So, you’re thinking of joining #teamdog?! Woohoo! What an exciting adventure you’re about to em-bark on (pun intended!). However, welcoming a canine companion into your home is a big commitment and can be a little daunting, especially if you have never owned a dog before.

Choosing a dog

You may have already thought about what breed of dog(s) you would like and although this is a good place to start it may be more sensible to start by listing the breed(s) and characteristics you don’t want, to help narrow down the search.

There are several factors to consider when choosing the right breed for you and your family such as size, sex, coat type, energy level and temperament. First-time dog owners should consider choosing an intelligent breed with a calm(ish) disposition as they are more likely to be easier to train.

However, the most important consideration would be your lifestyle. You must be honest with yourself and evaluate how much time and space you have to offer a new dog. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you live in a rural or urban area?
  • Do you live in an apartment or house?
  • Is your home owned or rented?
  • Who lives in the home? Are there any children or other pets?
  • Do you have access to outside space?
  • Do you work from home or go out to work?
  • How much time can you devote to exercising, training and grooming your dog?
  • Are you physically capable of handling a dog?
  • Do you or your family have any allergies?
  • Do you have access to veterinary care?

Your disposable income may also have an influence on your lifestyle; therefore, it is important to consider the financial implications of caring for a dog too. 

The cost of owning a dog

Costs can vary according to the dog’s size, breed and lifespan. The typical lifetime cost for a small breed dog could be as much as £25,000; £27,000 for a medium breed dog and over £30,000 for a large dog (PDSA, 2021).

Some of the expenses you will need to budget for include:

  • The cost of buying/adopting a dog
  • Bed(s)
  • Dog crate
  • Collar, harness, leads and identification tag
  • Poop bags
  • Food and water bowls
  • Food and treats
  • Toys
  • Grooming tools
  • Car restraints and accessories
  • Microchipping
  • Vaccinations
  • Parasite control (flea and worming treatment)
  • Neutering/desexing
  • Pet insurance and/or vets fees
  • Training classes
  • Dog walking/pet sitter and day care fees

Beginner-friendly breeds

It’s going to be hard to name just 5 breeds out of a possible 368! And these are just the breeds recognised by the World Canine Organization (FCI, 2021). There are countless more designer/mixed breeds to choose from too! And of course, everyone will have their own favourites.

However, there are a few breeds that do spring to mind, that may be more suitable than others. We have chosen 5 breeds of varying sizes; however, they share some of the desirable traits first-time dog owners should look for such as ‘easy to train’, ‘friendly’ and ‘intelligent’.

Vetster option 01 (Blog)

Bernese Mountain dog

The Bernese Mountain dog originated in Switzerland and are classed as Working dogs. They are big and powerful and were used on farms to haul small loads in dog carts, herd cows and act as watchdogs.

They are gentle giants with males reaching 64-70cm (25-27 ins) and females growing up to 58-66cm (22-25 ins) and have a shorter-than average lifespan of just 6-8 years.

Bernese Mountain dogs are intelligent and devoted to their families. They are protective but not aggressive, loyal but independent, and energetic but not exhausting.

PROS

  • Loyal family dog
  • Easy to train
  • Friendly (with other dogs and pets)
  • Tolerates cold weather

CONS

  • Giant breed
  • Heavy shedders
  • Relatively short lifespan
  • Veterinary care can be costly

Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers originate from the UK and are known as Gundogs (UK) or Sporting dogs (US). They were originally bred to hunt and retrieve waterfowl; however, they are now considered one of the most popular companion breeds in the world.

Golden Retrievers are large-sized dogs, with males typically growing larger than females (males: 56-61cm (22-24 ins); females: 51-56 cm (20-22 ins)). They can live about 10-12 years and are well known for their golden lustrous, medium-length coat and their sweet and playful personalities.

PROS

  • Great family dog
  • Easy to train
  • Friendly (with other dogs and pets)
  • Ideal for an active household

CONS

  • Large dog
  • Moderate grooming required
  • Potential joint issues
  • Needs outside space

Greyhound

Greyhounds belong to the Hound breed group and were originally bred for hunting, however these days they are more commonly associated with dog racing.

Vetster option 02 (Blog)

Greyhounds are a short-coated, athletic framed dog with males standing at about 71-76cm (28-30 ins) tall and females a little smaller at 69-71cm (27-28 ins). They also have a good life expectancy of 10-14 years.

Greyhounds are gentle, affectionate, and intelligent. They can be a little sensitive and would generally prefer a quieter home environment. They can also be quite lazy so would enjoy a comfy couch to stretch out on!

PROS

  • Relatively healthy breed
  • Fits most lifestyles
  • Low maintenance
  • Does not need long walks

CONS

  • Large breed
  • Emotionally sensitive
  • Susceptible to the cold
  • High chase/prey drive

Poodle

The Poodle originated in Germany as a water retriever but is more commonly associated with France. Poodles come in three size varieties. 

  • Standards (45–62cm; 18–24 ins)
  • Miniatures (28–35cm; 11–14 ins)
  • Toys (24–28cm; 9–11 ins)

All three varieties have the same build and proportions and have an average lifespan of 12-15 years. Despite their reputation for being ‘posh dogs’, poodles are the in fact very clever, adaptable and athletic.

PROS

  • Different size options
  • Easy to train
  • Affectionate
  • Considered hypoallergenic

CONS

  • High maintenance grooming
  • Can be a bit ‘barky’
  • Very active
  • Some Health issues

Pomeranian

Even though Pomeranians are a small breed they are descend from large sled dogs so are tougher than they look!

Male and female Pomeranians are roughly the same size (22-28cm; 8.5-11 ins) and can live up to respectable 16 years of age.

If you’re looking for the ‘cute factor’ Pomeranians are the dogs for you. However, they do have a big personality! Some may even describe them as ‘spunky’!

PROS

  • Generally, cost less to keep
  • Small size
  • Relatively healthy
  • Friendly and affectionate

CONS

  • Tendency to bark
  • Strong willed
  • Moderate-high grooming
  • Moderate-high exercise requirement

Do your research!

The information on these 5 breeds is very basic and brief so make sure that you do plenty of your own research before settling on a breed.

If you are still unsure about what breed is right for you, please contact your local vet. They can tell you about potential health issues, environmental needs, and where to source your new four-legged friend once you’ve decided who you want to share your life and home with!

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