Adding a dog to your family is an exciting time, but can be a little overwhelming with all the different breeds available to adopt. A good first step would be to evaluate your current lifestyle. Are you active? Home a lot? Have a big or small yard? These are all questions you need answers to so you can be paired with a breed that best fits what’s already going on in your life.
Spend time researching what kinds of traits certain breeds have that will most fit your lifestyle.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the best breeds for first-time owners and some of their temperaments and traits that can best fit your family and lifestyle.
This adorable little cotton ball is hypoallergenic and has a happy-go-lucky disposition. They do well with kids and don’t require much space to live in due to their small size and mild temperaments.
They have a soft and silky curly coat that needs to be cut often and brushed regularly, so make sure your budget has room for the added expense.
If you have room for a dog to run and have an active outdoor type lifestyle, a Labrador Retriever will make an excellent addition to your life. Labs are smart, playful, and loyal canines who will play fetch until you can’t throw the ball anymore. They have short coats as well, so grooming is a minimum.
Training, exercise, and mental stimulation is important for a Lab, especially during their early years. Younger Labs that are under-stimulated will act out and adopt bad habits.
This little bundle of cuteness is surprisingly active and very easy to train. Papillons can live in an apartment or house with lots of room and only require a moderate amount of grooming.
The Papillon dogs are good with children but need to be handled with care as they only get up to about 10 pounds max. However, these happy and energetics dogs will be in your life for up to 15 years, so there is lots of cuteness to go around for a while.
The Poodle is popular for a reason; they are smart, energetic, and good with children. That being said, Poodles do need training, plenty of mental stimulation, a lot of physical activity, and regular grooming.
Poodles come in three sizes: Toy, miniature, and standard. Do your research on what size will be more compatible with your living environment if you decide to get a Poodle.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
These happy little campers only get up to around 13 to 18 pounds, so they are great lap dogs, but still need to be played with and walked every day. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have beautiful long fur so you’ll need to brush them at least every other day.
Many mixed breed dogs are a great start for first-time owners that don’t have goals like hunting or showing. Another great advantage is that they generally have mild temperaments due to the mixture of breed-specific extreme characteristics (but not always).
Consider visiting Meridian Canine Rescue to adopt one of their many dogs that need forever homes. The staff there will be happy to talk about each dog's personalities, abilities, and temperament.
These flat-faced, pom-pom tailed bundles of love are great with kids and laid-back owners. Shih Tzus have hair and are hypoallergenic. Their coats need to be brushed and groomed often so consider the amount of money and time it will take to keep your new family furball looking good.
Shih Tzus do have a medium to high level of energy so they will need to be walked and played with a few times a day. They also live between 10 to 16 years, so make sure you’re ready to care for this pup for a long time.
Pugs are easy to pick out of a crowd because of their very distinct flat face and curly tail. Pug owners will tell you they are little tanks that love to play in short bursts. Their little legs and short noses make it hard for them to breath, which puts them in the low to medium energy level.
Despite being descendants of Greyhounds, Whippets love lazy days on the couch, so they do well in apartment-type housing situations. They have short coats so grooming will be easy, but if they are out and about in cooler weather, they’ll need a doggie jacket and booties if there is snow.
Whippets generally live between 12 to 15 years and have few known health problems. They are smart, affectionate, and friendly. Just make sure you keep them on a leash when you’re out and about, because these canines like to run off and discover the world for themselves.
Their size can be a little intimidating to small children, but their heart is as big as their head (figuratively speaking of course). While they do need to get outside and stretch their legs or have a good rope pulling session, Great Danes love to overtake your couch or bed and catch a lot of Z’s.
Great Danes obviously require more food than an average dog, so you’ll want to account for that in your budget. Their coat is very short, so grooming doesn’t take much at all. Their life span is about 6-8 years but some have been known to live for up to a decade.
Do Your Research
Don’t choose a breed of dog just because it’s fashionable for the moment. That usually leads to dogs being abandoned at shelters because their temperament was not a good fit for the family or the living situation.
There was a 35% surge of Dalmatian adoptions when the movie 101 Dalmatians came out in 1996 starring Glenn Close. Sadly, many of those dogs ended up in shelters because Dalmatians are high energy, require a tremendous amount of time, and are generally not good with children. Certainly not the temperament portrayed in the movie.
Bringing a dog into your life is a big step, so do your research, talk to breeders or the staff who work with the dogs and choose which canine is best for you.