What Dog Breed Is The Best For First-Time Owners

When it comes to choosing a dog for the first time, there can be a variety of factors for owners to consider. One way to determine the best type of dog (aside from personal preference) is to look into what you can expect from each respective breed.

Although no dog is the same, there are often commonalities in temperament, trainability, and other categories among breeds that can help first-time dog owners avoid choosing one they aren’t equipped to handle. While breeding is not a foolproof science (especially when it comes to producing superior dogs) several breeds are widely considered to be ideal fits for first-time dog owners.

Dog breeds that are good for first-time owners include poodles, papillon, labrador retrievers, basenjis, German shepherds, and the bichon frise. These breeds represent a wide swath of types and groups and there is sure to be one to suit almost any dog lovers’ desires.

To aid in this process, we’ve compiled all the need-to-know details for six of our favorite dog breed choices for first-time owners to consider.

Bichon Frise

For those that enjoy the breed’s highly manicured looks, the bichon frise can be an excellent choice for a first family dog. These good-natured dogs love everything and everyone, which makes them perfect for the dog-obedience novice. Bichon frises are generally agreeable, high-energy dogs that make great companions. Their hypoallergenic coat requires regular grooming, but that work is easily outsourced to a professional if it seems intimidating.

Standard Poodle

The standard poodle has a variety of advantages that make it an ideal candidate for one’s first dog. They are highly intelligent dogs that are very motivated to please their owners – this can make training a poodle a walk in the (dog) park. 

Poodles also shed less than most dogs – as they are hypoallergenic – so you don’t need to worry about excessive lint rollers and vacuuming schedules. If you are limited on space, the miniature and toy varieties share much of what makes the standard poodle such a great pet (albeit in a more compact size.)

Labrador Retriever

Labrador retrievers (also called labs) are highly recommended to first-time dog owners. This is largely thanks to their intelligence, trainability, and deep loyalty to their owners. Labs are a more active breed that will require regular outdoor time to remain happy and healthy.

As the name “retriever” indicates, they are good at retrieving. Whether a stick is thrown into the water, or a ball is thrown across the house, labs love to fetch. As a highly social breed, the labrador retriever does well even in the most chaotic of households.

Labs come in several different color varieties – some being rarer than others. If you see the specific color of labrador for sale that you want, be prepared to act fast, as they can move quickly. Seeing white labrador puppies for sale, for example, is a relative rarity. As coat color normally is established within a few weeks, you don’t need to worry about a new puppy’s coat shifting colors on you.


The papillon is a fiercely loyal and intelligent breed of dog that just happens to be one of the smaller-sized dogs to make this list. With a maximum weight of approximately ten pounds, a papillon is a great dog for those that have limited space.

Papillons are naturally good with kids, so no need to worry about introducing them to your child, or worrying about them when out and about. These dogs still need physical activity and mental stimulation, though. Papillons are easily trained and can live a very happy life largely indoors.

German Shepherd

With their somewhat fierce reputation as working law enforcement dogs, it may come as a surprise to some that German shepherds can be wonderful first-time family dogs as well. That is to say, with the proper training – of course. The same factor that makes German shepherds great on the job makes them great pets too: loyalty. These dogs will put their life on the line for the people they love. 

German shepherds can be aloof to strangers, but the effort of connecting with one will be repaid ten times over. German shepherds have a natural capacity to learn commands for a variety of tasks, so it’s easy to see why the German shepherd is considered by many to be the perfect family dog.


The basenji is a hunting breed that is most closely related to the spitz breed. They originated in central Africa. The basenji breed is known for one specific trait that sets them aside as a great option: they are quiet dogs. Bark training is a difficult and time-consuming process for dog owners.

The good thing is that basenjis rarely (if ever) bark. This makes the basenji an ideal choice for those that live in bustling living situations. They are less likely to become vocally triggered by things like neighbors or the mailman. 

Take Time to Pick the Right Dog

In conclusion, many breeds would make wonderful first dogs for any potential pet parent. What breed is right for you will largely come down to factors such as the space you have available, the time/effort you can put in, and personal preferences.

When choosing a dog, make sure to slow down and take your time. Dog ownership is a lifelong commitment that no one should rush into. This makes a thorough dog search well worth it in the end.