Becoming a first time dog owner can seem daunting, but it can be a rewarding and exciting experience if you and your pup are a good match. With so many different dog breeds out there it can be tricky figuring out which best meets your lifestyle, exercise and grooming requirements.
The first question you need to ask is ‘am I ready to get a dog?’. While dogs are lovable companions, if you’re not sure you can provide constant care and attention for the entirety of the pup’s life, don’t get one. If you’re sure you’re ready, this handy guide looks at the best dogs for first time owners to help you find your new best friend.
Choosing your ideal dog
Before you take home the first lovable puppy you see, you need to take into consideration the amount of time and attention you can dedicate to your dog. While all dogs have basic needs, some breeds require more care than others. It’s important to conduct proper research before making a decision, as each breed has a different size, energy level, grooming requirement, personality and temperament.
As an owner, it’s your responsibility to socialise, train and exercise your puppy. If you’re looking for less work, you may want to consider a lower maintenance breed or adopting an adult dog from a rescue home. There are 218 pedigree breeds recognised by the Kennel Club, split into seven groups: Gundog, Hound, Pastoral, Terrier, Toy, Utility and Working.
Each dog has its own characteristics and needs. If you consider your personality and lifestyle against each breed’s profile before committing, you’re more likely to have a happy and healthy relationship with your dog.
The best dog breeds for first time owners
While it’s impossible to predict how you and your dog will get along for the rest of your time together, there are certain breeds that are better suited to first time owners due to their calm temperament, lovable personality and loyalty. The best dog breeds for first time owners include:
Although terriers are known for their high energy levels and mischievous behaviour, the Yorkshire Terrier is a great starter dog for those wanting a lap-sized companion. They’re extremely loyal and affectionate towards their owners, but can be protective around strangers. They need a solid foundation of training as they are prone to stubbornness and they require extensive grooming as their growing hair must be regularly brushed and trimmed.
As one of the most popular and recognisable medium-large dog breeds, the Labrador Retriever is a loyal and affectionate companion. They are active, playful and smart, doing best in households that can offer plenty of exercise, training and attention. Their high energy levels mean they may act out when bored, especially as puppies, but they respond well to training and positive reinforcement.
The Poodle is a well-known, popular and versatile dog breed that is available as miniature, toy or standard size. These lovable pups respond well to training and are highly adaptable, thriving in a variety of households – including those with children. They need plenty of mental and physical stimulation to maintain an even temperament, but need to be groomed regularly to maintain their continually growing coat.
Like the Labrador Retriever, Golden Retrievers are quintessential family dogs. Their happy, loyal, affectionate and active personalities mean they thrive in most households, but they need plenty of physical exercise to stay healthy. Training is essential to avoid destructive behaviour but it’s not difficult, as Retrievers love to learn and are eager to please. They also need regular brushing to keep their coat free of tangles.
King Charles Spaniel
This sweet and affectionate breed has a puppy-like appearance, a small size and gentle demeanor. Their moderate energy level means they need daily exercise to maintain health, and only require basic grooming despite their medium-length coat. They also need basic training and respond best to positive reinforcement and praise, thriving in all kinds of households and getting along well with children of all ages.
Pugs are the ideal choice for owners looking for a loyal and laid-back companion, as they have an open personality and get along well with everyone. They have a naturally smooth coat and are easy to keep clean, while their small size means they don’t need a large garden to run around in. However, it’s important to consider their susceptibility to certain health issues, including breathing difficulties and eye problems.
As one of the most intelligent and trainable toy breeds, Papillons get along well with the entire family and adapt to a range of households. While their high energy level and inquisitive nature means they need a lot of exercise, they can amuse themselves with balls and other toys easily. Despite their fluffy coat, they have minimal shedding and respond well to positive reinforcement during training
Greyhounds are low-maintenance dogs that thrive on attention and don’t need much grooming. They’re quiet and well-behaved when indoors, but they also love to go on outdoor adventures with their family. While they’re known for their speed and competitive nature, they’re not especially active when at home and prefer to lounge around. However, their hunting instinct means they should be kept away from cats and other small animals.
This breed is great with children of all ages and other household pets, while their hypoallergenic coat makes them perfect for allergy sufferers. Their lovable and attentive nature means they thrive in human company and are fairly easy to train. They can be timid around strangers at first, but early socialisation will help them grow into friendly and playful pups.
If you’re looking for a medium-large, high-energy companion, the Boxer is perfect for you. These loyal dogs form a close bond with their owners and are best suited to families with active lifestyles, as they need plenty of exercise to stay happy. Their stubborn nature means they require a strong foundation of training and they can be a little hyperactive when young.
If you’re not sure what breed is best for you, visit your local shelter or rescue group and let the workers help you find a dog with the right traits and requirements to suit your lifestyle. Alternatively, you could use our interactive Doggy Decider tool to get matched with your ideal dog breed.
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