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11 Best Dog Breeds for First-Time Owners (with Pictures)

Jordyn Alger

By Jordyn Alger


young happy couple holding and hugging golden retriever puppy

Dogs are great pets. They’re full of rambunctious energy and lovable personalities. If you want to experience that love and bring a dog into your home for the first time, you will probably be doing a lot of research on the different breeds to see which is the right fit.

Although any dog can be a wonderful companion, some are easier for first-time dog owners to manage. If you want a dog that will not give you much trouble for your inexperience, take a look at the 11 dog breeds we have listed here.

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The 11 Best Dog Breeds for First-Time Owners

1. Labrador Retriever

black dog labrador retriever adult purebred lab in spring summer green park doing dog tricks bow reverence invite to play on the grass in sunshine
Photo Credit: Natalia Fedosova, Shutterstock
Height: 22.5–24.5 inches
Weight:  65–80 pounds
Life Expectancy: 11–13 years

The Labrador Retriever is a classic dog breed. Almost everyone has either owned one or knows someone who has owned one, and few people in the world have never heard of this dog before. After all, they are the most popular dog in America.

These dogs make excellent companions. They are affectionate with family, great with young children, and friendly with other pets. They are easy to train and very playful, making them excellent dogs for any first-time dog owner.

2. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Photo Credit: Leah Kelley, Pexels
Height: 12–13 inches
Weight: 13–18 pounds
Life Expectancy: 12–15 years

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is another great pick for first-time dog owners. These little dogs are loving towards their families, including young children and other pets. They are a bit calmer than the Labrador retriever, requiring a little less energy to satisfy their activity needs, and they may be a good pick if you aren’t sure whether or not you can keep up with the liveliness of a Lab.

Although the dogs have long fur, they do not shed excessively. With basic grooming, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel will be hygienic and healthy.

3. English Springer Spaniel

English Springer Spaniel lying on grass
Photo Credit: Braden Wachtmann, Pixabay
Height: 20 inches
Weight: 50 pounds
Life Expectancy: 12–14 years

An English Springer Spaniel is a friendly, playful, and obedient companion. They are very loving towards their family and are good with other dogs.

When it comes to training an English Springer Spaniel, the dogs are eager to please. They are quick to obey commands and show little to no defiance for following orders. If you are concerned about effectively training a dog as a first-time owner, the English Springer Spaniel will give you no reason to worry.

4. Boxer

a boxer dog sitting on the grass
Image Credit: Chris Shafer, Pexels
Height: 23–25 inches
Weight: 65–80 pounds
Life Expectancy: 10–12 years

The Boxer is a fun-loving and active pup and is especially great for families with young children. While they welcome strangers, they are also watchdogs who will jump to alert you of anything amiss.

They are willing to be trained and have sharp minds. That, combined with their excellent work ethic, makes the dog a quick learner. If you bring a boxer into your home, you will have a loyal friend for life.

5. Papillon

Brown Papillon
Image Credit: Alexa, Pixabay
Height: 8–11 inches
Weight: 5–10 pounds
Life Expectancy: 14–16 years

For a friendly, cheerful option, consider the Papillon. Papillons are small, fluffy dogs with wing-shaped ears. In spite of their delicate appearance, these dogs are hardy, energetic, and adaptable.

This little pup is eager to please, making it among the easier breeds to train. It is a friendly dog that loves everyone, including strangers and young children. The one thing you may want to prepare for with the Papillon is that it barks often, but that behavior can be reduced through training.

6. Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu running
Image Credit: Radosław Zmudziński, Pixabay
Height: 9–10.5 inches
Weight: 9–16 pounds
Life Expectancy: 10–18 years

Shih Tzus are another excellent option for first-time dog owners. These tiny dogs are more than just adorable looking; they are playful and outgoing.

They are affectionate with family members, including young children and other pets. While they may be a little hesitant around strangers, they are not known to be particularly aggressive and are quick to adapt to new situations.

Despite their long fur, they are not prone to excessive shedding. In fact, they rarely shed at all. However, they need to be brushed daily, and their grooming needs are higher than some other dogs.

7. Poodle

Standing portrait of charming amazing moyen medium poodle outside on hot summer day
Image Credit: Lisjatina Shutterstock
Height: 15+ inches
Weight: 60–70 pounds
Life Expectancy: 10–18 years

The Poodle is a well-known breed, but did you know that it makes a great companion for first-time dog owners? Many people wrongly assume that poodles are challenging to manage, but the truth is that poodles are very eager to please their owners.

Poodles are among the most intelligent dog breeds in the world, making them easy to train. They are also affectionate with their family members and excellent with young children. They are playful pups full of energy and are always eager to have fun.

8. Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier

Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
Image Credit: furry_portraits, Pixabay
Height: 18–19 inches
Weight: 35–40 pounds
Life Expectancy: 12–14 years

The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is an ideal option for a new dog owner. These dogs are affectionate, cheerful, and deeply devoted to their owners. This devotion shows in their care for their family and their love for young children.

While the dogs are willing to obey, they may have moments of stubborn resistance. However, that can be handled with early socialization and puppy training classes.

9. Whippet

Whippet in the desert
Image Credit: Danita Delimont, Shutterstock
Height: 19–22 inches
Weight: 25–45 pounds
Life Expectancy: 12–15 years

The Whippet may be the canine for you if you are looking for a playful yet calm dog breed. The dogs are affectionate, energetic, and always eager to be around their loved ones. They are a good fit for families with young children or families with multiple pets because they are willing to love everyone.

While whippets are calm while inside, they are sprinters when outside. Training is vital to help them behave, and early training is the most effective way to prevent any accidental destruction.

10. Pug

Cute pug dog lying down on couch at home
Image Credit: Diana Grytsku, Freepik
Height: 10–13 inches
Weight: 14–18 pounds
Life Expectancy: 13–15 years

Pugs are loving dogs. They dote on their family and do great with young children and other dogs. They are open to strangers, very playful, and do not bark often. These dogs are known to have some mischievous charm, making them adorable companions.

Pugs are easy to train, as they always aim to please their owners. They are also very sensitive, so scolding them harshly during training may upset them. The pug has a big heart and a desire to make its owners happy, making it a great dog for a first-time owner.

11. Golden Retriever

golden retriever dog lying on couch with tv remote
Image Credit: LightField Studios, Shutterstock
Height: 23–24 inches
Weight 65–75 pounds
Life Expectancy: 10–12 years

The Golden Retriever is an iconic dog breed. It is among America’s most popular dog breeds due to its friendly and devoted nature. If you want a dog that is going to adore you and your entire family, the golden retriever is the way to go.

Goldens are as intelligent as they are affectionate. They are easy to train, sharp-minded, and willing to cooperate with their owners.

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Being a first-time dog owner can be overwhelming, but bringing the right dog into your home can make matters much easier. We hope this list has given you some ideas for your first canine companion. Any dog in this article could be a great friend, but plenty of breeds not mentioned here could also be excellent pets.

The best way to decide which breed is right for you is to research your favorites and ensure you are prepared to provide for the dog’s needs.

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Featured Image Credit: LightField Studios, Shutterstock

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