While the prospect of becoming a first-time dog owner can be thrilling, it could become more of a challenge than you imagined if you choose the wrong breed for your needs.

There are 192 dog breeds recognized by the AKC (American Kennel Club), so it may initially seem bewildering when you’re trying to create a suitable shortlist. Fortunately, most dog breeds have reasonably predictable looks, sizes, energy levels, and grooming needs. This means that with some patience and planning, you can maximize the chance of finding a dog breed that meshes with your lifestyle and experience level.

There is no single breed that makes a universally good choice for all first-time owners. What counts is finding a breed with characteristics that match your levels of energy and attention. Those who like the idea of a lazy lap dog should avoid dogs with high energy levels. Get this wrong and you could end up with a dog displaying destructive tendencies out of frustration.

In most cases, dogs with low maintenance needs are a smart move for first-time pet parents.

You could also consider bringing home a dog from a rescue shelter. This means you could get a pet who is already socialized and house-trained, and you could avoid many of the rigors of puppy parenthood.

12 of the Best Dog Breeds for First-Time Owners

    1. Boxer
    2. Labrador Retriever
    3. Poodle
    4. Mixed Breeds
    5. Yorkshire Terrier
    6. Pomeranian
    7. Papillon
    8. Golden Retriever
    9. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
    10. Bichon Frise
    11. Pug
    12. Greyhound

1) Boxer


Boxers are medium to large dogs with fairly high energy levels. They also have remarkably playful dispositions and make great pets for first-time owners.

You should only consider a boxer if you have an active lifestyle, and you can satisfy the high energy levels this breed is famous for.

Additionally, boxers require a solid foundation of training if you want an easy and rewarding road ahead. Fortunately, the grooming needs of this breed are straightforward.

Once a boxer is properly trained and socialized, they can thrive as an endearing addition to an active family. The naturally protective instincts of this breed mean that boxers will act as guardians of kids in the family.

2) Labrador Retriever


One of the most popular medium to large dog breeds, the Labrador retriever is highly adaptable and capable of thriving in many different environments.

This breed is an especially good choice if you have children at home. Labs are loyal and affectionate, and they are also extremely playful, making for a winning combo with kids.

Labs also require active households if they are to be happy and healthy. As long as you can meet the exercise needs of this playful but energetic breed, you will find you can train your Lab to do almost anything.

The coats of this breed shed minimally, and grooming needs overall are basic.

3) Poodle


One of the most versatile and popular of all dog breeds, the poodle makes a superb companion dog.

There are three types of poodle:

  1. Standard
  2. Miniature
  3. Toy

The only difference between the types of poodle is their size. All sizes of poodle are smart dogs that are highly responsive to training.

You will also need to give these dogs lots of exercise and you should keep them mentally stimulated to prevent the manifestation of antisocial behaviors.

Also, factor in the grooming requirements of this dog. Those curly coats are continually growing and call for reasonably intensive grooming. Despite these potential pitfalls, a poodle is typically considered suitable for first-time dog owners.

4) Mixed Breeds


You might consider a mixed breed dog.

If you are thinking about a mixed breed canine, it is worth visiting a local rescue shelter. Speak with the workers about what you’re looking for in a dog and they may advise you that a mixed breed would be a rewarding challenge.

5) Yorkshire Terrier


Yorkshire terriers are lap dogs with a great deal of attitude. Affectionate and protective, these dogs don’t need much by the way of exercise.

You will need to create a firm foundation with training a Yorkshire terrier from a young age. Get this wrong and you could find your Yorkie becomes vocal and stubborn. You can train this small dog just as you would a larger breed, building a strong bond between you and laying down boundaries.

The grooming needs of these dogs are quite intensive. Their coats continually grow. You’ll need to invest plenty of time and effort into brushing and trimming the coat.

6) Pomeranian


The Pomeranian, commonly abbreviated to the Pom, is a small and dainty lap dog ideal for those not prepared to give a dog vigorous exercise. Some basic daily exercise and a walk should satisfy your Pomeranian.

In most cases, Poms bond best with a single owner, but this doesn’t mean they cannot fit into a family setup. The size of this breed means they don’t make the wisest choice if you have small kids at home.

With early training, you’ll provide this breed with boundaries and structure. If you don’t train a Pomeranian, you may find that the stubborn side of the breed comes to the fore, a potential challenge for first-time pet parents.

Despite the appearance, the fluffy coat of this breed is not too demanding to groom. Brush your Pom regularly and that’s about the extent of maintenance.

7) Papillon


The Papillon is a tiny dog with a huge heart.

This breed will get along well with kids, assuming that the children handle the dog with care.

Although papillons can function as lap dogs, they also enjoy getting out and about.

Easy to train and with moderate grooming requirements, papillons are one of the most rewarding and low-maintenance options for first-time pet parents.

8) Golden Retriever


If you want a family dog that is eager to please, look no further than a golden retriever.

This breed is medium to large and thrives with children of all ages. Affectionate, loyal, and active, golden retrievers are adaptable enough to slot into most households.

You should make sure you can provide this dog with plenty of activity and mental stimulation or boredom could set in.

If you regularly brush the coat of a golden retriever to keep it tangle-free, you’ll have a dog that makes a wonderful choice for inexperienced owners.

9) Cavalier King Charles Spaniel


Cavalier King Charles spaniels are cute dogs with the demeanor of puppies. This breed is a smart bet if you have kids at home.

With moderate exercise needs, a daily walk should keep your cavalier happy.

Even though this breed has a lengthy coat, grooming needs are quite basic.

10) Bichon Frise


The bichon frise is an ideal breed for first-time pet parents who live in apartments. With low energy levels and modest exercise requirements, the bichon frise is a cinch to own.

This breed gets along well with children.

The drawback of bichon frises comes in the form of reasonably demanding grooming requirements.

11) Pug


Pugs are a popular choice for inexperienced pet parents due to their laid-back natures.

With short coats that call for little by the way of grooming, these dogs work well in small family units.

You’ll need to give a pug modest daily exercise to keep him happy and healthy.

This breed is prone to various health complications, including breathing difficulties and eye issues.

12) Greyhound


Greyhounds are affectionate dogs who love nothing more than curling up on the couch with their owners.

That said, this breed also has notoriously high energy levels due to their hunting origins. You should avoid this breed if you have cats or rabbits in the house. Otherwise, a greyhound is a perfect pet for a first-time owner.

What Breeds Should You Avoid as a First-Time Pet Parent?

Most inexperienced pet owners should avoid breeds with the following characteristics:

  • Independent
  • Stubborn
  • Unpredictable

Breeds exhibiting the above characteristics will require extensive socialization and behavioral training. They will also need close supervision around strangers, making for a less than relaxing introduction to pet parenthood.

You may also consider avoiding these dogs if you have never owned one before:

  • Herding dogs
  • Active terriers
  • Dogs bred for protection
  • High-maintenance breeds


Hopefully, today’s guide has given you some inspiration if you were stuck for ideas for suitable breeds for an experienced or first-time owner.

Choosing the right dog as a first-time pet parent could mean the difference between a lifetime of dog ownership and being scared off due to choosing the wrong type of dog for you and your family.

Stick with any of the breeds we highlight today, and you should find yourself enjoying the challenges of dog ownership rather than being driven to distraction.

Bookmark GO Boxer Rescue and be sure to pop back soon. We have a busy content calendar for the coming holiday season.

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