The Best Dogs for New Owners

Whether it’s your sole companion, a playmate for your kids, or a “fur baby” for you and your partner, bringing home your first dog is both exciting and scary. There’s a lot to learn about housebreaking, feeding routines, grooming, and general canine healthcare. Most of all, there’s inevitably a get-to-know-you period where you and your new four-legged friend learn about each other’s personalities and behaviors. You don’t want to come out of that period feeling that you’ve made the wrong dog choice. Fortunately, certain breeds tend to be the most suitable dogs for first-time owners, as they are more easy-going, lower maintenance, or less intimidating than some other breeds.

While every dog is unique, generally, dogs of each breed have relatively predictable energy levels, sizes, looks, and grooming needs. This can help you in determining the right dog for your lifestyle. Poodles, Labrador retrievers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and Yorkshire Terriers are just a few of the breeds well-suited to being first-time pets.

Here are the most suitable dog breeds for first-time owners.

1. Yorkshire Terrier

The Yorkshire Terrier is a great starter dog for those wanting a lap dog. This breed is affectionate towards its owners and protective of strangers. The Yorkie has a moderate energy level and only needs basic exercise. Daily walks are great for this breed. It also needs a solid training foundation. Without structure, these small dogs can be stubborn and vocal. Training your Yorkie as you would a big dog, and it will strengthen the bond between you and lay down boundaries. This dog has grooming needs that require attention. Yorkies have rapidly growing hair that must be brushed and trimmed regularly. If you have the time and budget for regular groomer visits, it will be fairly simple to keep your Yorkie in healthy condition.

Breed Overview


HEIGHT: 8 to 9 inches

WEIGHT: 5 to 7 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Long, straight, and silky coat; color combinations are black and gold, black and tan, blue and gold, and blue and tan

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 13 to 16 years

1. Poodle

There is no doubt that the Poodle is one of the most popular, versatile dog breeds that makes a wonderful companion. Poodles are adaptable and do well in a wide range of environments, including those with children. The breed is available in three sizes: toy, miniature, and standard. They are all intelligent and respond well to training. It is important for Poodles to get plenty of exercise and mental stimulation as they are energetic dogs. To maintain their curly, constantly growing coats, they must be groomed regularly.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Non-Sporting (AKC)

HEIGHT: Over 15 inches (standard); 10 to 15 inches (miniature); 10 inches and under (toy)

WEIGHT: 45 to 70 pounds (standard); 15 to 18 pounds (miniature); 5 to 9 pounds (toy)

COAT AND COLOR: One of many solid colors, including but not limited to white, black, gray, brown, apricot, and particolored

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 10 to 18 years

3. Pomeranian

A Pomeranian is a dainty and sweet lap dog. It is common for the Pom to bond close to a single owner, but it still does well in a family setting. While this breed is best suited to gentle older children, it is adaptable to a wide range of situations. Exercise on a daily basis is generally enough to keep your Pom happy. To provide structure and boundaries, they need basic training. Without training, the breed’s feisty and stubborn side may come out. Their response to consistent, positive training is excellent, and they will thrive as a result. He has a big fluffy coat and is bright and moderately active. Fortunately, its coat is not as high-maintenance as it looks. Regular brushing is generally all you need to keep your Pom looking pristine.

Breed Overview


HEIGHT: 6 to 7 inches

WEIGHT: 3 to 7 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Long, double coat that comes in many colors, though the most common are red, orange, cream, sable, black, brown, and blue

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 12 to 16 years

4. Papillon

Don’t let this dog’s diminutive frame fool you. Dogs of this breed are friendly, adaptable, and happy in a variety of households. The Podiac gets along with children, but they must be gentle. Papillons are hardy little dogs who enjoy an active lifestyle. He is both a lap dog and an exercise partner. The papillon does not need much exercise but wants a chance to play and run around. The breed is easy to train and requires moderate grooming.

Breed Overview


HEIGHT: 8 to 11 inches 

WEIGHT: 6 to 10 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Straight, long, single-layer coat with frills; white with markings and a mask of color, usually red, sable, black, or lemon

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 14 to 16 years

5. Maltese

It’s difficult to resist the Maltese’s adorable face and friendly nature. These dogs have beautiful silky coats that drape to the floor if left untrimmed, but regular haircuts can keep their coat short and manageable. Despite all that fur, they don’t shed much, but should be brushed daily. The Maltese is a very affectionate, happy breed that doesn’t require excessive exercise and enjoys spending time relaxing on your lap.

Breed Overview


HEIGHT: 7 to 9 inches

WEIGHT: Less than 7 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Long silky white coat

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 12 to 15 years

6. Labrador Retriever

A Labrador retriever is one of the most popular and recognizable medium-sized dog breeds. Labradors are excellent with children and adapt well to most environments. They are intensely loyal and affectionate dogs that form close bonds with their families. This breed is active, playful, and intelligent. They thrive in active households that can provide plenty of exercise and training. It is easy to train a lab to do almost anything, including fetching, running, and snuggling. Fortunately, they only have minor grooming needs, like regular brushing to minimize shedding.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Sporting (AKC)

HEIGHT: 21.5 to 24.5 inches

WEIGHT: 55 to 80 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Short, dense double coat in black, chocolate, or yellow

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 10 to 12 years

7. Great Dane

Don’t be intimidated by the Great Dane’s size. These oversized pooches are gentle giants, although they can be fierce watchdogs if they feel their family is endangered. In general, Great Danes are easy-going dogs who enjoy playing, are highly intelligent, and are very affectionate toward their owners. A dog this large needs careful obedience training, however, and while only moderate shedders, Great Danes tend to drool.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Working (AKC)

HEIGHT: 28 to 32 inches

WEIGHT: 110 to 175 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Short, smooth coat in almost any color or combination of colors

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 7 to 10 years

8. Golden Retriever

Golden retrievers are the quintessential family dogs; they are eager to please. Children of all ages love Golden Retrievers. Happy, loyal, affectionate, and active, this medium-sized dog is a joy to have around. Intelligent and adaptable, the breed can thrive in most households. Keeping them in good physical condition and preventing boredom requires a fair amount of exercise. The training process is not difficult, but it is essential. It is easy to train them to do many things, as they love to learn. The breed needs regular brushing to keep its coat free of tangles and mats. 

Breed Overview

GROUP: Sporting (AKC)

HEIGHT: 21.5 to 24 inches

WEIGHT: 55 to 75 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Medium-length double coat; light to dark gold

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 10 to 12 years

9. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are sweet, affectionate dogs with puppy-like characteristics. Cavaliers are good with children of all ages and thrive in all kinds of households. The breed has a gentle demeanor and is small, but not tiny. This dog is elegant, attentive, and generally quiet. Cavaliers have moderate energy levels, so regular exercise is usually sufficient to maintain their health. It responds well to basic training. This dog has a medium-length coat, but its grooming needs are basic. Regular brushing is essential to avoid hair tangles.

Breed Overview


HEIGHT: 12 to 13 inches (to the withers)

WEIGHT: 13 to 18 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Long, sleek and silky coat with feathering around ears, feet, chest, and tail in four color varieties, tricolor, blenheim, ruby, and black and tan

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 12 to 14 years

10. Boxer

If you are looking for a medium-large high-energy dog, look no further than the playful boxer. This loyal dog forms a close bond with his family. A boxer may be right for you if you live an active lifestyle. Exercise and training are essential for this breed. While young boxers can be a little hyperactive, they are trainable and enjoy attention during training. Often, boxers get along well with children once they have been trained and socialized. Boxers, by nature, are protective of their families, especially children. A boxer’s grooming needs are basic.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Working (AKC)

HEIGHT: 1 foot, 9 inches to 2 feet, 1 inch at the shoulder

WEIGHT: 55 to 70 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Short coat; fawn and brindle are the standard colors

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 10 to 12 years

11. Bichon Frise

Bichon Frizes are happy-go-lucky little dogs, perfect for families with children or for apartment dwellers. It resembles a bouncy cotton ball. All-around, this breed is a great companion. Training Bichons is relatively easy, they adapt well to any lifestyle, and they only require moderate daily exercise to stay healthy and happy. You will need to make regular grooming appointments. This breed’s curly coat needs to be trimmed regularly and brushed carefully. For a low-maintenance coat, keep your bichon’s hair cut short.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Non-Sporting (AKC)

HEIGHT: 9 to 12 inches

WEIGHT: 7 to 12 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Curly white coat; may have traces of apricot, buff, or cream

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 14 to 15 years

12. Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain Dogs may be big, but they are also easy-going, eager to please, affectionate, and intelligent. While they enjoy romping with the kids, they are also happy to spend an evening relaxing at home. While not aggressive, they make good watchdogs and are very devoted to their owners despite not being aggressive. Be aware, however, that Berners shed quite a bit and do require regular brushing to remove loose hair.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Working (AKC)

HEIGHT: 23 to 27.5 inches

WEIGHT: 70 to 115 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Medium length double coat in black, tan, and white

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 7 to 10 years