Top 10 Dogs For First-Time Owners

Amy Tokic
by Amy Tokic

Ready to be a pet parent? Here’s out Top 10 dogs for first-time owners

You’ve finally decided to take the plunge and bring home a dog – congratulations! If this is your first time as a dog owner, there are breeds that are best suited for a noob. Remember that it is no easy task to bring a furry four legged friend into your life. There’s plenty of work involved and commitment needed. However, there is also a ton of love, heaps of fun, and an endless supply of companionship. It is a big deal to become a dog owner – but it shouldn’t be all that difficult if you pick the right pooch for your lifestyle and personality. We’ve created a Top 10 list of dogs for first time owners to help you get into that magical world with ease and some basic knowledge. That way you can create an inseparable bond with your pupper in no time whatsoever. (Photo credit: Khakimullin Aleksandr/Shutterstock)

1. Labrador Retriever

This is North American’s top dog for a reason! The Labrador Retriever makes friends wherever he goes. Because he’s so athletic, he can join you for hikes, bikes, jogs and runs. He makes the ideal first family dog and will love to accompany you wherever your adventures take you. You may find him to be a bit of a chewer as a puppy, but as long as you puppy proof your house, you’ll be able to nip this problem in the bud. Plus, because the Labrador Retriever has been bred to be friendly, rather than shy or aggressive, and because these dogs are so smart, they make great companions for single people and families alike. And these canines are known for forming tight, loyal bonds with the humans they love, and they get along great with kids and other pets, including cats. When you are out walking in the park, be ready for a flurry of loving comments – a Labrador Retriever is perfect at making new friends and is an irresistible charmer. They’re pretty much perfect! So if you are in search of a loving dog that is also active and fun loving, the Labrador Retriever will not disappoint. (Photo credit: Marina Jay/Shutterstock)

2. Papillon

So cute and cuddly, the Papillon makes our list because of his intelligence, which makes him easy to train. When it’s your first time owning a dog, you want to start off with one that will listen to what you have to say. Elegant, smart, and fiercely loyal, a Papillon is an ideal first time dog in so many ways. Also, it can be a true conversation starter- don’t be surprised when everyone starts rushing to say Hi! Also, their small size makes them the perfect fit for condos and apartments, but they do just as well in a house with a yard. (Photo credit: Sergey Lavrentev/Shutterstock)

3. Shih Tzu

A wonderful watchdog and a companion, the Shih Tzu is a first time dog owner’s dream. They love to play, but also enjoy lounging on your lap. They bond quickly with their owners, so they will want to please you when it comes to training. Their long hair requires maintenance, but the effort will well be worth it! And, besides the grooming, they are pretty much low maintenance all round – if you are busy throughout the day, don’t worry – you will still be able to take good care of your new furry friend. (Photo credit: Nagel Photography/Shutterstock)

4. Poodle

Available in three sizes – Toy, Miniature and Standard – there’s a Poodle to fit every household. Often considered one of the smartest breeds, the Poodle is a joy to train – great news for first time dog owners. Friendly with humans, dogs and kids, this breed makes a welcome addition to any family. Plus, Poodles are hypoallergenic, so they make the ideal breed for allergy sufferers. These entertaining pooches prefer being around their human family, so new owners should not be surprised when their pet starts following them around or asking to share the bed during the night. If you are the type of person who would prefer this level of companionship, the Poodle will not disappoint, but you need to be ready to give your pet the attention that he craves. This isn’t the type of dog that you can leave alone for a long time, as he will likely end up acting up and barking loudly if he isn’t happy or feels left out. Provided that you can give these dogs plenty of attention and affection, they will return it all with loyalty and unconditional love, so it’s no surprise that Poodles are such popular canines. Another fact to consider is their charming coat: it might require trimming every now and then. (Photo credit: Eric Isselee/Shutterstock)

5. Bichon Frise

Another fantastic dog for first-time owners is the Bichon Frise. A little white puffball, the Bichon Frise is affectionate and entertaining. Bred to be a companion dog, this dog aims to please you. He’s small enough to carry around and his fur is hypoallergenic. You’ll find that he listens attentively during training sessions and will impress you with his playful antics. But can you travel with the Bichon Frise? Absolutely! That is why this little dog is a perfect choice for first-time dog owners who prefer to travel a lot and who do not want to leave their pet behind. Also, speaking of leaving your dog behind, it is worth noting that these pooches are the type that might experience some separation anxiety when they are left alone, especially for long periods of time, so if you are too busy every day, this breed might not actually be the ideal choice for you. But if you want a dog that will always be happy to be at your side, this is it. These dogs love being the center of attention in the family, and they form tight bonds with their humans. (Photo credit: Viorel Sima/Shutterstock)

6. Pug

Friendly, loyal and cute as a button, the Pug is a popular dog with pet lovers. Other than a daily walk, your Pug will just want to chill on the couch with you – this is great if you’re not that active. But when it comes to play time, expect a ton of laugher: the antics of a Pug are hilarious to see! Otherwise, when it isn’t snooze time, Pugs are a true low maintenance breed. Their short coat is easy to care for and they love to play with kids. Can’t get better than that. (Photo credit: Utekhina Anna/Shutterstock)

7. Havanese

The Havanese may be a hard dog to find, but this breed is well worth the effort. With his lively temperament, the Havanese will happily entertain you. They might have a little bit of extra energy to spend, but this isn’t a big hassle: walks once a day and some playing around the house will satisfy these needs. And since this is a smart little fellow, first time dog owners will find him easier to train. They have quite good intelligence and quickly get a grasp of basic commands and daily routines. Other pluses include a friendly disposition, a compact size and a hypoallergenic coat. Oh, and don’t forget absolutely cute looks: this is the biggest charmer of the dog world! (Photo credit: Dorottya Mathe/Shutterstock)

8. Norfolk Terrier

A small dog with a big personality, the Norfolk Terrier makes an ideal dog for first time owners. This is one smart dog – don’t be surprised when he masters the basic obedience commands. He needs to be kept active, in both body and mind, so keep him engaged with games and activities. His coat is fairly low maintenance and doesn’t shed very much. A Norfolk Terrier can also be surprisingly affectionate. When a strong both between you two is made, you can expect to have a fiercely loyal and loving doggo by your side – at all times. There is a big and loving heart in this little furry fellow. (Photo credit: Zuzule/Shutterstock)

9. Golden Retriever

There are many reasons why the Golden Retriever is a family favorite. With his sweet, gentle personality, the Golden Retriever is a crowd pleaser. He gets along well with everyone and is loyal and dedicated to his family. Eager to please, this breed is easy to train. He’ll happily keep the kids busy, and at the end of the day, nap contentedly at your feet. Before introducing a Golden Retriever into your family, you need to know that these social and friendly dogs prefer being active every day. Also, they like being a part of the family’s activities, and they crave attention. If you are too busy to do those things for your dog, this breed might not be the right fit for you after all. Plus, these dogs thrive on being able to do things to help you, and they like being useful and having tasks to accomplish. This means that you can go ahead and train your Golden Retriever to do things like fetch something for you from across the room. How nice! Basically, if you give them plenty of praise, love, and attention, they will remain calm and content. Just be aware that these pooches also love to chew, so having a variety of chew toys around at all times can help prevent your pet from chewing on things that he shouldn’t. In the end, everyone loves the patience and a sweet, friendly character of a Golden Retriever. They are great for families and single owners alike. (Photo credit: Christian Mueller/Shutterstock)

10. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

How can you resist that sweet face? And you’ll be happy to hear that the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has a sweet personality to go along with his looks. Loyal to a fault, this breed wants to please you. Well behaved and loving, the Cavalier wants to be around you at all times. Because he is an active little guy, be sure to include him in all your family activities. And when he’s pooped out, he’ll just want to curl up on your lap. Of course, you can’t overlook the cute and elegant, graceful looks of these dogs. True gems in the pet world, they’ll charm the pants off of you from the start. (Photo credit: Liliya Kulianionak/Shutterstock)

As you can see, owning a dog for the first time in your life doesn’t have to be such an intimidating task. Instead, with a proper choice, it can become a lifelong adventure full of fun, love, and laughter. You can study this list and discover the best dog breed to go along with your personality and character. Now you too can have someone understanding and affectionate by your side.

Amy Tokic
Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic, Editor of, is a passionate animal lover and proud pet parent of Oscar, a Shih Tzu/Chihuahua cross, and Zed, a Japanese Chin. Her love of animals began in kindergarten, when she brought her stuffed dog Snoopy into class with her every day. Now, she writes about her adventures in pet ownership and tirelessly researches products, news and health related issues she can share with other animal enthusiasts. In her free time, Amy loves perusing used book and record stores, obsessing over the latest pet products available and chasing squirrels with wild abandon (a habit attributed to spending too much time with her pooches).

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