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10 Best Dog Breeds for First-Time Owners

So, you’re thinking about welcoming a dog to your home...that’s great news! Raising a furry friend is truly a rewarding experience. As you prepare to become a first-time dog parent, remember that getting a new pup is a long-term commitment. After all, you’ll be bringing them into their forever home! That’s why it’s important to consider breeds that are sociable, easy to train, and complementary to your lifestyle. 

To help you on your search, we’ve compiled a list of the best dog breeds for first-time owners along with information on each pooch. Whether you want a furry friend who is large, small, a bundle of energy, or an occasional couch potato, there’s sure to be a breed for you! 

#1: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel 

cavalier king charles spaniel

The graceful Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, or “Cavalier,” is a charming choice for first-time pet parents. An ideal companion, this devoted breed loves interaction and can easily adapt to suit any lifestyle! 

Temperament: Affectionate and easygoing, Cavaliers are known for their friendliness. They are smart, easy to train, and one of the more patient small dog breeds. Their cheerful personalities allow them to get along well with people of all ages. 

Grooming: Cavaliers are occasional shedders. To avoid tangles in their long and silky coat, they require brushing several times a week. Cavaliers’ ears should also be combed and cleaned often. 

Exercise: Cavaliers will gladly match the activity level of their pet parents. As long as this breed enjoys a daily walk or another form of moderate exercise, they will be perfectly happy lounging around the house the rest of the day.  

Fun Fact: A 16th-century prescription written for the Queen of England directed her to keep this comfort dog on her lap to treat a cold, according to a post by National Purebred Dog Day

Learn more about the gentle Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

#2: Labrador Retriever 

Labrador Retriever

It's no wonder Labrador Retrievers are the most popular dog breed in the United States. Outgoing and warmhearted, these enthusiastic dogs love to have fun! 

Temperament: Labrador Retrievers are obedient, good-natured dogs. They are able-bodied, energetic, and easily trainable. Good for first-time pet parents, Labs are not particularly sensitive and easily forgive the occasional mishap. 

Grooming: Labs shed regularly and their double coat needs weekly brushing.  

Exercise: This athletic breed loves playing fetch and requires about an hour of daily exercise. Labs’ enthusiasm makes them one of the best first-time dog breeds for active households. 

Fun Fact: According to CBS News, Labs were named America’s most popular dog breed for the 30th consecutive year in 2021. 

Discover more about the spirited Labrador Retriever.  

#3: Pug 

pug

Pugs’ small, sturdy bodies and wrinkled faces have enchanted pet parents for centuries. With a sense of humor and a bit of spunk, this laidback dog breed is a real pleasure. Because their flat faces make it harder to breathe, Pugs do best in moderate temperatures, according to Pug Time

Temperament: Pugs are friendly, even-tempered dogs who love to be loved. They are easy to train because of their tender, pleasing personality. Pugs are also in tune with people’s emotions and should not be left alone for extended periods, as they are prone to separation anxiety

Grooming: Despite their short and smooth coats, Pugs regularly shed. They should be brushed weekly, while the folds around their eyes require daily cleaning. 

Exercise: Pugs are on the more inactive side. As a short-faced breed, they should not be subjected to strenuous exercise. Short walks and backyard outings are keys to keeping Pugs fit, and chew toys can help to keep these pooches occupied. 

Fun Fact: Pugs kept Tibetan monks company in their monasteries during ancient times, according to ASPCA Pet Health Insurance

Read on about the cheerful Pug.  

#4: Brittany 

brittany

When considering the best dogs for first-time owners, don’t skip past the Brittany! This loyal breed is the perfect match for those who lead an active lifestyle but want a smaller, sweet pooch. 

Temperament: The smallest of the sporting dogs, Brittanys have relentless energy rivaling that of the Labrador Retriever. They are smart, sensitive, and have an upbeat personality. Brittanys are skilled at hunting and other sports due to their natural willingness to learn new things. 

Grooming: Brittanys shed seasonally but should be brushed two to three times a week. Their ears should also be checked and cleaned weekly. 

Exercise: Brittanys require lots of exercise. They have great stamina and are perfect for lively families who love the outdoors. 

Fun Fact: According to Brittany Breed Info, Brittanys have won more titles of “Dual Champion” (American Kennel Club winners in both the field and show ring) than all other Sporting breeds combined. 

Find out more about the talented Brittany

#5: Poodle 

Poodle

All three Poodle varieties—Toy, Miniature, and Standard—are excellent choices for the novice pet parent. Despite their sophisticated reputation, Poodles are fun-loving furry friends and can fit into a wide range of lifestyles! 

Temperament: Intelligent and well-behaved, Poodles are highly trainable companions. They aim to please, often forming strong bonds with their family members. Poodles are a bit reserved around strangers, but puppy socialization can help to bring out their bright, joyful personalities.

Grooming: As a hypoallergenic dog breed, Poodles are infrequent shedders, but their fashionable coats should be brushed regularly. In addition, professional grooming is recommended every four to six weeks. 

Exercise: With a muscular build, Poodles are active dogs who love to keep busy. They require frequent exercise and enjoy going for long walks. Originally bred to retrieve birds in the water, Poodles are also skilled swimmers! 

Fun Fact: The word “Poodle” is derived from the German term “pudel,” meaning “to splash about.” 

Uncover more information on the versatile Poodle

#6: Papillon 

papillon

Papillons are cheerful dogs with butterfly-wing-shaped ears that easily catch your attention. They are agile, attentive, and love to stick by their pet parent’s side. Papillons are one of the best first-time dog breeds for those wanting an all-around family dog in a smaller size! 

Temperament: Along with the Toy Poodle, Papillons are known for being among the smartest and most trainable of the Toy breeds. They are spirited and outgoing, but not high-strung. While Papillons love to play, this breed can become overwhelmed by roughhousing. 

Grooming: Papillons are seasonal shedders. Despite having long and glossy hair, this breed only requires weekly brushing.  

Exercise: These jolly, active dogs need regular mental and physical stimulation. Papillons enjoy playing with interactive dog toys and running around in the backyard.  

Fun Fact: According to a post from National Purebred Dog Day, Marie Antoinette’s Papillon named Coco lived to be 22 years old. 

#7: Golden Retriever 

golden retriever

Inherently friendly and endearing, it’s no surprise Golden Retrievers are so popular! These joyful dogs are trustworthy, reliable, and bound to return your affection with heartwarming devotion. 

Temperament: This breed is very social and gets along well with others. While playful, Golden Retrievers remain mild-mannered and seem to know what behavior is expected of them. They are tolerant, obedient, and easy to train.  

Grooming: Once or twice a year, Golden Retrievers heavily shed their double coats. This breed requires daily brushing during these times and weekly brushing throughout the rest of the year. 

Exercise: Golden Retrievers need lots of activity to remain in high spirits. Eager and willing to participate in a wide range of outdoor dog activities, this breed is great for families who love going on adventures. 

Fun Fact: It’s said that Golden Retrievers can carry an egg in their soft mouth without cracking the shell, according to the American Kennel Club

Learn more about the devoted Golden Retriever.

#8: Shih Tzu 

shih tzu

If you’re looking for an ideal lapdog, look no further! Bred to be house companions, Shih Tzus are loving snugglers who want nothing more than to be your BFF.  

Temperament: Shih Tzus have no prey drive and simply love human interaction. They are confident, even-tempered, and enjoy being pampered. This intelligent breed can be slightly harder to train because of occasional stubbornness, but a few dog training tips for beginners can help you raise a well-adjusted furry friend! 

Grooming: This breed sheds infrequently. Shih Tzus with long coats require daily brushing while those with moderate and short coats require brushing a few times a week. To protect their eyes, Shih Tzus’ top tufts of hair should be cut short or tied back. 

Exercise: Shih Tzus need minimal exercise, making them good apartment dogs. Short walks and indoor playtime are recommended to keep Shih Tzus in shape. 

Fun Fact: According to Puppies Club, Shih Tzus were introduced to the United States by military personnel returning home from World War II.  

Read more about the delightful Shih Tzu

#9: Greyhound 

greyhound
 
Though they’re synonymous with racing, Greyhounds are mellow, comfort-loving dogs who prefer plenty of snooze-time. Gentle, affectionate, and clean, these low-maintenance furry friends are one of the best dog breeds for first-time owners wanting to keep their home tidy! 

Temperament: Greyhounds are instinctively compassionate and docile. Somewhat cat-like in manner, these dignified dogs prefer peace and quiet. They require a patient approach to training but are nonaggressive and rarely bark. 

Grooming: This breed’s short, smooth coat requires occasional brushing using gentle grooming tools such as a dog grooming glove

Exercise: One of the fastest animals on Earth, Greyhounds flourish when provided ample time and space to sprint freely. If regularly given this opportunity, Greyhounds are happy to spend the rest of the day lounging about. 

Fun Fact: According to PetPlace, Greyhounds can sprint up to 45 miles per hour. 

Find out more about the independent Greyhound

#10: Bichon Frise 

bichon frise

Self-assured and outgoing, the Bichon Frise is an absolute joy of a companion. This breed has a positive outlook on life and loves to be around people and other pets. 

Temperament: Bichons are bubbly, personable pooches who enjoy being the center of attention. They thrive in dog games and competitions, and can be trained to do countless tricks. While adaptable, Bichons form strong attachments to their family members and should not be left alone frequently. 

Grooming: Bichons rarely shed and are a good choice for allergy-suffering pet parents. Even so, Bichons should be brushed regularly and visit the groomer every four to six weeks.  

Exercise: With occasional spurts of energy scattered across lengthy periods of coolness, Bichons are somewhat active and require regular exercise. This breed especially enjoys short walks and play sessions with pet parents. 

Fun Fact: Bichons were originally used by Spanish sailors as ship dogs, according to Puppy Toob

Discover more about the faithful Bichon Frise

 

→ RELATED: Types of Dog Breeds: A Quick Guide

 

First-Time Furry Friends 

If you have yet to raise a dog on your own, researching various breeds is a great learning opportunity! Choosing a pooch that is compatible with your lifestyle is crucial to the well-being of both you and your pet. If you’d like to expand your search, these furry friends are also among the best dogs for first-time owners: 

Before you know it, you’ll be forming a loving bond with a four-legged companion—no matter which breed you decide on!  

 

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