Steffi is founder and trainer at SpirtDog. Although she loves all things dog (and all breeds) she provides great tips on why the dogs in this article aren't the best choice for first time dog parents.
Are you ready to get your first-ever puppy? Looking at all the different breeds and trying to decide which one will be the right fit for your family? While all puppies are cute, not all are the correct choice for a first-time dog owner. Across the over 300 dog breeds, there is a lot of variation when it comes to temperament, trainability, exercise and grooming requirements and sociability.
Let’s look at which dog breeds you should stay away from when choosing your very first puppy.
#1 Belgian Malinois
This breed has many admirers. Incredibly athletic, intelligent and brave, these pups have made a name for themselves as military and police dogs. They have no fear and no quits. While their looks and temperament entices many owners to decide for them, they are not good dogs for first-time owners. Even experienced dog owners can struggle with Malinois.
They have a very high prey drive and tendency to be aggressive towards other dogs (and at times people). They can not be trusted with any smaller animals such as cats.
The exercise needs of these dogs cannot be met by most owners. They require at least 2-3 hours of physical exercise every day, in addition to mental exercise and training.
As a first-time dog owner, stay far away from these dogs!
#2 Border Collies
Known as the smartest dog breed, these herding dogs excel not only at managing huge flocks of sheep, but also in competitive agility and obedience, as trick stars and frisbee champions.
Like the Malinios however, this genius comes with its downsides as well.
Border Collies are extremely motion-sensitive and will lock on and pursue anything that moves. The more bored they are, the stronger their motion obsession gets. If not trained and exercised enough, they will try to herd cars, kids, other dogs and even clouds or dust particles. Training a Border Collie requires a lot of knowledge and a gentle hand - they are highly sensitive and do not do well with any kind of correction or reprimand. A pure-bred Border Collie is not the right choice for a first dog!
Fluffy, happy, outgoing - what’s not to love about a Husky? While these dogs are not as motion-sensitive as the Border Collie or have a tendency to become aggressive like the Malinois, they are highly independent.
As sled dogs, they were not bred to work closely with their humans. Quite the contrary: They would simply run in a straight line for hours and hours. They have a huge desire to go-go-go, and not much of a will to please. This can be very challenging for first-time dog owners.
Huskies are among the dog breeds that are lost the most often, because they do not come when called and run away frequently. You should have some dog training experience before committing to a challenging breed such as the Husky.
#4 Afghan Hound
The Afghan Hound - like all sighthounds - is a very calm and pleasant dog around the house. However, his grooming needs are extremely high. Many first-time dog owners make the mistake to pick a dog breed that needs daily brushing and bi-weekly bathing. While they might be committed to doing this in the beginning, they nearly always tire of it after a few months. Having a dog whose coat is matted and tangled is not just a beauty flaw - not taking care of your pup’s coat can lead to hotspots and skin infections.
Do not choose a breed with difficult grooming needs as your first dog.
#5 Jack Russell Terrier
Many owners believe that small dogs are easier to train and care for. That is only partly true. On the one hand, there are many small dog breeds that are very easy-going and perfect dogs for first-time owners (such as Maltese, Pekingese or Pugs). On the other hand, any small hunting dog such as the Jack Russell Terrier can be just as intense and challenging as a large dog.
Jack Russell Terriers were bred to be hardy, brave dogs that hunt foxes. They are very strong-willed, require a lot of exercise and training and have a tendency to be very reactive. They bark a lot and can become obsessive over balls or food.
If you are looking for a small dog breed, do not pick a Terrier as a first-time owner!
#6 German Shorthair Pointer
Another hunting breed on our list, the German Shorthair Pointer (GSP) has become increasingly popular among pet dog owners in the recent years. These dogs are very friendly and exuberant - they usually do not struggle with reactivity problems or aggression - but their intense energy and exercise needs challenge their owners. These dogs were bred to hunt tirelessly all day long, and won’t be satisfied with a 30 minute walk around the block once a week. In addition, their strong drive to find and pursue birds can make any outing at the park a nightmare, when these dogs stop listening and take off.
You should have ample training experience before committing to a GSP.
This one might surprise you. After all, Doodle mixes are said to be the perfect family dogs. While it is true that they do not shed, look adorable and are usually very friendly and social, they come with a lot of training challenges as well. A Goldendoodle is a cross between a Standard Poodle and a Golden Retriever. Both originally were bred as hunting dogs whose task it is to retrieve birds to their owners after they are shot. This means that they come genetically predisposed to love taking things into their mouths and carrying them around.
This might seem cute, but it drives many owners crazy. Whatever it is your dog can find - from shoes over sunglasses and smartphones to TV remotes or car keys - assume that your dog will take it into his mouth (and possibly chew it).
While there are some training approaches to show Goldendoodles what they can and cannot take into their snouts, it is impossible to completely eliminate this strong desire to mouth. First-time owners are usually overwhelmed by it and should stay away from this breed.
The Bottom Line
Before purchasing your very first puppy, you should consider what the breed you are deciding on was originally developed for. It is smart to stay away from hunting dogs, herding/shepherd dogs and sled dogs as a first-time dog owner. They all come with significant training and exercise requirements that can easily be too much.
Make sure to put enough time into the search for the perfect breed - this is the best way to set you and your future puppy up for a happy life together.
Meet Steffi Trott, the dog trainer and founder at SpiritDog Training (and hopeless dog enthusiast!). Steffi is an energizer bunny who loves everything related to animals, the outdoors and – of course – training. She has four dogs of her own – of course – they train every day and participate in competitive agility as well. Read more about dog training (and Steffi) at SpritDog.com.