Good Dogs for First Time Owners – Our 8 Favorites

Good Dogs for First Time Owners - Our 8 Favorites

Looking to adopt your very first dog but don’t know where to start? Or have you previously owned dogs, but are looking for a breed that fits seamlessly into your lifestyle? Well, look no further! We’re going to take you through our 8 favorite breeds for first time dogs owners, and why they might be the perfect fit for you.

Golden Retriever

Looking for a dog that’s pretty much perfect? Well, look no further than the golden retriever! There’s a reason why the golden retriever is such a popular family dog – they can fit in seamlessly with pretty well any situation, and would be a suitable pet for any age. These dogs are incredibly friendly, great with children, easy to train, and are fiercely loyal. Already have a pet but are looking to get another? Golden retrievers are great with other pets too, being one of the least aggressive dogs out there.

Keep in mind that golden retrievers are not low energy dogs, so if you’re looking for a dog that does not need some serious outdoor time, then they’re probably not for you. However, if you love the idea of owning a dog who can keep up with your sporty lifestyle, as well as having a ton of energy left over to play with your kids, than you and the golden retriever will get along just fine!

Golden retrievers are also excellent hunting dogs, and were actually given the name “retriever” due to their exceptional ability to retrieve shot game birds completely undamaged, due to their gentle nature and soft mouths.

You will often see golden retrievers crossed with poodles and Labrador retrievers, as these pups all have similar qualities.

The golden retriever generally weighs anywhere from 55 to 75 lbs., and has a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years.

Bichon Frise

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Looking for a dog that’s on the smaller side, but as sweet and playful as the golden retriever? The bichon frise is an all-around fantastic choice for new dog owners.  Although you do need to be prepared to shell out regular time and money on getting them groomed – the bichon rarely sheds or drools, which largely makes up it. The bichon frise is also hypoallergenic, so if you or a family member has allergies, this may just be the perfect dog for you. 

The bichon frise is definitely considered a family dog, being happy-go-lucky, playful, easily trained and exceptionally cuddly. Due to their size and energy level, they’re great for apartment living, as they really only require a moderate amount of exercise.

While the bichon is small it is not a toy breed, and it doesn’t have any of the sometimes “undesirable” characteristics that are associated with toy dogs – such as the excessive barking, and that classic small dog attitude! It’s important to note that the bichon does not like to be left alone for long periods of time, so they may not be for you if you spend the majority of your day at work.

The bichon weighs 6 to 12 lbs. on average, and has a lifespan of about 12 to 15 years.

Labrador Retrievers

The Labrador retriever is another fantastic pick when it comes to choosing a first-time dog. These breeds are one of the most popular and recognizable, and for good reason! The Labrador retriever exhibits many of the same characteristics of the golden retriever, making them a perfect family pet. They are loyal, playful, and incredibly smart. Labrador retrievers love to be taught new things, and can pretty well be taught to do anything.

They do require quite a bit of exercise, especially in their early years, so this breed is best if you have an active lifestyle. If not given enough exercise, the lab is likely to act out purely from boredom. This breed loves to play, which is especially great if you have children (they can and will play fetch for hours, which is great for tuckering out both your pup and your kids!).

The lab is highly adaptable to most situations, and loves to cuddle. They also are only moderate shedders, so their grooming needs are minimal (the golden retriever requires significantly more grooming due to the length of their hair). One small down side (more for the pup than for you) is that Labradors love to eat, so they can become overweight easily. This is something that you need to watch for them, and keep them on a lean, low-fat balanced diet.

Labs tend to weigh anywhere from 55 to 80 lbs., partly due to the fact that there are two different types of labs – English and American. English tends to be visibly shorter and stockier than the American. The life expectancy of a Labrador retriever is 10 to 14 years.


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Greyhounds are actually one of the more laidback breed choices, despite the fact that they are often bred for racing. If you’re looking for a dog that is less active than the Golden or Labrador retriever, but can still keep up with you if you’re looking to go out for a hike or run, this very well might be the dog for you.

This is exceptionally ideal if you live in an apartment. Greyhounds are gentle dogs, and they have great manners. They love nothing more than to sit around and cuddle. They’re highly adaptable, are great when meeting new people, and are known for being an all-around healthy dog.

Greyhounds are also easy to groom due to their short hair, and are moderate shedders. However, due to the fact that the greyhound does have such short hair and thin skin, they do not make great outdoor dogs – they can become overheated very easily. Greyhounds can never be kept outdoors for this reason, and you must use caution when going outdoors with them – if it’s a cold day, make sure you dress them accordingly.

If you feel like the greyhound may be for you, there are plenty of greyhound specific dog rescues around, due to the fact that greyhounds are often bred purely for racing, and not as family pets.

Greyhounds tend to weigh anywhere from 57 to 88 lbs. on average, and have a life expectancy of 10 to 14 years.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The cavalier King Charles spaniel is perfect if you’re looking for a beautiful, well-behaved dog that has a fantastic temperament. This is certainly another breed that can get a bad rep due to its smaller size, however there is virtually nothing not to love about this dog. If you want a loving, constant, devoted companion for any age or walk of life, this breed is definitely for you. The cavalier King Charles spaniel is smart, sensitive, compassionate, and loving. They also do not show signs of aggression, even towards other dogs.

A common misconception about them is that due to their beautiful coats, they’re actually high maintenance, and require constant trips to the groomer. However, beyond having a good hair cut every now and again, they are quite easy to clean, and really only need a bath and a brush to have them looking in tip top shape. While they are not hypoallergenic, they also don’t have an oily coat, so most who are allergic to dogs will not have a reaction to this breed.

Although spaniels in general can be fairly high energy, as long as your cavalier is getting at least a moderate amount of exercise, they’ll be happy to just snuggle with you on the couch at the end of the day.

The cavalier generally weighs anywhere from 13 to 18 pounds, and has a life expectancy of 9 to 14 years.


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The pug is an excellent breed for someone who wants a small, laid back dog that doesn’t require a whole lot of exercise or maintenance. Pugs have a great temperament, and love everyone and everything (including other pets).

If you have an active lifestyle that you’d prefer your pup to be a part of, however, this breed is probably not for you! Pugs really only need a daily walk around the block, as they overheat easily, so a low intensity lifestyle is completely fine for them – also making them the ideal apartment dog. They’re also an ideal dog to have if you’re going to be away from home for long stretches of time due to work, as they generally sleep for 12 hours or more during the day.

Despite their low energy lifestyle, pugs love to play and are great with children, making them an ideal family pet. They are also not violent or aggressive, love to cuddle, and consider everyone to be their friend. We’re not sure what else you could possibly look for in a dog!

Pugs tend to weigh anywhere from 14 to 18 pounds, and have a lifespan of 12 to 15 years.


The poodle is another fantastic choice for first time dog owners, and you get to pick out of three different sizes depending on your preference – standard, miniature and toy. While poodles are fairly high energy, they make fantastic companions and family pets if given the proper exercise. Poodles are incredibly smart, and are playful and loving dogs.

Another huge bonus to the already well-rounded poodle is that they don’t shed, and are hypoallergenic, being the absolute best-case scenario breed for you if you have allergies. Due to the fact that any shedding that the poodle does generally just gets caught in their own coat, you do need to make sure that you’re brushing your poodle’s fur consistently to get out any hair that has built up – but this tends to be worth it for dog owners who don’t want hair all over their home.

Finally, poodles of all three types are the best cuddle buddies, and with their teddy bear like qualities, who wouldn’t want to curl up on the couch for a cuddle with them?

While all three types of poodle vary in weight, the standard poodle weighs anywhere from 45 to 70 pounds, and has a lifespan of about 12 years, while their smaller counterparts live on average to 14 years.

Mixed breed dogs

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Let’s not leave mixed breed dogs off the list! Mixed breed dogs often make the best companions, as they tend to combine some of the best attributes of more than one breed. As mentioned above, both poodles and labs combined with golden retrievers can make excellent, incredibly loyal, affectionate, well rounded pets. Some other popular mixed breeds that make excellent dogs for first time owners include:

  • Cavachon (cavalier King Charles spaniel and bichon frise)
  • Puggle (beagle and pug)
  • Cockapoo (cocker spaniel and poodle)
  • Shih-poo (shih-tzu and toy poodle)
  • Schnoodle (poodle and schnauzer)
  • Labradoodle (Labrador retriever and poodle)
  • Beagleman (beagle and Doberman pinscher)

Mixed breed dogs are also known for having fewer health problems than a pure-bred dog, as they are less prone to inherit genetic diseases as a result of interbreeding. This doesn’t just apply to their physical health, but also to undesirable traits that have to do with their temperament or intelligence. Each mixed breed dog is also guaranteed to look slightly different, so you’re really getting a one of a kind dog.

There is also the financial aspect of not purchasing a purebred dog, as purebreds are often significantly pricier than a mixed breed, no matter where you are adopting them.


We hope we have given you some great insight on what route to go as a first-time dog owner. Many first-time dog owners do not realize how important it is to do their research when it comes to dog breeds, for yourself and for your new pup. Make sure that whichever dog you choose to get, that you can provide each other with the happiness and comfort you need for a long life together. After all, you’re essentially adopting a new best friend!

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