Best Dog Breeds for First-Time Owners - Low Maintenance & Dogs for Small Spaces

Best Dog Breeds for First-Time Owners - Low Maintenance & Dogs for Small Spaces

Posted by Deepak Rawat on

Choosing the best dog breeds for first-time owners can be a thrilling but mind-blowing experience. However, considering which breed fits your needs and lifestyle is always a good idea. Factors such as the maintenance cost, health issues (both for you and the breed), food, living environment, space, and attention play a vital role.

A large dog might initially seem intimidating, but they can make great companions for first-time owners. On the contrary, a small dog may be easier to manage, with minimum grooming and attention. So, it's essential to research different breeds and their characteristics before deciding.

This article will discuss the best dogs for first-time dog owners and offer tips on choosing the perfect option.

First Time Dog Owner Checklist

Before adopting/buying a new dog, it's important to consider some crucial factors.

Here is a first-time dog owner checklist.

  • Commitment: Dogs have an average of 10-13 years of age profile, depending on the breed. This means they require regular health care attention and exercise. As a first-time dog owner, ensure you have the time and energy to dedicate to your breed before making a long-term commitment.
  • Space and personal preference: Do you live in an apartment or a house with a backyard? Some dogs such as Cavalier King Charles Spaniel prefer open spaces, while others do better in smaller environments.
  • Activity level: Are you an active person who loves outdoor activities? Or do you prefer the indoors? This will help determine the best breed for your lifestyle.
  • Budget: Owning or maintaining a dog can be costly, so make sure you have enough budget for dog training, dog food, professional grooming, and vet visits.
  • Family members: If you have children or other pets, consider their needs and compatibility with the other dogs.

Top 10 Dogs for First Time Owners

  • Labrador Retriever: known for its high intelligence, warm, and friendly nature, the Labrador Retriever makes one of the best dogs for first-time owners. Training them is also easy because they respond well to commands or positive reinforcement.
  • Golden Retriever: This breed is an excellent companion because of its gentle disposition, outgoing nature, and eagerness to please. They can also make the best medium-sized dog breeds for first-time owners due to their manageable size and adaptability.
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: This breed is outstanding for its sweet, gentle, and affectionate nature. It also makes the ideal pet for those living in smaller spaces, with children or other pets.
  • Bichon Frise: Known as one of the best hypoallergenic dogs for first-time owners, Bichon Frises have a cheerful and feisty demeanor that endears them to most people.
  • Poodle (Miniature and Standard): The miniature and standard Poodle rank highly among the best dog breeds for a first time owner because of their intelligence, active, and hypoallergenic coats.
  • Boxer: Boxers are energetic, loyal, and fearless, making them excellent companions for active individuals or families with children.
  • Shih Tzu: With hair rather than fur, Shih Tzus make good dog choices for people with allergies. Their loving, perky, and adaptability to various living situations make them a good choice for first time owners.
  • Papillon: Papillons have an amazing personality. They are intelligent, easy to train using positive reinforcement, adapting well to different households like apartments.
  • Greyhounds: Usually overlooked by first-time dog owners, Greyhounds have a gentle, noble, and sweet demeanor despite having a reputation as racing dogs. They, however, require regular exercise but are otherwise low-maintenance pets, ideal as family pets.
  • Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier: This breed is spirited and easygoing, perfect for first-time dog owners looking for a medium-sized companion that can match an active lifestyle without being too groom-oriented.

First Time Dog Owner Tips

For all these breeds, always provide the necessities such as food and water bowls tailored to your dog's size, with consistent training using positive reinforcement methods and professional grooming.

Best Guard Dog Breeds as a First Owner

Here are some of the top 10 guard dogs for first-time owners, considering different purposes — whether for farm or home protection:

  • German Shepherd: These are excellent for both farm and home security. They're loyal, trainable, and have an instinct to protect.
  • Doberman Pinscher: Ideal for guarding a home because they are alert, agile, and loyal to their family. They can also intimidate intruders just by their presence.
  • Rottweiler: With a robust build, deep bark, and great strength, Rottweilers serve well in farms and home settings.
  • Bullmastiff: Also known as “The Gamekeeper's Night Dog Bullmastiff,” it is an ideal choice for anyone who prefers a less aggressive approach to home security. This dog has a muscular appearance and ability to block intruders rather than hostility.
  • Belgian Malinois: Intelligent, well-muscled, and versatile like the German Shepherd, this breed can protect livestock on farms or serve as a personal protection dog at home.
  • Boxer: Known for their loyalty to families, the Boxer is an excellent guard dog at home. They protect their loved ones.
  • Great Pyrenees: Originally bred to protect livestock on farms such as sheep from wolves and other predators in the Pyrenees Mountaintops.
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback: With their origins in hunting lions, the Rhodesian Ridgeback “Renaissance hound or African Lion Hound” has an independent streak but makes an excellent home defense protector against intruders if trained correctly.
  • Akita Inu: Originating from northern Japan mountains, Akitas were used to track prisoners of war and lost sailors during the Russo-Japanese War. Today, they are reserved with strangers but extremely loyal to their family members, making them an ideal breed for the home.
  • Australian Shepherd: Australian Shepherds are agile and intelligent ranch dogs earlier used for sheep herding by California shepherds. Today, they make a suitable breed for farm protection to herd livestock and keep watch over large properties.

Note: For successful dog ownership, commit to regular training sessions to manage their energy levels effectively.

Best Low Maintenance Dog Breeds as a First Owner

Here are some of the best low-maintenance dogs for first-time owners:

  • Chihuahua (small with short coat)
  • French Bulldog (compact with minimal shedding)
  • Dachshund (doesn’t demand constant stimulation)
  • Greyhounds (a low-energy indoor breed with short coats that require minimum grooming)
  • Boston Terrier (short coat)
  • Pug (small size and short fur)
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (has moderate grooming needs, suitable for all types of owners)
  • Shih Tzu (don’t shed much)
  • Basset Hound (have short hair that requires minimal maintenance besides regular ear cleaning)
  • Rat Terrier (small and don't require much space and grooming)

Best Dogs for First Time Owners in Apartments or with small Space

Here are the best dog breeds for first time owners in apartments and smaller spaces:

  • French Bulldog: Has a laid-back attitude that requires minimal exercise.
  • Pug: Are content with short walks.
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: Adapts well to indoor living and enjoys regular walks.
  • Chow Chow: Do well in apartments because they can housebreak easily and have little dog odor.
  • Chihuahua: Tiny yet bold, perfect for small living spaces.
  • Dachshund: Curious and lively but don't require extensive outdoor activity to be happy.
  • Shih Tzu: Perfect for an apartment because of their small size and affectionate nature.
  • Yorkshire Terriers: Tiny and can adapt well to apartment living due to their size and are low-energy.
  • Maltese: With compact size, Maltese are gentle, fearless, and don't shed much.

Worst Dog Breeds for First-time Owners

Choosing the right dog breed is crucial for first-time owners because some breeds can be challenging to maintain. Also, you must consider your lifestyle, living arrangements, and the time dedicated to training, exercise, and bonding.

Here are some of the worst dog breeds for first-time owners:

  • Akita: Akitas require experienced handling because they can be aggressive toward strangers or other animals at home if not properly socialized.
  • Siberian Husky: A Siberian Husky can be notoriously difficult for first time owners. Their high energy levels and need for constant exercise can overwhelm a first-time owner. Additionally, they can be destructive if bored.
  • German Shepherd: Are German Shepherds good dogs for first time dog owners? Generally, no. These breeds demand rigorous training, socialization, and daily physical activity, making them unpopular for inexperienced owners
  • Portuguese Water Dog: Are Portuguese Water Dogs good for first time owners? Well, they might seem like an ideal option because of their hypoallergenic coat. Nonetheless, they require extensive grooming and exercise due to their high intelligence and energy levels.
  • Border Collie: These are work-oriented dogs that need fair mental and physical stimulation. Such characteristics can pose a challenge for novice pet parents.


While dogs are seen as great companions and family pets, always consider the breed’s characteristics or individual needs before making a decision.
While some breeds like the Golden Retrievers and Shih Tzu may be better for first-time dog owners, others like the Siberian Husky and the Portuguese Water Dog may require more experience and dedication.
Always do thorough research and consult with experts before bringing home a new pet.

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