Dogs make wonderful companions for seniors for many reasons. They provide companionship, a sense of purpose, routine, exercise, and stress-relief…plus endless smiles! But when it comes to seniors, choosing the right dog is particularly important. Keep reading to discover the best dog breeds for seniors and why!
How to choose the best dog for you
There are many factors to consider when choosing a dog, and particularly for seniors. Things like a dog’s energy level, size, age, temperament, grooming requirements, bark, and living space restrictions (there might be restricted breeds, like pit bulls) are all important things to take into account when choosing your new best friend.
1) The Poodle
Poodles are an excellent option for older folks in search of a best friend. They come in three sizes: standard, mini, and toy, so there’s a good fit for everyone! These intelligent and friendly dogs are eager to please, making them a very trainable breed, and they don’t require as much exercise as you would think, for such an active dog. And bonus, they’ve got a low-allergen coat!
2) The Greyhound
The Greyhound is a lovely option for an older adult. A gentle-souled, independent type, the friendly greyhound is great for the active senior who appreciates loving company and a larger breed.
3) The Pomeranian
Ranging from 3-7 pounds, the Pomeranian is bold, lively, and inquisitive. Poms make great companions for seniors in particular, as they can be exercised with indoor play and short walks. This also means they can be content in both the city and the suburbs! Pomeranians are also quite trainable, which could come in handy for those with restricted mobility.
4) The French Bulldog
The French Bulldog is known for its intelligence, adaptability, and playful nature! A great option for those who live in a retirement community, as they don’t bark much and also do not require much along the lines. of outdoor exercise. Frenchies tend to get along well with other animals and people, so great for both the socialite AND the cat enthusiast! These little guys are also trainable, portable, and while amusing and fun-loving, tend towards a calmer energy than other breeds.
5) The Corgi
Corgis make excellent companions for the active senior, as they require a decent amount of exercise. Weighing up to 30 pounds, this breed tends to be affectionate, intelligent, and alert. Originally bred as herders for moving cattle (can you imagine?!), these guys have a fearless independence about them, as well as a “big dog” bark, making them excellent watchdogs!
6) The Chihuahua
The petite Chihuahua is a great option for anyone with restricted mobility because they’re tiny! That being said, their confident Napoleonic attitude and affectionate, loyal nature make them excellent pets for just about anyone. These guys don’t need terribly long walks and won’t overpower their walker if they get excited on their walk, and they can easily be scooped up in a pinch. Great for folks seeking a small dog with a big personality! Take care in cold weather and around larger rambunctious dogs or young kids.
7) The Pug
Pugs are a wonderful choice for just about anyone! Weighing in between 14 and 18 pounds, they are happy both in the country or the city, and as an only pet or amongst others. Pugs are trainable and friendly and do best in moderate climates and with a controlled diet to keep them trim! Another great option if you’re nervous about the amount of exercise you can offer a dog, as pugs are small and don’t require exhaustive exercise.
8) The Boston Terrier
The Boston Terriers make excellent city pets! They’re trainable and very friendly and outgoing, and are a great size- 12-25 lbs, so substantial yet portable. The Boston Terrier is a true people’s dog, so they’re great if you’re the type to often have folks around!
9) The Yorkshire Terrier
The Yorkshire Terrier, or Yorkie as it is affectionately known, is a favorite amongst more mature audiences! Small and feisty, these little cuties were originally bred as ratters in mines and mills. The fact that they can be a bit stubborn to train shouldn’t deter anyone, as their size makes for a very manageable pet out in public and at home, and an excellent lap dog.
10) The Maltese
The Maltese is an excellent pick for elderly folks! They’re gentle but playful, and very outgoing. Their size makes them a great lap dog and manageable walk partner. Plus, their beautiful white fur and adorable face make them hard to resist! While their coats are beautiful and soft, they require regular grooming to keep tidy and clean, so be sure you’re up for that!
11) The Shih-Tzu
Shih-tzu’s are a favorite amongst seniors, and it’s no mystery why! These affectionate and playful dogs are also friendly and outgoing, and their diminutive size make them a popular choice. A favorite lap dog!
12) The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, or Cavie, is a great choice for those looking for a calm demeanor. That being said, they’re quite adaptable and do equally well with active owners and homebodies! Plus, they get along nicely with kids and other dogs, if you’re looking to add to your pack. Cavies are friendly and eager to please, and their moderate size makes them manageable to exercise!
13) The Beagle
Beagles are a great small to midsize dog, weighing in around 20-30 pounds and under. They make wonderful pets due to their loving and happy nature! These guys are a great option for active seniors in particular because they’re quite energetic and require a decent amount of exercise, but their moderate size means they’re manageable to handle while out and about. Maybe not for folks who live in a retirement community, though, due to that characteristic throaty bark!
What to Remember When Getting a Dog
Choose a calmer breed
It’s very important to consider a breed’s temperament and energy level when choosing your new dog. If you’re an energetic individual who doesn’t like sitting still, a more active, excitable breed could be a great choice! Conversely, if you have restricted mobility or are simply a lower energy person, go for a calmer breed. In general though, opting for a calmer dog is the safest choice for seniors.
Smaller breeds are easier to manage
A dog’s size is another thing you’ll want to think about before committing to a new pet. Smaller breeds are great for seniors because they can be easily picked up and moved, and it’s easy to keep them under control during walks. If you’re up for a larger dog, maybe then go for a calmer breed and/or an adult dog as opposed to a younger more energetic pup.
Get an older dog
Consider the dog’s age when choosing your new pet! Adult dogs are great for seniors because often they’ve already been housebroken and are well-socialized with people. Adult dogs also tend to be calmer and have settled into more predictable behavior patterns than puppies.
In addition, it’s important to think about the life expectancy of different dogs and how likely it is that your pet will outlive you. Who will care for your dog if you can’t or are no longer around?
High-maintenance coats can be tedious and expensive
Grooming needs can be easy to written off when you’re very attracted to a certain fluffy breed, but thinking ahead of time about your prospective pet’s potential for shedding and hair growth might save you some headaches in the long run! You may want to opt for a dog with shorter hair or that sheds minimally if you’re not up to the task (and price!) of regular brushings, baths, and grooming appointments. Of course, if you’re up to doting on your new buddy’s fur needs for the rewarding aesthetic, then by all means, have at it!
Keep a dog’s bark in mind
Another easy thing to forget about is a dog’s tendency to bark. Woof. If your space has noise restrictions, whether you’re in an apartment, senior living community, or other, you may want to steer clear of the blood hounds of the world and opt for a less chatty friend!
Know your living space’s restrictions
If your living space has any sort of restrictions on pets, or even types of dogs that tenants are allowed to have, you’ll of course want to look into this before you choose a dog. This is especially important if you live in any sort of senior living community or apartment building. As an example, some places may have restrictions on certain breeds.
Why you should adopt
Adoption is an excellent option for everybody, but especially for elderly folks! Adopting a dog not only gives a home to a dog in need and potentially saves them from euthanization, but it’s a viable option for getting an adult dog. Older dogs are great for elderly because they tend to be calmer than younger dogs, and sometimes they even come trained and socialized! Plus, some shelters will even offer lower adoption fees for their older dogs (senior dogs are generally considered to be 7 years old or more).
Dogs to Avoid
While there are many great breed choices for seniors out there, there are also a few types of dogs that you may want to avoid.
In general, older folks may want to steer clear from young puppies. While puppy energy is certainly fun and entertaining, puppies also come with constant potty breaks (including late at night and in the wee hours of the morning!), diligent training, and lots of physical exercise. They can be exhausting! If you have health or energy concerns, maybe go for a more mature dog.
Large or heavy dogs
It’s important that any dog owner is able to keep their dog under control, particularly when outdoors. For seniors, this might mean that larger or heavier dogs should be avoided. In many cases, a large or heavy dog can overpower an older owner. Large or heavy dogs might also be tough to pick up and maneuver in a pinch. In order to ensure everyone’s safety, go for a smaller breed!
Highly active breeds
Just about every dog is going to require some amount of exercise. If you’re not confident that you can offer your dog much exercise, you may want to look into a calmer breed. Highly active dogs that aren’t getting enough exercise can cause a wealth of issues!
Dogs with Significant Grooming Needs
Seniors should generally consider avoiding dogs with significant grooming needs, whether they have fast-growing hair, they shed a lot, or they will require constant brushings or baths. Dogs with high-maintenance coats require a decent amount of up-keep, attention, and energy that seniors may not always be able or willing to give.