19 Best Dog Breeds for First-Time Owners

Written By Jill Taylor

Not every dog breed is suitable for a first-time owner. Some can be difficult to handle or have complex needs, especially certain working dog breeds. However, these are 19 breeds that will be excellent for first-time dog owners and are usually easier to take care of.

Labrador Retriever

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The Spruce Pets considers “Labrador retrievers” to be one “of the breeds that are well-suited to be first-time pets.” Not only are they one of the most popular dogs in America, but they’re also friendly, outgoing, and relentlessly eager to please. They get along excellently with children and other pets.

Golden Retriever

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The gentle and affectionate Golden Retriever is an amazing family dog and a perfect choice for any first-time dog owner. They’re intelligent but easy to train and love going on long walks with their families. However, they can be prone to a lot of genetic health problems.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

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First-time dog owners looking for a smaller dog should consider a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. They’re ideal for apartment life and have lower exercise needs than some larger breeds, so they’re suitable for families who aren’t as active. They’re also friendly and affectionate dogs, too.


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Although you need to be careful with pugs, as too much exercise can easily tire them out or worsen their breathing problems, they make delightful pets. They’re playful and goofy, and their short coats mean that they don’t take a lot of time to groom.


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The Beagle is another popular dog breed that many families have invited into their homes. Beagles are friendly and curious dogs that get along well with children and other dogs. While they do need regular exercise, their energy levels aren’t excessively high.

Shih Tzu

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Shih Tzus are small, sturdy, and friendly dogs that are great choices for first-time dog owners. They don’t shed as much as some other long-haired dog breeds, although they will need regular grooming to keep their fur clean and manageable.

Bichon Frise

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Anyone considering a Bichon Frise as their first dog is making an intelligent decision. Purina describes the Bichon Frise as “easy to train, adaptable and more suited to smaller households.” Their coat is hypoallergenic as well, which makes them excellent for anyone with dog hair allergies.

Boston Terrier

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The Boston Terrier is a small dog with low grooming needs, making it quite easy to care for. They don’t need to be brushed or bathed too often, and they’re friendly little dogs, too. As long as they’ve been socialized properly, they’ll get along well with people and pets.

Cocker Spaniel

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Gentle and friendly, the Cocker Spaniel is a delightful addition to any household and a great dog for inexperienced owners. They’re medium-sized, which means they can adapt to various different living environments, and they only need a moderate amount of exercise and playtime.


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Another small dog, the Maltese, has a hypoallergenic coat like the Bichon Frise, making them a good choice for dog allergy sufferers. Their gentle and playful personalities mean that they get along well with children, and their size makes them suitable for apartments as well as houses.

French Bulldog

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You might think that the Labrador Retriever is the most popular dog breed. However, ABC News reports that as of 2023, “for the second year in a row, the French bulldog has claimed the top spot as the most favorite dog in America.” They’re low-maintenance dogs that don’t shed too much.


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First-time dog owners looking for a small but friendly and outgoing companion dog should consider the Havanese. Although they need to be groomed regularly, they only shed a small amount, and they’re the perfect size for smaller houses and apartments.

Toy And Miniature Poodle

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Although the larger Standard Poodle might be a bit too much for first-time dog owners to handle, the smaller Poodle variants can be wonderful first-time dogs. They have hypoallergenic fur, and they’re quite active and playful. They can also learn a variety of fun tricks!

Shetland Sheepdog

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Some working dog breeds can be a bit ‘too much’ for first-time owners, but Shetland Sheepdogs (or Shelties) are one of the most affectionate and agreeable dog breeds. They only need a moderate amount of exercise and are incredibly loyal to their families.


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Due to their distinctive body shape, Dachshunds require special care — they can’t jump down from furniture, for example. However, their grooming is quite simple, and they are friendly and affectionate dogs.


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The Papillon gets its name from the French word for ‘butterfly’ due to its iconic butterfly-like ears. Despite the big ears, this dog breed is on the smaller side and is highly intelligent and trainable. It loves playing with its families and does need regular mental stimulation.

Yorkshire Terrier

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These small dogs certainly don’t lack in personality. Yorkshire Terriers, also known as Yorkies, are small, bold, and confident dogs that are often considered great choices for first-time dog owners. The ASPCA says they’re “known for their affection, adventurous spirit, and intelligence.”


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While the Whippet can be a speedy dog, they tend to be quite gentle and calm in the home, especially if they’ve used up all their energy outside. They’re sleek, elegant, and excellent for families with children. Their short coats are easy to maintain, too.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

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Finally, the last dog that is great for first-time owners is the Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Despite their short stature, they have a moderate energy level and will love daily walks and lots of playtime with their families. They’re also intelligent and easy to train.

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