Are you looking to add a new furry friend to your family? Have you never had your own dog before?
Plenty of people go in blind when they’re looking for their new canine companions, but it isn’t always that easy to choose one. Sometimes you get lucky and the dog chooses you, meaning that you instantly bond, but it isn’t always that simple.
Different people and lifestyles suit different dogs. Not every dog will be happy with a super active person just like not every dog is going to be happy with a sedentary person in an apartment.
Finding the best dogs for first-time owners isn’t as simple as choosing something generic. There’s a method to it.
Not sure how to get started? We’re here to help. We want to help you find your perfect pet. Keep reading to learn about what you should be considering when you’re looking for your perfect dog, as well as a few examples of dogs that suit different lifestyles.
Consider Your Living Situation
Your dog is going to be spending most of its time in your home, so what kind of living situation are you in? Is it even dog-friendly?
This is sometimes the most difficult part of the dog decision process. You want to provide a good and enriching home for your new friend so it doesn’t get bored, sad, or sick. Dogs have different needs, but they all require a safe and enriching environment because your home is their entire world.
Wild to think about, huh?
So where do you live? Do you live in a small apartment? You’re going to want a dog that doesn’t require too much space. Some large dogs actually enjoy small spaces and some small dogs want more room to explore, so don’t let size be a factor here.
Also, consider your environment. Do you live somewhere that’s warm all the time? A husky or Malamute might not enjoy that kind of weather, whereas an Australian shepherd may love it.
Do you have a large yard or local parks and trails where your dog can run around? Energetic dogs need this kind of stimulation while other dogs are happy enough with daily walks and playtime.
Not all dogs are going to fit your living situation. Don’t selfishly adopt a dog that you know won’t get enough fulfillment from your home.
Who’s In Your Household?
The “who” of your household also matters. Do you have children or non-canine pets?
Some dogs are more likely to get along with cats than others (and vice-versa). Some dogs aren’t good with children, especially if you’re not used to training them. If it’s just you, this isn’t so much of a consideration. You only need to know yourself.
If you have other pets or family members to consider, though, take them into account.
What Personality Will Mesh With Yours?
Personality is everything when it comes to dogs. While personalities will vary even within specific breeds, some are more well-known for certain traits.
What are you like? Are you a high-energy go-getter who loves to exercise and train? You might be suited for a dog like a border collie or a golden retriever. Do you like lazy days indoors? A terrier or a basset hound might be for you.
Look for traits within yourself and make a list of the traits that you’d like to see in a dog. Then, find dogs that match your energy.
Do You Have Puppy Energy?
Speaking of energy, do you have the energy for a puppy? Not all new dog owners are puppy-friendly. You may not realize how much work a puppy can be.
Even puppies that are part of “lazy dog” groups can be a handful. They’re growing and learning every day and they love their playtime. When left with their parents and siblings they’ll spend a lot of their day playing with other dogs.
If this sounds like a lot of work, you’d be correct.
While many people want puppies, you might want to look into an older dog or even an elderly dog for your first furry friend. These dogs will get you used to the dog experience and they usually come pre-trained and ready to bond with!
If you’re up to the challenge, puppies are cute and malleable. Just make sure you’re ready for the puppy responsibility.
How Much Free Time Do You Have?
How much time do you spend working and how much time could you spend with your new companion?
Remember what we said about how your home is your dog’s entire world? This applies here too.
Some dogs are happy enough sitting around without their owner’s constant attention. They don’t mind alone-time and they may sleep it all away anyway. Other dogs are needier and more prone to anxiety, especially when they’re new to your home.
If you have other housemates or family members this can be a non-issue if you work different schedules, but it is something that you should keep in mind.
Young dogs aren’t as capable of taking care of themselves during the day, and you may find yourself having to crate them so they don’t destroy things or ruin the carpets. You don’t want to keep a dog crated for too long, so a dog like this might not be right for you in your current life situation.
Best Dogs for First-Time Owners
Some breeds are better for first-time dog owners than others. We’re going to list a few examples and why we like them for each of the following categories. There are, of course, more categories than the ones we have listed. These are some of the more common ones that people are looking into.
If you want a quick way to find a dog breed that matches your style, My Next Pup’s dog breed quiz can help you find the perfect breed for you.
Remember that there’s some crossover within these suggestions and also that not all dogs fit into the stereotypes of their breed. You should try to visit a dog first to see how it matches up to your expectations. If you’re more interested in a mixed-breed dog, the dog could have all of the traits of one breed or a mashup of all of the breeds.
These are suggestions that should help you narrow down your dog breed list.
Best Low-Maintenance Breeds for First-Time Owners
Not all dogs are a ton of work. While they all need training and attention, some are smart enough to figure things out in no time and they’re happy to sit with you all day as long as you carve out time for play and enrichment. All of the dogs we mention will be somewhat low-maintenance, but these ones can’t be beat.
French bulldogs are one of the best low-maintenance dogs. They’re super cute, leading to their rising popularity, and they have short fur that doesn’t require frequent grooming. While they love a bit of exercise, they also love a comfy spot on the couch with their best friend (that’s you!).
A basset hound is another great choice for the new dog owner who doesn’t have the time or energy for more energetic and needy types of dogs. These dogs are slow, calm, and gentle. They have a sweet appearance with their floppy ears and large eyes and they love nothing more than a slow walk through the neighborhood and a soft dog bed on the floor.
Italian greyhounds are a little strange looking, but they’re also great first-time dogs. They have short fur and nervous dispositions. While that might not seem ideal, it means that they aren’t as interested in socializing as other dogs, so you needn’t feel obliged to take them to the dog park.
Best Small Dogs for First-Time Owners
These small dogs are also low-maintenance dogs. They’re otherwise known as “lapdogs” due to their desire to sit with their people at all times. You won’t ever have to look far to find one of these; they’re always going to be as close to you as possible.
Most of the fluffier styles of terriers are great for first-time owners, though some have bigger personalities than others.
Yorkshire terriers (or the popular mixed breed, Yorkie poos) are great for the first-time owner who wants something cute and affectionate but also wants a dog with a big personality. These dogs are loving but stubborn and incredibly intelligent. Training them is a breeze but you’ll have to fight their strong will once in a while.
Havanese dogs are soft and sweet, resembling teddy bears. They’re vocal and playful but love to curl up in a lap and rest while you’re working from home or playing games.
Chihuahuas are great first-time dogs despite their reputation for being snippy and mean. A well-trained chihuahua is sweet, and their small stature allows them to fit into any environment. Bonus: no long fur to groom.
Dachshunds, or “weiner dogs”, are great small first-time dogs. They have tiny legs, so while they love playing and running they only get so far before they’re tired out. They’re fan favorites due to their cute appearance and they tend to be good with children.
Best Large Dogs for First-Time Owners
So what if you want a big dog? Not all big dogs are bad for first-time dog owners. Some are even happy without a lot of exercise or space.
Mastiffs are in this category. Despite their larger-than-life stature, they don’t need a huge house to roam in. They may look scary and tough, but they’re gentle and relaxed and want to hang out in front of a nice fireplace.
Labrador retrievers are another great choice for a large dog. They need more exercise than the bullmastiff, but they’re friendly, great with children, and have an overall calm disposition.
These dogs are popular for a reason and it also makes them easy to find. This is the most common choice for a first-time large dog.
Best Dogs for Fitness-Oriented First-Time Owners
Are you someone that loves to get outside and work out? Is that why you’re getting a dog? These dogs want to get out and play all day, every day, and they’re also great for first-timers.
Border collies are awesome first-time dogs as long as you’re ready to do some intense training. These dogs are smart, sometimes too smart for their human companions. They need a lot of attention but that attention will be rewarded.
They want to run and play all day due to their history of being sheepdogs. They want to herd!
Boxers are great for the outdoors enthusiast who wants to bring their dog on hikes or runs. These dogs bear some resemblance to the french bulldog with their squished faces, but they have far more energy and they need more attention.
They’re great with children and happy to spend time indoors as long as they get a long walk in on your rest days.
Best Protective Dogs for First-Time Owners
Are you getting a dog for home protection? Many “protective” breeds are difficult to train, and their training is important. If you want a dog that can protect you without intensive training, there are a few options that might work. We do suggest that you look into their training, though, by yourself or with a professional.
We already mentioned mastiffs and border collies in other categories and they fit here as well. Mastiffs, while not energetic, are frightening in appearance and they will bark at strangers and attack if they feel the home is being threatened.
While they do need some training, German shepherds are great first-time guard dogs. There’s a reason that they’re used by police officers. You’ll need to be firm with a shepherd, but they are loyal to their families and a small amount of training goes a long way if you’re not looking for them to be K-9 levels of trained.
Are You Ready to be a First-Time Dog Owner?
Getting a new dog is exciting! When it comes to the best dogs for first-time owners, there are so many variables that it’s hard to choose. You need to consider your life situation and how a dog will fit into it.
Go check out a few dogs and see if you can find a good fit!
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