Best Dogs for First-Time Owners

Kytana VandenBos, Junior Staff Writer

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Are you begging your parents for your first ever dog, and they say yes, but you don’t know which dog to get? Worry not. Here are 10 of the best breeds for first-time dog owners.


  1. Boxer. If you want a high-energy dog, then this is the one for you. These dogs are extremely loyal and form close bonds with family. If you lead a fairly active lifestyle, a Boxer could be right for you. This breed needs plenty of exercise and a strong foundation of training. The Boxer’s grooming needs are very basic. Though young Boxers can be a little hyperactive, they are not difficult to train and they enjoy the attention. Once trained and socialized, Boxers will thrive in active households and can get along very well with kids. Guardians by nature, Boxers are naturally protective of their families, especially children.
  2. Yorkshire Terrier. These are great “starter dogs” for those who want little lap dogs. However, you must be aware of the grooming needs for this dog. Yorkies have continuously growing hair that must be brushed and trimmed regularly. If you have the time for groomer visits, then it will be fairly simple to keep your Yorkie in good condition. Yorkies have moderate energy levels, but they need a high level of training. Without it, these dogs can be stubborn and vocal.
  3. Bichon Frise. The Bichon Frise is a happy-go-lucky little dog that looks a bit like a bouncy cotton ball. This breed is an all-around great companion. Bichons are fairly easy to train and adapt well to any lifestyle. Be sure to dedicate the time and money to regular groomer visits. This breed has a curly coat that must be trimmed regularly and brushed carefully. For a lower-maintenance coat, keep your Bichon’s hair trimmed short.
  4. Labrador Retriever. The Labrador Retriever is one of the most popular and recognizable medium-large dog breeds. Labs are deeply loyal and affectionate dogs that form close bonds with their families. This breed is active, playful and smart. Labs thrive in active households that can provide plenty of exercise and training. Labs love to learn and can be trained to do almost anything. You can play fetch for hours or go for a run with your Lab, then end the busy day snuggling on the couch. Without plenty of exercise and mental stimulation, Labs may get bored and act out, especially during their younger years. Labs also tend to love all food and can easily become overweight if you are not careful. Fortunately, they only have minor grooming needs. Brush your Lab regularly to minimize shedding. If you take good care of your Lab, you will have a happy, lovable companion for life. Labs adapt well to most environments and are excellent with kids.
  5. Papillon. Don’t let the diminutive frame of this dog fool you. The Papillon is a hardy little dog that enjoys a somewhat active lifestyle. This cutie can be both your lap dog and exercise partner. The Papillon does not need a lot of exercise but does enjoy a chance to play and run around. The breed is easy to train and requires only moderate grooming. This happy, friendly and adaptable dog breed can do well in a variety of households. The Papillon even gets along well with children, but kids must be gentle with this petite dog.
  6. Pomeranian. The Pomeranian is a dainty and sweet little lap dog. This breed is bright and moderately active with a big fluffy coat. Fortunately, this coat is not as high-maintenance as it looks. Regular brushing is generally all you need to keep your Pom looking good. Daily basic exercise is generally enough to keep your Pom happy. Poms need basic training to provide structure and boundaries. Without training, the breed’s feisty and stubborn side may come out. Fortunately, they respond well to consistent, positive training and will thrive because of it. The Pom often bonds closest to a single owner but can still do well in families. This breed is better with gentle older kids but can adapt to many situations.
  7. Poodle. The Poodle is a well-known, popular and versatile dog breed. This breed is available in three sizes: Toy, Miniature or Standard. All are very intelligent dogs that respond well to training. The Poodle needs to be groomed regularly to maintain the curly, continuously growing coat. Poodles are very energetic dogs, They need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. With proper care, you are likely to find this breed to be a wonderful companion. The Poodle is very adaptable to its environment and can do very well in a variety of households, including those with children.
  8. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a sweet affectionate dog with a puppy-like appearance. This breed is small but not tiny and has a gentle demeanor. The Cavalier’s moderate energy level means basic daily exercise is typically enough to maintain health. Despite a medium-length coat, this dog’s grooming needs are basic. Regular brushing is important to avoid tangles in the hair. The Cavalier needs basic training and responds to it well. This dog is elegant, attentive and generally quiet. Cavaliers can thrive in all kinds of households and tend to get along well with children of all ages.
  9. Golden Retriever. The Golden Retriever is the quintessential family dog. This medium-large dog is happy, loyal, affectionate and active. Goldens are smart and adaptable dogs that can thrive in most households. The breed does need regular brushing to keep its coat free of tangles and mats.  Goldens also need a good amount of exercise to keep them in good physical condition and prevent boredom. Training is essential but not difficult. They love to learn and can be trained to do a number of things. Golden Retrievers are eager to please and love spending time with their families. They are excellent with children of all ages. Its no wonder this is one of the world’s most popular dogs!
  10. Mixed Breed Dogs. When considering which breed is right for you, it’s important to remember mixed-breed dogs. These one-of-a-kind dogs can make wonderful companions. By adopting a mixed-breed dog, you are also helping to reduce pet overpopulation in shelters. If you are not sure which breed is right for you or you want a combination of breeds, visit your local shelter or rescue group and meet some adorable mutts. Workers can help you find a dog with the traits you desire. Training, exercise, and grooming are necessary for all dogs, but the needs of a mixed-breed dog will vary based on its unique makeup.

So if you aren’t sure which dog to get for your first time owning a dog, here are 10 suggestions for what dog to get. In my personal opinion, you should get them all, but that’s just me. Any way you look at it, these dogs are the best companions for you.

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