13 Best Dogs for First-Time Owners

12 minute read By Lucy Hughes
Reviewed by: Pawrade Team
September 17, 2022

An English Bulldog sits on top of a couple lying down in their living room.

The time has come for you to welcome a new canine best friend into your life! Owning a puppy can be one of the most rewarding experiences ever. There is nothing like a faithful companion to be your best friend and confidante.

Whether you have had your heart set on a breed since you were a child or have recently decided to add a four-legged companion to your household, looking at puppies for sale is exciting for novice puppy owners! If you have never owned a dog before, you’ll want to consider the best dogs for beginners to ensure you are ready for the responsibility that comes with raising a happy, healthy dog as a lifetime commitment, as there’s no one-paw-fits-all dog breed. We'll discuss the 13 best dogs for first-time owners and how to choose the right breed for you.  

Which Factors Make the Best Dogs for First-Time Owners?

Knowing what to consider before bringing home a new puppy will help you be as prepared as possible. Taking on more than you can handle won’t make for a good experience, to say the least. Be careful in thinking that getting a dog breed that doesn’t match your lifestyle will suddenly inspire you to have a complete lifestyle change. While they can inspire changes, you’ll have to commit to keeping up your new routine for the duration of the dog’s life, not just during a phase. 

When considering what qualities the best breeds for first-time dog owners share, it helps to take an assessment of where you are in life and who you are as a person. You want to ensure a successful match as a first-time dog owner. Grab your favorite beverage, pen, paper, and thinking cap to make a list of characteristics important for your household!



Choosing the best dogs for first-time owners starts with a little self-reflection — your dog’s personality should match yours. The best starter dogs for pet parents should all be friendly, but there are a few variations in personalities you may want to think about. Researching the temperaments of the easiest dog breeds for new pet owners and asking these questions can help you decide what you’re looking for in a dog’s personality: 

  • Do I want a go-with-the-flow dog accustomed to spirited children?
  • Am I up for the challenge of raising a stubborn dog with an independent personality? 
  • Do I need an alert guard dog breed who is also easy to raise as a member of the family?
  • Is a dog breed with a silly, hilarious personality that can make me laugh important? 
  • What dog breeds have a mellow personality?

Activity Level

Are you the type of person who prefers being cozy and snuggled up indoors, or does a day of rigorous hiking energize you? Think about your daily, weekly, and monthly activity levels. Being honest with yourself about how much you’re willing to commit to physical and mental stimulation will help you choose the right puppy for you. 

Activity levels in dogs are usually high, low, or somewhere in the middle. Dogs with low activity levels are well-suited for a laid-back household or those who prefer to move at a slower pace. But don’t let breed size fool you–some of the biggest dogs can actually be the laziest! 

If you’re looking for the best dog breed for new owners who like casual strolls around the neighborhood with an occasional visit to the dog park, a breed with a medium level of energy sounds perfect for your needs. 

A high-energy dog needs to be matched with an equally active household that has the desire to put into providing enough physical and mental stimulation the dog breed needs to stay healthy. 


Think carefully about how you live your life in all aspects. Be real with the ways in which your life will change when you get a dog. 

Do you live by yourself or have other pets, a boisterous family with young children, or a roommate? If you already own other animals, you’ll want your chosen dog breed to get along with other furry companions. If you have small children, you’ll definitely need to consider a breed that is known for being excellent and patient with children. And if you live with someone else, you must consider how amicable they are to the breed you’ve selected and take full responsibility for your new canine friend.

How often are you home? If you work from home or do not leave your house for long periods of time, a dog that craves companionship more than others might be a great choice. Gone a lot on the road? You’ll need to have boarding options calculated and lined up well in advance to secure your spot. If you like to travel with your pet, you’ll want to consider breeds that do well on long car rides with frequent changes in scenery and experiences. If your days are filled with unexpected schedule changes, you need a breed that’s easily adaptable to different situations. 

What is the right sized dog for your living space?

Whatever your living space may be, you need to choose the right-sized dog to fit your environment. For example, a small studio in a high rise is not the place to go falling in love with a large Great Pyrenees, which needs huge amounts of space to roam. If you do not own your own residence, your lease may have stipulations on certain breeds as part of their pet policy, which could also include how many animals you keep. Even if you own your own home, you still need to assess your available space. A big fenced-in backyard would be great for a dog who loves outside time and exercise. 

Do you have certain health conditions? 

First-time puppy owners will quickly realize that living with a dog can reduce stress and lift your spirits. In addition, you need to look at dog breeds that do not interfere with any limitations you may experience due to your health. If you are prone to allergies, choose a hypoallergenic puppy lacking a protein in dander and saliva that sets off allergy attacks in some people. Emotional support dogs are breeds that are more attuned to a human’s needs. They can help you function on a daily basis or be easily trained as a service dog to assist with mobility and medical needs. 

Breed-Specific Health Issues

A potential health issue can sometimes be a cause of worry, but knowing which health conditions are normal for your chosen breed as a first-time owner can help you prepare. Regardless of breed, take your dog to regularly scheduled vet visits and always stay up to date on shots, dewormers, flea, tick, and heartworm prevention, and practice good doggy dental hygiene.

Knowing which health conditions are common for your selected breed can help you recognize what is normal and how to look out for more serious conditions. It’s also important to anticipate your dog’s lifespan to be prepared to care for it throughout its lifetime.

Grooming Needs

Are you looking for low-maintenance, infrequent trips to the groomer? Perhaps you want a breed with a luxurious coat that you can style with different haircuts and accessories. Maybe daily brushing doesn’t bother you, seeing it as a chance to bond with your puppy for a few minutes every day. Doodle varieties can cost more due to needing longer times for a proper groom.

If you don’t like vacuuming every day, a heavy shedder wouldn’t be the right choice. 


Some first-time owners are up for the challenge of a stubborn breed, while others want one that catches on quickly. Others want a dog with minimal training requirements beyond the basics. Owners may want their dog to participate in a therapy training program. Perhaps you are looking for the best dog breed for new owners that excel in agility courses or fieldwork. Regardless of which breed is the best starter dog, your puppy will need to start a training program as young as possible to master the basic commands. 

13 Best Dog Breeds for First-Time Owners

You need to go beyond just the cute looks and choose a good dog breed for a first-time owner. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of the 13 best dog breeds for first-time owners of all shapes, sizes, dispositions, activity levels, and more! Reading about good breeds for first-time dog owners will help you narrow down your choices. 


1. Labrador Retriever

As one of America’s top-selling breeds for decades, Labrador Retrievers steal the show as a favorite for first-time dog owners due to their loyalty and friendliness. Their unfailing devotion to their people and eager-to-please attitude results in an easy-to-train companion. Labradors are good dogs for first-time owners because they are sweet, smart, and have friendly, outgoing personalities. Active households are a great choice for a Labrador Retriever. A healthy diet, exercise, and supplements can help your Labrador Retriever avoid obesity and joint problems.

2. Havanese 

The adaptable nature and great social skills of Havanese puppies for sale mean they are a great all-around choice for first-time puppy parents. They are intelligent, outgoing, and cheerful.

Havanese need to be brushed daily, and their long, silky, hypoallergenic coat can be styled in lots of ways. Havanese have a medium need to exercise, so take them on a brisk daily walk and get in lots of play sessions. 


3. English Bulldog 

If you’re a fan of binge-watching your favorite series, the English Bulldog may be a perfect choice for you. With their reliable, laid-back personality, English Bulldogs are best suited for residents who stay near the house like retired people, work-from-home employees, and stay-at-home parents. Despite their muscular, sturdy size, they think they are lap dogs and love being right beside their people. Their wrinkly face, snub nose, drooping jowls, and underbite make them quite the lookers! The English Bulldog loves to lounge around indoors; in fact, too much exercise can cause respiratory issues. 

4. Golden Retriever

It’s hard not to smile when a Golden Retriever bounds into a room with his friendly grin, adorable face, and enthusiasm for life! Easy to train, this affectionate breed is an active, gentle family dog because they are patient and attentive to kids – an all-around solid breed for first-time dog owners. While they are an excellent dog for beginners, keep in mind that Goldens do shed quite a lot with their double coat, so be prepared to stay on top of daily brushing and vacuuming.

5. Poodle

Did you know Poodles come in 3 sizes: Standard, Miniature, and Toy? This playful, loving breed loves to cuddle with its owners. Poodles are one of the healthiest dog breeds with the least amount of medical issues, making them a good dog breed for first-time owners worried about vet bills. However, it’s important to remember that these elegant athletes need daily exercise. Toy and Mini Poodles play non-stop and are always up for an adventure as your portable pal. As a hypoallergenic dog breed, they don’t shed but do require regular brushing and grooming. You may choose to keep their coat style and length in a variety of available cuts. 


6. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy for sale is one of the most versatile dogs on our list. Their friendly attitude and gentle personality are a fantastic fit for everyone, from babies to seniors, individuals, and families. This “velcro” dog thrives on having a strong bond with its family and is very easy to train when motivated with treats. A Cavalier’s regal, silky coat does not need much maintenance beyond regular brushing and baths.

7. Italian Greyhound

The Italian Greyhound’s personality is an excellent choice for a laid-back, mellow household. An Italian Greyhound puppy for sale would do best with an easy-going person with plenty of time dedicated to meeting their high exercise needs, as they are fast, active, and agile. They are intelligent and gentle but can be sensitive and timid, so a household with small children may not be the best fit. It’s easy to groom their low-shedding, glossy, shorthaired coats, and you can dress them up in fashionable jackets to keep them warm. Italian Greyhounds are also one of the healthiest breeds and are generally disease-free. 

8. Cocker Spaniel

A Cocker Spaniel dog for sale will bring great joy to a wide range of households. Cocker Spaniels are smart, loyal, and eager to please. Because of their reputation for being active and sociable, they can join virtually any family dynamic. Cocker Spaniels are one of the most popular breeds for a reason! Agreeable, merry, and sociable, a Cocker Spaniel is happy going on a stroll or showing off tricks as long as you show them plenty of attention and interaction throughout the day. Lastly, they do well with a variety of environments and personalities as adaptable dogs. Cocker Spaniels’ gorgeous, silky coats need to be trimmed on a regular schedule.

9. Papillon 

The Papillon is a well-balanced, easy-to-care-for, delightful companion. One of the oldest dog breeds, the name “Papillon” means “butterfly” which suits this social, outgoing dog ready to make friends wherever she goes. Although Papillons enjoy running around, they need very little exercise, making them one of the best dog breeds for new owners that lead a less active lifestyle or don’t have time for long walks or hours of playing fetch. It’s important to train them early, or they will try to be the top dog! You may think with their long, flowing hair they would need lots of grooming, but a weekly brush and a monthly bath are all a Papillon really needs. 


10. Miniature Schnauzer

Good breeds for first-time dog owners come in all shapes and sizes, and Miniature Schnauzer pups are about as cute as they come. Known for their adorably charming little beards and almost human-like expressions, a Miniature Schnauzer puppy for sale is a great choice for a first-time dog owner. They are great with kids and love companionship. They only need about an hour of casual exercise a day which can be split up into short sessions. Mini Schnauzers do require a regular amount of grooming, but their wiry double coat doesn’t shed too much. 

11. Shih Tzu

“Shih Tzu” means "lion dog" in Chinese. A Shih Tzu puppy is a devoted companion that gets along well with children and other pets. Shih Tzus enjoy being pampered and spoiled, which is convenient because they do require regular trips to the groomer to maintain their gorgeous coats and trim the hair that grows in all directions from their cute, short-muzzled faces. While they may not be known for being calm, Shih Tzus are highly intelligent and tend to be highly trainable. Shih Tzus as pets are one of the best dogs for first-time owners because of their small size and responsiveness to behavior training. You will want to monitor your Shih Tzu for eye anomalies and feed your Shih Tzu a quality diet to prevent major health issues. 


12. Pug

The friendly, curious Pug is a big dog trapped in a small dog’s body! A Pug puppy for sale is a toy breed perfect for smaller living spaces and adapts well to several living situations. Although a toy breed, Pugs are sturdy enough for boisterous kids. Delightfully adorable, it’s easy to see why a Pug is a contender for the best dog for new owners. Their bulging eyes, flat face, and short nose make Pugs more prone to eye and breathing problems. Although they don’t bark that much, they can be quite loud for their small size with their grunts, snorts, and squeaks.

13. Boxer

Smart, loving, and dignified, Boxer puppies are a winning choice for a family with children. Their high energy level and ability to play for hours make Boxers fun, lively companions. A Boxer’s strong, muscular body and sleek coat need minimal grooming. While eager to please, a Boxer needs a self-assured, consistent training routine to redirect their energy. 

Pawrade Can Recommend the Easiest Dog Breeds For You

We at Pawrade know considering puppies for sale can be an overwhelming decision as a first-time pet parent. We've put our experience and expertise to work for you helping you find the perfect pawsome four-legged buddy to fit your lifestyle. Let us guide you through the entire adoption process.


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Lucy Hughes

Lucy Hughes has been teaching and writing professionally for half her life. She has a passion for helping people choose a puppy and lead an exciting life with their new furry companion. She enjoys spending quality time with her family and her beloved Golden Retriever, Bowie.

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