17 Best Dogs For First-Time Owners

men and woman playing with a labrador

Discovering the best dogs for first-time owners can be an exciting yet daunting task.

Our guide focuses on pairing you with breeds that complement both your lifestyle and the dog’s inherent traits, ensuring a lasting and happy partnership.

Understanding Your Lifestyle

Before getting your first dog, you need to first spend time researching if the dog breed that you want is a good fit for your lifestyle.

The compatibility between your daily routine, living space and family dynamics with your future canine companion can significantly increase or prevent future problems.

Assessing Your Living Space

Your current living situation you have plays a vital role in determining the right dog breed for you.

If you are living in a small apartment, that would mean space constraints and noise considerations.

A dog breed that is comfortable in smaller spaces, requires less exercise and doesn’t bark a lot is a better choice for you.

On the other hand, living in a house with a yard opens up options for larger breeds and those with higher energy levels.

Your Daily Routine

Your daily routine is another critical factor in selecting the right dog. The amount of time you can dedicate to dog care and exercise is important.

Remember that dogs with high energy levels need more time for physical and mental stimulation.

This can be difficult to accomplish if your daily schedule is already packed.

Your Personality

Are you energetic and sociable, or more reserved and relaxed?

If you’re active and outgoing, high-energy dog breeds that enjoy adventures and social activities could be ideal.

If you prefer a quieter lifestyle at home, consider a calm breed that loves cuddling and leisurely walks.

Family Dynamics

If you have children, elderly family members, or other pets, this will influence your choice of the best beginner dogs.

Some breeds are known for their patience and gentleness, making them ideal for households with kids or seniors.

Other breeds might be better suited for being the only pet in the home.

Health And Maintenance

Be aware that owning a dog also means committing to their health and well-being.

Regular veterinary care is essential for keeping your dog healthy.

This also involves understanding the specific health needs of your chosen breed, as some breeds may be prone to certain conditions.

Best Dog Breeds For First-Time Owners

1. Boxer

boxer dog breed

The Boxer originates from Germany and was once bred for the cruel sport of bull-baiting.

It is a great for first-time dog owners who have an active lifestyle and can dedicate time to exercise and companionship.

This dog breed can be laid-back dogs but you should be prepared for their high energy levels and exercise needs.

Attention should be given to their intolerance to heat due to boxers being a brachycephalic breed.

Brachycephalic breeds tend to have short muzzles make breathing in warm temperatures more difficult.

They are adaptable to various living spaces but do best in environments where they can have some room to play.

Boxers are medium to large-sized dogs so a very small apartment might not be ideal for them.

Regular grooming is straightforward due to their short coat.

Their protective yet friendly nature makes them excellent family pets, especially in households with children.


Weight: 25-32kg
Height: 53-63cm
Personality: Friendly, loyal, calm, energetic
Life Expectancy: 10-13 years
Ideal For: Active owner, house, family

2. Maltese

pregnant maltese and puppies

The Maltese is an ancient breed from the island of Malta.

They have been prized companions for centuries, favored for their elegant appearance and small size.

The Maltese could be perfect for a novice dog owner if you live in an apartment or a smaller home.

Their manageable size, affectionate nature and low exercise needs align well with busy or less active lifestyles.

Maltese dogs are known for their playful and affectionate personalities.

They are eager to please, making them relatively easy to train.

The Maltese is an easy-going dog with a gentle nature. They are great addition for families with children too.

They make an ideal dog for a first-time owner with family and children too.

You’ll need to groom their beautiful and long silky coat regularly.

But thankfully, they’re low shedders.

maltese dog breed


Weight: 3-4kg
Height: 21-23cm
Personality: Playful, affectionate, gentle, intelligent
Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
Ideal For: Busy owner, small home, family

3. Poodles

poodle dog breed

The Poodle is a breed with a rich history as a water dog. They were initially used by wildfowl hunters for retrieving game from water.

Not many dog breeds can pull off a bad perm like the Poodle.

They make great first-time dogs due to their adaptability, intelligence and affectionate nature.

The size of a Poodle can vary.

Toy and Miniature Poodles are ideal for smaller spaces while Standard Poodles may appreciate more room.

They fit well in various living situations and family structures.

Poodles need mental and physical stimulation from active owners who can engage them in activities and training.

The poodle dog breed is generally good with children and other pets, especially when socialized early.

poodle dog breed


Weight: 2-32kg
Height: 24-60cm
Personality: Intelligent, active, playful, fun
Life Expectancy: 11-15 years
Ideal For: Active owner, house/apartment, family

Related Article: Adopt Or Shop? (Which Should You Choose?)

4. Labrador Retrievers (Labrador)


The Labrador Retriever isn’t just popular in the USA, it’s practically a canine celebrity!

This dog breed originally from Newfoundland, Canada, was bred as a sporting and hunting dog.

Labradors are adaptable to various living environments but a home with a yard is ideal for their energy levels.

Labrador Retrievers require regular daily exercise, so they are best suited for active individuals or families.

They enjoy activities like fetch, swimming, and hiking.

Their affectionate nature, ease of training and desire to please make them great pets.

Labs are known as one of the most family-friendly breeds.

They take about three years to mature, so owners need patience during their extended puppy phase.

With proper care, exercise, and training, Labradors can be a joyful addition to any home.



Weight: 25-36kg
Height: 55-62cm
Personality: Outgoing, active, gentle, intelligent
Life Expectancy: 10-13 years
Ideal For: Active owner, house, family

5. Golden Retriever

golden retriever puppies

The Golden Retriever is practically in a friendly rivalry with the Labrador Retriever for the title of ‘America’s Sweetheart’

These furry charmers have been one of America’s top dogs for so long.

I call the Golden Retriever the ‘happy breed’ due to its non-stop happy tail-wagging.

Their adaptability, friendly nature and intelligence make them suitable for someone new to owning dogs.

They thrive in homes with yards where they can play and exercise due to their playful and high-energy nature.

Golden Retrievers are excellent with children. Their gentle and patient nature makes them ideal family dogs.

They are social animals and can get along well with other pets.

golden retriever

Golden Retriever

Weight: 25-34kg
Height: 51-61cm
Personality: Outgoing, active, gentle, intelligent
Life Expectancy: 10-13 years
Ideal For: Active owner, house, family

6. Bichon Frise

Bichon Frise

The Bichon Frise originated from the Canary Islands and was later developed in Europe.

This small-sized dog was bred as sailing and herding dogs

The Bichon Frise stands out as a choice for those new to dog ownership.

Bichon Frises are ideal for apartment living due to their small size. They adapt well to indoor environments and do not require a large yard.

They are also playful, affectionate and love being a part of their owner’s activities.

Bichon Frises have moderate energy levels and require regular exercise.

Their friendly and gentle nature makes them suitable for families with kids and other pets.

bichon frise

Bichon Frise

Weight: 5-8kg
Height: 24-29cm
Personality: Affectionate, feisty, playful, sensitive
Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
Ideal For: Active owner, apartment, family

Related Article: Guide For New Dog Owners

7. Boston Terrier

boston terrier

The Boston Terrier is a cross between the English Bulldog and a white English Terrier.

They are well-suited for apartment living due to their compact size and can adapt easily to both urban and suburban environments.

These dogs are known for being friendly, bright, and amusing.

They are affectionate and enjoy being around people, making them wonderful companions.

Boston Terriers need moderate exercise and are ideal for owners who can provide regular interaction.

Their sociable nature means they thrive in a family setting and enjoy being involved in household activities.

boston terrier

Boston Terrier

Weight: 4-11kg
Height: 30-43cm
Personality: Friendly, gentle, intelligent
Life Expectancy: 13-15 years
Ideal For: Active owner, house, family

8. Shelter Dogs

dogs at shelter waiting for adoption

Shelter dogs encompass a diverse range of breeds, ages and personalities.

Adopting a dog from a shelter is not just a noble act but it’s also an opportunity to make a profound difference in an animal’s life.

For first-time owners, shelter dogs can be an excellent choice.

Dogs in shelters come in all shapes and sizes, from purebreds to unique mixed breeds.

This variety allows potential owners to find a dog that matches their lifestyle and preferences.

Many shelter dogs are already adults, so their personalities are well-established.

This can help in selecting a dog whose temperament aligns with the owner’s lifestyle.

Some shelters have a puppy section if you are looking for one.

Such dogs are very adaptable and can settle down very quickly in their new forever homes.

9. Havanese


The Havanese, Cuba’s national dog, originated in the Mediterranean and was brought to Cuba by Spanish settlers.

The Havanese shines as an exceptional choice for those new to dog ownership.

Their ability to thrive in many living conditions makes them suitable for many homes.

Havanese dogs are known for their affectionate, playful and friendly nature.

They are highly intelligent and respond well to training, often with a humorous streak

The Havanese doesn’t require much exercise and it pairs well with owners who want a more laid-back dog.

This dog breed is great with children and other dogs and cats, making them excellent family dogs.

havanese dog breed


Weight: 4-7kg
Height: 20-28cm
Personality: Gentle, playful, friendly, intelligent
Life Expectancy: 13-16 years
Ideal For: Busy owner, apartment/house, family

10. Bernese Mountain Dogs

bernese mountain dog puppies in the snow

You’ll find it hard not to fall in love with these fluffy gentle giants at first sight.

If you are looking to have a large dog as your first, the Bernese mountain dog is a top contender.

The Bernese Mountain Dog, originating from the Swiss Alps, is a large, sturdy breed initially bred for farm work.

Their large size is matched by an equally big heart, making them a loving addition to families, especially those with ample living space.

They have a friendly and calm temperament which makes them great family dogs.

While they do require regular brushing and exercise, the Bernese mountain dog is easy to maintain.

They are protective of their family, making them good watchdogs as well as family pets.

bernese mountain dog puppies

Bernese Mountain Dog

Weight: 36-50kg
Height: 58-70cm
Personality: Affectionate, loyal, gentle, intelligent
Life Expectancy: 6-8 years
Ideal For: Active owner, house, family

11. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

This British toy dog breed hails from the United Kingdom and has a history dating back to the 17th century.

Their small size makes them ideal for apartment living. also. They also adapt well to large living spaces.

They require moderate exercise and are easily satisfied with daily walks and playtime.

Some grooming is required due to their long coat but nothing too difficult to handle.

They offer a balance of playfulness and calmness, making them a good companion for both active and relaxed lifestyles.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel also has a gentle nature which makes them great with kids and other pets.

cavalier king charles spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Weight: 6-8kg
Height: 30-33cm
Personality: Playful, loyal, friendly, tolerant
Life Expectancy: 10-14 years
Ideal For: Active owner, apartment/house, family

12. Shih Tzu

shih tzu

The Shih Tzu or affectionately known as the “Little Lion Dog” is a toy breed that originates from Tibet.

They were kept in Chinese palaces and were favorites of the Chinese royals.

Many tend to mistake the Shih Tzu for a Maltese.

They are in some ways similar but each dog has their distinct features.

Being a toy dog, the Shih Tzu fits perfectly in a small apartment.

Even if you have a yard, a Shih Tzu will be happy to play and run around given their good energy levels.

They are friendly and enjoy being around people which makes them great companions.

Regular grooming is required for their long coat but their overall care is manageable for most novice dog owners.

shih tzu

Shih Tzu

Weight: 4-7kg
Height: 20-28cm
Personality: Affectionate, playful, lively, extroverted
Life Expectancy: 11-16 years
Ideal For: Busy owner, apartment, family

13. Pomeranian

Pomeranian dog breed

The Pomeranian or the ‘Pom’, was named after the Pomerania region in Central Europe.

It used to be larger but was bred down to its current small size.

Don’t let their petite size fool you.

Pomeranians are a tough breed and can hold their own.

If you are looking for a small yet feisty dog, the Pomeranian can be a great choice.

Given its small size, it doesn’t require a big living area to feel at home.

They are lively, intensely loyal, playful, friendly and tend to form a tight bond with their owner.

Pomeranians require moderate care and grooming, fitting well into various lifestyles.

The breed can be good with children and other pets if socialized early.



Weight: 1-3kg
Height: 18-24cm
Personality: Loving, loyal, feisty, intelligent
Life Expectancy: 12-16 years
Ideal For: Active owner, apartment

14. Papillon


The origins of the Papillon date back several centuries in Europe, where it was a favorite among the nobility.

It is a small elegant toy breed and known for its distinctive butterfly-like ears.

Their compact size, combined with a vibrant and affectionate personality, makes them a joyous addition to any home.

Papillons are intelligent dogs and have a strong desire to please.

This makes it an optimal choice for a beginner dog owner.

They require moderate exercise and grooming due to their good energy levels and long coat.

Being sociable dogs, they love being around people and other pets.



Weight: 3-5kg
Height: 20-28cm
Personality: Affectionate, outgoing, friendly, intelligent
Life Expectancy: 13-16 years
Ideal For: Active owner, apartment/house, family

15. Yorkshire Terrier

yorkshire terrier

The Yorkshire Terrier, affectionately known as the “Yorkie,” is a small but spirited dog breed

This dog breed originates from England and was used for catching rats in mills.

Their small size makes them a popular choice among first-time dog lovers, especially those living in smaller spaces.

Despite their small stature, Yorkies have a big personality.

They are bold, confident and always ready for an adventure.

Yorkies are also affectionate, playful and looovvee attention from their owners.

They don’t require a lot of exercise but their beautiful coats require regular grooming.

Yorkies are intelligent and can be easily trained. This works well with beginner dog owners with little knowledge of obedience training.

yorkshire terrier

Yorkshire Terrier

Weight: 1-4kg
Height: 15-18cm
Personality: Friendly, confident, intelligent
Life Expectancy: 13-16 years
Ideal For: Busy owner, apartment, family

16. Greyhound


When you think of a Greyhound, you associate it with lightning-fast speed.

And you’re not wrong.

Greyhounds are touted as the Ferraris of the dog world.

They were originally bred for hunting and have been used for racing in modern times.

Greyhounds are large dogs due to their long muscular legs.

Many first-time dog owners tend to see the Greyhound as a high-energy dog but they are actually rather inactive.

They do require moderate exercise but nothing close to their racing intensity.

Greyhounds are gentle, calm and somewhat aloof but they still make great family dogs.

The Greyhound might not be the best choice if you already have a smaller pet at home such as a cat or rabbit.

Greyhounds have very strong prey drives and can see these smaller pets as ‘prey’.



Weight: 26-40kg
Height: 68-71cm
Personality: Friendly, cat-like, gentle, intelligent
Life Expectancy: 10-14 years
Ideal For: Busy owner, house, family (no small pets)

17. Whippets


If you happen to see a Whippet next to the Greyhound, you may mistake it for a Greyhound puppy.

The whippet is a ‘mini-me’ version of the Greyhound at almost half its size.

They share a common ancestry with the Greyhound but are smaller in size.

Although the smaller-sized Whippet works better for smaller apartments, they are a lot more energetic than the Greyhound.

They require regular exercise and mental stimulation to be kept satisfied.

Whippets are generally good with children and can live peacefully with other dogs.

But similar to the Greyhound, they have a high prey drive and can be problematic with other smaller pets around.



Weight: 7-19kg
Height: 45-56cm
Personality: Affectionate, tolerant, gentle, intelligent
Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
Ideal For: Active owner, apartment/house, family (no small pets)

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