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First-time pup parent

First-time pup parent
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Becoming a first-time dog owner is a truly rewarding experience. You’re gaining a new loyal best friend and have a wonderful adventure before you. That said, we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge that the process also comes with some little curveballs as you learn the ropes of pup parenthood.

In addition to the dog’s size – be it a toy breed, medium breed, or giant breed – it’s also important to consider the dog’s personality. For example, do you want a low-maintenance dog or a dog breed that does well when left alone? Or are you perhaps seeking the best dog breeds for kids?

“When you are thinking about getting a dog for the first time, the first thing to ask yourself is what you envision your life with a dog looking like,” says Marissa Sunny, a canine behaviour specialist. “If you want a dog to get you out of the house and go running with, then a high-energy working breed may be for you! If you are looking for a Netflix buddy, then an adult or senior dog may be for you.” And while purebreds are wonderful, there are many mixed breeds available for adoption in your local shelters that make wonderful pets, even for first-time dog owners.

To help you determine the best first dog for new owners – and avoid some of the worst dogs for first-time owners – we’re showcasing some of the most popular dog breeds that are easy to train, groom and bond with.

Bichon Frise

Bichon Frise
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Known for its loving and playful personality, the Bichon Frise is an intelligent and charming lapdog who befriends just about everyone they meet. They are one of the best dogs for beginners since they’re typically easy to train and are great with kids. Another perk is that their fluffy white coat is hypoallergenic, making them ideal for those concerned about dog allergies. They do need to be bathed about once a month and benefit from a good brushing several times a week. A visit to the groomer every four to six weeks can also help keep them looking tip-top.

Ease of care: 4/5

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Golden retrievers

Golden retrievers
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Arguably one of the easiest dog breeds for first-time owners, the golden retriever is one of the most beloved canines for good reason. This lovable pup is exceptionally friendly and devoted to its owners. They are also known for being obedient and easy to train, so teaching them to fetch, sit and stay is likely to be a breeze, which is one of the reasons many service dogs are golden retrievers. Perhaps most important, though, is their gregarious and outgoing personalities, which make them fantastic as first-time family dogs, as well. They benefit from a good brushing once a week and perhaps more during their twice-annual shedding spree.

Ease of care: 5/5

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Papillon

Papillon
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The papillon – which means butterfly in French – is another wee-sized pup weighing in at only 4.5kg tops. They are an affectionate dog breed and they also get along well with children. Though very small, this toy breed is surprisingly athletic and spritely and benefits greatly from playtime. One potential drawback is that they’re not too keen on hanging out with other animals. However, they are surprisingly easy to groom thanks to their lack of an undercoat. A good bath every few months and a once-monthly grooming session are all they need.

Ease of care: 4/5

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Labrador retriever

Labrador retriever
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The Labrador retriever is another popular dog breed. They are most noted for their outgoing personality and friendly demeanour, and they are also one of the best-behaved dog breeds. These playful, easy-going pups – which come in chocolate, black, and yellow – are very sociable. This allows not only for easy bonding with the entire family but with other animals, too. Because they love to make their owners happy, labs are also one of the easiest dog breeds to train. Occasional baths and brushing are all this dog needs to keep it looking its best.

Ease of care: 5/5

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Cavalier King Charles spaniel

Cavalier King Charles spaniel
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A sweet combination of a small toy breed and spaniel, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel is a gentle, graceful, athletic and high-spirited little pup. They make our list of the best first dogs for new owners because of their adaptability and smarts, which make them both easy to get along with and train. These unfailingly sweet pups are also keen on pleasing their humans, making them excellent for a broad ranch of owners, including couples, families, seniors, and individuals. They are also known for being effective therapy dogs, too. They do require a little more grooming than other pups on our list and need daily brushing, weekly ear-checks, and monthly nail trims.

Ease of care: 4/5

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German shepherd

German shepherd
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The noble German shepherd is an excellent dog for first-time owners for many reasons. For starters, they are exceptionally smart pups that are easy to train, which is one reason why they are utilised in K-9 units. Second, they are gentle with their owners and unfailingly loyal – to the end that they make great watchdogs. Finally, German shepherds are easy to groom. The AKC says they benefit from brushing a few times a week to remove loose hairs and that they only need occasional baths.

Ease of care: 5/5

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Standard poodle

Standard poodle
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Recognised for their fluffy, pillow-like hypoallergenic coats, the poodle is a notably smart and athletic family companion. Because of these positive qualities, poodles have been bred with many other breeds to get designer breeds including the labradoodle, groodle, spoodle, and cavoodle. Do note that as puppies, poodles can be high-energy, so they’ll need to be able to run off that steam. They also should be brushed daily and professionally groomed about once every month or two to combat matting and keep their coats lustrous.

Ease of care: 4/5

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Basenji

Basenji
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You might not be too familiar with the Basenji, but this smart and adaptable quiet dog breed makes our list because of how easy-going and low-key it is. Some even describe this dog as “cat-like” in its independence and quiet demeanour. While it’s not overtly lovey-dovey like some breeds, the Basenji is perfect for first-time owners who tend to be gone often and prefer a pup that’s not always at their ankles. The AKC says their short coat is also simple to care for. Just give them a once-over every week or two – and no bathing required unless they get into something.

Ease of care: 4/5

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Yorkshire terrier

Yorkshire terrier
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A truly petite-sized pup, the adorable Yorkie is a tiny terrier that weighs in at only seven pounds. Though tiny, they do have major personalities! This breed has a reputation for being brave, tenacious and sprightly. They are also exceptionally friendly. The breed’s long, low-allergen coat mimics human hair more than dog fur, making them one of the more popular dogs for those who deal with pet allergies. The trade-off is that their long hair does require daily brushing, weekly bathing and regular professional groomings.

Ease of care: 3/5

Lern how to groom your dog at home.

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