The idea of adopting a dog can be a pleasant one for many. Just the thought of having a loyal pup by your side is enough to bring a smile to most faces, but the truth is that the first dog you adopt can set a tone for how you feel about all future pets. Unfortunately, another very important truth is that not every dog is a good fit for a first-time dog owner.
If you’ve never owned a dog before, it’s vital that you do a little research before you get your heart set on a specific breed. Instead, you’ll want to take some time to think about the breeds that are going to be the easiest to train and the most suitable to your own lifestyle. If you’re able to do a little research, you’ll quickly find the best dogs for first-time owners.
Before You Start: Breeds to Avoid
While you should never assume that a dog’s going to be suitable for your lifestyle just because of his or her breed, it is wise to remember that there are certain breeds that have well-founded reputations for being more difficult to handle. Working breeds, for example, tend to push new dog owners to their limits just because these dogs require so much attention, while giant breeds are often not recommended because they have a tendency to be so much stronger than their owners.
So, which breeds should you avoid? If you’re a first-time dog owner who doesn’t have plenty of time to spend with a pet, you’re going to want to avoid just about any working breed out there. Specifically, dogs like German Shepherds and beagles are going to be a big ‘no-go’ for you, as most of these dogs just love to spend time with people. If, however, you do have plenty of time and energy to spare, some of these breeds can be the best dogs for first time owners.
The Rescue Question
Choosing to adopt a rescue dog is absolutely a fantastic idea for experienced dog owners. If you’re new to caring for dogs, though, you’ll want to be a bit more careful about dogs that come from shelters. Rather than looking at dog breeds in this case, you’re going to want to take some time to look at exactly why the dog was surrendered to the shelter and what his or her history was like before he or she was put up for adoption.
Though it’s understandable that a first-time pet owner would want to do a good deed by choosing a dog who has had a rough life, the truth is that many of these dogs are dealing with trauma that requires a much more skilled approach. This is not to say that you should absolutely avoid adopting a dog from a shelter or a dog with a tough past, but rather that it is wise to know what you’re getting into before you make such a big commitment.
The Ideal Dog Breeds for First-Time Owners
While a dog’s history and personal temperament are very important, there are a handful of breeds that are typically recommended as the best dogs for first time owners. These dogs have a combination of general breed temperament and easy trainability that makes them a bit easier to deal with than some other breeds, but there are always exceptions. As such, it’s best to consider this as a rough guide and to ensure that you’re looking to make a connection with a specific dog.
An affectionate and brave animal that typically only needs a moderate amount of exercise, the American bulldog is a reasonably-sized pet that will almost certainly mistake himself or herself for a lapdog. Though they like to play so much, these dogs are usually recommended to first-time pet owners because of their combination of laid-back personalities and personable demeanors.
American Staffordshire Terrier
While this dog can often look a bit intimidating, the truth is that the American Staffordshire Terrier is a big baby at heart. While they might be muscular animals that look like they could scare away a criminal, these dogs are actually known for being both incredibly loyal and sweet. In fact, these dogs are often recommended as being the most owner-focused breed out there, making them a great fit for anyone who is looking for a companion animal.
Perhaps best known for being one of the most mellow dog breeds out there, this old hunting breed is also incredibly loyal and great for those who would rather spend time on the couch than in the backyard. Content with minimal exercise and more than happy to sit around with their friends, the only reason that this dog isn’t considered the best of the best is because the basset hound tends to be very stubborn during training. Even with that said, the relatively low amount of maintenance needed to keep this breed happy and healthy makes it easy to recommend.
Cardigan Welsh Corgi
Cardigan Welsh Corgis are among the rare breeds that aren’t just easy to train, but who seem to be absolutely thrilled to get trained at all. These dogs are sweet and adaptable, of course, but it’s their fun-loving nature that makes them such a good fit for many first-time owners. An ideal dog for those who love to go outside, they’re also great for taking to the dog park when you want to make new friends, these are definitely one of the best dogs for first time owners
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Definitely a bit smaller than the other dogs discussed thus far, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is one of those dogs that hits all of the high notes when it comes to a first-time dog owner’s needs. Not only are these dogs sociable and gentle, but they’re incredibly low-maintenance and fun to be around. This is definitely one dog breed that you’re going to want to get to know if you’re looking for a fun and friendly little pet.
While popular media might paint the Chihuahua as jittery or hyper, the truth is that these dogs are both very intelligent and very easy to train— one of the best dogs for first time owners. Most of them are independent enough to be fun but still affectionate enough to shower their owners with love, making them ideal for first-time owners who don’t mind an animal who won’t sit with them all day. Though some Chihuahuas can definitely be a handful, most of them have the perfect personalities for new dog owners.
The Golden Retriever is typically one of the most popular breeds in the US, and for good reason. These dogs are not only smart and sweet, but they’re social enough to function as both pets and companion animals. These dogs can function in just about any role, making them ideal for both first-time dog owners and for those who have plenty of experience with dogs.
The immediate reaction of most first-time dog owners might be to assume that Greyhounds are just too energetic to train, but the truth is that these dogs are more than happy to lay around with their owners once they’ve gotten their energy out. Most of these dogs also tend to bond heavily with a single member of the family, making this breed one of the best for those dog owners who live alone.
Much like the standard Greyhound, the Italian Greyhound is a cuddler who just happens to be very good at running fast. Unlike its cousin, though, the Italian Greyhound is more of a pet for the whole family, with a playful disposition and a personality that lends itself to spending time with big groups.
Leonbergers might be big dogs, but don’t be fooled – these dogs are actually incredibly lazy, even if they also happen to be quite smart. Though these dogs definitely tend to be a cuddler, they’re also dogs who need plenty of space. As such, they tend to be better fitted for those first-time dog owners who have backyards and who have big families who are willing to spend time with the dog.
This is absolutely going to be the most controversial entry on the list, but a mastiff can actually be a really great pet for a first-time dog owner. While the size of this dog breed can definitely make it hard to handle, the truth is that this is a dog that requires relatively little exercise and that is willing to put up with quite a bit. If you’re willing to pay for a bit of extra dog food to keep these big boys and girls fed, you’ll find yourself with an excellent companion.
On the other side of the size scale is the tiny Papillon. Though many people assume that any little dog will be too feisty to train, these are actually loveable animals who will quickly get with the program. Even better, these can be ideal dogs for those who love to go out and play, especially for those first-time dog owners who want to try out agility events.
Finally, there’s the loyal pug. These dogs are big eaters and big snugglers, making them a dog that’s easy to gain the trust of and even easier with which to fall in love. These dogs are almost always recommended for first-time dog owners who don’t mind helping their little friends get plenty of exercises, but they’re also great fits for those who just want to spend some time with a great pet.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Which breed of dog is best for first-time owners?
There are many different dog breeds that tend to be good fits for first-time dog owners. They run the gamut from Golden Retrievers and Leonbergers to Pugs and Papillons, with many other breeds in between. What’s important about all of these dogs is that they all have great dispositions, that they’re all easy to train, and that all of these breeds are very friendly. Even with that said, there are definitely individuals of other breeds who tend to be great fits even for first-time owners and many dogs that should be easy to train who are tend to be a little harder on first-time dog owners simply because their needs don’t match up with those of their owners.
2. What are the easiest dogs to own?
The easiest dogs to own vary by your own personal circumstances. If you live in an apartment, for example, you’re probably going to be better off with a small breed that doesn’t need much exercise. This means something like a Pug or a Basset Hound for most, though there are some other great breeds that tend to be a little lower on the energy scale. If you have a backyard, though, you might be better off with a breed like a Golden Retriever, which tends to be very easy to train but that also tends to need a bit more exercise. It’s always a good idea to think about what you need from a dog before you decide whether or not a specific breed is right for you.
3. What dog is the easiest to take care of?
There are several different breeds of dogs that tend to be very easy to care for. What you’re generally going to be looking for isn’t just a dog that’s going to sit around all day, but rather one that’s not likely to get sick and that doesn’t have very major grooming requirements. One dog breed that tends to fit this bill is the Basset Hound, a dog that doesn’t need much more than a bath every once in a while and that really doesn’t need too much extra exercise to stay healthy. Other breeds, like Pugs and even Chihuahuas, are likewise very easy to care for.
4. What is the best low-maintenance dog?
The best low-maintenance dog is definitely going to vary by person. If low maintenance means a dog that’s going to be happy to do its own thing and that won’t require much grooming, you might want to look at a dog like a Basset Hound. If you want a dog who is going to sit with you but who won’t require you to take him or her on long walks, though, a dog like a Pug might be a good fit. If you don’t mind getting some exercise, though, dogs like Greyhounds, Golden Retrievers, and even Welsh Corgis could be a good fit.