The 10 Best Dog Breeds for First Time Owners

As we write this more than ever, people are buying and adopting dogs to keep them company. Like a lot of others you might never have owned a dog before. Doing some research before you take the plungs is a very good idea and hopefully this article will help. While all dogs look cute as pups, in this article we are looking at dog breeds best for first time owners.

On this list of dogs you will find the ones that are the easiest and most manageable for newbie owners, ranging from small to large breeds.

traits of good dog breeds for first time owners

Easy to manage can mean different things, and there are always exceptions in every breed. Very few dogs (if any) check every box. 

In general, we avoided breeds that tended to be too assertive, independent, or challenging to manage. Dogs that are too sensitive or nervous are also best left to veterans. We also looked for dogs that are resilient and forgiving of mistakes or inconsistencies. 

A good tip for newbie owners looking to adopt is finding a senior dog in the shelter. They are often overlooked and sadly some times euthanized. However aside from maybe needing a little extra joint and veterinary support, they sometimes make the easiest dogs to care for. 

Factors we have considered

  • Hypoallergenic coats—you may not be allergic to canines. However, you may have loved ones who are, so while no dog is entirely hypoallergenic, we still consider it a huge plus.
  • Low to medium energy levels—A high-energy dog is best left to experienced owners who know how to channel their need for activity.
  • Trainability—novice owners will do better with a dog that is eager to please and easy to train.
  • Friendliness and sociability—dominant or nervous breeds that can be aggressive towards people or other dogs are best left to owners with experience.
  • Grooming needs—if this your first dog, there’s no need to be overwhelmed with the hour of daily grooming a Samoyed usually needs.
  • Happy to stay at home alone—although you never want to leave your dog alone too long, needy dogs who become destructive alone can add strain to a happy home.
  • Good health—while perfect health can never be guaranteed, frequent vet visits can be stressful, so we crossed off the breeds known to have more health problems than most.

So, taking our seven factors into account, which dogs make the list as the best doggy companions for hitherto canine-lacking humans? Let’s have a look.

Italian Greyhound

An italian greyhound looking into the camera

A lapdog to the aristocracy in the middle ages, the Italian Greyhound is the perfect dog for novice owners. Although no dog is completely hypoallergenic, their short, fine coat makes them light shedders and less likely to cause allergies. They also need minimal grooming. 

They get on well with children and other dogs, and with regular exercise, they can adapt well to apartments. This makes them one of the easiest dogs of all for a novice owner.

Be warned, they may not like being left alone for long periods. If you need to leave the house to work and have nobody else at home, consider investing in doggy daycare or a pet sitter.

Affenpinscher

An affenpinscher standing besides its owner

With their cheerful little monkey faces, an Affenpinscher is hard not to love. Although they have more grooming requirements than the Italian Greyhound, they are also relatively hypoallergenic. 

They tend to get on well with strangers and other dogs, but they do not always do well with children, so this may not be ideal for a family. However, a bit of socialization early on can mitigate this problem. 

The Affenpinscher is also a very healthy breed, living 12 – 14 years on average. Unfortunately, they do not do well on their own either, so making sure they have company for most of the day is required.

Havanese

A havanese on the grass looking into the camera

Another non-shedder, hypoallergenic dog, the Havanese, is known for being acutely attached to its owner. So these are great dogs for somebody who is retired or who works from home. 

With their long coats, they might require more grooming or the frequent attention of a professional. But they can adapt well to apartments with regular walks and love to play. Therefore, they make excellent companion dogs with friendly, outgoing natures and unwavering loyalty.

Cardigan Welsh Corgi

A cardigan welsh corgi sitting on the grass

Few dogs can match the Corgi for sheer personality and character. 

Not to mention, scientifically speaking, the Corgi has the cutest butt in all the canine kingdoms.

Rarer than its Pembroke cousin, the Cardigan checks a lot of boxes for first-time owners. 

It adapts well to apartments and small spaces and can handle being on its own reasonably well. They’re affectionate dogs with all family members and are usually quite welcoming to kids, other dogs, and even strangers. It is also easy to train them, as they love to please their humans. Unfortunately, they need regular brushing, and they do shed, so they cannot be considered hypoallergenic.

Pug

A pug sitting on the floor looking into the camera

Attention lovers who adore hogging the spotlight, the Pug is a good choice for a first-time canine companion. They have low exercise requirements and do great in small spaces.  

They are also natural clowns and won’t mind if you don’t get everything perfectly right at puppy school, just so long as you keep the treats coming.

Pugs are amiable dogs who will get along well with family and other animals, children, and visitors. On the other hand, they are not hypoallergenic, and they do shed, but on the bright side, their grooming needs are minimal.

Basset

A white and brown basset looking to its owner

One of our first medium-sized breeds for novice dog owners is also one of the most adorable. The famous long ears and droopy eyes of the Hush Puppy mascot also happen to make good, low-maintenance pets for somebody getting their first dog. 

The Basset is a friendly dog who loves everyone, from the cat to the postman. He has low exercise requirements, but he is a hound, so make sure he is leashed on walks as he is sure to take off after any interesting scent. 

He is not the most trainable dog, nor is he hypoallergenic. Still, he is generally easy to live with and an irreplaceable character.

Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier

A Wheaten Terrier looking straight with its mouth open

An easy-going, medium-sized dog, the Wheaten Terrier is less likely to cause allergic reactions such as sneezing or itching than most other dogs. They do well in small spaces and adapt to apartments, so long as they get a reasonable amount of regular exercise.

They need more regular grooming than short-coat breeds, but they are loving and friendly dogs who get on well with other animals, children, and strangers. 

Wheaten Terriers are also generally very healthy dogs. They are eager to please, making them quite trainable for anybody ready to put the effort in.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel looking up in the camera

Any list of dog breeds for first time owners would be remiss without mentioning the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Amongst the most popular family dogs, this merry little spaniel is excellent for relatively active owners. However, it does not need excessive amounts of exercise.

It can adapt to apartments with the added bonus of not being a barker. That helps ensure you will get no complaints from the neighbors. 

They are not hypoallergenic and their coat needs regular maintenance. King Charles is a friendly little dog who fits in well with families and get along with other animals. As they are attached companion dogs it is best not to leave them alone for too long. When it comes to trainability, you will find them intelligent and eager to please. So much can be accomplished with this gorgeous little guy with a bit of practice.

Lagotto Romagnolo

A Lagotto Romagnolo standing beside a canal

Although rare, the Lagotto Romagnolo is ideal for first-time owners willing to invest in their coats’ upkeep. Although they have relatively high grooming needs, they are considered a hypoallergenic breed. This means friends or family with allergies can visit in peace. 

The Lagotta was originally bred for truffle hunting in Italy. As such they might need a bit more space than the other breeds on this list. They are generally happy-go-lucky and pleasant characters who are friendly with dogs, children, and people. Although, like any dog, they will benefit from early socialization. 

They are also healthy, intelligent, and straightforward to train.

Labradoodle

A labradoodle is an excellent choice among the more active dog breeds for first time owners.

Considered a designer dog rather than a purebred, the labradoodle has snowballed in popularity. 

These are intelligent and friendly dogs with low-shedding coats that can be helpful for those with allergies. 

Since this is essentially a crossbreed, they can vary slightly in terms of temperament and other traits. this depends on whether they take more after the Labrador or the Poodle. 

In general, they are affectionate and easy to train. They can thrive in an apartments but are among the more active dog breeds for first time owners. They tend to befriend all and make terrible guard dogs, but they are singularly devoted to their owners. Labradoodles are also generally quite healthy, and they love to play. 

For somebody looking for a dog they can take running, hiking, or regular visits to the dog park, this might be the ideal candidate.