Skip to main content

These are the best breeds for first-time dog owners

If you’ve never owned a dog before, the prospect of becoming a first-time dog owner is an exciting one. That being said, choosing the right breed can be a daunting task when you’re not sure what to look for in a pooch. While it might be tempting to adopt the first precious pup you encounter, you could be in for an unpleasant surprise if you take home a high-energy breed with specialized grooming needs. If you want to avoid second-guessing your decision, we recommend opting for low-maintenance breeds that suit your lifestyle needs. We’ll walk you through how to choose the right dog, and we’ll share some of the best breeds for first-time owners.  

A Golden Retriever lying on a tan leather sofa.
Steph Munden from Pexels

The top 5 breeds for new dog owners

If you’ve been looking for the perfect pooch, you’re guaranteed to love one of these breeds. 

Related Videos

Golden retriever

A member of the sporting group, golden retrievers are 21.5–24 inches tall and weigh 55–75 pounds. Their double coat ranges from pale, creamy yellow to a rich, reddish gold, and they have an average life expectancy of 10–12 years. Goldens are America’s third-most-popular dog, and it’s easy to see why. Their gentle natures make them the perfect dog if you have other pets or children.

Golden retrievers need daily walks to prevent boredom and maintain good health. If you love being outdoors, a golden retriever makes the ideal companion, but they’re equally at home sprawled out at your feet. You’ll need to keep your golden brushed to prevent tangles, but they have fairly minimal grooming needs. Best of all, their intelligence and eagerness to please make them easy to train

Great Dane

While it might surprise you to see such a massive dog on the list, Great Danes are gentle giants. These pups, members of the working group, seem to have no concept of how large they are, and they tend to be couch potatoes. Measuring 28–32 inches and weighing a hefty 110–175 pounds, Great Danes have a life expectancy of roughly seven to 10 years.

Their short coats require minimal grooming, and their sweet, patient demeanor makes it an easy and enjoyable task. This calm-mannered breed is the perfect companion for homebodies — they’re happiest cuddling with their family! While every dog is different, the vast majority of Danes are extremely docile, which makes them an excellent breed for households with children and cats. (Fun fact: Despite the name, Great Danes are a German breed, not a Danish one.)

A Black and Tan Cavalier King Charles Spaniel lying on a white bed.
Radovan Zierik from Pexels

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Thanks to their large, round eyes, this toy breed retains a youthful appearance well into adulthood. Perfect for small homes and apartments, Cavaliers are petite, measuring 12–13 inches tall and weighing around 13–18 pounds. They have a life expectancy of 12–14 years.

Cavaliers have sweet dispositions, and they typically get along well with children and other pets. Clever and friendly, Cavaliers are relatively easy to train. You’ll need to brush them frequently to prevent their long, silky coat from becoming tangled. While they need some form of daily exercise, their small build means a short walk or indoor playtime is generally enough to keep them active and happy. 


Named for their butterfly-shaped ears, papillons are tiny members of the toy breed. They’re only 8–11 inches tall and weigh a dainty 5–10 pounds. They have a life expectancy of 14–16 years, ideal for anyone who wants to spend a long time with their pup.

Despite their long coats, papillons don’t require much grooming. They have a medium-high energy level, so they’ll be happy to run around with you in your backyard, but they’re also wonderful TV-watching companions. Papillons are friendly, easy to train, and good for all households as long as your kids are old enough to be gentle with this tiny pup. 

Mixed breeds

While purebred dogs are lovely, mixed breeds should never be dismissed. Their diverse genetics often means they’re healthier than purebred dogs, and it’s also their diversity that makes them laid-back and friendly companions. Some dogs are great with children and cats, while others are better suited to living in a one-person household. Knowing what you don’t want is every bit as important as knowing what you do want, and the staff can help you find the best dog for your lifestyle. 

Choosing the perfect dog for your lifestyle

While it’s easy to make a sweeping generalization and recommend laid-back lapdogs to everyone, that’s not necessarily the best fit for every household. The perfect breed for you will be different from someone else’s ideal companion. For example, if you live in a small home without access to a ton of outdoor space, you’ll probably want to stick with smaller breeds. However, if you’re outdoorsy and spend a great deal of time running or hiking, you’ll want to choose a breed that can accompany you on your adventures.

A beige miniature Poodle sitting with a woman in a striped shirt and cut-off denim shorts.
Julia Volk from Pexels

Finding the perfect match depends on your energy level, how much time you can spend on grooming and training, and whether you want to adopt a puppy or an adult. Puppies require more time and energy than adults, but they’re also blank slates. If you have cats, adopting a puppy allows you to train them to get along well with your feline friend, whereas adult dogs might have a harder time adjusting to sharing a home with another animal. Determined to adopt an adult? Check with your local animal rescue, as staff members have spent time getting to know each dog. They’ll be able to recommend a cat-friendly pooch. 

Editors' Recommendations

Expert tips for taking your puppy on their first walk
Is it time for puppy's first walk? Prepare with this expert advice
A brown puppy wearing a neon orange harness looks up

Bringing home a new puppy can be one of the most exciting times in a person's life, but that doesn't mean you'll have picture-perfect moments every time. In fact, helping your four-legged bundle of joy reach their milestones can be downright frustrating at times! It happens to the best of us, but we're happy to tell you that some of those milestones -- like walking your puppy for the first time -- can be reached with a shortcut or two. And that's where Lorna Winter comes in.

Winter is a veteran dog trainer and the co-founder of Zigzag, which is a puppyhood training app that you can customize to help you and your dog succeed. Since she's such an expert when it comes to all of a puppy's "firsts," we asked her for her best advice when taking a puppy on their first walk. As you might have guessed, it's a lot more complicated than simply putting on a leash and going for a stroll!

Read more
Can huskies be aggressive? It depends on the circumstances
Huskies can be hyperactive, but are they aggressive? Experts weigh in
A blue-eyed Siberian husky puppy sitting on grass

With their luxurious coats and striking blue eyes, huskies are an immediately recognizable breed. Given their size and stubborn personalities, many prospective husky parents wonder, "Are huskies aggressive?" According to the American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standard, "The characteristic temperament of the Siberian husky is friendly and gentle [...] he does not display the possessive qualities of the guard dog, nor is he overly suspicious of strangers or aggressive with other dogs."

That being said, just because the AKC breed standard claims huskies aren't an aggressive breed doesn't mean they can't become aggressive in certain circumstances. We'll go over the different types of aggression in dogs, how to deal with your pup if he becomes aggressive, and -- most importantly -- we'll walk you through the warning signs of aggression, so you can nip it in the bud before it starts.

Read more
New Year’s resolutions that can make you a better pet parent in 2023
5 ways you can become the best pet parent this year
A woman strokes a blue-eyed white dog while outside

We all kick off the new year with resolutions, but for pet lovers, the goal to be a better pet parent is a resolution worth keeping. From teaching your fur babies to get along to helping your cat kick a treat addiction, there are plenty of things we can do to improve our four-legged friends' quality of life. We'll take a deep dive into the top New Year's resolutions pet parents should make to ensure their furry companions stay happy and healthy throughout 2023.

How to set a New Year's resolution you'll keep
We all start off the new year with the best of intentions, vowing to eat healthier, get more exercise, and spend less time doomscrolling on social media. However, by the end of January, the vast majority of people have already started to backslide -- or have given up on their resolutions altogether. But when you're setting resolutions with your fur babies in mind, keeping them is more important than ever. Try:

Read more