how cute your pupper is.
Consider Your Finances
Beginner dog owners are often so excited about the idea of having a new pet that they forget all about the costs involved. The truth is that getting a dog can be quite costly, especially if you’re buying from reputable breeders, which you should be doing anyway (if you’re adopting that is, which we strongly recommend). Toys, foods, and other extras can add up in the long run. Don’t even mention the unexpected vet visits that can easily put a dent into anyone’s pockets.
Know the Responsibilities
In many ways, having a dog is just like having a kid, except without all the PTA meetings and the sleepovers. But unlike the kid, little Fido will never outgrow his “I need to be taken care of” phase. No matter how old he gets, he’ll never be able to prepare his own meals or draw his own bath. In other words, you can’t bring home a dog today and expect it to be self-sufficient in a few years. Make sure that you’re aware of–and that you wholeheartedly accept–all the responsibilities that come with getting a dog.
Choose a Breed That Fits Your Lifestyle
While you can choose your dog, a dog can’t choose you. So it would be incredibly cruel to choose a dog breed that doesn’t match your lifestyle and expect it to adjust anyway.
For instance, if you’re an office worker living in a 500 sq ft studio in downtown Manhattan, getting a very active German Shepherd is probably not the most brilliant idea.
Which Dog Breed Is Best for You?
Remember, owning a dog is a lifelong commitment. Be sure that you know and understand all the responsibilities before taking the plunge. Don’t be scared to ask around and do a lot of research about your preferred breeds first. You can also try reading real experiences online, hanging around dog shows or dog parks, or talking to various breeders to help you decide better.
We hope this article helped you in choosing the best dog breed for you as a first-time owner!