Best First-Time Family Dog – Which Dog Breed is Right for You?

A new dog will definitely bring love and joy to your family. And the right dog will teach your kids about love and responsibility. Even if you live with your partner, the dog you both raise together will actually have a positive impact on your relationship

But there’s always the question of which dog can be the best first-time family dog? Are there dog breeds that are relatively easier to take care of? 

Yes, some dog breeds are easier to train and will definitely work for a family adopting a dog for the very first time. Keep on reading to learn more about them. 

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Best First-Time Family Dog Breeds

Before getting a dog for the first time, you need to understand that it requires time, patience, and devotion. Of course, adopting a puppy is easier than taking care of an adult dog, but there are still some dog breeds that are more suitable for first-time owners. 

In addition to your personal preferences in size, look, and overall friendliness level, some dog breeds don’t shed much or are easier to train, so they’ll definitely make better companions for novice owners. 

1. Golden Retriever

  • Energy level: high energy level
  • Personality: intelligent and devoted
  • Size and weight: between 21 and 24 inches tall at shoulders and between 55-75 lbs
  • Coat: double water-repellent coat that sheds a lot
  • Barking: might occasionally bark
  • Training: easy to train and always eager to please

The Golden Retriever is one of the most popular dogs because it adapts to any home setting and family life, quickly becoming the perfect companion. It usually retains the puppy attitude later into its life, filling your life with fun and joy. However, some people might find this a little bit challenging because this dog rarely acts maturely. 

It’s a family dog and likes to remain with its pack. This means that spending time alone in the backyard won’t make your Golden Retriever happy unless you’re both playing with a ball. It’s gentle with kids, but it might accidentally knock a toddler because of its large size. 

2. Pomeranian

  • Energy level: moderate energy level
  • Personality: lively and bold
  • Size and weight: between 7 and 12 inches tall at shoulders and between 3-7 lbs
  • Coat: long double coat that doesn’t shed much
  • Barking: barks a lot
  • Training: a little challenging to house-train

The Pomeranian is a small dog that doesn’t always act this way. It adapts well to apartment living but might attack larger dogs, so you need to keep it away from them. However, early socialization can allow it to get along with other pets. 

Despite its size, this little dog is an excellent watchdog. The Pomeranian isn’t a dependent dog and can be an ideal companion for older and busy people. Small children can accidentally harm this little dog, but it responds well to trick training. 

3. Shih Tzu

  • Energy level: moderate energy level
  • Personality: friendly and outgoing
  • Size and weight: between 9 and 10 inches tall at shoulders and between 9-16 lbs
  • Coat: double coat that requires daily brushing
  • Barking: moderate
  • Training: difficult to housebreak, but responds to training 

Although the word Shih Tzu means “little lion,” this dog is far from being aggressive or scary. Instead, it’s an affectionate dog that loves spending time in the house or outside playing with its family and it gets along with kids and other pets. 

Moreover, it adapts well to apartment living and can take part in competitions. However, you need to make sure that your toddlers know how to handle this little dog because they might accidentally hurt it. 

4. Bichon Frise

  • Energy level: highly energetic and loves to play
  • Personality: playful and curious
  • Size and weight: between 9 and 11 inches tall at shoulders and between 7-12 lbs
  • Coat: long curly coat that doesn’t shed much
  • Barking: doesn’t bark a lot
  • Training: early socialization is needed, but it responds to training

This little dog looks almost like a toy and soon enough will be the most adorable companion for your family. The good news is that it doesn’t shed much, so it’s suitable for people with allergies. In addition, it gets along well with other pets and kids in the family. 

As long as the Bichon Frise doesn’t have to spend a lot of time on its own, it will adapt well to any lifestyle and living. While training this lovely dog, you need to be gentle because it can get heartbroken if you’re too loud or aggressive. Crate training is recommended because it’s difficult to housebreak. 

5. Pug

  • Energy level: moderate energy level
  • Personality: playful and likes to show off
  • Size and weight: between 10 and 14 inches tall at shoulders and between 14-18 lbs
  • Coat: smooth coat that sheds frequently
  • Barking: barks only to alert
  • Training: this dog is eager to please but can be stubborn

Pugs are an excellent choice for a big family because it appreciates human companionship. It’s a real people lover that also enjoys games with kids and adults. Bringing one to the family means that you’ll always have a clown who will make everyone laugh from the heart. 

A pug has a lot of will for such a small dog, so patience is needed because this intelligent dog knows what it’s doing. Crate training is recommended, and you need to invest in a high-quality vacuum cleaner because this dog sheds a lot. 

6. Whippet

  • Energy level: needs regular exercising
  • Personality: calm and affectionate
  • Size and weight: between 18 and 22 inches tall at shoulders and between 18-42 lbs
  • Coat: short smooth coat that doesn’t shed much
  • Barking: rarely barks and is friendly towards strangers
  • Training: can be easily house-trained

Despite being originally a hunter’s best friend, today, the Whippet is known as a loving companion and therapy dog. This is why it’ll work for a family that’s trying to cope with a loss, or who just wants a loving friend.

It gets along with other dogs, but not so much with cats and other small furry animals due to its high prey drive. A fenced yard will satisfy this dog because it likes running and exercising. It adapts well to apartment living, as long as you take it for daily walks. 

7. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

  • Energy level: loves to spend time outside and appreciates regular exercising
  • Personality: gentle and affectionate
  • Size and weight: between 12 and 13 inches tall at shoulders and between 13-18 lbs
  • Coat: silky and wavy coat that doesn’t shed much
  • Barking: barks a lot at strangers and will notify you if something is wrong
  • Training: easy to train

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is an excellent dog for an active family that enjoys running, hiking, and camping. It appreciates the companion of its owner and will follow you wherever you go. As a result, it will be the right dog to keep your kids occupied because it doesn’t like to be left alone. 

This dog gets along with other dogs but might chase rabbits, birds, and other small animals. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is quite friendly and quickly opens up to strangers and even engages in games with other dogs. 

8. Labrador Retriever

  • Energy level: highly energetic
  • Personality: friendly and active
  • Size and weight: between 21 and 24 inches tall at shoulders and between 55-80 lbs
  • Coat: short double coat that sheds regularly
  • Barking: usually barks but is friendly with strangers
  • Training: easy to train

The Labrador Retriever is a hard-working yet affectionate dog. It has a good nature and can definitely work for a family adopting a dog for the first time. It also gets along well with kids and other dogs and are often trained as therapy dogs. There’s a reason it’s one of the most popular breeds in the US for 30+ years. They come in three colors (yellow, chocolate, and black).

This playful dog will adapt to several living situations and is extremely friendly towards strangers. Just give it something to keep it stimulated, and you’ll have a happy and devoted companion. It doesn’t adapt as well to apartment living, but it’ll enjoy playing in the backyard with the family. 

9. Cocker Spaniel

  • Energy level: moderate energy level
  • Personality: affectionate and gentle
  • Size and weight: between 14-15 inches tall at shoulders and between 24-28 lbs
  • Coat: double silky coat with moderate shedding but requires frequent professional grooming
  • Barking: barks frequently
  • Training: easy to train as long as you’re following a soft approach

It’s no surprise that the Lady in Lady and the Tramp was a Cocker Spaniel because this dog is known for its affectionate and happy nature. It adapts well to life in a condo or a small home, and can also be trained to take part in shows. 

The Cocker Spaniel is known to be trustworthy and gentle with kids, the elderly, and other pets in the house. This is a cuddly dog that appreciates participating in different family activities.

Papillon

  • Energy level: high energy level
  • Personality: happy and alert
  • Size and weight: between 8 and 11 inches tall at shoulders and between 7-10 lbs.
  • Coat: medium silky coat that doesn’t shed much
  • Barking: barks a lot
  • Training: highly trainable and can take part in dog sports competitions

The Papillon gets its name from its butterfly-shaped ears and is considered to be an active and exciting companion. It’s a small dog with a large dog attitude and will act as a watchdog, cleaning your backyard of rodents and keeping an eye on strangers. 

It gets along with kids but not so well with other dogs. Toddlers should be supervised while handling a Papillon because they can accidentally harm it (since they’re such small dogs).

Wrap Up

Every dog breed has its specific and special traits, but some breeds are better suited for families who are looking to own their first dog. These dogs will be exceptionally friendly towards children, and most of them are easy to train when you follow the proper techniques. So, if you’re looking for a dog to bring into your family, we hope you’ve found some good ideas in this list.

PuppyLists is written by J., who has owned, trained, volunteered with, and loved dogs for nearly three decades. When she isn't writing or researching, she's out adventuring with her 14 year old Lab mix.