menu iconknow your dna logosearch icon
Best Dog Breeds for First Time Owners
Updated on September 15, 2022
Back to top
back to top icon
hello world!
Dog Testing
Best Dog Breeds for First Time Owners
KnowYourDNA is reader-supported. This means we may receive a commission when you buy something from one of the links on this page.

Dogs are considered man’s best friend. These furry pets can liven up your home with their warm and loving presence. 

So long as you treat them with the TLC they deserve, you will earn their loyalty and affection. Owning your first dog becomes easier if you choose the best breed that suits you.

Best Dog Breeds for First Time Owners 2

How Many Dog Breeds Are There?

The number of dog breeds is ever-growing. Different organizations may have their own standards and how they recognize dog breeds. 

There are roughly 190 to 400 estimated dog breeds in the world based on different organizations. Generally, they follow guidelines from the American Kennel Club (AKC). 

7 Best Breeds for First Time Dog Owners

  • Best Dog Breed for First Time Owner — English Bulldog
  • Best Breed of Dog for Kids — Golden Retriever
  • Best Dog Breed for Apartment Living — Bichon Frise
  • Best Breed for Service Dog — Border Collie
  • Best Dog Breed for Seniors — Shih Tzu
  • Best Dog Breed for Cats — Basset Hound
  • Best Dog Breed to Adopt — German Shepherd

The Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) or the World Canine Association is an international group of kennel clubs from 98 countries. 

FCI lists 355 breeds, each one belonging to their specific country.1

The United States and the United Kingdom have their own regulating bodies – the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the British Kennel Club (KC), respectively.

AKC currently recognizes 197 dog breeds, while the KC lists 222 dog breeds.2,3

Know Your DNA Reviews

Holiday Shopping Guide for Pets

Wondering what to buy your pet (or your friends with pets)?

What Dog Breed is Best for You?

It’s tempting to get a dog based on its appearance alone. You may find their cuteness hard to resist. But you must first try to see if you can provide for a dog’s needs.

In a study by The Kennel Club, 40% said they bought a puppy because of how it looks. Only 10% said they got a dog that fits their lifestyle after a research.4

Your new dog must fit your current lifestyle and preferences. Below are some things you should consider when finding the perfect canine companion:

  • Personality traits of the dog
  • Grooming and exercise requirements
  • Your family and/or children
  • Current living space
  • Other pets

It would be best to gauge your readiness when you’re a first time dog parent. After all, they will depend on you for almost anything, including food, shelter, and other needs. 

We’re here to help find your own best friend. We listed the 7 best dog breeds for novice owners. 

Best Breed for First Dog Time Owners — English Bulldog

An affectionate breed is ideal for any first time dog owner. The English Bulldog is among the calm and people-loving breeds. 

  • Other names: British Bulldog 
  • Body size: Medium
  • Weight: 45 to 70 pounds
  • Coat: Short
  • Color: Blue, black, white, gray, silver, brown, café-au-lait, apricot, and cream

English Bulldog Temperament

The English Bulldog has a deadpan look, but it shouldn’t intimidate you. This dog has an easy-going personality. 

The English Bulldog is sweet, laidback, and pleasant. It gets along well with people and kids. When trained and socialized early, they can extend the same calm temperament to other pets.

Getting a dog for the first time is huge and can be overwhelming. Low-maintenance dogs like English Bulldogs are suitable for beginners. They are gentle and don’t tend to bark often.

Their need for grooming and activity is minimal. English Bulldogs do not need long walks — only 20 to 40 minutes of playtime is enough to substitute moderate exercise. 

They have a short coat doesn’t need regular brushing.

Other breeds we recommend for first dog time owners: You can get a Labrador Retriever if you want a larger breed. 

Labradors are sweet dogs. Their agreeable temperament makes them popular with beginners.

Toy breeds like the Pug also capture the interest of first time owners. Its happy, friendly, and charming personality makes it ideal for new owners.

Best Dog Breed for Kids — Golden Retriever

A kid-friendly dog stays relaxed even though they’re around hyperactive children. 

A Golden Retriever fits this description. Its solid build can also tolerate heavy-handed petting and lots of hugging from your little ones.

  • Other names: Flat-coated Retriever, Golden
  • Body size: Medium to large
  • Weight: 55 to 75 pounds
  • Coat: Medium, double coat 
  • Color: Light golden, dark golden, golden

Golden Retriever Temperament

The Golden Retriever is the best breed for first dog time owners with kids in their homes. These breeds are calm, affectionate, and sweet-natured. 

Golden Retrievers are intelligent dogs. They respond well to training. Their eagerness to please their owners turns them into obedient and loyal pets.

They have an active lifestyle that can match your children’s boundless energy. You can leave them together in a room and watch them have balls of fun.

These are even-tempered and gentle dogs. They are not bothered by loud noises, so they fit well in homes with active children. 

Best Dog for Small Apartments — Bichon Frise

Apartment dwellers who want a pup may consider getting a Bichon Frise. The Bichon Frise (pronounced as Bee-Shawn Free-Say) are well known for their great personalities. 

  • Other names: Bichon
  • Body size: Toy, small
  • Weight: 7 to 12 pounds
  • Coat: Curly, medium
  • Color: White with shades of cream, buff, or apricot

Bichon Frise Temperament

The Bichon Frise is a sweet, affectionate, and easy-going lap dog. With its confidence, it can keep a calm temperament when visitors come around your home. 

This dog is an absolute joy to be around. It may have an independent streak but still craves its owner's attention.

Bichon Frises are the best dogs for apartment living. They rarely bark and have a low impulse to roam. Bichons are happy and lively dogs that require minimal exercise.

Other dogs we recommend for small apartments: The French Bulldog can play indoors with a squeak or chew toy. They rarely bark, and may spend most of their time on the couch.

The Poodle is also on our list of indoor dogs, although it needs moderate grooming. This intelligent pup is easy to train. 

They don’t bark a lot. But they will alert you when someone's at the door. 

Large dog breeds are not advised if you live in an apartment. The limited space can prevent these dogs from getting enough physical activity.

Best Breed for Service Dog — Border Collie

A service animal, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, is a dog that has been trained to help and guide individuals with disabilities.6 Border Collies are popular service dogs.

  • Other names: Border
  • Body size: Medium
  • Weight: 30 to 55 pounds
  • Coat: Straight, medium, double coat
  • Color: Solid color (black, white), bi-color (black with white, red with white), tri-color, merle, sable

Border Collie Temperament

Border Collies are the busy bee of the dog kingdom. They are remarkable working dogs, originally bred to herd sheep. 

The Border Collie is an alert watchdog but still keeps a calm demeanor.

It is a friendly and loyal companion. An intelligent dog, the Border Collie responds well to training. It can be well-behaved and meek when you give it enough attention and proper outlet. 

Border Collies are alert and active, which makes them perfect service dogs. They are sensitive to their owner’s cues and remain focused on their job. 

They will be an excellent help to people with disabilities. They are intuitive problem-solvers, willing to assist their owners all day.

Best Dog for Seniors — Shih Tzu

Older people may need a companion once they retire. A Shih Tzu pet can fill the place of loved ones who have left their home to live independently.

  • Other names: Little Lion
  • Body size: Small
  • Weight: 9 to 16 pounds
  • Coat: Long, double coat
  • Color: Solid (black, white, silver, gold), brindle, blue, bi-color

Shih Tzu Temperament

Shih Tzus are affectionate and outgoing little dogs. They like to follow their owners around, and are eager to keep them company.

This dog breed may be alert and lively in the presence of other people in your house. They can easily become acquainted since the Shih Tzu is friendly and pleasant. 

Seniors can easily keep up with Shih Tzus. These dogs are not overly active and only require minimal exercise. A short trip outside daily is enough for their activity needs. 

They tend to be quiet though they may bark a little at newcomers. 

Did you know? Having a furry companion is also good for a senior’s heart health. A dog’s calming effect on humans helps them handle stress.5

Best Dog Breed for Cats — Basset Hound

The Basset Hound is a good dog breed to introduce to your cats at home. It has a mellow disposition that makes it perfect for cat owners. 

  • Other names: Hush Puppy
  • Body size: Medium
  • Weight: 40 to 65 pounds
  • Coat: Short, smooth
  • Color: Any recognized hound color

Basset Hound Temperament

Basset Hounds are good natured dogs with hunting instincts. Their easy-going personality allows them to easily get along with everyone, even other pets like cats. 

They are pack dogs, so they tend to be agreeable. But they can become unhappy if left alone all day. A Basset Hound may prefer to have someone around. Cats can keep them company.

Bassets are also slow-moving and passive, making them less likely to intimidate or spook your feline friends. They don’t pry and are independent — traits that they share with cats. 

Cats may appreciate having a canine companion who doesn’t intrude their personal space.

Best Dog Breed to Adopt — German Shepherd

German Shepherds are among the most commonly abandoned dogs. If you don’t want to leave them in shelters, they are the best dog breed to adopt.

  • Other names: Wolf dog
  • Body size: Large
  • Weight: 75 to 95 pounds
  • Coat: Medium, double coat
  • Color: Most colors except white

German Shepherd Temperament

The German Shepherd is a highly intelligent and obedient dog. You may easily win them over. 

Once you do, you’ll see a caring, devoted, and loving companion underneath their intimidating appearance.

German Shepherds are one of the commonly misunderstood dog breeds. Their typical role as police and military dogs often cause the stigma that they’re aggressive.

In reality, the German Shepherd can be loving and calm. It’s an affectionate dog who can be particularly fond of children. But it may take time to warm up to strangers

It’s incredibly loyal and dedicated to serving its owner or family. It’s a versatile dog that can adapt to any lifestyle.

Other breeds we recommend for dog adoption: You may consider rescuing the Boxer and the Chihuahua from a shelter. Just remember to adopt a dog that fits your lifestyle.

A Boxer dog is naturally friendly and fun, but isn’t overly noisy. It’s easy to train. This charming and lovable dog adapts to most environments.

A Chihuahua is a small dog with a big personality. Its temperament can vary from outgoing to timid. Their quick wit makes them easy to train. 

Chihuahuas are good companion dogs that bonds deeply with their owner.  

How to Tell What Breed Your Dog Is

A dog's breed can influence its temperament and personality traits. Unfortunately, first time owners who adopt dogs from local shelters may have trouble identifying their breed. 

This is especially true for mixed breed dogs. An at-home pet DNA test can help you learn more about your dog's genetic makeup and breed. 

A dog's DNA also holds crucial information about its health. It can tell you if your new buddy is at risk for health problems.

Learning about a dog’s breed can help you understand its behavior. It can help you ease your pet dog into its new home.

Remember that other factors like positive training and socialization also affect a dog's behavior. Exposing them to different people, sights, sounds, and experiences at an early age ensures that they are happy and well-rounded.

Dog parenting is a privilege and a huge responsibility. You must fully understand the commitment involved in dog ownership before welcoming one into your life.

Know Your DNA Reviews

The Best Dog DNA Test

We review the top 4 best dog DNA tests so you can find out more about your best friend.


Minus IconPlus Icon
  1.   Presentation of our organization.” Fédération Cynologique Internationale.
  2.   Breeds by Year Recognized.” American Kennel Club.
  3.   Breeds A to Z.” British Kennel Club.
  4. Are you ready for a dog?.” British Kennel Club.
  5. Having a dog can help your heart — literally.” Harvard Health Publishing. 
  6. Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals and the ADA.” Americans with Disabilities Act.
Cristine Santander
Cristine Santander
Content Contributor
Cristine Santander is a content writer for KnowYourDNA. She has a B.S. in Psychology and enjoys writing about health and wellness.
Back to top icon