When approaching senior life, many people turn to dog ownership as a means of keeping themselves and their minds active and to have a friend to keep them company around the house.
Once you’ve made the decision to bring home a dog, you’re faced with the next important decision: which breed should you choose? The best breeds of dog for seniors tend to be those that are smaller with lower energy levels and easier to care for when it comes to exercise, grooming, health, and diet.
To help you narrow down your options, consider these factors when adopting a new dog:
Factors To Consider
It goes without saying that larger dogs will be harder to handle, especially if your strength isn’t what it once was. Smaller dogs may also be more appropriate for those living in smaller apartments or condos. On the other hand, some smaller dogs try to make up for their smaller stature by barking a lot, while some more docile larger breeds don’t require so much maintenance or care.
While absolutely any dog has it in them to be raised to be a loving and gentle dog, some breeds are just more naturally friendly and easy-going. Some of the best dogs temperament-wise are retrievers, poodles, bulldogs, and beagles. However, every animal has its own personality. It’s a good idea to spend some time with the pup or adult dog to get a feel for their temperament before bringing them home.
Some breeds are ultra-low maintenance, requiring no more than a brush every now and then, while others are more intensive, needing regular baths and frequent clipping and trimming. Be wary of what you are able to manage as a dog owner. Make sure you are able to meet the requirements of the breed or that you have access to a professional groomer nearby who can do so.
If you’re fairly active, an active breed that loves lots of playtime and going out for a run could be the thing for you. If mobility issues are a concern, perhaps a dog who needs only a few short walks will suffice. The smallest dogs, like Chihuahuas for example, can get all their required exercise just by running around the house.
Most seniors tend to get on better with adult dogs than puppies as they are less active and more well behaved. The vast majority of adult dogs will have already been house trained and will get on well with people. Younger dogs tend to be less calm than older dogs and show more erratic behavior. Also, it’s worth taking into consideration whether or not the dog will outlive you and if there is someone available to take care of the dog if you are no longer able to.
Ahead, we’ll take you through just some of the breeds that we think make a perfect fit for any senior ready for the love and enjoyment that comes from adopting a dog.
Best Dog Breeds For Seniors
Wonderfully affectionate, inquisitive and gentle, there aren’t many as lovable and endearing as a pug. Pugs are a fairly active breed and love to go for a good walk. They are equally as over the moon, however, just snuggling up on the couch. Due to breathing issues stemming from their snubbed noses, they shouldn’t be strenuously overworked anyway. Most owners can expect their Pug to live to 13 to 15 years of age with a typical weight between about 14 and 18 pounds.
In spite of their breathing problems, and a propensity for suffering from eye-related issues, Pugs are a fairly healthy breed of dog. They can eat like champions, however, so be sure to keep a watchful eye on their bellies and adjust their food intake and exercise appropriately. Be sure to go through a breeder with a good reputation, just like with any other purebred dogs, as some will introduce some genetic breeding practices to help lower the opportunities of nasty genetic diseases afflicting your Pug.
Despite not being hypoallergenic, Pugs will require little grooming, making them a pretty cost-effective and low maintenance option for a senior citizen looking for a new animal friend.
Gentle, sweet, energetic, independent; these are just some of the words often used to describe the Beagle. Curious and stubborn are also thrown around, too, so be prepared to get creative as some intensive training may be required. All in all, the Beagle makes for a fantastic companion and can be expected to live for around 14 years with an average weight of 24 pounds. The Beagle also works great with other dogs as a result of it being able to naturally fit into the pack dog mentality.
Being fairly high energy, the Beagle breed loves to take multiple walks each day and being let free to run around in the back yard. The breed also loves nothing more than lots and lots of stimulation and attention. This is definitely a great breed of dog for seniors who want to get out on some fun walks.
Beagles are not particularly hypoallergenic, although they have short coats and are quite easily cared for. While they do enjoy good health, they do love their food, so be sure to be on the lookout for any weight gain. Despite their relatively small stature, Beagles are nice and sturdy and rigid, and they can enjoy a whole range of activities.
Despite what you may be expecting from their minuscule size, Chihuahuas are busting at the seams with personality, easily being one of the top dogs for entertainment value and quirks alone. Loving nothing more than a good cuddle and petting in their owners’ laps, they are loyal companions, and also good for any seniors who may be living in a small place like an apartment, for example. While it will be likely necessary to train them well if they’re to be around any children or strangers, they do love going for a walk and enjoying the sun, although due to their size it’s best to keep them away from any cold weather. This isn’t such a problem for keeping them fit, as their tiny stature allows them to get any exercise they need within the great indoors.
With a life expectancy of around 12 years, and weighing in at just 10 to 25 pounds, the Boston Terrier it a fantastic, playful, and smart breed, and it’s sure to have a personality to remember. Also incredibly friendly and affectionate, Boston Terriers can make for a great breed for senior citizens as they are just happy to be with their owners no matter what, whether that’s going for a nice long walk or just enjoying a quiet day around the house.
Due to the short head, the Boston Terrier breed is renowned for (they’re a breed known as “brachycephalic,” meaning short-headed), health issues such as breathing difficulties can arise. This also leads to rather loud snoring, so be warned! Despite the respiratory issues the breed can suffer from, the Boston Terrier is a strong, sturdy breed, known to live long, full lives when taken care of properly.
Boston Terriers are fairly low maintenance and their short coat won’t shed too much. They aren’t a hypoallergenic breed, however.
Some may not be aware, but the Poodle is, in fact, one of the most intelligent breeds of dog available. Don’t judge them solely by their silly looks! Perhaps one of the greatest factors of the Poodle breed is that owners can choose their size, whether it’s a larger, more standardized Poodle you’re after, the teeny tiny toy Poodle, or just a miniature one. No matter what, it will still be an affectionate, loyal companion, able to adapt well in any household situation and learn quickly.
For the majority of Poodles, no matter the size, one walk a day will be enough activity to keep them in good shape, and while relatively easy to care for, they will need professional grooming around once every month or two. If you have allergies, a Poodle is a good choice as they’re hypoallergenic.
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
The dog most favored by Queen Elizabeth II herself, this is a determined, strong-willed, and smart breed, and one that’s certainly active. Their little legs will keep a lot of their strong will in check, however, this is an issue that tends to be somewhat overlooked by the dog itself, which can in some cases lead to them straining their comparatively long backs. You might need to introduce stairs and ramps to help them reach places they need to get to, and lots of lifting will be required. Don’t be fooled by their size: they’re not as lightweight as their image would have you believe.
For seniors looking to maintain something of an active lifestyle, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi can make a great companion.
If you were to imagine a “little white lap dog,” you’d probably be picturing a Maltese. Relatively easy-going, the Maltese breed enjoys short, simple walks, but prefers to snuggle up in their owner’s lap. Some periodic visits to the groomer will be in order to keep the dog maintained, but other than that they’re relatively simple and low maintenance and don’t require too much work in the way of training.
Weighing in at around 4 to 7 pounds, the Maltese is perfect for seniors who aren’t very active or would have difficulty lifting a heavy dog.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
This dog was named by King Charles II himself who was said to not go anywhere without at least three of these dogs by his side. But that’s not surprising, as their adaptable, sociable, and playful personality makes them a fantastic companion and a great dog for seniors.
With a silky long coat and an elegance fit for a king, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel can be expected to live for around 9 to 14 years and weighs on average around 13 to 18 pounds. The breed is not hypoallergenic and requires a fairly moderate amount of brushing and grooming; owners can expect their silky long fur to easily become matted. Health issues such as neurological conditions, skin conditions, eye conditions, and heart conditions can be quite common in the breed, so be sure to find a good breeder who has hopefully reduced the chances of any conditions such as these from developing. Despite these drawbacks, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a lovable and easy-going dog perfectly suited to life in an apartment or a home with a big backyard.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel loves a long walk and trips to the park, so seniors looking for a companion to complement their active lifestyle could find their perfect pup in a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
The Pomeranian breed is a relatively small one, but that’s not to diminish their intelligence, affection, and liveliness. They also crave attention and are extremely curious, which can make for a fantastic companion for anyone with lots of time and energy on their hands.
Grooming wise, Pomeranians don’t require much more than a brushing a few times a week to keep their coats nice and fluffy. While they’re a particularly proud breed, and not too keen on being given direction, any unruliness can easily be trained out of them with firm and gentle leadership. In spite of this, you can expect a Pomeranian to be fairly barky and loud.
Golden Retrievers are, above all else, friendly and kind. They respond well to training, love to please, and are finely tuned to humans and our emotional needs. Time and again, the Golden Retriever comes up as one of the all-time most popular dog breeds when prospective owners are looking for an emotional support dog or pet.
Golden Retrievers love the great outdoors and are best suited to active lifestyles. They’re always eager to go for a run, swim, or hike. With enough exercise outdoors, they can be relatively calm and mellow inside. Most of all, Golden Retrievers thrive on the companionship they share with their owners, and they’re famous for their level of patience.
As long as you have the time and energy to commit to exercise or time spent outdoors, a Golden Retriever can make the perfect companion. Just imagine how much better your next road trip can be with a Retriever by your side.