Best Dogs for First-Time Owners

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Thinking about being a first-time dog owner is thrilling and exciting, but it’s something that shouldn’t be rushed. A big congrats (and thank you) for due-diligencing the dog breed selector phase. Simply put, some dogs are easier to handle than others. Several breeds need a dominant owner with a dog-owning background. So what are the best dogs for first time owners?

what are the best dogs for first time owners?

The best dogs for first-time owners include:

  1. Basset Hound
  2. Bernese Mountain Dog
  3. Bichon Frise
  4. Boston Terrier
  5. Boxer
  6. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  7. Golden Retriever
  8. Great Dane
  9. Greyhound
  10. Havanese
  11. Labrador Retriever
  12. Maltese
  13. Papillon
  14. Pomeranian
  15. Poodle
  16. Pug
  17. Shetland Sheepdog
  18. Shih Tzu
  19. Whippet
  20. Yorkshire Terrier

If you’re ready to jump into the dog-owning world, you have come to the right place. We are breaking down the top 20 best dogs for novice owners. These dogs are easy to handle and come with their own advantages and disadvantages. So pay close attention and remember — you’re only a few moments away from finding the puppy of your dreams!

Best Dogs for First Time Owners: Top 20 in 2024

best dog breeds for first time owners

Note: these aren’t in first-to-worst order, because you need to study each to find the perfect pooch for your situation.

Without further ado, here they are (and why they are the best dog breeds for first time owners):

1. Basset Hound

Originally a hunter, the Basset Hound knows a thing or two about loyalty. That makes him a loyal pal to his family and will stand by them no matter what.

Basset Hounds

But it’s not just the loyalty that makes him the best dog for novice owners — it’s also his temperament and low-maintenance that sets him apart from the crowd.

The Basset Hound has an overall calm demeanor. They are well-mannered and will obey their owner. It’s important to provide the Basset Hound with a good amount of exercise, though. This breed has a tendency to become obese as they prefer to sit around all day rather than become active. He’s also a big drooler!

2. Bernese Mountain Dog

Looking for a dog that is larger than life but a gentle giant? Then let us introduce you to the Bernese Mountain Dog.

Bernese Mountain Dog

This dog might look like a brute of a dog, but he is known for his calm temperament and loving nature. That’s why he is known as being one of the best dogs for novice owners who want a large-sized pooch.

Not only is the Bernese Mountain Dog a sweet guy, but he is also very intelligent — but not so much so that he can outsmart his owner. With proper training, he will be one of the best dogs you will ever own. Just make sure that he gets enough exercise. The Bernese Mountain Dog loves to hike!

3. Bichon Frise

If there is one dog that you can always turn to, no matter your situation, it’s the Bichon Frise. This adorable ball of white fur looks like a playful, bouncy cotton ball that just can’t wait to sit on your lap or play a game. He’s adaptable to almost any situation. He enjoys kids and the elderly alike, making him a great family choice.

Bichon Frise - best dogs for first time owners

As far as temperament is concerned, the Bichon Frise tends to always be jolly. His easy-going nature means no run-ins with stubbornness or unwanted attitudes. This same quality also ensures he is an easily trainable pooch that obeys his owners. 

The Bichon Frise doesn’t need a whole lot of exercise to remain happy. While a walk here and there will offer enjoyment, he can typically get his energy out by running around the home. 

The biggest drawback to the Bichon Frise is that he needs a lot of grooming. His loveable cotton ball of fur will need to be brushed daily and trimmed regularly. He will need to visit the groomers often to ensure his coat is in tip-top shape. To keep grooming needs at bay, consider grooming the Bichon Frise’s hair extra short.

4. Boston Terrier

The Boston Terrier is one of the most versatile dogs you will ever run into. That is because he will adapt to his family in no time, which is why he is one of the best dogs for beginners.

Boston Terrier and buddy

Active family?

The Boston Terrier instantly tries to keep up with a competitive attitude.

Prefer to laze around?

Then the Boston Terrier will be your couch pal.

He is known as the “Buddy”, and for good reason, too. The Boston Terrier loves everyone and doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. He loves people of all shapes and sizes and will snuggle up to literally anyone. This not only shows his calm temperament but his willingness to listen and be a great furry friend.

5. Boxer

If you are someone who enjoys exercising and heading out for a fun activity such as hiking, then the Boxer might be your best choice.

Boxer dog and ball

The boxer is a medium-sized dog that is loaded with energy. He will love to go on adventures with his family. He is also a loving and playful pal. He is great with children of all ages and can keep up with their energy.

Another major plus to the Boxer — aside from his big, pouty eyes — is that he trains easily and actually enjoys it. Make sure he is trained and socialized at a young age for the best results. When done as a pup, the Boxer grows into a loyal guardian that respects and obeys readily.

The Boxer doesn’t need a whole lot of grooming. His coat is very low-maintenance. A brushing here and there is enough to keep his coat in prime condition. 

6. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

With large pools of brown eyes and long, floppy ears, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is without a doubt one of the cutest breeds that have ever lived. But his cute factor isn’t the only thing that draws people to adopt him. He is also notably one of the best dogs for beginners due to his overall temperament and personality.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

When it comes to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, one thing you will notice right off the bat is his gentle demeanor. He always seems to be calm and in control, even when playing with small children. The small, attentive pup tends to be on the quiet side and is very affectionate with his loved ones.

Despite his long, gorgeous coat, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel doesn’t require excessive grooming. Brushing is essential. The coat can become tangled if not brushed at least a few times a week.

Energy-wise, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is fairly calm overall. He doesn’t need more than a few walks throughout the week to keep him happy. Otherwise, he is perfectly fine strolling the home to get his energy out.

7. Golden Retriever

One breed that instantly comes to mind when you think of “ideal family dog”, it’s the Golden Retriever. But he isn’t just a superior choice for families — he also happens to be one of the best dog breeds for first-time owners, too.

Golden Retrievers are one of the best dog breeds for first time owners

This medium-to-large-sized pooch is known for his loyalty and active nature. He’s a smart cookie that trains easily and is eager to please his family. This creates a dog that is always willing to listen and will go above and beyond to make his loved ones happy.

While he is a fun-loving and affectionate dog, he is also one that requires a good amount of exercise. Playing games and going for runs are some of the Golden Retriever’s favorites. Without enough exercise he can become bored and his physical health will suffer.

It’s no wonder why the Golden Retriever is one of the most popular breeds in the entire world. From his loving and playful attitude to his eagerness to please, this dog is a must-have in any home. He’s also great with children of all ages and only needs to be brushed a few times a week to keep his coat healthy and sleek.

8. Great Dane

Another dog who is seemingly larger than life itself is the Great Dane. His big stature might be daunting, especially to new dog owners. But don’t let his humongous size fool you…

Great Dane puppy and first time dog owner

The Great Dane, in reality, is a lazy bug that would prefer to hang out on the couch than be rambunctious and playful.

When it comes to temperament, the Great Dane is known for being calm and in control. He’s also a bit on the goofy side and will love to be silly with his owners. Upkeep of his coat is also a cinch and a few brushes here and there will keep his short coat in line.

9. Greyhound

The Greyhound was originally bred for racing. This makes a lot of first-time dog owners weary. But just because he can sprint like lightning, doesn’t mean he intends to do so. In actuality…

Greyhound couch potato

…the Greyhound is really a couch potato at heart. He requires very minimal exercise. A quick burst of energy is enough for the Greyhound.

Aside from their low energy requirements, the Greyhound should also be considered because of his affectionate nature. He is a very calm dog that can work well in a variety of situations. He’s good with kids, but he might see smaller animals as prey. It might be best for this breed to live alone with the family.

10. Havanese

If you are looking for a ball of lively fluff, then the Havanese is your answer. This cute dog is one of the best dogs for beginners because he is so easy to take care of.

Havanese dog

The Havanese also comes with a highly playful attitude. He loves to play games and make up games to play with his loved ones. This makes him an ideal pick for families.

Now, one thing to keep in mind with the Havanese is that he craves a lot of attention. He does not prefer to be left alone. Whether it’s snuggling, playing, or being brushed, the Havanese loves all types of attention.

And speaking of brushing, he will need plenty of it. Daily brushing combined with professional groomer visits is essential to the health of his coat. 

11. Labrador Retriever

Much like the Golden Retriever, the Labrador Retriever is another extremely popular dog that is found in homes (especially homes with kids) across the country.

best dogs for first time owners: Labrador Retriever

This is due to the fact that the Labrador Retriever is loyal to a fault and overly affectionate with his loved ones. Labs still have that fun, playful energy that kids and adults alike will enjoy.

The Labrador Retriever is another smart fellow who will train easily. In fact, you can train this breed to do almost anything. He needs a lot of exercises to keep him happy, though. Frisbee, fetch, and running is some fun activities for this breed. Without proper exercise, the Labrador Retriever can become destructive and has a tendency to become overweight.

Grooming needs are basic for the Labrador. With that being said, as long as he’s exercised thoroughly throughout the day, he’s a fairly low-maintenance dog. He will enjoy spending the night snuggling with his owners.

12. Maltese

The Maltese is one of the smallest dog breeds you can own, with most weighing only up to 7 pounds. The little guy can become drenched in his long hair. He will need regular grooming to ensure he doesn’t become completely overloaded by his lengthy, beautiful coat.

This breed was originally bred for love — it’s that simple. He loves to be loved, and he loves to give love. He’s a lap dog that will offer you the affection, gentleness, and companionship you could ever hope for. Be careful with this dog and small children. Since the Maltese are so tiny, he can get hurt easily.

13. Papillon

The Papillon is one of the best dogs for novice owners because he is friendly and easily trainable. However, despite his small stature, he still enjoys a fairly active lifestyle and won’t want to laze around all day like some miniature-sized pooches. Don’t let that sway you, though. A quick walk or run is enough to keep him satisfied.

The only drawback to the Papillon is that his small stature makes him weary around children. While he is typically friendly, kids will need to be extra gentle while playing with him due to his petite size.

Aside from that, the Papillon makes a great choice for new dog owners. Just make sure to brush his coat a few times a week to keep it healthy. 

14. Pomeranian

Although the Pomeranian may look like a tiny lion, this dog breed is actually extremely dainty and is one of the best dogs for novice owners. This is because he is a sweet dog that is notably one of the top “lapdogs”. He would much rather cuddle on the couch all day with his owner than go out and play.

As far as grooming is concerned, don’t be fooled by his big, fluffy coat. The Pomeranian only requires a good brushing a few times a week. 

Keep in mind that the Pomeranian, while dainty and cute, can still have a bit of a feisty personality at times. You can stave off his stubbornness with proper training, preferably done at a young age. You will need to be consistent and positive with this breed to keep them “in line”. 

15. Poodle

Does the Poodle really need an explanation? There is a reason why this lovable breed is one of the most commonly found breeds inside the home. His high level of intelligence ensures that he can be trained swiftly and obey. This smartness is counteracted by a playful personality that is great for children of all ages.

The only thing to keep in mind when it comes to the Poodle is that they require a lot of exercise daily and will need to be groomed regularly. After all, those delightful curly coats need to be maintained to stay so darling! 

The Poodle is known for being smart, adaptable, active, and loyal. These are things you can expect whether you opt for the toy, miniature, or standard-sized dog. He’s one of the best dog breeds for first-time owners and anyone will enjoy having this bundle of curly cuteness in their home.

16. Pug

With an adorable “smashed” looking face, the Pug is a popular breed that can easily be spotted. However, their face is also what stands in their way from being energetic, healthy pooches. One should consider the potential money needed for veterinarian trips as the short snout of the Pug can lead to health problems of all varieties.

If you’re willing to take the chance on a Pug, you will be very glad you did. These loving and fun dogs have a low energy level. This means that they are top-notch snugglers that won’t mind spending all day lazing around with their loved ones. 

The coat of the Pug is very low-maintenance. It’s short and easy to take care of. Just a few swipes with a brush is all these charming little tank needs. 

17. Shetland Sheepdog

Although the Shetland Sheepdog might look like a Collie, he is his own breed — and an excellent one for first-time dog owners at that. The Shetland Sheepdog is known for his fun and quirky personality that will leave everyone in the family laughing and smiling. He enjoys learning tricks and showing off!

The Shetland Sheepdog is a fun-loving, playful pal that will enjoy spending time with his loved ones. He requires a decent amount of energy as he is a rather agile pooch. 

The major downside to the Shetland Sheepdog is he is a known barker. Proper training is necessary to combat this. He is also a natural herder and may try to herd everyone in the house — animals and humans included.

18. Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is a fun, tiny-sized pooch that is surprisingly chock-full of energy. He truly enjoys running around with children of all ages and will love to expel some energy performing some fun activities.

But being an adorable ball of energy isn’t the only selling point when it comes to the Shih Tzu. For the most part, he is a great listener and you shouldn’t run into any stubbornness — as long as he is trained properly.

As far as grooming is concerned, the Shih Tzus long coat will need regular grooming. His coat is fairly high-maintenance. Brush it daily and provide trips to a professional groomer for proper trimming.

19. Whippet

You might not think that having a dog that’s built and bred for racing is a great choice for a new owner. Think again! The Whipper is undeniably one of the best dogs for first-time homeowners for a variety of reasons, including low energy and easy trainability.

Don’t let the Whippet deceive you. Although he is specifically bred for racing, he is a total couch potato. He is actually a great choice for apartment complexes. This is due to his low energy needs. Just a quick run is enough to keep him happy. Remember — he might be fast, but his endurance is very low.

The Whippet is fairly smart and can be trained quickly. One important thing to remember, though, is that he should never be left without a leash. This pooch has a tendency to run and he will follow his nose if offered the chance.

20. Yorkshire Terrier

The Yorkshire Terrier has a distinctive, adorable appearance which is why so many people are drawn to them. He is known for being a sweet little lap dog that will stay by your side all day and night. He is a true cuddler at heart, and only requires a little bit of exercise throughout the day to keep him satisfied.

The major concern with the Yorkie is his stubborn streak. But don’t worry. Although the Yorkshire Terrier has a tendency to become stubborn and vocal, this can easily be combated with thorough training. Try and have your Yorkie trained at a young age and stay consistent with him.

While the Yorkie is a loyal fellow known for being one of the best dogs for novice owners, it’s important to note that his coat is not low-maintenance. His coat seems to endlessly and effortlessly grow. Regular grooming is essential. He will need his coat trimmed and brushed regularly.


Becoming a first-time dog owner can be daunting, but don’t let fear cloud your excitement. These 19 dog breeds are known for being the best dogs for first-time dog owners.

You can find happiness with anyone of these adorable pooches, whether you opt for the slightly more active Boxer or prefer the love and affection from a Maltese lap dog.

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