11 Best Dogs for First Time Owners – Good Boy Approved

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Are you thinking about owning a dog for the first time? You will be acquiring the world’s most popular pet, owned by over 33% of pet owners. 

With over 340 recognized breeds and several other provisional ones, looking for the perfect dog may not be so easy. With commitment and proper preparation, any dog can make a great pet for a first time owner. 

Some breeds stand out as first time pets. We have researched on this and prepared a detailed list of dog breeds that you may want to give a second or third look!

Factors to consider before getting a dog for the first time

Understanding your unique needs and the needs of your dog will not only land you the best dog but will also increase chances of having the best dog owner’s experience. An average dog lives for about 10-13 years; your choice should therefore be one that you are willing to keep for several years depending on the age of the dog that you pick. Here are a few factors to help you narrow down options.


Each age comes with its own needs. Getting an older dog means you might escape some initial training but it also means that you get a dog already established in character and temperament. A puppy on the other hand needs more in terms of basic training and handling but it also gives you an opportunity to shape how you want it to turn out.

Your lifestyle

This automatically dictates the amount of time that you can spare for your dog. Some breeds are quite active and demanding in terms of attention. This requires you to constantly keep them engaged. Others are quite lazy and do not require too much activity. 

Whatever the case, all dogs require some form of exercise like walking and play time and are also dependent on humans for their needs. You should be sure that your lifestyle can offer this before you get a dog.


The size of a dog dictates the amount of space, food and handling it requires. Ensure that you set this in order before acquiring one. 

Home occupants

Different home settings have different occupants. A home with children, other pets or elderly people may require a different breed from the home of a single person or one of a couple with no kids. When shopping for a dog, consider the uniqueness of your home.


Apart from the current health status of a dog, different breeds may come predisposed to certain health issues. It is paramount to check this with the breeder or the vet beforehand.

Home environment

Getting a dog will definitely change some aspects of your life. This will include making some adjustment in your home to make it puppy/dog friendly. Some of the things that may not pose danger to you especially if you are an adult or adults living alone may be fatal to your dog. 

These may include small things that can be choke hazards, toxic plants, cabinets, curtain cords, chemicals containers or even the accessible sugar-free gum in your bag which may contain xylitol.


The expenses of keeping a dog may vary depending on several factors; they can be in terms of health needs, grooming, training, the need of a dog walker or minder, vet services, food, dog supplies and other adjustments in your home. Factor all that in and choose one that best suits your budget.

The 11 Best Breeds for First Time Owners

While there are many more breeds that would be good for any first time owner, your needs can be better addressed within certain breed limits. These breeds are not ranked since your needs may not necessarily be the needs of others.

Shi Tzu

Shi Tzu means “Lion Dog’’. As the name suggests, the breed resembles a lion. The dog traces his origin back to china where he was famous among royals. The Shi Tzu comes in various shades of gold, white, brown and black. He likes to snuggle on your lap and loves your company. He is as cute and adorable as they come.

Shi Tzu are easily trainable when it is started early. They fit well in a family with kids and other pets especially with proper socialization. He is a bundle of long fur; his coat therefore needs more regular grooming. He is alert and enjoys some playtime. He does not seek too much attention though and may be a great choice if you are a little laid back.

Bichon Frise

The name means ‘curly lap dog’ in French. The Bichon Frise is a member of Non-Sporting groups in US and Toy Dog group in UK. Bichons are known as French dogs but they are originally Spanish.

If you are looking for a dog to shower with cuddles and love, a Bichon is a winner. Their excellent personalities, playful nature and intelligence make them perfect for any family setting. Their high energy levels, ability to retrieve and affinity for water allows them to easily fit into the boisterousness that accompanies children’s lives. If encouraged, they can become territorial.

Bichons require daily combing to prevent matting and tangling plus more thorough grooming after every 4-8 weeks. They are obedient and easy to train especially when it is done early and consistently. Since they are bred to be companion dogs, they thrive in families that like to take them along.

Golden Retriever

The golden retriever is the typical dog in many households. It comes in a light to dark golden coat. It is ranked as the third most popular dog in the United States. The purebred dog was originally bred as a gun dog. His name comes from his skill in ‘retrieving’ shot game such as ducks and other birds undamaged during hunting and shooting adventures.

The dogs are affectionate, sociable and intelligent. They get along with both familiar and strange people. This may not help much if you are looking for a guard dog. However, if you desire for an outdoor companion, or live in a suburban or country environment, .a Golden retriever has got you covered. His thick inner coat and outer water repellent coat set him up for the task. 

The dog is patient and always eager to please. This makes him a great companion for children as well as an excellent disability assistant or guide dog. He needs regular coat brushing and lots of exercise to keep him in shape.


The dog originates from Hungary where it was used as a Guard dog, mostly by barons and warlords. The breed has gone through several near-extinction experiences. Today, the medium sized dog is considered a household companion and family dog. His coat comes in shades of golden rust. Vizslas are full of energy, disciplined and affectionate. They form lasting bonds with their owners and easily accommodate strangers. 

They enjoy your company and love the attention that you shower on them. They need mental stimulation and exercise as boredom can make them destructive. A Vizsla enjoys the company of other dogs and pets and also gets along with children. If you are the running or hiking type, he will gladly keep you company.

Labrador Retriever

Labs, as they are usually referred to are among the most popular dog breeds. Their ancestors trace their origin back to the island of Newfoundland which is presently part of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. They are great retrievers and have a heightened sense of smell. This makes them very resourceful for military forces, Navies and the police as detection dogs.

Labs are kind, social and good natured. They are easily trainable and love to play fetch. If they are not mentally stimulated and exercised a lot, they have potential to be overweight. They are great companions for kids and adapt easily to most situations. Their grooming needs are just average; a regular brush should keep his coat in great condition. Taking good care of your Labrador retriever should set you up with a friend for life.


Pugs originated from China and are now a much beloved companion to dog lovers all over the world. They stand out due to their wrinkly faces and curved tails. Most people find them amusing due to the many ‘faces’. They are even-tempered and adorable which makes them excellent pets for new time owners.

The breed thrives on companionship. They are often referred to as ‘shadows’ because they crave human attention so much that they constantly follow their owners around. Pugs have a short coat which makes them low maintenance. If you have children at home then you are in luck since a pug will fit right in; their charming personality and playful nature keeps everybody entertained.

Shetland Sheepdog

Shetland sheepdog or simply Shelties are a small dog breed. They originated as herding helpers for sheep farmers. Just like Pugs, Shelties are sometimes referred to as ‘shadows’. They crave companionship and can suffer from anxiety if they are separated or left alone for too long by their owner. They are active and can endure long hours of play or family outings.

Novice owners will find Shelties easy to train. The breed ranks as one of the most intelligent dogs. They have great recall and easily take to agility, obstacle and obedience sports. They are used as therapy animals which will work in favor of children and the elderly who might need comforting. They have a double coat which sheds a lot and requires regular brushing.


The breed was developed in Germany and is a medium sized dog. Boxers are classified as a working or a companion dogs. They are fiercely loyal to their owners and show innate protectiveness when in the company of kids. Boxers require plenty of exercise and play to keep them physically stimulated. 

Puppies can be hyperactive and indifferent to training. However with patience and firmness, they grow to be obedient and fit into any family setting. They have short and smooth coats which make their grooming needs pretty basic. The breed ranks among the top 10 popular dogs according to the American Kennel Club.

Papillion / Phalène

These are small dogs that are classified under toy or companion groups. Papillion stands for ‘butterfly-eared’ in French. As the name suggests, the breed has unique fluffy and alert ears that give their faces the appearance of a butterfly. Phalene on the other hand has drop ears that give the breed the appearance of a moth. Both of these toy sized dogs can occur in the same litter. Except for their ears, both share the same characteristics and temperament.

Despite their miniature sizes, these dogs are quite active. These pups will keep you entertained as they run up and down the house, being generally merry. They are intelligent and easy to train. They do well in households where they get to exercise both mentally and physically. Their grooming needs are moderate which makes them an easy breed to take care of.

Yorkshire Terrier

These are small terriers that were developed in Yorkshire, England. Yorkies, as the dogs are popularly known, are great companions for novice owners. They are active and will be an excellent addition to a family setting. The dog thrives on attention from its owners. They are curious by nature and will want to be included in everything that happens around them. 

Puppies are headstrong and without proper training, they can grow to be trouble brewers. Even with proper training, most Yorkies can be mildly aggressive which makes them unsuitable for households with younger children. They are intelligent and take quickly to training. They may shy away from other dogs and instead prefer to stay close to people

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

This is a small gun dog that is classified as a toy or companion dog. The breed originates from United Kingdom where it was a favorite of the nobility.  As with many small dogs, these spaniels thrive on human love and affection. This trait makes them easy to introduce to a new household. They also enjoy the company of other dogs but can suffer anxiety if separated from humans for long.

They are gentle in nature making them good pets for therapy. They are not much of guards; they trust easily and will be jumping on the laps of strangers after brief introductions. Hunting comes naturally to these spaniels, so keep the bird and hamster cages far from your cuddly dog’s reach!

The Take Away

Owning a dog for the first time is bound to bring a lot of excitement. However, this should not lead you to make a hurried and uninformed decision. There are many dog breeds out there and each has the potential to become your dream companion. Nevertheless, research shows that some breeds make better first time pets than others. Also, depending on factors such as age, lifestyle, size of the dog, your family setting and budget, you may find that not all dogs will suit your unique needs. It is with this in mind that we have prepared the above list just in case you need a push in the right direction.

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