17 of the Best Dog Breeds for First-Time Owners

two chocolate lab puppies playing with colorful plastic balls

Have you been thinking of getting a puppy, but are nervous because it’s the first dog you’ve owned? It can be overwhelming to choose, but here are some of the best dog breeds for first-time owners to help get you started on finding the right puppy for you:

1. Basset Hound

Basset Hounds are known for their long body, short legs, long, floppy ears, and loud brays. They’re also one of the best dog breeds for first-time owners. They tend to be open and friendly and get along with just about everyone.

They also don’t require a lot of exercise to be happy and healthy. As one of the laziest dog breeds, you may even have to encourage them to move enough for daily exercise as they are happy to be couch potatoes.

2. Bernese Mountain Dog

Although they grow to be giant dogs, Bernese Mountain Dogs make great family companions and are a good fit for first-time owners too. They are known for being gentle giants that get along well with just about anyone.

Although they are one of the sturdy dog breeds for outdoor adventures, they sit in a low-to-moderate activity range and won’t run you ragged. In fact, they can easily become one of the laziest dog breeds, if you let them. Properly socialized Berners are known for being friendly and relaxed dogs with a calm and gentle nature.

3. Bichon Frise

If you’re looking for a dog on the small side, the Bichon Frise is a good option to consider. This breed is a fluff ball of love. Bichon Frise are great if you have a small apartment or simply prefer a small dog.

A few facts about the Bichon Frise are that they are relatively easy to train, and are quite adaptable to whatever lifestyle you live. Bichon Frise make a great life companion and are good with children.

They only require moderate exercise so if you can’t get out as much, short walks or a calm game of fetch is enough. These dogs are an easy way to get comfortable with dog ownership.

4. Boxer

Boxers are a great pick for active first-time owners! They’re a medium-sized dog and love to be with their owners. This breed is patient and affectionate. They are even considered one of the most affectionate dog breeds. And, they’re great with kids.

They are trainable, with some work. Once trained, they are guardians, which makes them a great family dog. Boxers are fun-loving and deeply loyal. As high-energy dogs, they require daily exercise, with brisk walks or the ability to run in an enclosed, secured space.

5. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are another breed that is of a smaller size. They’re not tiny, but they are good for apartments and smaller homes. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are sweet, affectionate dogs that look like puppies all throughout their life.

Some facts about Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are that this breed is adaptable to almost any lifestyle and thrives with families and children. To maintain a good level of health, these dogs require a moderate level of exercise. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels need basic training and they are receptive and quick to learn.

6. Cavapoo

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Mini Poodles are well-known for being great family companions and a good fit for owners of all experience levels. As a mix of both of them, the Cavapoo is the same.

These small, affectionate dogs are popular for their sweet demeanors, low-shedding coats, and fantastically playful and friendly personalities. Some facts about Cavapoos are that they tend to remain puppy-like throughout their life and are quintessential companions, which make them a fantastic addition to any family.

7. English Bulldog

English Bulldogs are well-known for their loyalty and affection. In fact, they’re considered one of the most affectionate dog breeds. Not only do they make great family companions, but they are also a good fit for owners of all experience levels.

As long as you socialize them properly, English Bulldogs get along well with children, other dogs, and other pets. They even tend to be open and friendly with strangers once introduced. One of the facts about English Bulldogs is that they can also be notably lazy, so make sure you get them moving for some walks every day.

8. English Springer Spaniel

English Springer Spaniels have a lot of energy, but they are also eager to please, affectionate, and bond closely with their owners. They prefer to spend time with their favorite humans than alone.

Some facts about English Springer Spaniels are that they are great family dogs and a good fit for owners of all experience levels. As long as expectations are clear and consistent, they will strive to be obedient, especially if it gets them praise and the reward of spending time with you.

9. Golden Retriever

If you’re looking for a bit of a bigger dog to raise, Golden Retrievers are a wonderful choice. They’re a nice, medium-size dog with a lovable personality. Goldens are eager to please and are a wonderful pick if you have children.

Golden Retrievers are adaptable and mesh well in many different environments. They require a higher level of exercise to keep bad behaviors and boredom at bay. As one of the most active dog breeds, they need an active owner. It is essential to train them, but Goldens are quick to learn.

10. Goldendoodle

Golden Retrievers and Poodles are some of the friendliest dog breeds and are also some of the best dog breeds for first-time owners. So, it’s no surprise that Goldendoodles and Mini Goldendoodles are also a great fit for owners of all experience levels.

Both Mini Goldendoodles and Goldendoodles are well-known for getting along with just about everyone including children, other dogs, other pets, and even strangers. With energetic, playful personalities, cheerful dispositions, and gentle natures, it’s no wonder that this breed has become such a popular family companion.

11. Labrador Retriever

Similar to Golden Retrievers, Labs are another great mid-sized dog to bring into your home! This breed is sweet, lovable, and loyal. They adapt well and are excellent companions for children.

Labrador Retrievers are active, so be sure you’re prepared to exercise and play with your pup! This will help curb bad behaviors. Labs, like Goldens, are very eager to learn and can be trained to do a variety of tasks.

They’re hunting dogs so they excel at fetching items. And, they’re one of the sturdy dog breeds for outdoor adventures, so they’re bound to be up for just about anything. Labs will bring a ray of sunshine into your life!

12. Papillon

The Papillon is a companion breed that is a good dog breed for first-time owners. They are small, friendly, social, and affectionate dogs that love spending time with their favorite human. They are playful and energetic when they play, but they are not high-energy dogs, so they won’t run you ragged.

Some facts about the Papillon are that they were bred to be companions and make great family dogs. They’re known to get along with just about everyone as long as they have been properly socialized. And, because they thrive on praise and attention, they are eager to please during training.

13. Poodle

Poodles are well-loved by many and are one of the most popular dog breeds. They are wonderful companions and fit well with most lifestyles, including those with children. The Poodle comes in three sizes: toy, miniature, and standard.

Poodles are intelligent dogs that respond well to training. They are energetic and need regular exercise as well as mental stimulation. Consistent grooming is needed to keep their curly coat under control.

14. Pug

Although the Pug can be a little bull-headed at times, they are also one of the most affectionate dog breeds. This means that you can often overcome any little bout of stubbornness with a little coaxing.

Pugs will usually perform and respond if they know they will get some praise or positive reward out of it. They also tend to enjoy relaxing, so they won’t run you ragged either. You may even need to encourage them to get enough exercise in. This affectionate, gentle, laid-back nature and love of cuddling tends to make the Pug a good fit for first-time owners.

15. Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu are fantastic companions. They are lively, playful, and affectionate. Like the Papillon, they thrive on attention and praise. One of the facts about the Shih Tzu is that they can have a bit of a stubborn streak sometimes.

But, they tend to be eager to please and are happy to perform if it gets them the attention and praise they crave. First-time owners may want to consider puppy training classes to help with consistency and patience during training, but they tend to do well overall.

16. Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier

Although they are a terrier that can be a little stubborn at times and energetic, Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers are a good fit for first-time dog owners. As long as they get enough daily exercise, they can adapt well to apartments or larger homes with yards and a variety of settings.

As long as they are properly socialized, they also tend to get along well with children and other dogs. One of the facts about Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers is that they tend to keep a puppy-like nature throughout their life, which makes them a great companion for children and humans of all ages. As a terrier, they have a high prey drive, which can be a challenge with smaller prey-type animals in the household.

17. Whippet

A Whippet is a small dog breed that looks a bit like a miniature greyhound. They may love to run, but they love cuddling with and being around their favorite human even more. Although they can be energetic little dogs, they tend to spend most of their day sleeping!

Although Whippets are sighthounds, which can have some stubbornness, they tend to have a natural attachment to people and a natural eagerness to please. They want to earn your praise and attention and will strive to do what they need to in order to get it. Their small size, obedient nature, and gentle, friendly, and quiet disposition make the Whippet one of the dog breeds for first-time owners.

These are just a few of the best dog breeds for first-time owners. If you’re ready to bring a puppy into your life, be sure to do your research to choose the right puppy for you. Then, check out the available puppies to find the perfect fit for your family!