We all know that dogs come in a huge range of shapes, sizes and personalities. For a first time dog owner, some breeds are more beginner friendly than others. There are a huge number of factors to consider in what might make some breeds more suitable for first time owners. We will discuss these factors and my top 5 breed recommendations for newbies in this blog.

In terms of traits that would make a dog breed ideal for a first time owner, there are a number of categories including behaviour, trainability, predisposition to health problems, size, grooming requirements and exercise requirements. You also need to consider whether you are definitely in a good place to be looking after a dog, and that you have the time, financial means, physical space and patience required for raising a pooch.

The perfect dog would be consistently and predictably well behaved 

They should have a calm and gentle nature, not prone to spooking or becoming aggressive, and affectionate with their owners. And they would be intelligent and easy to train, responding well to positive reinforcement and learning quickly. 

They would not be predisposed to any particular health problems due to their breed type 

So they will hopefully avoid most of the genetic disease problems, that would require time and knowledge from the owner to prevent or treat, and their breed type wouldn’t present any welfare concerns either. 

They wouldn’t be too large and be “low maintenance” 

So that they do not require a vast amount of house and garden space. They would have a reasonably short coat and not shed too much fur. And they wouldn’t require hours of intense daily exercise, which would of course be hard to commit to for most first time owners.

Whilst you may not necessarily find a dog that ticks all of these boxes, there are plenty of breeds that tick the vast majority of these boxes. Let’s delve into my top 5 options now.

1. Labrador or Golden Retriever

Labradors and golden retrievers are similar in the fact that they are both very loyal and affectionate breeds, getting on well with kids and other dogs too. They are intelligent breeds and will require daily exercise and some training. However, they usually train well and the whole family could enjoy getting involved. 

In terms of things to be aware of, some Labradors are excessively greedy and may require extra exercise time to keep the weight down. Owner self-restraint providing too many edible treats would also be key! Golden retrievers with their longer coats may require more grooming time. Both breeds can also be prone to elbow dysplasia, which you can read more about here

2. Greyhound

Greyhounds are usually very laid back with mellow personalities. This makes them ideal for first time owners who would prefer not to have a very loud or excitable dog. Whilst they can be seen as quite a lazy breed, they also love their play time and will bond with their owners over this. They also tend to be quite a healthy breed overall!

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For things to be aware of, greyhounds can get quite cold (especially during UK winters!) so may need a bit of extra TLC to keep snug. They also have quite thin skin and can be prone to cuts on their feet. This means you may need to be a bit more careful on walks or provide them with protective booties.

3. Border Terrier

Border Terriers are usually smart and playful dogs, and on the smaller side meaning more suitable than some other breeds for smaller homes. They also tend to be quite healthy as a breed, with not so many breed predispositions. Being smaller, their routine health care will also likely be a bit cheaper than some other breeds.

Some things to bear in mind with Borders is that they can be mischievous and stubborn sometimes, and can also be quite vocal. They may need a little extra training to overcome these things.

4. Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Staffies have an unfairly bad reputation and some people think they are an aggressive breed. In most cases, though, they can make very loving and gentle pets if they are properly socialised, and can get on well with children too.

Something to appreciate is that they will respond best to a consistent “firm but fair” training approach, and may need a fair amount of daily exercise to keep happy.

5. Standard Poodle

Poodles are intelligent, friendly, playful and easily trained dogs, and can be great for households with children and other pets too.

Something to know about poodles is that their curly coat continuously grows. Therefore they will need more time and patience with grooming than other breeds. They also require a lot of exercise and mental stimulation to stay happy. Poodles can also suffer with some breed related health problems and so ensuring you choose a reputable Kennel Club registered breeder would be essential!

So there we have it folks. Some of the top breeds for beginner owners and what makes them good. Whilst I have talked about specific breeds here, don’t forget about mixed and cross breeds and always consider adopting rather than shopping!

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