What are the Best Dogs for First-Time Owners?

A man bent down in a field to pet his yellow labrador

Are you thinking about getting a dog for the first time? Congratulations! Owning a dog can be a wonderful and rewarding experience. But before you bring your new furry friend home, it's important to do your research and choose the right breed for you.

Of course, choosing the right dog for first-time owners can be tricky. There are so many different breeds to choose from, and each one has its own unique personality and needs. And to make the most of your newest addition, it’s always best to bring home a dog that matches your lifestyle. 

In this blog post, we’ll help you narrow down your choices and choose the best dog for you and your lifestyle. We'll discuss the factors you need to consider when choosing a dog, and we'll recommend some of the best breeds for first-time owners. By the end, you should have a good understanding of what to look for in a first-time dog, and you'll be well on your way to finding the perfect furry friend!

Understanding Your Lifestyle Before Choosing a Dog

Before looking at what makes certain breeds the best dogs for first-time owners, it’s important to understand your lifestyle. After all, if you’re going to look for a breed that matches your lifestyle, it’s important to know what that actually is, first. Certain aspects of your daily life can affect the best breed match and influence your relationship with your future dog. 

Here are things to consider before choosing the right breed for you: 

  1. Activity Level: Your daily activity level can greatly influence your choice. Active individuals might prefer a high-energy breed to accompany them on outdoor adventures, while those with a relaxed lifestyle might opt for a dog with lower energy demands.
  1. Living Space: Consider the size of your living space. Larger breeds often require more room to roam, whereas smaller breeds can adapt well to apartment living. Ensure your chosen breed will be comfortable and happy in your home.
  1. Family Dynamics: The family environment, including the presence of children or elderly members, is a vital consideration. Choose a breed with a temperament that aligns well with your family's dynamics, ensuring a peaceful and joyous coexistence.
  1. Work Schedule: Your work schedule dictates the amount of time you can dedicate to your new pet. If your work demands long hours, opting for a breed that is more independent and comfortable being alone might be a better fit.
  1. Hobbies and Interests: Align your personal hobbies and interests with your choice. If you enjoy dog sports or agility training, a breed known for its trainability could be ideal. Conversely, if you prefer quiet evenings, a laid-back breed might suit you better.
  1. Future Plans: Lastly, consider your future plans. If significant life changes are on the horizon, choose a breed that can adapt and grow with you, ensuring a fulfilling and lasting relationship.

What to Consider When Looking for Your First Dog

Once you understand your lifestyle and preferences, you can start applying those aspects to breed traits. Here are some additional factors you need to consider when choosing a dog for first-time owners:

  1. Energy level: Your own activity level can greatly influence the level of energy you can handle in a dog. If you are not a high-energy person, consider if you can handle the needs of a high-energy breed before you get an athlete. 
  2. Size: How much space do you have? Do you live in an apartment or a house with a yard? While many large breeds can live comfortably in an apartment when given adequate exercise outside the home, consider whether you have room for a giant crate, dog bed, etc. Generally speaking, the larger the dog, the larger the bills. 
  3. Temperament: What kind of personality do you want in a dog? Do you want a dog that is friendly and outgoing or one that is more reserved? 
  4. Trainability: How much time are you willing to put into training your dog? Some breeds are easier to train than others.
  5. Grooming needs: How much time are you willing to spend grooming your dog? Some breeds require more grooming than others. Dogs that need frequent grooming also incur higher grooming costs, unless you plan on grooming your dog at home. [link to how to groom at home post]
  6. Health: Some breeds are more prone to certain health problems than others. Do your research to find a breed known for its good health. Otherwise, you might find yourself surprised by frequent vet visits and high monthly premiums for pet insurance. 

The Best Dogs for First-Time Owners

While everyone’s needs will be unique, some dog breeds make excellent companions for just about every new dog owner. Known for their great personalities, ease of training, and overall “good dog” status, these 5 dog breeds take the cake when it comes to the best dogs for first-time owners. 

1. Labrador Retriever 

A yellow labrador puppy laying on a fuzzy blanket inside

Labrador Retrievers consistently rank as one of the most popular dog breeds, and for a good reason. Their affectionate nature and eagerness to please make them excellent dogs for first-time owners. Labradors are also known for their intelligence, making them relatively easy to train, even for those unfamiliar with dog training techniques.

Besides their bright minds, well-bred Labs have a stable and friendly temperament, making them great family pets, blending well with children and adults. Their adaptable nature allows them to fit comfortably into various lifestyles, whether active or more sedate. Labradors are generally healthy, but watch out for certain genetic conditions like hip and elbow dysplasia. If you love to swim, play fetch, or go for runs, a Lab is a great option for you! 

While they require regular exercise to keep them happy and healthy, their moderate grooming needs - a weekly brush and occasional baths - make their maintenance quite manageable. They also have a pleasant nature, making socialization a breeze. With a Labrador by your side, you will surely have a loyal, loving, and joyful companion for many years. 

2. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel 

A black and tan Cavalier King Charles Spaniel lying on a park bench

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, with its gentle disposition and affectionate nature, is an excellent breed for first-time owners, particularly singles and seniors. These small dogs are quite adaptable and can easily fit into different lifestyles, thriving in apartments and houses with yards. Their size makes them easy to manage, and their generally amicable disposition means they get along well with both people and other pets.

Known for their graceful appearance and expressive eyes, Cavaliers are relatively easy to groom, with a silky coat that requires regular brushing to keep it in top condition. Training them tends to be a delightful experience, given their eagerness to please their owners and their intelligent nature.

Their exercise needs are on the lower end of the spectrum, making them a great companion for leisurely walks in the park. Despite their royal appearance, they are quite robust and enjoy a bit of playtime. It's essential to note that they are predisposed to certain health issues, including heart conditions, so regular veterinary check-ups are necessary. If you decide to bring a CKCS into your life, look for a reputable breeder who completes all recommended health testing by the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, USA

3. Golden Retriever 

A Golden Retriever standing outside in grass

Like Labs, Golden Retrievers, with their friendly and tolerant attitude, are a great choice for someone venturing into pet ownership for the first time. Known for their intelligence and willingness to please, they are relatively easy to train. Additionally, their loving and gentle nature makes them excellent family pets, capable of forming deep bonds with every member, including children.

Their vibrant energy levels do demand regular exercise, making them a perfect companion for those who love outdoor activities. While they enjoy playtime, they are equally content with cozy snuggle sessions indoors. Their lush, golden coats require regular grooming to prevent matting and to maintain a healthy shine.

Though generally healthy, they can be prone to specific health issues like hip dysplasia; hence, a responsible breeding background and regular vet check-ups are vital. A Golden Retriever's loyal and affectionate nature promises a relationship full of love and joyful moments.

4. Beagle 

A young beagle looks up at his owner holding a dog biscuit

Beagles, with their curious and merry nature, are among the best dogs for first-time owners. They are particularly good with children, making them a great family pet. These small to medium-sized dogs are known for their keen sense of smell and adventurous spirit.

Though they may have a stubborn streak at times, their intelligence and willingness to learn can overcome training challenges, making the journey rewarding. They have moderate exercise needs, enjoying walks and play sessions equally. Because they like to follow their nose, it’s best not to trust them off-leash unless you’re in a fenced-in area. Their grooming requirements are relatively low, needing regular brushing to keep their coat healthy.

Beagles are generally robust, but regular veterinary check-ups can help keep common health issues at bay. Their sociable and friendly demeanor will win your heart and make them a favorite in your community. If you live in an apartment, keep in mind that Beagles, like most hounds, are very vocal dogs. They’re known to bark, bay, and howl–something your neighbors may not always appreciate. 

5. Bichon Frise

A fluffy Bichon Frise lying down outside in grass

The Bichon Frise, with its cheerful disposition and fluffy white coat, is an excellent dog breed for first-time owners, especially those living in apartments or smaller spaces. They are known for their friendly and sociable nature, getting along well with humans and other pets. Their small size and adaptable nature make them easy to manage for new dog owners of any age.

Training a Bichon Frise is usually a pleasant experience, as they are keen to please their owners and are quite intelligent. Their grooming needs are slightly higher than other breeds, requiring regular grooming sessions to maintain their beautiful coats. You should brush your Bichon daily and maintain a regular schedule at the groomers to keep them looking and feeling their best. 

While their exercise needs are not excessively high, they enjoy playful interactions and short walks, making them suitable companions for active and sedentary lifestyles. Generally healthy, they might be prone to certain allergies, requiring regular veterinary check-ups. 

Tips for First-Time Dog Owners

Now that you understand your lifestyle and know what to look for to find the best dog as a first-time dog owner, you’re probably anxiously awaiting the time to bring your new fur baby home. Whether you’re getting your first dog from a responsible breeder or rescue, here are some additional tips for first-time dog owners:

  1. Prepare Your Home: Dog-proof your home by securing hazardous materials, sharp objects, and small items that can be swallowed. Create a dedicated space for your dog with necessary supplies like a bed, bowls, and toys.
  2. Routine Veterinary Check-ups: Schedule regular veterinary check-ups to monitor your dog's health and to catch potential issues before they escalate.
  3. Obedience Training: Enroll your dog in an obedience training class. It's a great way to instill good behavior and manners from the start.
  4. Socialization: Early socialization with various people, animals, and environments will help your dog grow into a well-rounded adult.
  5. Nutrition: Focus on providing a balanced diet, consisting of high-quality dog food to ensure optimal health and wellbeing.
  6. Exercise: Ensure your dog gets adequate exercise based on its breed and energy level. Regular physical activity will keep your dog healthy and happy.
  7. Grooming: Establish a grooming routine from the start, including regular baths, brushing, and nail trims, to keep your dog looking and feeling their best.
  8. Patience and Consistency: Be patient and consistent with your training efforts. Understanding and adjusting to a new environment can take time.
  9. Love and Affection: Lastly, shower your new furry friend with love and affection. Building a strong bond is essential for a happy and fulfilling relationship.

Remember, owning a dog is a long-term commitment, requiring time, effort, and resources. By following these tips, you'll be well on your way to becoming a responsible and loving dog owner!

Take Care of Your First Dog with the Help of Joyride Harness 

Bringing home a new family member is an amazing experience, especially when it’s your first dog! But it can also be overwhelming. It’s important for you to know that you're not alone in this. At Joyride Harness, we are committed to standing beside you every step of the way, ensuring that your experience of being a new dog parent is as joyful as it is fulfilling.

At Joyride Harness, we understand that the road to becoming the perfect pet parent is paved with love, patience, and the right guidance. That’s why we’ve curated a blog of tips, tricks, and advice to make your venture into dog ownership a rewarding and pleasant experience. Whether you are searching for the perfect no-pull dog harness to make your walks more enjoyable or seeking guidance to understand the needs of your new puppy, you can find everything you need all in one place. 

Visit our website today to explore a world dedicated to enriching the lives of dogs and their owners alike!

Share this post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.


Headquartered in sunny Los Angeles , CA, we are committed to providing products that will make you and your dog happier and better with each other and out in the world.

learn more