10 Best Large Dog Breeds For First Time Owners

By helloBARK!
Updated on 24 December 2022

Are you looking for a large dog for your first pet?

If you love dogs and you’re ready to become a dog owner for the first time, you’ll need to carefully consider what dog breed is the best fit for you.

Some first-time dog owners might prefer a large dog breed rather than a medium or small dog despite having limited experience with canines.

If that’s the case, we’ve got just the article for you as we spoke to a number of experts to learn about the best large dog breeds for first-time dog owners.

We interviewed dog trainers, veterinarians, dog behaviorists and more to get an insight into the best big dog breeds for dog lovers who want to start their ownership journey with a large dog.

With the introduction out of the way, let’s get started with our feature on the best large dog breeds for first-time owners.

Golden Retrievers

Golden Retriever (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Golden Retriever (Photo: Adobe Stock)

There is a lot of factors to consider when choosing your first large breed dog but in general I am a big fan of Golden Retrievers for new owners. We get a lot of them in the daycare and they are very sweet and safe in general. They tend to be easy to train and seek approval from their owners.

They are not big barkers so that helps in many situations and they are easy to socialise because they tend to get along with other animals. They also are a generally healthy breed if they are well bred.

Suggested by Katie Dolan, Founder Of Katie’s Kennels TM

Labrador Retriever

Black Labrador (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Black Labrador (Photo: Adobe Stock)

In my opinion, one of the best breeds of large dog for the first time owner is a well bred, show line or English Labrador Retriever. Labrador Retrievers have been the most popular dog breed in the world for many years. They are known to have a very placid temperament and their love of food makes them excellent candidates for training using food rewards.

The show Labrador Retriever or the English Labrador as many in the US call them are less energetic than the working Labradors or American Labrador Retrievers. Therefore they require less exercise and enrichment in the form of retrieving thrown items.

English Labs are extremely good looking and provided they come from a reputable breeder who has bred for temperament as well as looks, they will make an excellent companion dog.

It’s also worth noting that a good breeder will have started the socialisation process but it will need to be continued by the new owner to ensure the puppy grows up to be a robust and confident dog.

Suggested by Andy Ramshaw, Owner And Trainer At Venture Dog Training


Boxer dog (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Boxer dog (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Boxers can make a good choice, as long as the owner is committed to putting in lots of time for training and exercise. These dogs make loyal companions and have a heart of gold.

Playful and boisterous, especially in their early years, these dogs love to be active and out and about. They can be prone to a wide range of health issues, including cancer and eye disease, so regular vet checks are important.

Suggested by Dr Linda Simon, Consulting Veterinarian At Five Barks


Landseer Newfoundland (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Landseer Newfoundland (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Generally speaking, large dogs need room to roam or at least the opportunity to stretch their legs on a daily basis. The bigger (and younger) the dog, the more explosive energy there is to release! On one hand, that means ensuring that you have the space and free time to give your large dog the play-time they need. On the other hand, your ability to train a dog will also mitigate the importance of that space and time.

For example, a well-trained Newfoundland might be able to run around and play with you in a contained environment. Your command and attention will go a long way to release the animal’s energy without running wild. If the dog has no training, they might simply burst around the house, smashing into whatever crosses their path. In those cases, you’d need to release energy by heading out on a walk or into a park where they can let loose.

Suggested by Crystal Litzenberger, Veterinarian Technician At Lola Hemp

Portuguese Water Dog

Portuguese Water dog (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Portuguese Water dog (Photo: Adobe Stock)

The Portuguese Water Dog has earned the nickname Velcro dog. That means he will follow you anywhere. The curly dog comes in different colors. He is incredibly smart, and willing to go the extra mile for his loveable dog owner.

Super smart and easy to train, the Portuguese Water Dog is eager to please. With at least 40 to 60 minutes of exercise per day, he will be calm and trainable. Boredom is a challenge, but if you can provide enough exercise, this puppy will love to work and train with you.

And the best part is, Portuguese Water Dog is hypoallergenic.

Suggested by Aleksandar Mishkov, Editor In Chief At The Daily Tail

Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain Dog (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Bernese Mountain Dog (Photo: Adobe Stock)

My top large breed pick for a novice owner would have to be the Bernese Mountain Dog. Berners, as they are affectionately known have placid, sunny temperaments. This impressive Swiss breed is adaptable and while happy to just hang out with their person, they are ready to go for a hike at moment’s notice.

Originally bred as a farm dog, Berners get on very well with children and other pets. While they have a heavy tri-colour coat with gorgeous plumy tail, courser hair means a good brushing once or twice a week should keep that in good shape.

Suggested by Janice Gunn, Professional Dog Trainer, Obedience Competitor, Seminar Presenter And CEO Of TNT Kennels

Irish Wolfhound

Irish Wolfhound (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Irish Wolfhound (Photo: Adobe Stock)

If you’re looking for big BIG dog breeds that are still absolutely lovely to own then I really recommend the Irish Wolfhound.

This big dog breed is calm and placid and rarely barks, it isn’t aggressive or protective and instead absolutely loves a cuddle from the owner.

But be careful, as 120 pounds of dog that loves to cuddle could be a big weight to have on your lap.

Suggested by Erika Barnes, CEO Of Petsmitten


Bullmastiff (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Bullmastiff (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Mastiffs are beautiful and big dog breeds that are perfect for first-time pet owners, mainly because of their calm nature. They are devoted animals with a slow training program so you will need a little patience. It’s also not the breed for pet owners who don’t like drool as these big dogs have some very big mouths.

Suggested by Jacquelyn Kennedy, Founder And CEO Of PetDT


Two Greyhounds take a nap (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Two Greyhounds take a nap (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Greyhounds were bred as racing dogs. They’re bred to run in short spurts after fast-retreating objects, so they’re not great around small animals or for off-leash.

However, they’re calm and affectionate companions that are great for many beginner homes. Many are very happy to cuddle on the couch – they’re quite easy dogs to live with.

Suggested by Kayla Fratt, Certified Dog Behaviorist Consultant Of Journey Dog Training


Weimaraner dog in a grass meadow on a summer day (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Weimaraner dog in a grass meadow on a summer day (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Weimaraners are great for first-time dog owners because they are intelligent and eager to please. They are also easy to potty train and are not known for being destructive.

Weimaraners are active dogs and need plenty of exercise, so they are best suited for families willing to take them on regular walks and runs. If you’re looking for a furry friend who will be your loyal companion for years, then the Weimaraner is the perfect breed!

Suggested by Jennifer Mecham, Founder Of Reptiles Blog

Mini Bernedoodle Bernie (Photo: bernie_dood / Instagram)
Mini Bernedoodle Pros And Cons
Bengal cat looking at camera (Photo: Adobe Stock)
Bengal Cat Pros And Cons
Mini Bernedoodle Bernie (Photo: bernie_dood / Instagram)
Mini Bernedoodle
Black Goldendoodle (Photo: Adobe Stock)
Mini Goldendoodle Pros And Cons
Boston Terrier (Photo: Adobe Stock)
Boston Terrier Pros And Cons