12 Best Dogs for First Time Owners (+ the Worst One)

Bringing a dog to your life requires dedication. Your dog will depend on you for everything in his life; food, exercise, bath breaks. That’s a huge responsibility. So the less maintenance the breed has, the more chances it will be among the best dogs for first-time owners.

You might be flexible about what you’re looking for in a dog, apart from easy grooming and training. Still, you probably have a few preferences for size, coat style, energy level, and friendliness. If you’re looking for a lazy lap dog, it’s best to avoid high-energy dog types. If you want a dog that will run with you, pick an energetic dog with stamina, etc.

So I hope the following list will provide you some food for thought.

Are you interested in a particular breed for first-time dog owners? Then use the table of contents below to jump to the most relevant section. And you can always go back by clicking on the black arrow in the right bottom corner of the page. Also, please note that some of the links in this article may be affiliate links. For more details, check the Disclosure section at the bottom of the page. 


best first dog boxer

If you’re looking for a medium-large high-energy breed, look no further than the playful Boxer. It might be one of the best dogs for beginners. This is a faithful dog who has a close friendship with the owners. If you’re leading a reasonably active lifestyle, a boxer may be for you. This breed requires a lot of exercises and a solid base for training. The necessities of the Boxer grooming are very simple.

While young Boxers can be a little hyperactive, they are not difficult to train. When educated and socialized, Boxers can excel in active households and often get along well with children. Keepers by nature, Boxers naturally protect their families, particularly their children.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

 good dogs for first time owners

There are really cheerful little puppies. And easy dogs to take care of. They have a significantly shorter nose than pugs, but they might also have similar health issues. This breed is a sporty sort, but it loves cuddles as well. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is sweet to everyone and is the perfect dog to be the owner for the first time.

And these dogs are also smart breeds that shed less than other flowing coats breeds. These dogs are playful, but their energy level is manageable and easy to handle.

Golden Retriever

dog breed for beginners

One of the easiest dogs to own, Golden Retrievers are considered empathetic, kind, family-oriented dogs, not to mention super cute. Although it’s a big dog, Goldies sometimes believe they’re lapdogs. They make perfect pets for newbie owners with a background on pet ownership. They’re often the right dog to have the first owner who likes big doggos.


best dog breeds for first-time owners papilon

For such a tiny dog, the butterflies can be very quiet. And they’re considered to be extremely easy to train. According to the American Kennel Club, “they’re outstanding agility dogs.”

And that’s probably why Papillons are really lively dogs. It may not be desirable to select this breed if you will not be involved in raising and training it, though. And since they are small, this breed is possibly one of the best dogs for first-time owners if you live in an apartment. 


good dogs for first time owners collie

Although a big, energetic dog, the Collie is a loyal, affectionate, and committed family dog, particularly with children. So they are probably can be considered one of the best guard dogs for first-time owners. They can also be couch potatoes, as they require regular walks. Despite the huge coat of Rough Collie, they only need to be brushed once a week, although the need for brushing may increase during the shedding season. Collies are also a very clean breed and are considered not to have a doggie odor.


first-time dog owner poodle

One of the best beginner dogs, the Poodle, is an incredibly smart breed that excels in all sorts of dog sporting activities. The breed comes in three size types, which may lead to the fact that Poodle is also one of the most common breeds. The Poodle can handle almost any size of living quarters. His hypoallergenic coat can minimize allergic reactions but needs grooming knowledge to be maintained.


best first dogs, dogs for beginners pugs

Who’s not in love with these squishy faces? Pugs are perfect dogs for the inexperienced owner. They are very low maintenance and active enough to not let you relax for too long. Pugs have great personalities, and you’d be shocked to see them as funny little guys who end up being everyone’s’ favorite. And pugs can live very long too, so you’ll have years of fun and bonding experiences together. 

Shih Tzu

dog breed for beginners shih tzu

Shih Tzu’s are among the most intelligent and knowledgeable dogs out there, making them one of the best first dogs. On top of being smart, they are alert, affectionate, outgoing, and loyal.

If you live alone, have a roommate, or have a family, the Shih Tzu will suit your first dog wonderfully. This breed is also ideal for staying in an apartment. But don’t their gorgeous coat trick you. This breed is shedding a little and is not drooling. Although daily grooming is essential to maintain a classy look. It’s still relatively easy and can be a fantastic bonding experience. 


dogs for first-time owners greyhound

One of the best dog breeds for first-time owners, the noble, dignified Greyhound is a low-maintenance pet that thrives on your affection but does not require a lot of grooming. They’re known for their pace, but they’re not mainly involved at home and enjoy just hanging out with you. This is a no-drama dog whose only downside is that it can be unsafe for cats to get this breed (if you are a cat owner).


best dog breeds for first-time owners pomeranian

These little fuzz balls are sweet small lap dogs. This breed is bright and moderately active with a thick, fluffy coat. Luckily, this coat isn’t as high-maintenance as it seems. Daily brushing is usually all you need to do to keep your Pom looking fine. Generally enough, simple daily exercise is enough to keep your Pom satisfied.

Poms require basic training to have structure and boundaries. Without preparation, the nasty and stubborn side of the breed can come out. Luckily, they respond well to regular, positive training and will excel because of it. The Pom also attaches close to a single owner, but can still do well in families. 

 Labrador Retriever

best first dogs, dogs for beginners lab

The labs make our list as one of the large dog breeds for first-time owners. They have it all: they’re smart, affectionate, and enthusiastic, all bundled up in an adorable package that somehow manages not to be overwhelming: they’re easy to train and easy to groom. This, along with their fun and affectionate disposition, is one reason why they are always selected as service dogs.

Although they are great with children and always protective and compassionate, they should not be left alone with little ones. Accidents can happen, weighing up to 80 pounds.

Despite the short length of their coats, Labs do need a little brushing. Expect to vacuum the carpets and furniture daily. Other than that, this breed is a breeze. 


maltese good breed for beginners

There is a reason why Maltese are released in all dog food shops. Their tiny stomachs make it inexpensive to own them. And their cute fluffy faces, coupled with their intellect, make them the perfect first-time dog breed and one of the most intelligent small dogs.

They are very easy to train, and even owners should have few issues for the first time.

They can be ideal even in case when living conditions are limited.

Worst dogs for first-time owners

bad dog for beginners

The number one breed that vets would warn dog owners to avoid for the first time? The Akita. The Akita. They are lovely dogs, but they shed heavily. These dogs are big and heavy — stubborn enough to overpower even very engaged and experienced dog owners. An Akita takes at least 20 to 30 minutes of walking per day. And due to his powerful prey drive, he must stay on the leash all the time.

They still want to be the pack leader and need some firm-hand training. The temperament of the breed can vary from calm to aggressive. So they should always be controlled around small children and other animals.

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