The Top 20 Dog Breeds for First-Time Owners

If you are considering becoming a dog owner, there are many things you have to take care of first. For example, you must have bowls, food, treats (for training), toys, and possibly even a kennel. It is also useful to have a veterinarian in mind, as puppies will require vaccinations and de-worming. Becoming a dog owner is not a decision to take lightly. It is almost like becoming a new parent – a puppy will depend on you for everything, and will require a lot of attention for at least the first year of their life. Of course, after you have put in the time training your new dog, you will have a lifelong companion that will love you unconditionally.

As a novice, it is important to take into account the breed of the dog that you wish to adopt. While many people decide to take in mutts as their first dogs, it is often worth tracking down a purebred dog so you have a better idea of what to expect. Though every canine is different, those of certain breeds generally display similar temperaments and behaviors. When you choose a purebred dog, a lot of research into the breed is necessary in order to be the best dog owner you can be. Generally, this would take up a lot of your time browsing kennel club websites and learning from other authority sources. However, if you want to get a good look at some of the best breeds with minimal effort, read on to learn about the Top 20 Dog Breeds for First Time Owners.


This breed of dog is a rather recent addition to the list of known breeds. They were first developed in the late 1980s by the Australian breeder Wally Conron. He ended up crossing a purebred Labrador Retriever with a Standard Poodle, with the end goal of creating a hypoallergenic guide dog breed. The Labradoodle breed often has a friendly, energetic demeanor. They are also fantastic with families and children – a huge plus for a first-time owner who has kids. Labradoodles display marked intelligence as well, meaning that they are quite easy to train.

If you decide to adopt a Labradoodle, you will be joining a group of owners that includes many types of people. They are wildly popular worldwide, performing in guide, assistance, and therapy roles. Even members of the Norwegian royal family (i.e, the prince and princess) own Labradoodles.

Wheaten Terrier

The Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier was originally bred as an all-purpose farm dog in Ireland. They were capable of herding livestock, guarding the farm, and even hunting and killing vermin. These dogs were known in their early history as the “Poor Man’s Wolfhound”. These terriers are energetic, playful, and scrappy. They are also loving and friendly, and are perfect in a familial role. Their intelligence leads them to be easy to train.

However, they have a strong “prey drive” due to their hunting origins, so they should not be in a home with cats. These dogs are a fundamental part of Irish culture, and have even been seen in some famous Irish paintings. For example, the work “The Aran Fisherman’s Drowned Child” by Frederic William Burton depicts a Wheaten terrier. Interestingly, this dog looks almost identical to the modern breed even though the painting was created over 150 years ago.


One of the most famous toy breeds, the Pomeranian originally descended from other dogs in the Spitz line (most notably the German Spitz). In fact, they are known in many countries as the Zwergspitz. This directly translates to “Dwarf-Spitz” – which is fitting for their small size. Pomeranians are quite friendly and playful. They are also very aware of their environments. This, combined with their intelligence, leads to an easily-trained breed that is great for a first-time dog owner. However, they do display an inherent need for dominance that can provide a hinderance to life with another dog.

The rise in this breed’s popularity can be primarily attributed to Queen Victoria’s preference for the smaller Pomeranians. In fact, during her lifetime alone, the average size of the breed decreased by half. Of course, without Queen Victoria’s influence, we may not have the breed as we know it today.

Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are among the most popular dogs in America. The breed was originally developed to serve in gun dog roles. This means that they were used to retrieve waterfowl (or other game) after their masters shot it. They have a “soft” mouth, and were prized for returning game undamaged by their teeth. This breed is well-known for their amicable, calm, and patient demeanor. They also have an eagerness to please and are very intelligent. Thus, they are quite responsive to training. In addition, they are great with children due to their natural patience – a trait that extends to other animals as well.

Because these dogs are easily-trained, they have been found in starring roles in several films. For example, the Homeward Bound series, Up, Air Bud, Full House, and Cats & Dogs have all included Golden Retrievers in their cast list. Plus, a number of celebrities have owned these dogs – most notably Presidents Gerald R. Ford and Ronald Reagan.


The exact origin of the Maltese is not known. However, their namesake comes from the Mediterranean island nation of Malta. The earliest known association between Malta and the breed comes from the 1st-century Roman poet Martial. He described a small, white dog owned by his friend Publius – ostensibly the historical Roman Governor Publius of Malta. The Maltese is a companion breed, and is thus lively, playful, and friendly. Though they could possibly snap at young children, this can be eliminated through socializing the dog from a very young age. One of the biggest draws for new dog owners to the Maltese is their appreciation of tight living quarters. This means that a Maltese will do well in an apartment or townhouse.

One interesting fact about this breed is that they were originally even smaller than they are today. In the 17th and 18th centuries, breeders decided to selectively breed them for the smallest size possible. At one point, they were about the size of a squirrel. This practice died off as the 19th century approached.


In ancient times, the very first Pugs began to crop up as companion animals for Chinese royalty. They were highly valued by Emperors in particular, and were often treated luxuriously and granted their own personal guard. As the breed spread, they began to be found in other places (such as Tibetan monasteries). Pugs are a great choice for a first-time dog owner. Though they can be strong-willed, they are almost never aggressive. They also get along quite well with children. These dogs have an eagerness to please that lends itself well to the training process. The breed has achieved minor celebrity in India. Their iconic status can be traced to some Vodafone advertisements, where a pug served as the mascot. This pug, named Cheeka, was even the most-downloaded phone background in India in 2005.


This breed is among the rarest in the world. Otterhounds were first bred in Britain for hunting… well, otters. They were well-suited to this task due to their keen noses. In fact, they can detect a scent for up to 72 hours – even in the mud and the water. Otterhounds are quite friendly and relaxed. Though they often use their deep bass voice – they are hounds after all – Otterhounds are rarely aggressive towards people. These dogs are loyal, smart, and affectionate. These traits make them a great dog for a first-time owner.

Of course, you will actually need to somehow obtain one of them first. There are only about 600 of these dogs in the entire world, and only 41 new dogs were registered in Britain in 2016. The rarity of this breed means they are highly-coveted by canine enthusiasts. It may be difficult to find one that isn’t tagged with an astronomical adoption fee.


Whippets were originally bred to hunt by sight. Their lean frames and incredible speed allowed them to catch up to game rapidly in open areas. It is thought that the modern Whippet has descended from certain English Greyhounds that were too small to hunt in England’s forests. These dogs are quiet, gentle, and relaxed. Though they require regular exercise due to their huge energy reserves, they will spend the rest of their time sleeping or cuddling with their owners. These dogs are easy to train, but should be kept away from small animals due to their hunting instincts.

This breed has also been used in dog racing since the mid-19th century. As time went on, these races became more and more popular. By the end of the 19th century, Whippet races were a common part of an average Sunday afternoon in England and Australia.


This distinctive breed is the national dog of Cuba. It was originally developed from the “Blanquito de la Habana” breed – which has, unfortunately, gone extinct. The Blanquitos were bred with several Bichon types until the Havanese was created. Havanese dogs are a toy breed, and are quite easy to train. It is best to train them while they are young – especially when housebreaking. Like many other small breeds, they are difficult to housebreak when they get older. They can, however, be made to use a litterbox instead which helps a lot with these issues. Despite their small size and unassuming nature, the Havanese can be found in a variety of jobs all over the world. They have made great therapy and service dogs, can track well, are capable of detecting mold and termites, and have even occasionally been used to perform. Overall, they are a great choice for a first-time dog owner.

Shih Tzu

The exact origins of this breed are unknown, but they have been declared an “ancient” breed. This basically means that they have been around for a long time, and thus share a lot of common DNA with wolves. There is, however, a significant amount of evidence that suggests that they originated in China. Each Shih Tzu dog is different as far as their personalities go. However, they are usually loyal, affectionate, and outgoing. They are not difficult to train, but they must be trained early in life as they are stubborn (especially when they reach older ages).

Many people don’t know that the name of this breed means “lion dog”. They were bestowed this name due to their strikingly similar appearance to the traditional depictions of lions in oriental art. An alternative name is Xi Shi, which refers to one of the most beautiful women in ancient China.

Yorkshire Terrier

The earliest Yorkshire Terriers (also known as “Yorkies”) were first recognized in the mid-19th century. They were originally employed by the owners of mills to catch rodents that were destroying their stock. The Yorkshire Terriers found a lot of success, and thus began to increase in popularity throughout Europe. Yorkies are incredibly easy to train, which is mostly-attributable to their own distinctive independence. They are not submissive whatsoever (which is not a good thing if you have children). They are best suited to a home with older children or with no children at all. This breed is among the smallest in the world. In fact, the smallest dog ever recorded in history was owned by Arthur Marples of England. His Yorkie stood about 2.5 inches high, measured 3.5 inches from the tip of her noise to her tail, and weighed only around 4 ounces.

shetland sheepdog

Shetland Sheepdog

Despite the Scottish name for this breed, they have only a rudimentary association with Scotland. They are descended from a few examples of the original Shetland sheepdog that were crossed with working collies, whose puppies crossed with a few other breeds. The modern Shetland Sheepdog has (ironically) very little to do with Scotland or Shetland itself. These dogs are incredibly intelligent. They are able to learn new commands much more quickly than other dogs, and will obey any commands they know right away. They are also friendly, and good family dogs. These traits are perfect for a first-time owner. Though the Scotland Sheepdog itself was not originally bred for herding animals, the instinct never left these dogs. Because of this, they are used as sheepdogs, and even participate in sheepdog trials. They are also found in therapy dog roles due to their naturally-comforting presence.


This breed is what you get when you cross a Cocker Spaniel with a Poodle. They were originally created to serve as companion animals or pets. Cockapoos are not yet recognized by any kennel clubs, but their advocates are working towards changing that as soon as possible. These dogs are quite outgoing and loving, a trait that they get from their Cocker Spaniel roots. They are decent with children – particularly if properly socialized starting at a young age. This breed is also smart, meaning that they are easy to train with the proper incentives (e.g. a treat). One cool thing about this breed is that they are hypoallergenic. Because they do not shed a lot or produce a ton of dander, they can be kept by people who may not be able to have a non-hypoallergenic breed.


Another breed that is crossbred with the Poodle, the Goldendoodle is a mix of the Golden Retriever and the Standard Poodle. This breed originated in 1969. Originally, the intent behind the breed was to create a guide dog that was also hypoallergenic. This breed is intelligent like a Poodle, while being easy to train, affectionate, friendly, and patient like a Golden Retriever. This means that this breed of dog is one of the best breeds for anyone – especially a first-time pet owner. Despite their origin as guide dogs, they have found most of their popularity as domestic pets. The Goldendoodle breed performs many jobs other than being guide dogs. They have also been trained in therapy, diabetes alerts, and even search-and-rescue. This is yet another reason that the ease-of-training is one of the best traits of this breed.

Boston Terrier

One of the few breeds that originated in 19th-century America is the Boston Terrier. They were first bred by experimental breeders wishing to create a new show dog breed. Eventually, the Boston Terrier was included in several kennel club registrars. Boston Terriers are remarkably gentle, eager to please, and easy to train. They also are very low-maintenance as far as grooming goes, requiring only a small and infrequent amount of this kind of attention. They are wonderful with children as well, as long as they are properly socialized. Surprisingly, some of the early ancestors of the modern Boston Terrier were found in dogfighting or pit-fighting rings. Despite the aggressiveness usually associated with a fighting dog, it is very rare to see a Boston Terrier act threatening towards anyone.


The Papillon, also known as the Continental Toy Spaniel, has been around for several hundred years at least. The earliest known depictions of this breed can be found in the 16th-century artwork of Tiziano Vicelli. They are generally shown alongside wealthy merchants and members of the royal family. This breed has a happy and friendly temperament. They aren’t too hard to train, either. However, special care must be taken when they are around small children. A child may grab or touch the dog in a way that the Papillon doesn’t like, leading to the possibility of an aggressive move from the dog in question. These small dogs tend to live longer than their big-boned counterparts. In fact, Papillon’s can live to ages of up to 17. The average number of years reached before death is more than eleven years old. This means that most Papillons will be around for decades.

Labrador Retriever

Another wildly popular breed, the Labrador Retriever is another gun dog. They were initially bred to retrieve game after it was shot down, using their soft mouths to avoid damaging the bird. They quickly became coveted for this trait, driving up prices for Labrador pups nationwide. The Labrador Retriever breed is well-known for their kindness and being outgoing. They are quite even-tempered, and make a great family dog. Plus, they are wonderful with children of all ages – even the smallest kids will be safe around a content Labrador Retriever. One cool fact about this breed is that both American and Russian heads of state have kept Labrador Retrievers. President Bill Clinton kept Buddy and Seamus (both Labradors), whereas Russian President Vladimir Putin has his own Labrador called “Koni”.


The name Puggle is a portmanteau of Pug and Beagle. One of the more popular crossbreeds, it was first created in the 1980s. This breed emerged during the experiments of American dog enthusiasts who were trying to create cool new breeds during this time. Puggles are great family dogs. They love kids, and are incredibly affectionate. They are also smart, can be trained quickly and effectively, and are quite loyal. This breed is therefore one of the best you could choose as an aspiring dog owner. One interesting fact about these dogs is that they have a high internal temperature combined with a strong desire to cuddle. This has led to them being coined “nature’s space heaters” – and it is certainly an accurate nickname for this kind of dog.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

This breed finds its roots in the hunting dogs bred for King Charles himself. Later, the breed split off into two distinct groups. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel almost died off for a bit, but was resurrected in the 1920s in the United Kingdom. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels make good first dogs as they are playful, patient, affectionate, and eager to please. They are great with kids and other dogs, and will even go right up to dogs that are much larger than them. They are also suitable for any environment, making them one of the best breeds for a new owner. These dogs are at the center of an interesting myth that is often promulgated in the United Kingdom. The story goes that Charles II made a law allowing King Charles Spaniels to enter any establishment in the entire country. However, Parliament has researched this decree extensively and never found anything that proved it was true.

English Springer Spaniel

English Springer Spaniels were originally bred to be gun dogs, and specifically were meant to “spring” game from the bushes. They descended from Norfolk and/or Shropshire Spaniels during the mid-19th century. They are now a distinctly different breed in appearance, demeanor, and officially. These dogs are easy-going, affectionate, eager to please, and friendly. They are incredibly intelligent, and can learn new things rather quickly. These are perfect traits for a first-time dog owner – you will have no problem training an English Springer Spaniel. These dogs are notable for their use as sniffer dogs. They have been used to find people, drugs, explosives, and even bumblebee nests. One notable dog was Buster – an English Springer Spaniel who discovered an entire arsenal of weapons and explosives that belonged to an extremist group. Buster was deployed in Iraq when he found this stash.

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