The 7 Best Dogs for First-Time Owners

Leaping into becoming a first-time dog owner can be an exhilarating yet overwhelming experience. The sheer variety of dog breeds available, each with its own distinct personality and care requirements, can make finding the perfect furry friend seem like a daunting challenge. Here are breeds that are especially well-suited for newcomers to the world of dog ownership. 

Best Dogs for First-Time Owners

A close up of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is awesome for first-time dog owners due to its endearing qualities and manageable needs. Known for their loving nature and puppy-like looks, these dogs are a delightful addition to various types of households. They are especially great with kids, making them a perfect family pet.


In terms of size, Cavaliers are small but sturdy, boasting a gentle and elegant demeanor. They are attentive and typically quiet, creating a peaceful cohabitation experience. Their energy levels are moderate, requiring just basic exercise to keep them healthy and happy.


Training a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is fairly straightforward. They respond well to basic training, making the process enjoyable for both owner and pet. Despite their medium-length coat, their grooming needs are not overly demanding. Daily brushing is necessary to prevent their hair from tangling but does not require professional grooming frequently.

A white papillon on a open road


The Papillon, despite its petite stature, is a versatile and robust breed, making it an excellent choice for first-time dog owners. This cheerful and adaptable breed fits well in various home settings, proving to be a delightful addition with its friendly demeanor. While Papillons are good with children, it's essential that the kids treat them gently due to their small size.


Papillons are sturdy little dogs that enjoy a moderately active lifestyle. They can easily transition from being a snuggly lap dog to an energetic playmate, offering the best of both worlds. While they don't need excessive exercise, they do appreciate opportunities to play and run around, keeping them happy and healthy.


Training a Papillon is generally straightforward, and their grooming needs are moderate, which adds to their appeal to first-time owners. Regular brushing is required to maintain their straight, long, single-layer coat.


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A small brown cute Shih Tzu pupp

Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is a smaller breed with a big heart. This makes it an excellent choice for first-time dog owners. Originating from China, this breed thrives on familial affection and companionship. They enjoy both lounging next to their owners during relaxing moments and engaging in playful activities with the kids.


Shih Tzus are not high-energy dogs, nor are they known for excessive barking, making them great for peaceful households. They do need an owner committed to regular grooming due to their long, silky coats. Brushing several times a week is essential to avoid tangles. 


Despite their luxurious coats, Shih Tzus surprisingly shed very little, which is a bonus for those who prefer a cleaner living space. They also have life spans of up to 18 years

A close up of a Golden Retreiver during sunset

Golden Retriever

Dog owners widely love the Golden Retriever. This intelligent breed was originally bred to assist gamekeepers by retrieving shot waterfowl. It works well in both agility and obedience competitions, making them a great option for those who want an active canine partner. 


Golden Retrievers are also known to be loyal and gentle, happy to cuddle up with their owners or children. They can also learn a variety of commands quickly, making them obedient and reliable companions. 


As far as grooming is concerned, Golden Retrievers need more maintenance than other breeds due to their thick coats that require regular brushing and occasional trimming. However, since they shed heavily once or twice per year, daily brushing and vacuuming are recommended to keep their coats in top condition.

A close up of a baby Yorkie

Yorkshire Terrier

The Yorkie, also known as the Yorkshire Terrier, is a delightful little dog breed that typically weighs around 4 to 7 pounds and stands at a height of up to 9 inches. These adorable creatures are famous for their affectionate nature and unwavering loyalty, which makes them wonderful companions for any family. They're also generally very friendly with strangers as long as they’re properly socialized. 


Despite their tiny size, Yorkies have surprisingly strong personalities and can make great watchdogs. They're smart enough to quickly learn commands but also independent enough not to need constant supervision or attention from their owners. Yorkies have a long, silky fur that requires regular grooming to prevent mats and tangles. 

Two Bernese mountain dogs laying down on a hardwood floor

Bernese Mountain Dog

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a larger breed that stands between up to 28 inches tall and weighs between 70 and 115 pounds. Despite their size, they are gentle giants known for being loyal and devoted family pets. 


Berners love spending time with people, so they'll need a good amount of attention to stay happy and healthy. They get along well with other dogs and children, making them great pets for families. 


The Bernese Mountain Dogs have thick, double-layered coats that require daily brushing and occasional professional grooming. 

A side view of a Golden Doodle puppy wearing a vest

Mixed Breed Pups

If you’re looking for a canine companion and aren't sure what breed suits you, consider adopting a mixed-breed pup. Mixed-breed puppies often exhibit the finest qualities of their parents and can be just as devoted, affectionate, and reliable as purebred dogs. 

Another advantage of choosing a mixed breed puppy is that they typically have fewer health issues compared to purebreds. This is because they possess fewer genetic susceptibilities to specific illnesses. 

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Best Dogs for First-Time Owners

When choosing a dog as a first-time dog owner, it's important to take into account the specific traits of different breeds and how they align with your lifestyle. 

It's advisable to steer clear of breeds that require advanced training, extensive grooming, or have ingrained working instincts. Instead, opt for breeds that match your lifestyle and experience level for a loving and harmonious companionship.

Related: Should You Get a Puppy if You Work Full Time?

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