Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > Dogs > 13 Best Dog Breeds for First-Time Owners (With Pictures)

13 Best Dog Breeds for First-Time Owners (With Pictures)

dog featured image

Getting a dog is a truly exciting time. With thousands of breeds and hybrid breeds available, choosing the right breed for your first dog can be baffling.

Above all, you must choose a dog that matches your lifestyle. If you’re an active person that loves to walk or run, choose a dog with a similarly high energy level. If you prefer to stay indoors, opt for something with lower energy requirements.

If you’re looking for a family dog that’s good with children, opt for something that will love you all equally and be happy to join in the fun and games without being overly demanding.

Got cats? Go for a breed that is known to socialize well with other animals.

Below, we have compiled a list of the top 13 best dog breeds for first-time owners that we hope will help you choose the best companion for your lifestyle.


The 13 Best Dog Breeds for First-Time Owners

1. Labrador Retriever

Fawn Labrador Retriever
Image Credit: Pixabay

There’s a reason the Labrador Retriever has reigned supreme on the American Kennel Club’s list of most popular breeds for nearly 30 years. Several reasons, in fact. They are friendly, mixes very well with people, dogs, and even cats. They are smart and willing to please, hence, their use as a service dog. They are also active and energetic, so they will require regular exercise. Whether you’re a single person or family looking for their first pet, this breed will make a loyal, loving, and responsive companion.

2. Golden Retriever

Adult Golden Retriever
Image Credit: Pixabay

The Golden Retriever is very similar to the Labrador. They are loyal and loving, happy to show affection, and equally happy curled up in front of the fire or enthusiastically playing with their family members. Their long hair gives them more appeal for some owners, but it will require regular brushing to ensure that they remain free from tangles and knotted fur.

3. Poodle

Miniature Poodle on grass
Image By: everydoghasastory, Shutterstock

The Poodle is another very popular breed. They are responsive to training and while he requires regular exercise, they are very happy to give and receive attention. They love children as much as he loves adults, too. Although there is no such thing as hypoallergenic dog fur, the Poodle’s coat is as close as you can get, but it will require ongoing maintenance to ensure it looks its best.

4. Papillon

papillon with dirt on nose
Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

The Papillon has an almost regal appearance. They are also very intelligent, responding well to positive training, and gets along with all family members. Their coat will take some brushing, but this breed actually only suffers from minimal shedding. They are an energetic breed, but their size means that it won’t take too much exercise to tire them out. When they are tired out, they love nothing more than sitting on their owner’s knee.

5. Bichon Frise

Bichon Frise
Image Credit: Pixabay

The Bichon Frise is another breed described as “hypoallergenic” because even those with allergies usually have little trouble in the company of this breed. They crave attention and love affection. They are relatively easy to train, and this small breed will thrive on one walk per day and plenty of time in your lap. The Bichon can be shy when first meeting strangers but will more than make up for it when they get to know a person.

6. Cavalier King Charles

Cavalier King Charles
Image Credit: Pixabay

The Cavalier King Charles is a bright little dog that can switch from energetic and playful to lazy and prostrate in an instant. They will still need regular walks, and their long coat will take some attention to prevent it from becoming bedraggled, but they are a great first-time dog because of their sweet and loving nature.

7. Shih Tzu

tri-color Shih Tzu
Image Credit: Pixabay

The Shih Tzu was bred as a companion dog, and this is where they excel today: primarily, on the lap of his owner. They don’t have any hunting instincts, which means that they should be friendly and relaxed, and they shouldn’t pose any problems with other dogs or even cats. Their size makes them popular as a lap dog, but be aware that their coat will take regular tending.

8. Greyhound

greyhound standing on grass
Image By: nonmisvegliate, Pixabay

Greyhounds are elegant and surprisingly easy to own. They respond to training, and even though this sight hound has been trained for energetic, high-octane sports, they are more likely to be found curled up on the sofa than charging around. With that said, they do have an instinct to hunt, so they should be kept on a leash and will need regular exercise. If you’re an active person looking for an active dog that also loves curling up at home, the Greyhound is a very good choice of breed.

9. Whippet

whippet in field
Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

The Whippet looks like a small Greyhound and was bred for the same purposes. They are known for having little or no desire to bark, so if noise is a concern, the Whippet is a solid choice. The breed is prized for their sprinting ability, and not their stamina, so they are likely to be found on the same sofa as the Greyhound. Although they will enjoy a brisk run, you shouldn’t trust a Whippet off their leash.

10. Great Dane

Great Dane
Image Credit: Pixabay

The Great Dane may not seem like the ideal first dog. They are, after all, a giant dog breed. They may also have a tendency to slobber and will need their face wiping. But they are also incredibly soft, loves attention, and they will always aim to please their master. They also have surprisingly low energy levels for a dog of their stature and will be more than happy taking over the entire sofa when stretching out.

11. Cockapoo

red cockapoo standing in the grass
Image By: mountaintreks, Shutterstock

The Cockapoo is actually a hybrid breed, combining the benefits of the Poodle and the Cocker Spaniel. They are easy to maintain, although they will require regular brushing, and they are easy to train. They enjoy getting out and adventuring but are also just as happy sitting at home with their other family members.

12. Boxer

Tan Boxer
Image Credit: Pixabay

The Boxer is a high-energy dog and can be quite demanding of your time, but if you want a loyal and loving companion that doesn’t leave your side and loves to get out and exercise with you, look no further than this breed. They can also be known for being a bit silly, especially when young, but they make a great family dog because of their playful and friendly nature.

13. Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terrier
Image Credit: Pixabay

The Yorkshire Terrier can be considered a great lap dog for first-time owners in a lot of respects. They respond to training when they are young. They adore attention and love sitting on your lap. However, their coat is constantly growing, which means that it not only requires regular brushing but will also need trimming, especially around the eyes. Their loving nature, combined with the fact that they require minimal daily exercise, is what makes them such a good choice.

divider-paw Conclusion

There are thousands of purebreds and hybrid breeds that could have been added to this list. Almost any of the popular Poodle hybrids, like the Labradoodle, could have been added. We could have compiled an entire list of the different colors of Labrador, and then there are breeds like the Vizsla, which are loyal and loving but require more training.

Whatever breed you choose, ensure that its needs meet your lifestyle, consider puppy classes to help you both get to grips with training, and don’t forget to check your local shelters for mixed-breed dogs, because they can make exceptional family pets, too.

Interested in learning about a few other incredible breeds? Try these posts:

Featured Image Credit: goodluz, Shutterstock

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets