Before you even think about raising a new puppy, consider which dog breed is best suited to your lifestyle. Family circumstances, working hours, and your energy levels all play an important role in how smooth you’ll cope with your new family member. In this guide, we review some of the best family guard dogs for first-time owners in apartments.
But first, think about the following:
- Can a giant dog breed fit into my small apartment?
- Will a puppy whining and barking disturb my neighbors?
- Will I manage the feeding requirements for a large breed?
Every dog has unique personalities and characteristics, but different dog breeds have distinct traits, care and grooming needs, and training considerations. Some breeds require a lot of effort and experience to raise, but others are easy to manage and train, making them suited for first-time dog owners.
Overall, here are some great dog breeds to consider as a first-time puppy owner:
Best Small Family Guard Dog for First Time Owner
Certain small dog breeds are particularly suited to first-time dog owners. They include:
Papillons are extremely loyal, affectionate, and adapt easily to the lives of their new owners. At just about 2 pounds, these dogs are small enough to live with you in an apartment. They only need to exercise for 20-30 minutes a day, and they require minimal grooming since they lack an undercoat. Moreover, papillons are extremely intelligent and relatively easy to train.
2: Miniature Dachshund
Miniature dachshunds are very short breeds with heights of just about 20 cm (8 inches). However, they make up for their short heights with a great personality. These breeds are extremely intelligent, fun-loving, feisty, and confident around people.
They often get involved in everything going on around them, meaning that they need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation all through the day.
Due to their positive outlet for energy, miniature dachshunds make cheerful, loving companions. On the downside, they hate to be left alone and can get bored and stressed, triggering destructive behaviors like chewing furniture and shoes.
That means that miniature dachshunds may not be suited for people with limited space and time.
3: Bichon Frise
The Bichon Frise is a petite dog breed that weighs less than 5 kg (11 pounds). They are wonderfully playful, confident, and ever looking to take center stage.
Unlike many small dog breeds, Bichon Frise gets along well with kids, making them an excellent choice for first-time dog owners with families. Bichons are also very intelligent, which makes training a relatively simple proposition.
Moreover, they are easy-going enough to adapt to a new life in a big house, in a small apartment, or in the country.
Bichons are moderately active, so it is best to give them at least 20-30 minutes of exercise a day. Like most dog breeds, bichons often suffer loneliness and separation anxiety when left alone for long.
So, they are suited for families where someone is always around. While they look incredibly cute, they will need regular professional grooming at least every few months.
Best Large Family Guard Dog for First Time Owner
Larger dog breeds can also be great choices for first-time dog owners living in an apartment. While they typically consume more food, they also require more exercise, which is perfect if you’re looking for a companion to go on long walks with.
Here are some of the best medium-to-large dog breeds for first-time owners:
1: Golden Retriever
Golden retrievers are widely adored by first-time dog owners, thanks to their gentle, playful nature and simple, natural sense of loyalty and trustworthiness. They are also highly intelligent and always willing to please their owners, making them amiable to training.
Golden retrievers are also good around kids, making them excellent family pets. However, golden retrievers need more exercise – up to 2 hours or more every day.
All that time they spend running outside also means their long coats will require a lot of brushing and grooming to stay in perfect conditions.
Just like golden retrievers, Labradors are classic first-time dog breeds, especially for families. They are extremely gently and fun-loving, making them great playmates for kids – and adults as well.
They are quite intelligent and eager to please their owners, which makes training easy even for newbie dog owners. Labradors are equally high-energy dogs and require a lot of exercise and mental stimulation for at least 1 hour a day.
You, however, need to keenly monitor their food consumption since they have a high food drive that could easily trigger obesity later in their lives. In terms of grooming, brushing once a week is adequate for Labradors.
3: Standard Poodle
If you’re looking for an extremely intelligent dog that adapts quickly to new environments by learning new commands and tricks, then the Standard Poodle is your ultimate choice.
They are also very playful, loving, and loyal, characteristics that make them perfect for first-time dog owners.
Poodles are also a high-energy breed, meaning that they can get bored without plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. Most Poodles require at least two walks every day, and without adequate exercise and stimulation, they can get bored and unhappy.
They are best for households where they can get the time and attention they deserve. Their coats also require a lot of care to prevent matting. So, daily brushing is a must, plus professional grooming at least three times every year.
Greyhounds are recognized for their gentle, loving nature. While they often have specific needs, they equally make great first-time pets. What stands out about greyhounds is their sleek, athletic physique.
These breeds love running and often require more exercise – at least one short walk in the morning and a longer one in the evening.
Since they are strong dogs with aggressive prey drive, you need to take care when walking a greyhound. Train your greyhound pup as early as possible to safely walk on a leash.
Fortunately, greyhounds are intelligent dogs and will learn quickly when trained with love and patience. With their short, tight coats, grooming a greyhound is extremely simple – you only need to brush their coats once a week to keep them looking at their best.
Several other dog breeds can make great first-time dogs, including mixed-breed dogs, sometimes referred to as “bitsers”. These dogs are often free of the genetic frailties of purebreds, and you can find many options in local shelters and rescue centers.
The major benefit of getting a mixed-breed dog from a rescue center is that the staff will have a good idea of which particular dog will suit a first-time owner and which one can benefit a more experienced hand.
Most rescue center will first assess the behavior and temperament of dogs in experienced short-stay homes before assigning them to a suitable long-term home. Besides, you can choose an appropriate size that you can travel with in your car or onboard a plane.
Where to Source a Family Guard Dog for First Time Owner
As a first-time dog owner, sourcing your dream dog takes a lot of time and research. Your options include buying privately, using a breeder, or adopting from a rescue shelter.
A responsible breeder will screen the health of the parent dog, raise the litter at home, and train the puppies to socialize with people and other pets at a young age.
Getting a puppy from a rescue center is another great way to get a first-time dog. Moreover, you’ll be giving the little pooch a new home and save his/her life while freeing up a pen to take in another needy four-legger.
Alternatively, you can buy your favorite pup privately from your neighbor or pet owners who wish to give away puppies. More importantly, consider a kid-friendly dog breed if you have a family or plan to have kids in the future.
Dr. Belinda Hawks earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University in 2006 and has been practicing veterinary medicine since then. Dr. Belinda currently works as a passionate rancher and mixed animal veterinarian in a rural town in South Carolina. When not practicing veterinary medicine or writing, she spends her free time with her lovely husband and three kids (2 boys and a lovely girl) in South Carolina.