The 7 Best Dogs for Beginners, Say Vets

For a first-time pet owner, choosing the perfect dog can be overwhelming. If you are discussing a canine companion, there are several factors to consider. Families need a breed that gets along well with children and has a gentle temperament. Seniors should look for low-energy puppies that don’t require constant walking and playtime. People who live in Florida probably don’t want an ultra-hairy Husky. And you’ll need to know how much to budget for: dog daycare if you’re going to the office, grooming and pet food, to name a few. To make the decision easier for new pet parents, we spoke to several veterinarians who shared their best dog breeds for beginners. Read on to see if you’re better suited for a carefree Lab or a little Yorkie.

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There’s a reason so many families choose Labrador Retrievers for their first pet and why they’re often used as service dogs. “Labrador Retrievers are friendly and easy-going, making them ideal puppies for beginners,” says a board-certified veterinarian. Melissa M. Brock. Plus, they’re smart, loyal and great with kids, according to a veterinarian and behaviorist Paola Cuevas.

This energetic and active breed needs plenty of exercise, so children can quickly learn responsibility through daily walking. Labs also love water, which makes them excellent beach dogs and easy to bathe. And if you think you can add more dogs to the family down the road, a Lab is a safe bet.

“They are extremely sociable and don’t mind being in the company of other dogs, even though they’ve never met before,” Brock shares. The only thing to consider is that you may be spending a fair amount of time vacuuming. “Their thick, water-repellent coat sheds a lot of hair!” warns Cuevas.

golden retriever puppy with a child

When it comes to being affectionate, good with children, and good with other dogs, the American Kennel Club (AKC) gives Golden Retrievers the highest possible scores. Much like Labs, they’re a perfect choice if you have kids because they’re “patient, calm, and gentle,” according to Brock. They are also well suited to multi-pet households and are very easy to train.

Goldens need daily exercise—in fact, the AKC says they’re great companions for “long runs and bike rides”—but they’re slightly less energetic than Labs (although they’re are tied in the loss department).

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Brown toy poodle with tongue out on white bed
Shutterstock/Lim Tiaw Leong

Poodles come in three sizes: Standard (more than 15 inches tall at the shoulder), Miniature (15 inches or less), and Toy (no more than 10 inches), according to the AKC. This makes them adaptable to a variety of households. “These active, graceful, people-oriented dogs have gained great popularity as pets because they are an intelligent, loyal and easy-to-train breed,” promises Cuevas.

A poodle is a good match for an active lifestyle. “Originally bred as hunting dogs, they love to retrieve and play on both land and water,” says Cuevas. If you live near a beach or lake, Poodles are exceptional swimmers. Their low-allergen coats don’t shed much, so they’re easy to groom, and they get top marks from the AKC for their affection and kindness with children.

A Goldendoodle puppy laying in the grass.
sdominick / iStock

Any Poodle mix (better known as a “doodle”) is considered an “easy breed”, according to the vet and founder of TrendingBreeds Amanda Takiguchi, DVM. But she recommends a Goldendoodle if you want a bigger dog. “They’re very smart, they learn fast, they’re super friendly, and they’re hypoallergenic,” she says.

Goldendoodles also love to play. According to an animal behaviorist, dog trainer and CEO and founder of PetDT Jacques Kennedythey “don’t have the excessive prey of some terriers, and they don’t need as much exercise as, say, a Husky”.

A fenced-in yard where they can run free for 20 to 30 minutes is ideal, says Pet Finder. The adoption website also notes that “proper socialization of puppies is key to their development,” so you might consider enrolling your new pup in a playgroup or going to the local dog park.

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Maltese puppy in the grass

Maltese are considered good family dogs because they are “very affectionate and easy-going,” says Brock, although the AKC only gives them three out of five for how well they get along with people. young children. As they are companion dogs, they are also perfect if you work from home and want a gentle companion.

Beginners will appreciate that the Maltese are quite middle ground when it comes to their personality. They love to learn new tricks, which makes their training easier, and their energy levels are moderate. They barely shed, but they do need daily brushing and regular baths to maintain their shiny coat.

white and brown shih tzu with teddy bear on sofa

These cuties are sweet and small, so they are ideal for apartments in the city. Affectionate and gentle, Shih Tzus are especially happy when their owner shows them love. They love to be picked up, cuddled and carried, so make sure you have plenty of time to spend with them. They also like to be busy, which means you’ll buy them lots of toys.

Shih Tzus have long hair that requires daily brushing, according to the AKC. And they do require a little maintenance when it comes to grooming. “Remember to comb the mustache and bun daily and gently clean the corners of the eyes with a damp cloth. To protect the Shih Tzu’s eyes from irritation, the hair on the top of the head should be cropped short or tied into a topknot,” the AKC explains.

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Yorkshire Terrier dog eats a snack - Image

This breed is a great option for a small home due to its size and personality. “Yorkies are known to be loving and affectionate, but they tend to be less needy than Shih Tzus when it comes to physical contact,” says Brock. They are easy to train, are hypoallergenic and don’t shed much. A Yorkie is also a wonderful breed for people who live alone, as they are high on the AKC watchdog meter. “Tenacious, fiery, courageous and sometimes bossy, the Yorkie exhibits all the traits of a true terrier,” they say.

Their shiny hair, which can fall all the way to the floor, requires just as much attention as Shih Tzus. “Either you need to budget for routine grooming or learn how to do it yourself,” advises Takiguchi. Their coats are very similar to human hair, and if kept long, they should be brushed daily, the AKC says.

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