Human Interest Stories

You won’t forget the day you become a dog owner for the first time. Adding a dog to the family can be a great game-changer for everyone. Dogs can be loyal, loving, playful, and, let’s face it, they’re pretty cute.

Dogs bring so much joy into a person’s life and help to create lifelong memories. Once you have a dog, it will be very hard to go back to living without one. Dogs can become wonderful companions, and if brought home to a family, can help teach kids responsibility and compassion. They may also help you feel more secure at home, as many dogs can be trained to become skilled watchdogs.

That said, not all dogs are right for everyone. Prospective owners have to find a dog that is best suited to their personality and lifestyle—it’s a matchmaking game more than anything else. And if you’re a first-time dog owner, you’re going to want to be particular about the type of dog you bring into your home. Some dogs require much more work than others, and some may be more difficult to care for because they are prone to illnesses later in life.

So which breed is easiest for a first-time owner? Stacker analyzed the American Kennel Club dog breed database to find breeds with traits ideal for first-time owners. The analysis focused on breeds that had calm or regular activity levels, as opposed to dogs classified as energetic or needing lots of activity. Dogs that bark infrequently or only when necessary were considered, rather than dogs that were classified as stubborn to train or as extra-large in size. The dogs for this analysis then were ordered by weight from largest to smallest.

There’s a lot to consider when selecting a dog for the first time. Are you an active person who wants a running buddy, or do you spend most of your day away from home, which might require a dog that’s more sedentary? Typically dogs that don’t shed much are easier for first-time owners—less clean-up and grooming. Dogs that respond to training tend to be better for first-time owners since they will be more prone to obeying and staying out of trouble.

If you’re ready to add a dog to the mix, here are 30 dog breeds ideal for first-time owners.

  • #30. Rottweiler

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    – Height: 24–27 inches (male), 22–25 inches (female)
    – Weight: 95–135 pounds (male), 80–100 pounds (female)
    – Life expectancy: 9–10 years

    Incredibly loyal with a temperament that does not require too much coddling, Rottweilers are great dogs for first-time owners, especially if that pet owner likes to be physically active. Rottweilers are protective of their families, and according to Petfinder, need daily long walks or jogs daily. First-time pet owners will like their relatively low maintenance—an occasional brushing gets the job done.

  • #29. Rafeiro do Alentejo

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    – Height: 25–29 inches
    – Weight: 77–132 pounds
    – Life expectancy: 12–14 years

    First-time dog owners can rest easily with a Rafeiro do Alentejo. This watchdog-by-nature has a calm demeanor, is protective of its family, and is relatively low maintenance, needing only an occasional bath and weekly brushing. This breed is also more active at night than during the day, so keep that in mind if you are a morning person.

  • #28. Perro de Presa Canario

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    – Height: 22–26 inches
    – Weight: 84–110 pounds
    – Life expectancy: 9–11 years

    The Perro de Presa Canario is a calm breed, with a higher than average affection level and a protective spirit. First-time dog owners should keep in mind that, according to Petfinder, these dogs are best kept away from other dogs and pets, but they are about as loyal to their families as they come. Grooming required includes weekly brushing, an occasional bath, regular nail trimming and ear cleaning, and they can be exercised either with several daily walks or in a fenced yard.

  • #27. Briard

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    – Height: 23–27 inches (male), 22–25.5 inches (female)
    – Weight: 55–100 pounds
    – Life expectancy: 12 years

    Don’t be fooled by its moppish appearance—the briard is a good pick for first-time dog owners, and is characterized as an excellent watchdog, with a history of protecting its family. The briard has a very high affection level, is easily trained, and early socialization is important. Despite the excessively long hair, the briard doesn’t shed as much as other breeds, is child-friendly, and also is an excellent apartment dog.

  • #26. American bulldog

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    – Height: 22–25 inches (males); 20–23 inches (females)
    – Weight: 75–100 pounds (males); 60–80 pounds (females)
    – Life expectancy: 10–12 years

    Gentle and affectionate are two words often used to describe the American bulldog, and make it a perfect breed for children. It is loyal to its family, and while it is easily trained, it’s best to do so when the dog is young. Historically, the American bulldog is a working dog, so daily exercise and activity will keep it happy and in good health.

  • #25. Clumber spaniel

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    – Height: 18–20 inches (male), 17–19 inches (female)
    – Weight: 70–85 pounds (male), 55–70 pounds (female)
    – Life expectancy: 10–12 years

    Clumber spaniels look similar to cocker spaniels, but they are not the same, and though the name may come from England, it’s unknown where this breed originated. First-time dog owners will realize these pups are incredibly affectionate and intelligent. They don’t need a ton of exercise, but be forewarned that this breed is particularly slobber- and shed-prone.

  • #24. Rhodesian Ridgeback

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    – Height: 25–27 inches (male), 24–26 inches (female)
    – Weight: 85 pounds (male), 70 pounds (female)
    – Life expectancy: 10 years

    Faithful and protective, new dog owners are going to adore the best friend they’ll have in a Rhodesian ridgeback. A breed that can be incredibly loving, it originated in Africa and was used to hunt big game, including lions, according to the American Kennel Club. First-time dog owners should train Rhodesian ridgebacks at an early age because they are prone to independence.

  • #23. Bergamasco sheepdog

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    – Height: 23.5 inches (male), 22 inches (female)
    – Weight: 70–84 pounds (male), 57–71 pounds (female)
    – Life expectancy: 13–15 years

    With a signature coat unlike any other breed, the Bergamasco sheepdog is definitely a looker, has a one-of-a-kind personality, and is loving, affectionate, and incredibly loyal. And, believe it or not, that signature coat that might give people pause is relatively maintenance-free. A Bergamasco does not shed––it doesn’t even need to be brushed. Plus, this breed only needs a moderate amount of exercise, making it invariably low maintenance for first-time dog owners.

  • #22. Eurasier

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    – Height: 19–24 inches
    – Weight: 40–70 pounds
    – Life expectancy: 12–16 years

    With a name that reflects its roots across Europe and Asia, the Eurasier was recognized officially in the 1970s after the guided cross-breeding of several breeds, including a chow chow, Wolfspitz, and Samoyed. These dogs are great for first-time owners because they are loyal and devoted to family members, have relatively few health issues as they age, and don’t have many needs when it comes to exercise. They may take a while to warm up to strangers, but are dog-friendly, so don’t worry about socializing them when you take a trip to the dog park.

  • #21. Bavarian mountain scent hound

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    – Height: 17–20.5 inches
    – Weight: 37–66 pounds
    – Life expectancy: 12–15 years

    Devoted to its family, the Bavarian mountain scent hound is smart, active, and lightweight. Despite its short hair, maintenance requires regular brushing and frequent trimming of fast-growing nails. These are definitely country dogs who were used primarily for hunting, so apartment living will not suit them, but first-time owners will find they are intelligent and easy to train with positive reinforcement.

  • #20. Small Munsterlander pointer

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    – Height: 20.5–21 inches
    – Weight: 40–60 pounds
    – Life expectancy: 12–14 years

    The small Munsterlander pointers are perfect for first-time owners with families who are ready to add Fido into the mix. This breed is exceptionally affectionate, especially around kids. Primarily hunting dogs, their exercise needs are high–-so if you’re an active family, you’ve found your breed.

  • #19. Bohemian shepherd

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    – Height: 20.5–21.7 inches (males), 19.3–20.5 inches (females)
    – Weight: 41–60 pounds (males), 37–53 pounds (females)
    – Life expectancy: 12–15 years

    Similar to a German shepherd, the Bohemian shepherd is known for its lionhearted disposition, affection, courage, and with its herding background, athleticism. Perfect for families, you’ll know your kids are in protected paws with a Bohemian shepherd. The breed is considerably easy to train, but requires a good hour of daily exercise, and frequent grooming.

  • #18. Deutscher Wachtelhund

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    – Height: 18–21 inches
    – Weight: 40–55 pounds
    – Life expectancy: 12–14 years

    The Deutscher wachtelhund, aka the German spaniel, is a medium-sized dog that was originally used for hunting. Today, this loyal and intelligent dog is easily trained and incredibly friendly. If you’re looking for a solid family dog, this breed is certainly at the top of the list.

  • #17. Sloughi

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    – Height: 26–29 inches (male), 24–27 inches (female)
    – Weight: 35–50 pounds
    – Life expectancy: 10–15 years

    The slender and sleek Sloughi is known for its speed, as well as its loyalty, though the breed is best suited to one- or two-person homes. There’s very little maintenance involved in caring for this almost catlike dog, but it does need a substantial amount of space to exercise. Introduced to the United States in the 1970s, the Sloughi is thought to have originated in North Africa, and eventually Europe.

  • #16. Bulldog

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    – Height: 14–15 inches
    – Weight: 50 pounds (male), 40 pounds (female)
    – Life expectancy: 8–10 years

    Don’t let their grumpy little faces fool you—bulldogs are about as sweet as they come and make great lap dogs. These affectionate, friendly dogs are easy to train, laid-back, and don’t require a lot of exercise. That makes them perfect for first-time owners who live in apartments, or for families with young kids.

  • #15. Karelian bear dog

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    – Height: 19–23.5 inches
    – Weight: 44–49 pounds
    – Life expectancy: 11–13 years

    A perfect addition to any family, the Karelian bear dog is outgoing, friendly, and playful. Not ideal for apartment dwellers, these dogs love wide open spaces, and can live long lives, sometimes up to 13 years. They are loyal to a fault, and are great around children.

  • #14. Glen of Imaal terrier

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    – Height: 12.5–14 inches
    – Weight: 32–40 pounds
    – Life expectancy: 10–15 years

    The Glen of Imaal terrier is docile, laid-back, intelligent and easily trained. It’s very social, and gets along well with kids and other pets. It favors the outdoors, so if you have a backyard, this dog is a happy camper–-and while it is not particularly a great swimmer, PetMD suggests keeping a small kiddie pool outside so it can keep cool in the warmer weather.

  • #13. Whippet

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    – Height: 19–22 inches (male), 18–21 inches (female)
    – Weight: 25–40 pounds
    – Life expectancy: 12–15 years

    Developed from terriers and greyhounds, whippets can run exceptionally fast—sometimes up to 35 miles an hour. First-time dog owners will love their friendly and reserved nature. They are great companions for other dogs, play wonderfully with children, and if you need a running companion you’ve found your new best friend.

  • #12. Lagotto Romagnolo

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    – Height: 17–19 inches (male), 16–18 inches (female)
    – Weight: 28.5–35 pounds (male), 24–31 pounds (female)
    – Life expectancy: 15–17 years

    Originally from Italy, these born retrievers are known for their history as truffle-hunting dogs, and are still used for this purpose. If you socialize and train them from an early age, they are perfect family companions who are highly affectionate and love to cuddle. Known for their energy, they do best in environments where they have plenty of space to exercise.

  • #11. Nederlandse kooikerhondje

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    – Height: 15–17 inches (male), 14–16 inches (female)
    – Weight: 20–30 pounds
    – Life expectancy: 12–15 years

    If there’s one thing that can be said about the Nederlandse kooikerhondje, it is that they are beautiful dogs, sporting a soft white coat with distinctive patches of orange and red. First-time dog owners will love their intelligence and sensitive nature, as well as their eagerness to please. Highly trainable, they do very well with older children and other trained dogs.

  • #10. French bulldog

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    – Height: 11–13 inches
    – Weight: under 28 pounds
    – Life expectancy: 10–12 years

    Also known as Frenchie, the small, lap dog-size French bulldog is incredibly popular for its cute face and sweet disposition, and usually weighs no more than 28 pounds. But big things come in small packages, and these cuddly creatures are loving and protective. They rarely bark, and are great for everyone–-from singles to families, active types, and city couch potatoes.

  • #9. Cirneco dell’Etna

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    – Height: 18–19.5 inches (male), 16.5–18 inches (female)
    – Weight: 22–26 pounds (male), 17–22 pounds (female)
    – Life expectancy: 12–14 years

    Hailing from Sicily, these kind and intelligent dogs are perfect for first-time owners, especially if they are apartment dwellers. Among one of the friendliest breeds, these pups are great with households that have small children, and a minimal amount of shedding means low-maintenance grooming. Plus, these dogs don’t typically experience serious health problems as they age.

  • #8. Boston terrier

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    – Height: 15–17 inches
    – Weight: 12–25 pounds
    – Life expectancy: 11–13 years

    Full of fun, Boston terriers are premier family dogs that love to cuddle, bond quickly to their owners, and are perfect for any size yard. They are great apartment dogs, as they keep their bark to a minimum. First-time owners should be aware that they can have a stubborn streak, so obedience training is highly recommended from a young age, but as for friendliness and loyalty, they are hard to beat.

  • #7. Jagdterrier

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    – Height: 13–16 inches
    – Weight: 17–22 pounds
    – Life expectancy: 10–12 years

    Originally a hunting dog from Germany, these small, energetic dogs belong to the terrier family, and are particularly smart. They require regular outdoor exercise, love to be kept busy, and training should be a cinch. Brave in nature and known for their tenacity, they may not be the best dogs for families, but if you do have children, they should be fine with them.

  • #6. Pug

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    – Height: 10–13 inches
    – Weight: 14–18 pounds
    – Life expectancy: 13–15 years

    Short-and-stocky, but oh, so cute, pugs are known for their wrinkled brows and flat, round muzzles. These dogs are full of energy and are a great deal of fun. Perfect for families, singles, senior citizens, and kids, pugs require minimal maintenance, and are among one of the best dog breeds for first-time owners.

  • #5. Tibetan spaniel

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    – Height: 10 inches
    – Weight: 9–15 pounds
    – Life expectancy: 12–15 years

    The Tibetan spaniel, aka the Tibbie, is a happy and playful breed that loves family time, is expert at cuddling during downtime, and because of its size, needs minimal exercise. Grooming this breed is relatively easy for the first-time owner, and requires just a brushing twice a week. The Tibetan spaniel also can live up to 15 years, but may suffer from cataracts later in life.

  • #4. Coton de Tulear

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    – Height: 10–11 inches (male), 9–10 inches (female)
    – Weight: 9–15 pounds (male), 8–13 pounds (female)
    – Life expectancy: 15–19 years

    The Coton de Tulear is outgoing, energetic, affectionate and intelligent, and lives up to its name with its white and puffy cottonlike appearance. It is best suited to apartments, and is ultimately an indoor dog, but does need a little bit of exercise here and there. It is cuddly and loving, but is also a devoted watchdog.

  • #3. English toy spaniel

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    – Height: 9–0 inches
    – Weight: 8–14 pounds
    – Life expectancy: 10–12 years

    If you’re more of a loner, English toy spaniels may be the perfect pet for you. Cousins to the King Charles cavaliers, this breed prefers a single person over a family, and would rather have your companionship than to be left alone. Not particularly good with kids, they are great apartment dogs, and are very friendly toward strangers and other dogs.

  • #2. Italian greyhound

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    – Height: 13–15 inches
    – Weight: 7–14 pounds
    – Life expectancy: 14–5 years

    The Italian greyhound is similar to the regular greyhound, only on a much smaller scale. This beautiful, sleek and slender breed is exceptionally fast, and needs a lot of exercise. Warm-weather creatures that do not enjoy living in colder climates, these dogs are great with children and other pets.

  • #1. Japanese Chin

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    – Height: 8–11 inches
    – Weight: 7–11 pounds
    – Life expectancy: 10–12 years

    Also known as the Japanese spaniel, this toy dog breed was once the pet of choice for Japanese royalty. Loyal, loving, and obedient, be prepared to shower it with praise and attention, as it thrives on positive feedback. For first-time pet owners, its exercise can be kept at a minimum with short, daily walks, and a daily brushing will keep its coat silky and shiny.