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How To Choose The Best Dog Breed For First Time Owners

by Vidya Sury July 2, 2022 11 comments
How to choose the best dog breed

Are you considering growing the family by adding one furry baby? Or even taking in a retired old fur grandpa to entertain the kids? How to choose the best dog breed especially if this is the first time you are planning a pet?

Getting a dog is always, well, often, a good idea. They provide unbridled support and loyalty, which often translates into a more active lifestyle and a better mental health state.

But where do you start if this is your first dog?

If you are considering getting a dog for the first time, the main thing you’re going to want to look at is your energy levels and lifestyle. Some dogs are better suited to certain lifestyles than others, so it’s best to really research what the breeds are prone to when it comes to personality and what they can live with/without.

Getting your first dog? A short guide to choose the best dog breed

To get you started, here’s a short guide to the best dog breed for your situation as a first-timer.

Best dog breed for active people

If you are looking for a buddy to join you on those long hikes, runs, cycles, wild swimming excursions, etc. boxers are a great option. Not only do they have high energy levels, but they are also extremely loyal and will form a close bond with family. So, to layer on the perks, they’re great with kids.

However, you should know what you’re getting into here. A large dog with high energy is going to need a lot of exercise and a strong foundation of training. They’re good for first-timers because they will take to training easily, but every dog needs some training.

Other breeds that would be good for the active first-timer include a Golden Retriever, a Labrador Retriever, and Weimaraners.

If you particularly enjoy water sports, there are a few dogs that are natural swimmers, and some that are not. Keep away from pugs and Frenchies that find swimming really hard, but look into poodles, Labradors, Newfoundlands, Schipperkes, and anything with “retriever” in the name.

Best dog breed for less active people

If you’re not about to leave your sofa for anything less than the apocalypse, or you’re simply looking for a more peaceful lifestyle, you will need to get the dog to match. All dogs need their exercise, but there are a lot of breeds that have less demands in that department than others.

If you want a big dog, your best and, really, the only choice is a greyhound, which, despite being a racing dog, is really lazy. They are quite content to sleep all day on their lonesome, which is good if you are still working, and people won’t be in the house too often.

But there is plenty of choice among smaller dogs, which include pugs, French bulldogs, Chihuahuas, Bolognese, Pekingese, Shih Tzu, Dachshunds, and Maltese.

How to choose the best dog breed for first time owners

Best dog breed for busy (or lazy) owners

Let’s face it, we wish we could get a dog and someone else could do all the heavy lifting. We’re just looking for a cuddle/walk buddy. Someone else can do the rest.

If that sounds like you, there are a few suggestions to keep in mind. You might want to go to your rescue shelter and see about a dog that has been handed in and already trained well. You might have to let them warm up to you if their time in the shelter was unpleasant, but otherwise, someone has laid the foundations for you to have an adult dog.

But there are also a lot of breeds that are pretty low maintenance, so you can keep an eye out for mixes of them at the shelter or look into getting a purebred.

They include the dachshund, the greyhound, French bulldog, Chihuahua, West Highland terrier, and poodle. The dachshund, with its distinctive little legs, is known for not needing too much exercise, as does the greyhound, which, contrary to popular belief, is exceedingly lazy. The greyhound is also shorthair, like the Frenchies and Chihuahuas of the world, which means less cleanup.

The Westies are very easy to train, as are poodles, who can also come in hypoallergenic options. But dogs can get allergies too, so try out dog allergy testing to make sure you’ve got a healthy pup.

Best dog breed for families

If you’ve got a bunch of little ones at home, you’re going to want an even-tempered dog that is good with kids to fit in. This dog breed needs to be intelligent and trainable with a moderate energy level so that you aren’t run ragged by another being that seems to have an endless amount of energy.

Dogs that might fit into these categories include boxers, Labradors, golden retrievers, poodles, Bichons, beagles, German shepherds, pugs, Boston terriers, bulldogs, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

All of these breeds are known for their playful demeanor and love of children, so as long as your kid has a gentle touch and your dog is trained to tolerate them, they’ll get on splendidly.

How to choose the best dog breed for first time owners

Best dog breed for apartment renters

If you’re living in a small space, you will need a dog that is comfortable being in a small space with you. This can be made easier by the fact that some nature is nearby, like a park or field.

The characteristics you’re going to want to look for in a dog happy to live in a small space are quiet and low energy. It might make sense to add small stature onto that list, but there are a few medium and large breeds that might fit right in at an apartment.

Look into breeds such as basset hounds, bichons, bulldogs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahuas, Chinese crested, greyhounds, Maltese, poodles, Shih Tzus, pugs, and Frenchies.

Best to avoid…

If you’re going about this dog thing for the first time, there are certain things you might want to avoid to make it easier on yourself. Pass on breeds that might be stubborn, highly independent, or unpredictable. Those breeds might need some tough training to get them to change their ways, which isn’t a task for someone going for their first dog. Examples include Akita, Airedale terriers, and Australian cattle dogs.

Update: My friend Debbie Doglady via her comment, would like to add Dalmatians to the list of breeds not suitable for first-timers. While beautiful and highly intelligent, they need someone with experience to take care of them properly.

Whatever your lifestyle situation, whichever dog you decide to get, have fun. Take good care of them!

How to choose the best dog breed for first-timers

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Debbie D. July 2, 2022 at 11:51 pm

Excellent article, Vidya! 👌 I would like to add Dalmatians to the list of breeds not suitable for first-timers. While beautiful and highly intelligent, they need someone with experience to take care of them properly. It surprises most people that Greyhounds need so little exercise! 😀
Debbie D. recently posted…RHAPSODY IN BLUE #Photography

Vidya Sury July 3, 2022 at 12:13 am

Thank you so much, Debbie! I added your comment as an update to the post. That’s valuable advice! 💜

Damyanti Biswas July 4, 2022 at 5:53 pm

Such a detailed and lovely article! People often don’t realize the responsibility that comes with taking care of a doggo. Thank you so much for writing this 🙂
Damyanti Biswas recently posted…Want to Ask Questions of a Wonderful Literary Agent?

Vidya Sury July 7, 2022 at 12:34 pm

That is true! Thank you Damyanti!

Terrier Hub July 6, 2022 at 1:17 pm

The article makes good sense! My friend has a dachshund and she’s quite a busy (or lazy) owner lol. I, however, am very active and it’s good to know that I need to consider the breed of the pet I’m gonna have. I’m thinking of getting a Terrier, what do you think? You have great advice!

Richard Robbins July 12, 2022 at 11:22 pm

We learned this lesson the hard way last year when we bought “livestock guard dogs” (supposedly Anatolian Shepherd mixes) and moved on to a farm in Tennessee. Those dogs ended up killing a bunch of our chickens, and we had to re-home them after some of kids were already attached to them.

In addition to making sure you choose the best dog breed for your family, we found out that it’s important to be able to set aside time to train the dogs and integrate them into your setup. Being overwhelmed with other things and not available to help the dogs learn to obey doesn’t work out very well.

Also, I’ve heard it suggested NOT to get two puppies (especially from the same litter) at one time, because they tend to feed off of each other in causing mischief and misbehaving. We found that to be our situation with our farm dogs. Now we’ll have to try again.
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Marina Teramond July 18, 2022 at 4:11 pm

To tell the truth, I have always wanted to get a dog because dogs are such wonderful creations which can provide you with warmth and care. Of course, it is really important to choose a dog according to your lifestyle and needs because you should feel a special connection with this pet. It is so cool that there are so many dogs in our world and every person can choose a dog according to his personality. Honestly, I have a very active lifestyle and I think that poodles are the best option for me because they are so cute. I really like small dogs and It is so comfortable for me to have a small dog who will be able to adapt to my rhythm of life, being my loyal friend. I can say that this breed of dogs has a great deal of advantages and it is so cool that they have a very high life expectancy. Poodles take 2nd place in the list of the smartest dogs and they are easy to educate.

Salman Latif February 27, 2023 at 5:09 pm

Insightful article, Vidya! 👌 I wanna add Dobermans to the list of breeds not appropriate for first-timers. While beautiful and extremely intelligent, they need someone with experience to take excellent care of them. It surprises most folks that Greyhounds need so little exercise!
Such a detailed and lovely piece! People often don’t understand the responsibility that comes with taking care of a doggo. Thank you so much for sharing this
Salman Latif recently posted…Empower Your Dog Training with the Cesar Millan Dog Collar

Brenda Thompson March 31, 2023 at 3:05 pm

Thank you for such a helpful guide on how to choose the best dog breed for first-time owners! As someone who is considering getting a dog for the first time, I found this information to be very informative and useful. I appreciated the breakdown of breeds for different lifestyles and energy levels. I never knew that greyhounds could be a great option for less active people! I will definitely keep this in mind when looking for my furry friend. Thank you again for sharing your knowledge!
Brenda Thompson recently posted…The Brief Guide That Makes Creating a More Pet-Friendly Home Simple

Brandt June 10, 2023 at 11:04 pm

Thanks for a very helpful post. Many first-time dog owners probably don’t give it much thought that the dog they choose should match with their lifestyle and habits. And this is often a cause of frustration. So, if you don’t have the patience to train your dog yourself, it would be helpful to choose a dog that’s been trained. Good advice.
Brandt recently posted…Free Download… DIY Dog Training Guide (PDF) – Teach Your Dog Basic Commands

Yvonne August 23, 2023 at 10:16 am

All my seven canines, who died, were extraordinary creatures – a helluva part better compared to a large portion of the senseless unfeeling bums, erroneously called individuals.
Yvonne recently posted…Canine Personalities: Dog Archetypes You Should Know About


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