Golden Retrievers are the classic American family dogs, and there are good reasons why. They are known for their warm and loving natures, and for their patience with children. They are also eager to please their owners, which makes them a snap to train, an attribute that should be attractive for first-time dog owners. On caveat: Their famously beautiful coats do require vigilant grooming, but they are not actually difficult to groom. Frequent combing and brushing should do the trick.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are loyal people-pleasers who love to be around their owners as much as possible, so those looking for a lap dog can do no better than this breed. You’ll also be pleased by one of these dogs if you’ve never owned a dog before, because they are naturally well-behaved and very easy to train, making them an excellent choice for the inexperienced. On the other hand, keep in mind that this breed is energetic, and will do better in a house with a yard than in a small apartment. And if you’re away from home a lot, look elsewhere, because these dogs hate to be alone and separation anxiety can become a real issue for them.
More people in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand own Labs than any other breed. That’s been true for more than 20 years. If you are planning to be a first-time dog owner, you wouldn’t be unwise to jump on the bandwagon. In fact, chances are good that even if you’ve never owned a dog of your own, you’ve known someone’s Lab at some point in your life, so their friendly dispositions are probably familiar to you. Do be aware that Lab puppies are notorious for chewing everything in sight, so careful puppy-proofing of your home will be a must.
The Brittany makes a terrific first dog for owners and families with very active lifestyles. This is a high-energy breed that requires frequent exercise and stimulation, which is perfect for an owner who also likes exercise and a lot of time spent outdoors. These dogs are happy, friendly and eager to please, and they do not require a great deal of grooming, which makes them uncomplicated for first-time owners to handle (other than their need for activity). They are also highly sensitive to discipline, so it takes only a stern look or a quick, sharp word to let them know they’re in trouble. No harsh discipline or punishment should be necessary.
Papillons are friendly, smart and easy to train, which makes them a good first dog for new dog owners. However, if you adopt one, you’ve got to know that the Papillon’s small size is very deceptive. These dogs have big, big personalities, and they’ll think of themselves as big dogs if you let them. That’s why they’re not great for kids; a Papillon needs a strong-willed owner to let it know who the pack leader is. But otherwise, they are excellent and easy-to-handle companions that can adapt to living in an apartment or a wide-open rural area.
Long, lanky and lightning fast, you’d think that these racing dogs would be more full of energy than just about any other breed, and would require a constant exercise. Ironically, Greyhounds are incredibly mellow and laid-back. Even the most inexperienced or lazy dog owners could take decent care of a Greyhound. They’re quiet, clean, don’t suffer from any particular health problems, and their short coats are extremely low-maintenance. If you are nearly clueless about what it’s like to own a dog, you couldn’t do better than to learn with a Greyhound.
Pugs are such a good choice for beginner dog owners that this mixed breed dog that is half Pug makes our list, too. Puggles are crosses between Pugs and Beagles. Beagles are friendly and sociable, and popular family dogs, but they have a lot of curious energy, and without owners who are really on the ball and knowledgeable about how train a dog, Beagles can fall prey to behavior issues. However, when you cross a Beagle with a Pug, you end up with the best-of-both-worlds Puggle. A Puggle’s Pug half takes some of the edge off the Beagle’s learning curve, while their Beagle half gives them a little more pep in their step than the layabout Pug.
Poodles are considered one of the most intelligent dog breeds, and thus are exceptionally easy to train, but their intelligence does not necessarily make them willful, which means they shouldn’t be too much to handle for beginners. Poodles are very friendly dogs, and get along well with children, so they make an ideal choice for families. They are well-behaved as long as they get enough exercise, but like Papillons, they will respect their owners only when shown authority. Otherwise, they may try to “take over.”
The Pug is an extremely popular breed with a devoted fan base. That’s because they’re friendly, funny, loyal, adorable and relatively easy to care for — qualities that also make the breed ideal for first-time dog owners. Pugs, like all dogs, need to be walked regularly, but apart from that they are not athletes. They are content to curl up on the couch with you to fall asleep watching TV, and they won’t go out of their minds without exercise. It should be noted that Pugs tend to suffer from respiratory problems due to their short muzzles, and they also can become overweight very easily.
If you want a dog with a lot of character, a Shih Tzu may be a perfect choice for your first dog. They are playful but gentle, form strong emotional bonds with their owners and generally are not difficult to train. Some Shih Tzu’s develop behavior problems, but this is not necessarily in their nature. Because of their small size and cute faces, many owners tend to pamper their Shih Tzus, spoiling them and making them difficult to control. But as long as new owners remember that all dogs appreciate a strong-willed pack leader for an owner, the loyal Shih Tzu should prove an easy companion even for a novice.
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