All About Pets

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Best breeds for first-time dog owners

Deciding to get a dog can be a life-altering moment. While the decision carries with it a wealth of responsibility, a dog can change a person's life for the better, providing loyalty and companionship for years to come.

Once the decision to get a dog has been made, prospective pet owners must choose a breed. Various factors play into this decision, including how much space the dog will have at home, the grooming responsibilities that come with a particular breed and the typical demeanor of a given breed. Because no two breeds or owners are the same, some dog-owner combinations may make for a better pairing than others.

Descriptions of breed temperament can provide a window into the general personality of certain dogs. But such descriptions are not set in stone, as each dog is unique and may exhibit behaviors extraordinary to its breed. Factors such as socialization and training play key roles in how dogs will react in situations, and the following are some dog breeds that have a propensity to be easy-going and relatively easy to train.

* Golden retriever: Golden retrievers tend to be gregarious, docile and a good fit for families. They are people-oriented, affectionate and loyal. Golden retrievers are moderately-sized dogs that need exercise to prevent boredom (which can compel them to cause damage around the home). But golden retrievers are generally a good fit for first-time dog owners.

* Labrador retriever: A close cousin to the golden retriever, labradors are another breed known for their good nature and willingness to be trained. Labs shed and can grow large, so that is something apartment-dwellers must consider before bringing home a lab.

* Standard poodle: Poodles are an intelligent breed that are easily trained. Poodles can be high strung if not given ample exercise, so this is something prospective poodle owners need to consider.

* Cavalier King Charles spaniel: This is a well-proportioned and smaller dog that is typically affectionate, happy and outgoing. Typically eager to please and intelligent enough for obedience training, the cavalier is naturally well-behaved and can get along well with other pets.

* Boston terrier: The Boston terrier, also known as the "Boston Bull," is a compact brute of a dog. Although small in size, the Boston terrier does not lack for personality and tends to be playful and friendly with a willingness to learn. Bostons do require a firm human leader; otherwise, they may believe they run the show.

These breeds are offered as examples of good breeds for first-time dog owners. However, there are plenty of other breeds out there that would make ideal pets, even for the novice dog owner. Socialization, training and exercise are essential to shaping a dog into a trusted and happy member of the family.