The 20 Best Dog Breeds for First Time Dog Owners

Dogs are a huge commitment. From yappy chihuahuas to boisterous labradors, first-time dog owners are desperate to make sure their new companion is the right one.

There are tons of factors to consider when choosing a furry friend—such as the size of your house or whether you have a garden. Allergies also come into play, as does the owner's ability to tolerate loud barking or heavy moulting.

Options of canines can seem endless, so Newsweek has studied breeding, grooming and pet sites to round up the perfect pooches for first-time owners. Take a look below.

20. Bichon Frises

When translated from French, Bichon Frise literally means 'curly lap dog,' which captures the temperament of these peppy but peaceful companions.

Small in size, they require less exercise than larger dogs, although their 'powder puff' coat demands a fair amount of grooming.

Bichon Frise
The Bichon Frise is a little white dog originating from the Mediterranean with soft corkscrew curls. ultramarinfoto/Getty Images

19. Border Terriers

Sturdy and reliable these working dogs are suited to an outdoorsy lifestyle. Low maintenance thanks to a wiry coat, border terriers are the perfect dogs for roaming around the countryside.

The Border Terrier is a gentle dog
The Border Terrier is known as a gentle dog breed. In this photo, a Border Terrier dog lying down puffed out and panting with tongue after chasing around. Tim Graham / Contributor/Getty

18. Cocker Spaniels

Relatively lively creatures, this breed will need a minimum of an hour of exercise a day.

Owners can look forward to swimming, walking and other adventures with their spaniels. High-energy and prone to barking if bored, these dogs are better suited to an equally active owner.

Cocker spaniels
Cocker Spaniels at the 160th Great Yorkshire Show on July 12, 2018, in Harrogate, England. Cocker spaniels need to be groomed regularly. Ian Forsyth/Getty

17. Airedale Terriers

Nicknamed 'The King of Terriers,' Airedales are a great choice for those looking for a reliable, all-rounder dog.

The breed hails from the Aire Valley of Yorkshire, England and was historically used for catching otters and rats in the region's rivers.

Later, these four-legged troupers made a name for themselves during World War I, transporting medicine and food across trenches.

#19. Airedale terrier
Airedale Terriers historically caught rats and otters in Yorkshire, the UK. Canva

16. Cardigan Welsh Corgis

A favorite of Her Majesty the Queen, Corgis are smart, affectionate and unwaveringly loyal.

Believed to have existed for over 3,000 years, this breed is distinguished by its long tail, which is often compared to the sleeves of a cardigan sweater.

Mild-tempered and not too much hassle, these dogs make the perfect companion—whether for a royal household or not.

Corgis are a favorite of the Queen
Corgis are the favorite pet of the Queen of the U.K. In this photo, a pair of corgi dogs arrive on the second day of Crufts Dog Show at the NEC Arena on March 10, 2017 in Birmingham, England. Matt Cardy / Stringer/Getty

15. Bearded Collies

Floppy but certainly not dopey, this breed is known for its sheep herding abilities.

Owners only have to watch their Collie's do the 'beardie bounce'—an animated jiggle of its fur as it runs—to get a measure of this dog's playfulness.

Bearded Collie
A man grooms a bearded collie dog at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, England, on March 8, 2019. Bearded collies need to be brushed every day to remove tangles. Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty

14. Bernese Mountain Dogs

Despite their massive stature, Bernese Mountain Dogs are gentle giants. Gifted with a sweet, affectionate nature they make reliable family dogs.

Standing at over 27 inches at the shoulder, Berners may require more space to spread out—ideally a house with a garden.

Bernese Mountain dog
A Bernese Mountain dog on March 2, 2016, in Clevedon, England. This breed should be brushed daily during shedding season. Matt Cardy/Getty

13. American Eskimo Dogs

Recognised in two different sizes, miniature and standard, this stunning dog will turn heads with its snow-white fur.

Perhaps the only downside is the breed's tendency to bark—so it's not one for sensitive ears or easily upset neighbours.

#30. American Eskimo dog
American Eskimo dogs come in two different sizes, miniature and standard. Pixabay

12. American Staffordshire Terriers

Muscular and stocky, these sociable terriers make trustworthy friends. With a glossy brown and white coat that requires little maintenance, they are easy to look after and adaptable to different environments.

American Staffordshire Terrier
An American Staffordshire terrier at the Sacramento SPCA February 1, 2008, in Sacramento, California. American Staffordshire terriers only need a quick brush once a week. David Paul Morris

11. Bulldogs

Originally bred to drive cattle to markets, these dogs are calm, slow-paced creatures.

Well-suited to apartment life, bulldogs are happy waddling around in the comfort of their owners' homes.

French Bulldog
Bulldogs enjoy a slower pace of life and remain the number one most popular small dog breed. monkeybusinessimages/Getty Images

10. Bloodhounds

Contrary to their name, Bloodhounds are a docile but highly intelligent breed of dog.

Also known as "sleuth hounds" these creatures are gifted with a sharp sense of smell. Formerly bred for hunting and tracking, Bloodhounds are often used as sniffer dogs nowadays.

A bloodhound in Washington, D.C., on August 29, 2013. Bloodhounds should be bathed regularly to keep them from getting smelly, but only need to be brushed once a week. Saul Loeb/AFP

9. Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonkas

Petite, pretty dogs, Bolonkas originate from around Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

Translated from Russian to mean 'Colored Lapdog' they come in various hues, including sandy brown and salt and pepper grey.

Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka
Translated from Russian to mean ‘Colored Lapdog’ they originally come from Moscow and St Petersburg.

8. Brittanys

A true sporting dog, this lesser-known breed will take on most outdoor activities with a spring in its step.

Smaller than setters but lengthier than spaniels, these dogs bring high levels of energy to the park. Great for families with equally excitable children, they are eager companions that are willing to please.

A sporting dog comparable to a spaniel, these are great companions for active owners.

7. English Setters

A medium-sized dog, known for its alert and agile temperament.

Setters were formerly used as gun dogs so they need a more hands-on owner, who is willing to go on brisk walks.

English setter
An English Setter at the NEC on March 9, 2014, in Birmingham, England. English setters are friendly and merry dogs that tend to live to be around 12 years old. Matt Cardy/Getty

6. Golden Retrievers

One of America's most popular dog breeds, the golden retriever is a choice that's certain to please.

Fun for all the family, they are gentle dogs though they were historically used for hunting.

In fact, the "retriever" name is a nod towards the breed's ability to bring back shot game undamaged.

Golden Retriever
A Golden retriever at AKC Headquarters on February 22, 2016 in New York City. Golden Retrievers are friendly and devoted dogs that live to the age of 12. Jamie McCarthy/Getty

5. Newfoundlands

An enormous dog that can weigh up to 150 pounds, this is not a breed that will fit in a handbag.

Expect lots of swimming from Newfoundlands, as they were formerly used by fishermen for reeling in their nets.

Newfoundlands at the Cruft's dog show at the NEC Arena on March 6, 2020 in Birmingham, England. Newfoundlands are generally easy to train. Jeff J Mitchell/Getty

14. Pugs

Well-known for their thick wrinkles, pugs may look disgruntled but they are mischievous companions.

According to old legend, Chinese breeders, who perfected the breeding of this dog, favoured their creases as they resembled symbols of good fortune in their language.

Ancient China's passion for flat-faced toy dog breeds is behind the pet Pug's development. fongleon356/Getty Images

3. Rhodesian Ridgebacks

These canines are particularly unusual-looking due to a distinctive ridge, formed by hair growing in the opposite direction to the rest of the coat.

Ridgebacks can expend a lot of energy by enduring great distances at quick speeds, but they are sweet-tempered dogs that rarely bark.

Thai Ridgeback
Ridgebacks can expend a lot of energy by enduring great distances at quick speeds. DevidDO/iStock

2. Beagles

Developed as hunting hounds, these compact dogs need plenty of exercise and attention.

However, they are rewarding pets, and have a short coat that's easy to groom.

A Beagle at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home on December 17, 2019, in London, England. Beagles need to be brushed weekly but don’t need to be bathed very often. Marsland/WireImage

1 . Labradors

The countdown could not be complete without this family-friendly favorite.

Black, brown or yellow, a Labrador's characteristic wagging tail and boundless energy clinches the top spot as the best breed for first-time owners.

Black, brown or yellow, these dogs are a crowd-pleaser. Getty Images

Editor's Picks

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts