I was recently in a dog discussion room where someone asked, “What would be a good first dog for me?” They provided no information about them self or what they were prepared to provide for a dog or expected of a dog. Obviously, this was not a dog person. What surprised me even more was that a few people, supposedly ‘dog people’ immediately threw out a few breed names. Whaaa?
Pretty much anyone reading here knows all the kinds of things we need to think about when picking a breed of dog: trainability, exercise needs, grooming, health problems, owner expectations etc. And really, it doesn’t matter what breed you name, I can probably think of someone who has started out with one as their first dog – some more successfully than others. An owner can start with any kind of dog if they’re willing to put the effort and self-education into the relationship.
Yet, I can’t stop thinking about some of the “easier” starter breeds…and if such a thing even exists. On the one hand, it does not exist. Any breed could provide a challenge that would make it a poor match for someone.
On the other hand, some breeds are less demanding on people than others. So maybe a better question to ask would be, if you are kinda lazy, don’t want to exercise or groom too much, are only going to do a moderate amount of training, is there a breed that won’t be unbearable to live with? Ahhh, maybe….
Basically, without some training any puppy will grow into an obnoxious dog. With some solid basic training that can be originally acquired in a group dog obedience class though, some breeds require lower maintenance than others.
There are still some variations depending on whether a person is willing to groom once a month or several times a week, if a person wants to exercise by walking daily or throwing a ball around the yard. With these restrictions in mind let’s give this a shot.
Feel free to add your own suggestions to this list but remember, the breed can’t require too much training to be manageable, can’t require too much exercise, can’t be a grooming nightmare, should get along with a range of people, able to get along with other animals, and shouldn’t be known for constant health problems (yes, I’m thinking Bulldog.)
And what does that leave….
A medium sized, short haired, mixed breed, middle aged to older dog from an all breed rescue where the dogs are home fostered and observed so that the foster family can assure you that the dog is laid back, house broken, and has been reasonably healthy while living with them. Seriously. This is probably the BEST starter dog for someone new to the dog owning experience.
Follow up choices
Limited exercise needs
Low grooming needs
Limited exercise needs
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
A little more exercise
A little more grooming
A little more trainable
Very family friendly
Born to be people companions
I can think of one or two other breeds that up the exercise or grooming needs, or have a tendency to bond with one member of the family more than others – these would be my second string of starter choices.
Now let’s hear your nominations. Or, let’s hear some stories from people who started out with a breed that for one reason or another would not be a usual pick for a starter dog — tell us what you did to prepare and adjust to the challenges of the dog you chose. Mention one challenge you ran into and one bonus of your dog that you appreciate (breed trait or individual trait.)