Last Updated/Info Checked on February 10, 2023 by Linda Michaels
People often say that dogs are the most loyal and caring pets, but owning a dog isn’t always a walk in the park. They are a big responsibility that not everyone is ready for.
This is especially true for new dog owners who have never had a pet dog before. People like this don’t have the skills or knowledge to take care of a pet that is completely their responsibility.
Breeds like the Pug, Pomeranian, Beagles, Basenji, Poodle, Whippet, Great Dane, Corgis, Retrievers, Australian Shepherd etc. are good for first-timers due to their easy trainability and lower maintenance. While novice owners should avoid high-maintenance breeds the Husky, Pitbull, Dalmatian, and, Doberman etc.
The List of Dog Breeds For First-Time Owners
Following is the list of dog breeds that are good for new owners.
Dogtime defines poodles as elegant, proud, and clever. This is a very to-the-point introduction to this breed, which you have seen as champions in various dog beauty pageants.
Apart from being elegant, poodles are great human companions, as they get along well not just with their owners but with all the members of their families as well. Plus, they don’t complain when they are raised in small apartments with little space to roam.
Despite having such thick and lustrous fur, they do not shed much hair. This makes life a lot easier, as you will not have to clean up after them.
Poodles, moreover, are considered one of the most trainable dog breeds. They have good judgment and know what is expected of them, so they try to comply. That is why they are in most of the behavior training competitions.
As they have moderate amounts of energy, daily walks are all the exercise they require.
Overall, Poodles are one of the easiest breeds to pet and fit the needs of a novice owner perfectly.
2. Bernese Mountain Dog
This magnificent dog breed, native to the Swiss Alps, makes a great pet for first-time dog owners. Though originally bred to herd sheep and keep watch, Bernese Mountain Dogs are now more commonly used as companion animals.
The Bernese are very intelligent, but their intelligence doesn’t make them arrogant and independent. Rather, it allows them to better follow their master’s commands, making them easy to train, even for beginners.
Their love for their families is remarkable, and they would protect them at all costs.
It’s important to note, however, that this breed tends to be unhappy in smaller homes. Their lineage as farm dogs makes them like open spaces more, and they can get fussy in apartments. Hence, it is better to adopt them if you have a house with a garden or a yard; otherwise, just opt for a different breed.
Otherwise, their exercise demands are only moderate, and they will be happy even with small but regular walks.
3. Bichon Frise
This fluffy little creature is surely going to be the apple of your eye once you adopt it. Its black eyes, surrounded by an endless coat of white fur, can melt anybody’s heart, but that’s not the only reason that you should adopt it.
The Bichon Frise is one of the most adaptable dog breeds. They can live in even the smallest apartments and change their behavior with little training. This is a perfect choice for first-timers looking to adopt a docile breed.
Moreover, they are extremely playful, entertaining kids and adults alike. You won’t have a single moment of boredom with them. More good news: they don’t require a lot of physical activity and have very small exercise needs.
The Bichon Frise, on the other hand, is not low-maintenance. They require some regular touch-ups and catering to be in the best shape. But let me assure you, all that effort is worth their companionship.
Quick Tip: If you don’t know how to pronounce their name, just say bee-shawn-free-say.
You may get overwhelmed by this breed’s athletic nature, but don’t worry; keeping a Whippet is not a big deal at all.
Whippets in the modern era are very family-oriented and know how to control their prey drives. They show a lot of love and affection towards humans and prove themselves to be excellent companion dogs.
As long as you keep them exercising outdoors through various sports, they don’t mind living in small households or even apartments.
Another plus is their trainability. Whippets don’t give their trainers a rough time and tend to be amenable to change. Instead of being arrogant, they can adopt behaviors that they believe will please their owners.
You can learn more about this wonderful breed at the American Kennel Club.
These are brainy dogs that understand their owner’s mood and are willing to act in a way that pleases them the most.
You will quickly get used to their grooming needs, which may seem a little tiring at first. Also, they are good at ignoring the mistakes of their owners related to them, thus making petting them a lot easier.
If you’re not very active in the physical domain, then this breed suits you. This is because Pomerarians have very moderate exercise demands, so tending to these needs won’t be an issue for you.
One downside to this breed is its sensitive nature. Any harsh scolding, and you will find them hiding under covers. So be careful and try not to shatter their confidence with a lot of reprimands.
In conclusion, Pomeranians are great with new owners with no prior experience.
The Boxer’s days as a guard dog are over, and this breed is now used as a human companion. These are average-sized dogs that are immensely affectionate with family members, including children, and are playful enough to keep them entertained.
One thing that you’d love about them is how easily they fit into an apartment lifestyle. Despite their high energy levels, they do well in small spaces as long as they get enough outdoor time.
Boxers are very low-maintenance with minimal grooming needs. You, as a first-time dog owner, will not have to spend much time or money catering to them.
Also, being smart at picking up new things makes Boxers easy-to-train pets, so even inexperienced dog owners will not have any problem dealing with them.
Hillspet has more information on them.
This is a toy breed that is highly active for its size. Papillon’s playful nature will lift your mood and keep you entertained. They get along well with other family members too, but need some extra effort with kids.
With an understanding nature, they would try to empathize with you and make sure their actions did not cause any trouble for the family. This makes them highly trainable and receptive to new behaviors as well.
Papillons, contrary to popular belief, have enormous energy reserves and require a lot of activity on a daily basis. This can be in the form of walks, running, or sports like fetch, hide and seek, etc. Unless you keep them exhausted, they tend to get fussy at home and may start barking to get your attention.
8. Yorkshire Terrier
You would have seen them in many toy-breed competitions. Dogtime calls them the most famous toy breed in the USA, and for all the right reasons.
Yorkies are small, but their hearts are not. This is a very playful breed that cheers up the entire household with its presence. However, they may not be as good with children as with adults, so you will have to keep an eye on them initially.
They have good energy reserves, so you will be taking them out for long walks daily. The low prey drives mean that you will not have any hard time controlling them outside, either.
One of the best things about this breed is its very low tendency to bark or howl. This makes the household very peaceful and refreshing.
9. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Another breed that gets along well with newbies is the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, a breed with a mouthful name but an easy-going demeanor.
CKCS are very easy-to-groom breeds with very low maintenance needs, and you can tend to their needs yourself without needing an expert.
Also, these are pretty intelligent dogs that have a great understanding of their owners’ moods. Their trainability is also high, so it takes very little time to train them according to your routine.
With a low prey drive and energy, CKCS have a calm and relaxed personality and do not engage in overt physical behaviors.
However, this all comes with a sensitive nature, and they get offended very easily by slight reprimands. You will have to be careful with their emotions.
Also, they are not big fans of isolated living, so you would need to adjust your college life in a way that allows you to be near them even when you’re not catering to their needs directly.
For further reading on this breed, check out the AKC.
10. Golden Retriever
Nobody will dare leave this breed out when discussing human-friendly dogs.
Golden retrievers are one of the most family-oriented dog breeds, and they love and adore their families. You can leave them with your kids and be worry-free, as they will protect them with their lives. Also, they are very entertaining and will make good company.
Owing to their highly understanding personalities, they are easily trained in new behaviors.
When it comes to physical activity, Goldies are very active and do not like a sedentary lifestyle. So you will have to engage them in sports regularly, and you will enjoy their company as well.
However, you will have to be vigilant when it comes to admonishment, as they are very sensitive and can take things to heart.
With Goldies, you are going to have a bond that is going to last you a lifetime.
11. Great Dane
The sight of a majestic Great Dane staring at you can be intimidating, but in reality, Great Danes are one of the friendliest and mildest-mannered dog breeds.
Don’t be fooled by their size; Danes are extremely loving and caring to all members of a family. Yes, even kids will get along nicely with them without any trouble.
Although they shed a lot, their overall grooming requirements are very minimal. Most of your time and energy will be spent bonding with them rather than catering to their needs.
Also, Danes are very trainable and adjust themselves quickly to their owner’s requirements.
You may need to know that this is not a breed that will adjust itself to small living spaces, so if you are living in an apartment or a small house, this is not the breed for you.
Quick fact: Remember Scooby from Scooby-Doo? He was also a Great Dane!
Dogtime calls them the jesters of the dog world due to their playful nature and talent for making people laugh. They are easy-going and adapt well to new places, so they are good for first-time dog owners.
Pugs require little grooming, so their catering is both inexpensive and quick.
Also, they are only moderately sensitive, so they will tolerate a lot of things and won’t get annoyed easily.
You will love them even more if you’re a couch potato because pugs have very low exercise needs and love to just sit around idly.
With average intelligence comes an average trainability level, so you may have to work a little extra in your training, but it is not going to be a burden at all.
Another very compliant breed on this list, Basenjis were bred as hunting aids to retrieve small game but now have become human companions owing to their compliant nature.
They can live in any household, big or small, as long as their activity needs are being met.
You will find them very caring in their behavior, kids. They are jolly around them while being as gentle as possible. They are also friendly to visitors and other pets.
Although they have big prey drives, they do not bark or howl, hence making them a very peaceful breed to be kept at home.
They may be difficult to train, but with a little effort, you can change any unwanted behavior in this breed.
More about this breed can be found here.
14. Labrador Retriever
As I always say, no list of dogs is ever complete without the popular Labrador breed. Being one of the friendliest breeds out there, Labradors are always a great choice for first-time dog owners.
Labradors have a sterling reputation for being exceptionally bright, so you need not worry about casting aspersions on their wits. They are highly trainable because of their intelligence and openness to new information. Furthermore, they lack a strong prey drive, so they can keep their cool under pressure.
Labradors are low-maintenance. It is very easy to groom them, even for novice owners who don’t have much time or expertise. This quality is going to be such a blessing for you, as it takes away a lot of the pressure that keeps one from ever owning a dog.
If you’re an exercise enthusiast, then a Labrador is a perfect match for you, as they love to spend some time in physical activity daily.
You would find them a little sensitive to loneliness, so be careful in that regard. Don’t leave them alone for long periods, as this can make them very anxious and fidgety.
15. Shih Tzu
This breed is affectionate toward humans and animals alike. Shih Tzus are known for their love and tolerance; their docile nature makes them a great pick for novice owners with no prior knowledge.
A Shih Tzu can tolerate your absence, meaning you will not need to be present 24/7 to cater to its needs. Also, they do not have extreme grooming needs so you can tend to them with minimum time and effort
They love to impress their owners and put in extra effort to mold themselves according to their tastes. This also makes them more receptive to behavior change, making them more trainable.
Also, they have a relatively small energy potential, making them require minimal exercise daily to keep them healthy.
This all comes with a little price in the form of their high maintenance. A Shih Tzu requires some grooming, so you need to be ready for that, and you may need professional help at times. Other than that, this is a great pick for novice owners.
Dog Breeds That Are Not Good for First-Time Owners
Some breeds are a big NO for novice owners due to their independent nature or high maintenance. Here are some top examples:
This exotic breed showcases a strong, watchful, and energetic dog that is sometimes a little too independent for a newbie.
An Akita tries to remain independent and requires persistent training for any behavior modification that is beyond the scope of an inexperienced owner. So adopt an Akita only when you’re sure you can bear its stubbornness.
The Alaskan Malamute is a breed that was raised as a sled dog but has shifted to being a companion breed in recent times. Still, it remains a breed with immense energy potential that requires lots of daily activity to be kept sane; otherwise, you will get a fussy dog.
As a first-time owner, you may need help managing time and taking them out for exercise. Also, they have considerable prey drives that make it difficult to handle them.
German Shepherds are good with people, whether it’s the kids or adults in their family or guests that show up often. They also have a protective instinct and care for their owners.
They are also the easiest to train because they can learn to do what their owner wants.
However, a GSD is very sensitive to warm environments. Plus, it sheds a lot. You will need to cater to its needs more than a low-maintenance dog. Make sure you think it all out before adopting one.
Although Rottweilers are kind and compassionate dogs, they are not ideal for new owners for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, they have a huge tendency to gain weight, so you will have to keep an eye on their diet every single day.
Secondly, they have large energy reserves, with the added problem that they cannot live in small households. So either you take them out regularly to drain their energies or keep them in large households, both of which may not be possible for many first-time owners.
Dalmatians shed a lot, but that means a lot! Don’t just go for their cuteness or their fame; Dalmatians can be very tough to handle as they cannot be restrained in small spaces and need open areas to run about.
Another thing about Dalmatians is their hearing problem. About 80% of Dalmatians are congenitally deaf, which means you cannot rely on calling or whistling to get their attention.
Trying to communicate only via tactile stimulation can be very challenging, and it’s not something a newbie will be ready for. Hence, it is better to avoid getting Dalmatians as your first dog.
6. Siberian Husky
Don’t be fooled by their cuteness; petting Huskies is not for everyone. They’re a demanding breed with lots of shedding and tons of grooming needs.
Furthermore, because of their high energy levels, you will need to exercise them for long periods of time each day or be prepared for a hyperactive dog who will make a mess at home. It is better to stay away from Huskies as a novice owner.
Qualities To Look For In Dog Breeds For First-Time Owners
When looking for a pet dog, here is a quick overview of the qualities that you, as a novice owner, should be looking for in a dog:
1. Can Tolerate Loneliness
It is particularly difficult for new dog owners to manage their time properly. This frequently results in dogs being left alone with no one to care for them. In such cases, dogs that cannot tolerate loneliness can get anxious, and it takes a toll on their mental health, leading to a depressed mood.
So look for breeds that can tolerate long hours of loneliness and that don’t get nervous when they’re alone. This will also allow you to spend some carefree hours when you’re not with your pooch.
2. Easy To Groom
Dogs can become a burden on your time and budget, even more so when you’re an inexperienced owner.
A high-maintenance dog requires regular bathing, hair trimming, nail clipping, etc. Some dogs have additional health care needs as they are more prone to different infections and disorders. Such dogs need regular health visits and extra home care.
As a novice owner, you may not be ready for these responsibilities, which can have negative effects on your life.
So pick a breed that has minimal grooming needs. This way, most of your time will be spent on mutual bonding and not worrying about other stuff.
3. Quick On The Uptake
Intelligent dogs are good at picking up on your feelings; they know when you are sad or happy and mold their mood accordingly. Such dogs are a support when you’re feeling tired or empty and share your happiness in times of joy. Thus, they make the pain more bearable and magnify your happiness.
Also, it is less likely that a smart pooch will be dependent on you in daily life. They can manage themselves pretty easily and rarely require you to take care of them.
With smart dogs, there is a fear of them getting too independent and cocky at times. So you’d need a dog that’s both intelligent and understanding.
4. Easy To Train
How easy it is to mold a dog’s behavior plays a key role. As a novice owner, you will need a breed that can be taught to behave in a certain way, better fitting your household. Dogs that have rigid behavior patterns can be a problem for you.
For example, many dogs have a habit of barking, which can be a nuisance when you live in a community that doesn’t tolerate unwanted noises. Here, a trainable breed can be easily trained into a calmer behavior better suited to the neighborhood.
In the same way, habits like biting, nibbling, digging, etc. can be intolerable to a lot of people, and you will have to decide on a breed whose behavior can be easily modified.
5. Emotionally Stable
Another important factor that governs a pooch’s bonding with its owner is the way it reacts to different signals and emotions.
A sensitive dog will easily have its confidence shattered with the slightest of insults, as it tends to take things to heart. With such dogs, you will need to be vigilant in your admonishments.
Emotionally stable dogs let many insults pass by and tend to be relaxed and composed when they are being reprimanded. Hence, these dogs make a better fit for novice owners who are just figuring their way out regarding behavior training.
Frequently Asked Questions
Following are some of the frequently asked questions that I have been asked by the website readers.
Dogs are remarkable human companions and a source of love and support for their owners. However, not all dog breeds are easy to pet, especially for first-time owners.
It is important to start with a breed that is low-maintenance but at the same time loving and caring.
Read through the article to help you pick your first dog.