Best Dogs For Beginners | Coach Doggo

If you’ve never owned a dog before, there is really no better way to complete your household than to add a pup to the equation.

The best dog breeds for beginners are Labrador Retrievers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Golden Retrievers, Shi Tzus, Poodles, Boxers, Vizslas, and Mix Breeds.  However, each breed has different traits and personalities, which will affect your ultimate decision.

Dogs are widely considered to be man’s best friend - and for good reason!  These amazing animals have the capacity to brighten our days and become a major part of our lives, which is why they are so ingrained in our society.  The reason for this is that dogs are caring, nurturing, and fun-loving pets, which emulate the personalities of their owners and they display genuine love and affection.  Developing this sort of relationship with a pet is a calling for first-time dog owners to bring a pup into their lives, but you should know that certain dog breeds will be a better fit for most owners, which is why we have handpicked some breeds that are perfect for beginners.

Owning a dog is a serious responsibility and you should note that most states have strict laws pertaining to pet liability - meaning that you are responsible for your dog and your dog’s actions.

Laws and regulations for animal rights are enforced by the United States Department of Agriculture through the Animal Welfare Act.

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Best Beginner Dog Breeds

As you start getting excited about the thought of a cute pup running around the house, you should first reflect on a few things before you begin looking for a breeder.  Since dogs can vary in so many features and personality traits, it’s important to consider the qualities that will best suit you, so that you can make a wise decision when selecting your new life companion.

Dog breeds tend to follow certain behavioral patterns, which can be synonymous with their breed.  This can make narrowing down some of your options much easier, as you can put more focus on the breeds that are more compatible with your personality.  With that being said, it’s quite common to get a wild card personality with some dogs, which do not behave in the way you might predict.  This does not necessarily imply a negative personality trait - just something to be mindful of.

Another factor you should consider is your living environment.  Dogs are very adaptable animals and are able to cope with a lot of conditions and living situations, but undeniably, some dogs are better suited for certain households.  If you have a home with a front or backyard, choosing a breed will be a breeze, as your home is dynamic enough to satisfy the needs of any dog.

However, if you happen to live in an apartment building - especially a high-rise building, you may want to pick a breed with more care and consideration.  The reason for this is that some dog breeds simply need more activity than others and may not cope with confined living spaces as well.  Furthermore, you will want to consider whether you are looking for a pup to accompany your bachelor lifestyle or whether you want a dog more suitable for a family environment.  To simplify your decision, we are going to take you through all of the best dog breeds which are best for beginners.

Labrador Retriever

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Picture of a Labrador Retriever

Few breeds are as dynamic and fun-loving as the Labrador Retriever.  This amazing breed is perfect regardless of whether you are living on your own or are looking for a pet that will nestle right into your family.  Labs are very sociable, kindhearted, and loyal dogs that will stand by their owner through thick and thin, as these pups are happy to run around outside all day, meet up with friends for a play date, or have a lazy day at home on the couch.

Regarding size, Labrador Retrievers will typically stand at about 20 - 25 inches off of the ground and can weigh anywhere from 50 - 75 pounds - which makes them a medium to large breed.  The size and weight fluctuation will generally be determined by whether the Lab is male or female.  The life expectancy of a Labrador Retriever is roughly 10 to 12 years.

Their fur is sturdy and thick, but not overly long, which implies that you will have a moderate amount of shedding around the house.  The best way to avoid this is to brush them regularly.  In addition, pure breed Labrador Retrievers will generally have a black, chocolate, or yellowish-white coat.  

While the Labrador Retriever is a very adaptable breed, they do have a considerable amount of energy, which means they do best when they get the attention they deserve.  If you are living in a home with some yard space, your Labrador Retriever will be able to have plenty of play room to stay happy.  However, if you live in an apartment building, you should ensure that you are able to attend to your Lab’s daily energy needs by taking them out regularly - and ideally to the park at least once or twice a day to blow off some steam.

With that being said, Labrador Retrievers are an amazing breed for beginners and are a great match for just about any household.  

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

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Picture of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a breed that will make your heart melt and is guaranteed to make any home complete.  This adorable breed will joyfully prance around the house eager to please its owner and is a great beginner dog for any owner.  The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is as sweet on this inside and they are on the outside - with puppy dog eyes and an upbeat attitude that demands your attention.

This small breed falls into the toy category for size and will stand at just about 11 - 14 inches off of the ground and will weigh roughly 10 to 12 pounds.  Their coat is medium in length and will range in a mix of white, brown, and black.  Their fur does need regular maintenance for them to retain their adorable aesthetic.  So be sure to brush them regularly and to bathe them quite often.  In addition, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is relatively easy to train.  The average lifespan of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is roughly 9 - 14 years.

Their tiny size often leads people to assume that they are solely a lapdog, but in actuality, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel can be a burst of energy, if encouraged from an early age.  The key to adding some upbeatness to this pup is to give them plenty of play time early in life so that this sort of behavior is ingrained in their personality.  

With that being said, your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel will have no problem being a couch potato, if that is more your style. This breed’s aristocratic roots can be displayed in their personalities, as they do know how to lounge - regardless of their energy level.  Don’t be surprised to find your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in a state of complete contentment while laying around on the doggy bed - or maybe even your couch.

Poodle

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The Poodle is one of the most versatile and dynamic dog breeds and is perfect for just about any beginner.  They are one of the most intelligent breeds, which makes them very easy to train and they are extremely loyal to their owners.  

One of the reasons that Poodles are so versatile is that they are not only adaptable dogs but they also come in a variety of sizes, which can make them great for specific households and personal preferences.  Here are some of the sizes that Poodles come in:

  • Toy Poodle - an adorable dog that will stay puppy size for life at just  9 - 12 inches in height.
  • Miniature Poodle - is the next size up at roughly 11 - 14 inches in height.
  • Standard Poodle - the largest size Poodles will be about 20 - 24 inches in height.

The size variation alone makes the Poodle a great fit for any household.  However, you will also find that the nature of the Poodle’s personality makes them adaptable to most living environments - they will fit right into your full-size home or happily enjoy your studio-sized apartment.  The average lifespan of a Poodle is 10 - 15 years.

An important thing to remember is that Poodles, although patient and obedient, are still very active dogs.  They are athletic dogs and are considered the bronze and the brains of most breeds.  So make sure that your Poodle is being stimulated physically with plenty of outdoor time, but also mentally, as their capacity for intelligence is astounding.

In addition, Poodles come in a huge variety of fur colors such as white, black, brown, cream, red, orange/brown, and even blue.  They do, however, have a high-maintenance coat, which will require that you brush them daily.  Otherwise, their fur will get quite chaotic and messy.

Golden Retriever

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Picture of a Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever originated from Scotland, but it is the most classic American family dog out there.  This beautiful breed is as loyal and loving, as it is playful. You really can not go wrong with this breed in the house, as they are a family dog like no other.  Whether you are going on family camping trips, walks in the park, or some good ol’ time on the sofa, your Golden Retriever will be delighted just to be in your company.

With that being said, a Golden Retriever will feel right at home living a bachelor lifestyle as well.  They are great companions for your day-to-day activities and will happily join you for your morning runs, hikes, and even casual errands.  Given this breed’s ancestral upbringing as a hunting dog, Golden Retrievers require a substantial amount of energy on a regular basis.

A typical Golden Retriever will be roughly 30 - 40 inches off of the ground and can weigh anywhere from 50 to 70 pounds.  While their fur color is predominantly pure golden, you will find that this color can range from an off-white, light-brown, or cream look.

If you are considering a Golden Retriever, make sure you are able to take them out of the house at least once a day.  This keeps them mentally and physically healthy, which results in a happier pup in your life.  To encourage this further, you should begin training them early on by teaching them to obey and to get used to the outside world.  This sort of exposure will ensure that they are respectful throughout their lives and are compliant with commands.  Failure to train your Golden Retriever from a young age can result in an overly energetic and stubborn dog.

Given that Golden Retrievers have quite a bit of fur, you are going to want to brush them regularly to avoid your tiles turning into a carpet.  They heavily shed two times per year but will continue to do so moderately throughout the year, which is why giving them a good brush at least once a week will help mitigate the amount of fur that ends up in your home.

Shih Tzu

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Picture of a Shih Tzu

If you are an aspiring dog owner and are looking for an easy pup that is suitable for beginners, Shih Tzus are a great breed to start with.  This adorable breed is certainly a lover and not a fighter, as their tiny size and submissive demeanor make them one of the least intimidating dogs.

Shih Tzus are generally very chilled out and do not require an overwhelming amount of physical stimulation.  They are as happy to go out of the house for walks as they are to stay at home and enjoy the great indoors, which is why they are a fantastic beginner dog for owners who live in any type of household.  This is why they are a popular breed for people who live in apartment buildings that don’t have as easy access to a front or backyard.

However, Shih Tzus can be quite active and would love a bit of play, as well as some outdoor activities.  What reinforces a Shih Tzus longer-term behavior will ultimately be what kind of exposure you give them early on.  If you are primarily training your Shih Tzu to be an indoor dog, you will find that they are much more timid and cautious of the outside world.  On the other hand, if you give them plenty of exposure during their puppy years, they can be quite active, playful, and more sociable throughout their lives.

Shih Tzus have a long lifespan of roughly 10 - 15 years and are very small in size at only 8 - 12 inches off of the ground.  Their fur color can often range between a mix of a few different colors such as black, white, brown, grey, tan, gold, and beige.  

However, their coat does need quite a bit of maintenance.  Their fur grows at a fast pace and can become very long if not taken care of regularly.  You should take your Shi Tzu to get groomed so that their coat stays healthy and clean.  In addition, you will find that Shi Tzus do not handle heat very well and if you are living in a hot environment, their long coats can be quite taxing on them.  Once groomed, you will find that your Shih Tzus energy levels go up significantly.

Vizla

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Picture of a Vizla

If your life is needing a little pick me up, there is no better way to add some energy to the house than to adopt a Vizsla.  This affectionate dog breed is loyal, affectionate, and is guaranteed to get you out of the house.  They are perfect for single-member households and are a great addition to a family dynamic that enjoys getting active.

While you will find that your Vizsla loves to get out and about and exercise, they are also very respectful dogs and will not bark demands at you.  They are happy to wait for you patiently until you give them the signal that it is time to go out but they may be a bit stubborn when it is time to go home, which is why you want to give them proper training when they are a puppy to avoid any disobedience.

With that being said, as affectionate as Vizslas are, they are also not very independent.  They require the same nurture and affection as they are willing to give their owners.  Otherwise, they can become quite lonely and overly sensitive.  So, be sure to give your pup plenty of love!

Vizslas can weigh anywhere from 35 - 65 pounds and will stand roughly 25 - 30 inches off of the ground.  Vizslas will typically live to be about 12 to 15 years old, which is quite a long lifespan for a dog of their size.

This breed has a shiny and short coat, which does not require a lot of maintenance and also does not come with a lot of shedding.  With that being said, you should still brush them semi-regularly to keep their coat looking beautiful and healthy.  Their fur color is normally gold, brown, or golden brown.

Boxer

boxer
Picture of a Boxer

Boxers are an amazing breed for beginners and are as loving as they are loyal.  This dog breed has been misinterpreted by many people as being aggressive due to their past service as police and guard dogs.  While they were perfect dogs for this type of service, they are also very playful and sweet.  This makes them ideal for any type of owner, but especially families.  The reason for this is that boxers are very loyal family dogs and extremely good with kids.  They are devoted to their family and will show unconditional love to any household.

Boxers are natural athletes, which can easily be seen in their muscular appearance but also through their playful tendencies.  This dog breed loves to get out of the house and enjoy some quality time with its owner.  In addition, they are very intelligent and are very eager to obey.  This sort of behavior is something that should be reinforced during their training as a puppy, as Boxers without this early exposure can end up being a bit stubborn and rebellious.

To keep your Boxer balanced, you need to ensure that you are able to accommodate their energy needs.  This means that you should be taking them out regularly and that they are having ample time and room to cut loose.  However, you should be sure that Boxers are running around in a controlled environment, as they are inclined to chase.

A fully grown Boxer will be anywhere from 22 - 30 inches off of the ground and will weigh roughly 50 to 70 pounds.  Their coat colors are usually either brown, tan, or brindle.  In addition, they have a very low-maintenance coat that requires very little upkeep.  The fur length is short, sleek, and only needs a light brush once a week.  You can expect the lifespan of a boxer to be roughly 10 to 12 years.

Mixed Breed

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Picture of a Mixed Breed Dog

Choosing a specific breed for anyone let alone a beginner can be pretty intimidating.  Welcoming a new pup into your life is a huge decision and you want to be sure that you feel confident about your choice.  With that being said, sometimes the best dogs are often not purebred but often a mixed breed.

This offers the incredible versatility of combining multiple personality traits from different dog breeds which are suitable to your own qualities.  This means that you can achieve the best of both worlds by finding a pup that is playful and energetic, yet intelligent and obedient.  Or a dog that is small and nurturing - and at the same time athletic and upbeat.

Opting for a mixed breed is becoming ever more popular among first-time dog owners, as it takes some of the pressure away from selecting a specific breed.  Let’s explore some of the popular mixed dog breeds that are suitable for beginners:

  • Bernedoodle - the Bernedoodle is a cross between a Bernese Mountain Dog and a classic Poodle.  This fun-loving mixed breed combines the easygoing playful nature of a Bernese Mountain Dog with the intelligence and discipline of a Poodle.  
  • Sprollie - the Sprollie is a mix between a Border Collie and Springer Spaniel.  This mixed breed is a burst of energy and loves to play.  However, their Border Collie roots make them highly intelligent and very obedient when they need to be.
  • Goldendoodle - the Goldendoodle combines all of the great traits between a Golden Retriever and a Poodle.  This mix will give you the family loyalty of a Golden Retriever combined with the sheer discipline of a Poodle.

There are plenty of great mixed breeds out there that are perfect for beginners.  Taking a little time to assess the qualities of each pooch will help you determine the mix that is right for you.  To ensure that your pup has been in good hands since day one (regardless of breed), you should always get your dogs from trustworthy and reliable breeders that take care of their animals.

About THE AUTHOR

Russell Wright

Russell Wright

I have had dogs my whole life and have always trained my own dogs with patience and positive reinforcement. My dogs are my life. My family always had dogs growing up. I've trained dogs for clients while working at a local dog daycare. I hope that my research and experiences are helpful to you as I share them here.

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