9 Best LARGE Dog Breeds for First Time Owner (with Photos)

Being a new dog parent is remarkably rewarding, but getting started can be tricky. One of the most common fallacies when it comes to raising a dog is that small dogs are easier to handle and require less space. 

If we got a bone for each time we’ve heard “oh, I only can have a small dog, I live in an apartment”, we’d be our dogs’ heroes for years. I mean, if you think all small dogs belong in an apartment, you clearly haven’t met a Jack Russell Terrier

large dog breeds for first time owner
9 Large Dog Breeds for First Time Owner (with Photos)

While some of it DOES ring true, like the fact that small dogs won’t yank your shoulder out of the socket when they pull on the lead, way more crucial than their size is a dog’s energy level, temperament, and genetic predispositions. 

Big dog lovers rejoice! Many large dog breeds make suitable pooches for the inexperienced or even first-time owners. Here are some massive love muffins that are amicable, easily trained, and suitable for newbies: 

1. Great Dane

The epitome of a gentle giant, Great Danes are aristocratic, regal-looking canines that will tower over almost every other dog. Don’t let their majestic appearance fool you though, they tend to be huge goofballs, playful, and rambunctious. 

Patient and gentle, they have been known to be stellar companions for children. Their low to moderate energy levels means they’ll be easy to provide adequate exercise for, unlike some hyperactive devils like the above-said Jack Russell Terrier

You will have the perfect company for lazy days and movie nights with a Great Dane. They have modest grooming needs and will need a brush every now and then, and a bath every once in a while. Be warned, they are gluttons, and with big dogs come ENORMOUS appetites! 

great dane standing in snowfall
A brown Great Dane standing in a snowfall.

2. Newfoundland 

Newfies have the patience of an elephant which makes them one of the most kid-friendly dogs around. Gentle giants and excellent family pets, Newfies are easy to train and are known to be extremely loyal and attached to their families. 

Before getting one, there are a few things you should know. Newfoundlands are large dogs with moderate energy levels, so they do need space to run around. If you have a lack of space, you should have ample time to allow for adequate exercise. 

They’re also heavy shedders, so regular brushing is a must. While they can be stubborn and headstrong, they are unlikely to have aggressive tendencies or dominance problems. 

newfoundland dog large
A large and in charge Newfoundland dog

3. Irish Wolfhound

A large breed with a calm temperament, these tall, scruffy-looking giants love to play and cuddle. Originally bred as hunting dogs, they’re gentle giants who don’t do things quickly. They’re laid-back and enjoy taking their time. 

They also don’t want to roam very much and are wonderful with children. Because they crave attention, these dogs can be a little pushy with their adoration, but if you tell them to stop, they will.

Irish Wolfhounds have a high level of intelligence, and training them won’t be difficult. 

You certainly won’t be getting a guard dog. These big guys rarely bark and are more likely to lick a burglar to death than to attack one. While they are known to be patient and docile to everyone, just their sheer size makes them tricky to be around, especially when they get boisterous in excitement around small children. 

Irish Wolfhound stands
Irish Wolfhound standing on the grass.

4. Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain Dogs appear to be at ease and content at all times, and they are. They’re constantly quiet, so unlike other dog breeds, you won’t have to deal with a raging maniac that is easily triggered. 

With these dogs, there will never be a dull moment. These big guys have moderate to high energy levels and love to be outdoors, making them ideal for an active owner. They are gentle, patient, and friendly, and tend to get along with everyone. 

Their thick coats need regular brushing to remove the dead fur and dander. Bernese Mountain Dogs are intelligent, quick learners that will take well to instruction or training. 

bernese mountain dog wearing shoes
A Bernese Mountain dog wearing shoes on an asphalt road.

5. Greyhound

Greyhounds are sassy, friendly dogs that are great for beginners. Despite their origins as race dogs, they are friendly, calm, and peaceful. Because they have high prey drives and enjoy sprinting, you’ll need to keep these dogs on a leash. 

While Greyhounds are the sprinters of the canine world, like any short-distance runner, their stamina leaves a lot to be desired. Modest amounts of exercise and loads of playtime in between would make a happy Greyhound. 

They do well in warm weather and aren’t very good with cold, so layer them up if you live in a cold climate. 

greyhound dog
A greyhound standing proud (and tall and skinny)

6. Boxer

Another sprinter, albeit a slower one, the Boxer has short, frenetic bursts of happy energy and adores playing. They would suit families with children or active owners. Strongly bonded to their families, Boxers are friendly, loyal, and easily trained. 

Young Boxers can be a touch hyperactive, but they can flourish in active households if they’ve been taught and socialized. 

The Boxer enjoys being with his people, despite being instinctive guards. The craving for human attention, particularly from children, is one of the breed’s most noteworthy features.

They are tolerant, passionate, and protective of children, making them a popular choice for families. The Boxer does not require much maintenance, but it does require daily exercise.

boxer dog looking at food
Boxer dogs have healthy appetites so appropriate food selection is key

7. Golden Retriever

With their floppy ears and heart-melting almond eyes, the Golden Retriever is one of the most popular breeds in the world. The ultimate love-the-world dog, the Retriever is a joyful, affectionate, sensitive pooch that is a pleasure to be around.

Goldies have modest exercise needs and will benefit from an hour’s walk a day or a vigorous game of fetch. Bright, intelligent, and adaptable, the Goldie can thrive in almost any environment and is understandably one of the world’s favorite breeds. 

They enjoy learning and love to play, and will benefit greatly from owners that can afford the time to spend with them. They are prone to separation anxiety and might not do well in households where the owners are out for the majority of the day. 

Their thick double coats will require regular brushing, and an occasional bath now and again wouldn’t hurt. 

Golden Retriever jumps over a fence
A Golden Retriever jumps over a fence at a dog show.

8. Labrador Retriever

Even more popular than the Golden Retriever is its cousin, the reigning champion of the popularity contest – the Labrador Retriever. 

Ranked #1 in AKC’s most popular breeds of dogs for decades, the Lab is employed by millions all over the US as a service dog, emotional support dog, and therapy dog

The adored Labrador Retriever is a medium to large breed with a strong build that originated in Newfoundland and the United Kingdom. Labrador Retrievers are noted for their intellect and good nature. 

Despite their origins as hunting dogs, they make wonderful companions. Versatile and adaptable, Labs are found in the military, search and rescue, explosive detection, medical alert, assistance, and emotional therapy…..gosh, is there anything these guys don’t do? 

On top of all that, they are the best family dogs. Gregarious, clownish, and happy-go-lucky, their cheerful disposition has made them the world’s most popular breed, a title that they have been holding on to for decades. 

Labrador Retriever catching a ball
A Labrador Retriever catching a ball outdoors.

9. Poodle

There are three AKC-recognized sizes of Poodlesthe Toy, Miniature, and Standard. Since this article is about large breeds, let’s talk about the Standard.

Contrary to the media-portrayed image of a Disney princess with a rhinestone collar and fancy hairdo, the Poodle is an athletic, versatile dog that was originally bred to hunt and retrieve waterfowl for German hunters. 

These canine brainiacs are consistently ranked the 2nd most intelligent dog breed, only outranked by the herding wizards, Border Collies

Poodles are a breeze to train and excel at agility sports like flyball and dock diving. Poodles also have a low-shedding coat that is ideal for families with allergies. But perhaps the best thing about Poodles is their outgoing, friendly personality

Poodles love to play and will quickly become a cherished member of the family. Be warned, they are extremely intelligent dogs with moderate to high energy levels, so you’ll need to provide an outlet for all that energy! 

Poodle playing with a toy
Standard Poodle playing with a toy in the grass.

What Look To Consider As A First Time Owner?

First, consider the amount of space you have. If you live in a small apartment, it might not be the best idea to get a large breed that needs lots of exercise. Second, think about how much time you’re willing to spend grooming your dog

Some breeds require daily brushing, while others barely need any upkeep at all. Finally, take into account your lifestyle. If you’re an active person who likes to go hiking and camping, you might want to get a dog that enjoys those activities as well. 

a golden retriever looking sad
A Golden Retriever looking a touch sad.

Final Thoughts 

For first-time dog owners, the decision of what sort of dog to get can be a daunting one. There are so many different breeds out there, and each has its own unique set of personality traits and needs. 

We hope that this list makes it easier for you to choose your new best friend. Good luck!