Best Dogs for First Time Owners

The decision to own a dog seems like a pretty simple one on the surface, but what breed of dog would be the best for first-time dog owners? You probably already have some preconceived notions of what breeds you like and basic personality traits you want as first-time owners, but there are many factors that play a part in choosing a dog breed.

So often you may spend a majority of time thinking about what breed of dog you may want to own, but you also dream about what name you will give the dog!

What Size Dog Do You Want?

Dogs come in ALL sizes! There are different breeds of dogs that cover them all, from 5 pounds little dogs to well over 100. First time owners should sure to pick a breed that will compliment your home, and realize how big the puppy is going to get! He might be a cute little thing like a shih tzu right now, but a large breed dog won’t stay that size forever and your apartment isn’t going to give him the room he needs to get plenty of exercise.

How Much Activity Will The Dog Receive Daily?

Every new dog owner begins with the intention of walking the dog at least once a day, but this usually doesn’t happen very often when your lifestyle catches up. If you can’t guarantee an adequate amount of exercise of the dog then choose a breed that will be content to lay around most of the day. Especially if you know the dog will be by itself in your home for long periods of time (if you’re at work) avoid breeds that are naturally high strung.

Is The Breed Known For Aggression?

Any dog of any breed can become aggressive if not trained properly or abused, but some breeds have a higher tendency to be dominate or aggressive dogs. If you’re willing to put in the time training the dog and your circumstances allow for you to take a chance, these dogs can become wonderful pets. If you have children or other animals, however, avoid breeds that can lean toward aggression.

Do You Have Allergies?

They now make hypoallergenic dogs! Actually there always have been, but your choices are getting broader. If you’d still like a dog, but suffer from related allergies know that there are still breeds out there that you can get that won’t cause you to suffer.

Who’s Grooming The Dog?

Every dog is going to be bathed and brushed once in a while, some quite a lot for frequently than others. You can always take your long-haired dog to the groomers, but that can get expensive. If you don’t want to do a lot of maintenance on the dog’s coat, avoid long-haired dogs or those that are known for shedding.

Know Your Lifestyle

Think about what goes on with your family on a daily basis. Is someone always at home during the day or do you have a job that keeps you away? Puppies need a lot of attention in the beginning and frequent bathroom breaks. You don’t need to stay home all day with your puppy every day, but if it’s more likely than not that the puppy will be alone for more than 4 hours frequently, an older dog would probably be the better option.

Consider The Future

You’re dog will be with you a long while if all goes well. Think about what could happen in the next decade or so of your life. Are you planning a major move or having children? Depending on what you’re planning for the future, certain dogs will be better suited to handle the changes. For example, small dogs fit well into apartments, and a territorial dog is not going to be the perfect pet while also having a baby. You might not be able to predict everything that’s going to happen that far down the road, but taking some of the major “ifs” into consideration will help ensure your dog is always a good part of your family.

Research Dog Breeds

You should have some idea of what characteristics would be a good fit for you family based on your lifestyle and future needs. Breeds are bred for specific reasons; this will make it easier to predict the personality traits of the dog you want. Do you need a big, lazy dog or a small, hyper one? How about one that doesn’t shed too much? All aspects of a dog should be considered when doing your research.

He’s Cute But Is The Right One?

You’ve done all your research, made a note of what you need and a few breeds that overlap perfectly into those needs. Then you see the cutest puppy in the world and forget everything else. It’s easy to pick up a cute puppy and think you’ll make it work, but the reality is he might be the opposite of what you need. Stay strong to your mission of finding the right dog, not just the cutest one.

Spend Time With The Prospective Dog

Whether you’re getting the dog from a shelter or from a breeder you’ll need to spend time with him before bringing home. You should spend as much time as possible before making it official to get a good feel for the dog. If you’re adopting, find out as much information as possible about the dog’s history (if it’s an adult dog), and if you’re buying from a breeder ask to meet the parents or at least find out as much information about them as possible. Make sure everyone in your family wants the dog. Don’t make the adjustment harder for you or the dog than is necessary. Everyone should be in agreement about the dog that’s coming home.

The Best Dog Breeds For Families

When choosing a family dog, the first thing you should consider is whether or not the breed of dog is good with children. Several dog breeds are considered to be good with children. Once you know which dog breeds are good with children, you can look at the different traits of each breed to decide which would fit best with your family.

Golden Retrievers For The First-Time Dog Parent

The golden retriever is ranked second in popularity among American Kennel Club (AKC) registered breeds. This is largely because of the breed’s reputation as a good family dog. The breed is friendly, devoted and obedient. It does need daily exercise and metal stimulation to be happiest. It requires minor grooming in the form of twice weekly brushing.

A Labrador Retriever Is Also Great For New Owners

The Labrador retriever or lab, is the No. 1 ranked breed by the AKC. Labs come in three colors: yellow, chocolate and black. Male labs are about 2 feet in height and between 65 and 80 lbs. Female labs are just under 2 feet in height, and between 55 and 70 lbs. in weight.

Labs are pleasant dogs that are also obedient and devoted. They train easily because they are eager to please. A lab does need lots of exercise, but loves to swim and retrieve.


Ranked seventh in popularity by the AKC, the boxer is a good dog breed for an active family. Male boxer are around 2 feet in height, while females come in just under 2 feet in height. Weight-wise male boxers fall between 65 and 80 lbs., and females fall between 50 and 65 lbs.

Boxers tend to be playful and exuberant. They are also inquisitive, outgoing and a bit stubborn. However, the boxer is also devoted and responds well to reinforced commands. Boxers love to run, so a daily walk or jog suits them well. They need only and occasional brushing, so they are considered very low maintenance.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a small and elegant dog breed known for its affectionate nature. They are great dogs and a great choice is you have young children. They have a distinctive, silky coat that comes in various colors.

Cavaliers are friendly, gentle, and sociable, making them excellent family pets. While they enjoy daily walks and playtime, they are not overly demanding in terms of exercise. However, they are prone to certain genetic health problems, including heart murmurs and mitral valve disease. Despite the health issues, Cavaliers make great companions for first time dog owners that thrive on human interaction.

The Beagle Will Be Loved By All Family Members

Third in AKC most popular dog breeds, the beagle is a well-rounded and social scent hound. On one hand, the beagle thrives on companionship, but on the other it is active and adventurous. It is content with a walk, or yard exercise. Both male and female beagles are between 12 and 15 inches in height, and 18 to 30 lbs. in weight. They are great for novice owners.

West Highland White Terrier Is The Easiest Dog Breeds To Have

The west highland white terrier, or westie, is ranked 31st among the AKC breeds. This curious, affectionate and happy dog is widely considered to be the friendliest of the terrier breeds. It is also known to be demanding, independent and stubborn. It has a tendency to bark often and may dig a lot. This breed is great of you have an active lifestyle.

The westie requires regular brushing two to three times each week. It may also require a trim every two to three months and bathing from time to time to keep its coat white. Westies are about 10 inches in height, and between 15 to 21 lbs. in weight.

Shetland Sheepdog Is The Perfect Match For Your Family

Shetland sheepdogs or shelties, are smart smart herding playful dogs, ranked 17th among the AKC best breeds. Many people think shelties look like small collies. Both sexes weigh about 20 lbs. and are between 13 and 16 inches in height. The sheltie has a thick coat that requires brushing and combing every other day.

The sheltie is obedient, sensitive, devoted and eager to please. It is a very quick learner and the perfect companion. They are also pleasant, playful and gentle in demeanor. They have boundless energy and require a lot of exercise in the form of a active game, jog or walk. Left without exercise, a sheltie may nip at the heels of small children because of its herding instinct.

A dog is a wonderful addition to a family, and can be great one for yours. Owning a dog is a 10-15 year commitment and you should keep this in mind when considering bringing a dog into your family.

Taking the time to find the dog that best fits your lifestyle will save you a lot of stress later. America’s local shelters are overflowing with companion animals because their owners realized that they didn’t have enough time for them or they grew out of the cute, puppy stage. Understanding what you’ll be getting will prevent this from happening to you and your new dog.

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