Do you want to get a large dog as a first time dog owner? Getting a new pet, especially if you’ve never owned one before, can be a bit of a challenge. Many new owners will need to brace themselves for a steep learning curve, especially so if you’re thinking of getting a large dog. Now, a lot of people would suggest getting a smaller breed when it’s your first time having a dog, but getting big dogs for first-time owners do have their advantages.
Bigger dogs are generally hardier and more robust than smaller ones, which means you wouldn’t need to hold back as much when you play with them. They’re also perfect for living in the suburbs or out in the country, though that doesn’t mean that some of them won’t make good apartment dogs. Also, given the right temperament, they make excellent guard dogs. Depending on your needs, however, you’ll have to consider a dog’s personality and their own needs to make it work, because not every dog is built the same.
So, what are the best large Dog breeds for first-time owners? To help you pick the perfect big dog, here are 11 of the best large dogs for first time owners:
• Temperament: Patient and Loving
• Highlights: A good companion dog, it is sweet-tempered despite its size. Considered to be a good nanny dog because of their patience with children.
Originally bred as a rescue dog, the Newfoundland is known for its very calm demeanor and a very docile attitude towards children. They make excellent companions for kids, or even as nanny dogs because of their devotion to their owners. They usually prefer to stay indoors, though will need at least 30 minutes of exercise daily to keep them from being ornery. Despite their thick fur, the Newfoundland requires only weekly brushing, and sheds only twice a year. Training them is also much easier, as not only are they smart, they’re also very eager to please.
2. Great Dane
• Temperament: Friendly and Dependable
• Highlights: Very devoted to protecting their family despite being friendly otherwise. Are known to be very good with children. Minimal grooming needs.
The Great Dane is a dog known for its size but is very friendly regardless. Their friendly nature makes them perfect companions and great playmates for kids, though that doesn’t mean they’re friendly with everyone. Great Danes will generally be okay with people they’re familiar with but will defend their family bravely if they sense a threat. Though they look more like small horses rather than dogs because of their size, they don’t need much grooming, so keeping their fur well-maintained is easy. Great Danes will need regular exercise and make great jog buddies.
• Temperament: Fun-loving and Alert
• Highlights: Acts silly when surrounded by kids, but will defend its family and home courageously. Can be very protective and very alert, making them good watchdogs.
If you’re looking for a good watchdog that’s easy to take care of, then the Boxer is a good choice. There are two different sides to this breed, where they act goofy when they’re with their owners, but are very alert when defending their home. If you can’t decide whether you want a companion dog or a guard dog, the Boxer is one of the best large dog breeds for first time owners that can meet these needs nicely. They are very energetic, however, so will need daily exercise.
• Temperament: Gentle and Playful
• Highlights: Forms strong bonds with its family and has a gentle disposition. Known to be very empathic towards people’s feelings.
The Leoberger is not a very common breed, but they are still one of the most popular regardless. They may be large, sometimes weighing as much as a full-grown human, but they’re very gentle, particularly with children. Their docile demeanor means they rarely need exercise, with a short walk every day, or a few laps around the yard more than enough to keep them happy. They’re also very eager to please their owners and very intelligent, which makes them perfect for training. Because of their thick fur, however, they will need daily brushing.
5. Basset Hound
• Temperament: Patient and Calm
• Highlights: Known to be very lazy, with minimal exercise needs. Will need a leash when taken outside. Very docile with their owners.
Known for their iconic domed head, their stubby legs and their droopy ears, the Basset Hound is a great example of how a docile breed is meant to act. Despite their seemingly lazy attitude, however, they can be very playful when they want to, especially around kids. Though they are very agreeable when at home, they will need a leash when taken outdoors. Because of their scent hound heritage, Basset Hounds will try and chase anything they can get their nose on and will bark a lot.
6. Dogue de Bordeaux
• Temperament: Patient and Calm
• Highlights: Very loyal and friendly despite having a large body. Minimal grooming required but does have a tendency to slobber.
A member of the Mastiff family, the Dogue de Bordeaux is so old that it may have been living in France long before the country was even known as France. It has been a treasured companion all through the centuries, mostly because of its loyalty and its gentle nature. Despite their lumbering size, they are known to be quite agile and do well with a lot of children. They will need to be trained to accept strangers but are agreeable enough that it shouldn’t be too hard to do.
7. Neopolitan Mastiff
• Temperament: Calm and Alert
• Highlights: Can be a bit difficult to train, thanks to its stubbornness. Very calm and very docile breed. Requires minimal exercise.
The Neopolitan Mastiff is another member of the Mastiff family who hails from Italy. It is a powerful breed and is a great watchdog, despite them having a docile nature. They can be a bit wary with strangers but enjoys the company of their owners and children. The Neopolitan Mastiff require only a weekly brushing, so grooming isn’t too difficult. They do have a tendency to slobber, however, and their nails will need to be kept short. They require patience and consistency during training as well, owing to their stubborn streak.
• Temperament: Loyal and Proud
• Highlights: Does perfectly well with other pets and children, who they are very fond of. Known to be very intelligent and very easy to train.
The Collie is a popular breed known to have a fondness for children, making them the perfect family pet. These are dogs that thrive on being loved and giving love back. Despite them being a working breed, they require less activity, and would be happy with a short walk around the block. Because of their high intelligence, training them to play fetch will also give them the exercise they’ll need. Collies come in two varieties, the Smooth Collie and the Rough Collie. Both need brushing at least twice a week to avoid matting, and despite their long coats, they only shed once a year.
9. Irish Wolfhound
• Temperament: Calm and Dignified
• Highlights: Too calm to be good guard dogs but does well with children and other pets.
The Irish Wolfhound was bred historically to hunt wolves and were known to be loyal towards their companions. Nowadays, they’re prized more for their calm personalities and their docile demeanors. They generally keep this calm aura even when they’re surrounded by energetic children. Though their coats are thick, they don’t need more than a weekly brushing, just enough to remove loose hair and dirt and help keep them looking their best. They will shed periodically, though the amount usually isn’t too much to handle. Irish Wolfhounds have a strong instinct to chase down prey, so putting them on the leash during their daily walks is a must.
• Temperament: Gentle and Independent
• Highlights: Surprisingly mellow indoors despite being capable of great speeds outdoors. Minimal grooming maintenance.
Greyhounds are known to be a fast running dog and is associated with speed racing. Despite this, however, they are more than content at staying at home and lazing around. While they are exceptionally calm indoors, which is great if you’re living in an apartment, they will show their more energetic side once they go outside. They have a loving personality and very loyal, which makes them one of the top big dogs for first-time owners. Due to their short coats, Greyhounds don’t need much grooming, nor are they known to shed often. The only thing you’ll need to watch out for is their nails, as they tend to grow faster than most breeds.
11. Bernese Mountain Dog
• Temperament: Kind and Calm
• Highlights: Gets along great with children. Sheds almost all year, and even more so during the twice a year shedding season.
The Bernese Mountain dog was specifically bred as a hardy companion in Switzerland’s farmlands. It’s a strong breed but is uncharacteristically gentle despite its size. Its gentle demeanor makes it not only a great companion for kids, but also as great service animals. The Bernese was bred for a life indoors, though this doesn’t mean they wouldn’t enjoy a bit of exercise. A 30-minute walk around the block should be enough. Though they only need a weekly brushing, they do shed a lot, which can be problematic.
The Worst Breeds to Get for First-Timer Owners
Just as we’ve mentioned before, every dog breed is made differently. Much like there are good breeds to get if you’re a first-time dog keeper, there are also not-so-good choices as well. We’ve listed just a few of them below. These breeds are best to get only when you’ve had a bit of experience with dogs in general, or if you’re willing to put as much time and effort as needed to care for them. Again, these are not large dogs for first time owners.
1. Siberian Husky
• Temperament: Outgoing and Loyal
• Highlights: Known to be very energetic. Grooming can also be problematic due to heavy shedding. Doesn’t do well in warm climates.
While the Siberian Husky is a loyal and loving dog breed, they were bred with harsh conditions and heavy work in mind. They were bred to pull heavy loads across extremely cold climates, and huskies love to run – so the indoor life certainly isn’t for them. They also don’t do well in warm weather. Aside from this, they shed heavily and have a strong predatory drive, making them ill-suited to living with other pets.
• Temperament: Smart and Outgoing
• Highlights: Requires a lot of exercise to keep happy. Has a tendency to be destructive when not given enough activity.
Another working dog, the Dalmatian was bred as a guard dog for coaches, then was eventually used by firemen to clear the road of horse-drawn carriages. It needed a lot of energy to do its old jobs, but for the domestic life, it can be a handful. When not given enough exercise, they are known to be very destructive.
• Temperament: Friendly and Fearless
• Highlights: Known to suffer a lot from separation anxiety. Doesn’t do well with other pets, especially smaller ones.
The Weimaraner is an excellent breed if you’re very active and have enough time to give them. If not, they probably aren’t the best dogs for you. This breed is known for its extremely energetic demeanor and does not like being left alone. Training Weimaraner can also prove to be a challenge, and unless they grew up with them, wouldn’t do well with other pets due to them being bred as hunting dogs.
4. German Shepherd
• Temperament: Courageous and Smart
• Highlights: Training is practically a requirement when keeping this dog. Known to suffer from hip dysplasia and neurological issues.
While the German Shepherd is known as a workhorse, it’s only capable of being its best if it was given the right kind of training. If you have no experience with training your dogs, or aren’t willing to pay for its training, you’ll end up with a sedentary animal, which will lead to them being highly destructive.
5. Australian Cattle Dog
• Temperament: Curious and Alert
• Highlights: Needs a lot of exercise and is known to shed often. Very stubborn, making training difficult, and doesn’t do well with strangers.
The Australian Cattle Dog, just as its name implies, was bred to herd cattle. They are known for their endurance and on top of their high exercise needs, can be difficult to tire out. They are also very stubborn, so whatever issues they may have with their temperament are very difficult to train out.
Final Thoughts: Best Large Dogs for First Time Owners
Some large dogs are much easier to own than other large dogs. If you have other pets in your home or young children – it’s very important to choose the right breed. Getting a calm and gentle dog like a Great Dane or a Greyhound can be a great choice for a first time owner. If you have pets or kids, Collies or Bernese Mountain Dogs may be a great choice for you.