Dogs are man’s best friend, but not all dogs are suitable for older adults. That’s because most seniors have a relaxed lifestyle and certain dog breeds don’t fit that way of living.
With the plethora of four-legged friends to choose from, it can be a bit daunting to find the best dogs for seniors. Thankfully, this article will show you the most suitable breeds to choose from if you want a pet for companionship and emotional benefits.
12 Best Dogs For Seniors
Pomeranians are some of the most popular lap dogs around. They are tiny, typically weighing anywhere from 3 to 7 pounds. You can fit this breed in a carry bag and handle it quite easily.
Pomeranians are affectionate, happy, and often have somewhat independent dispositions. That means these small dogs can be mildly stubborn sometimes. Consider adopting a firm approach to training if you want the best from these fluffy furballs.
This dog enjoys sleeping in its owner’s laps when it is not playing with toys. While it has a loveable nature, the dog’s tendency to bark when it sees strangers makes it more suitable for seniors living in their own homes.
Their long, double coat requires moderate maintenance. This means you will need to brush their fur a few times every week. Pomeranians have a life expectancy of about 12 to 16 years.
Poodles are widely popular and for good reasons. They are highly intelligent, easy to train, affectionate, and very loyal companions. They enjoy cuddling with their owners and a basic daily walk is more than enough exercise for most poodles.
In addition to adapting to nearly all kinds of households, poodles can easily form strong bonds with many family members. This makes them ideal for older couples who prefer to share one companion dog.
This dog breed comes in three different sizes, including standard, miniature, and toy poodle. That means you can find one that suits your needs, regardless of your mobility situation.
Caring for a poodle is pretty easy. They don’t shed but will require professional grooming every four to six weeks or thereabouts. Poodles can live to about 10 years, and can even reach 18 years.
West Highland White Terrier
Westies are lovable dogs that are easy to handle, putting them among the best dogs for seniors. Weighing around 13 to 20 pounds, Westies are small but not as tiny as Pomeranians.
These dogs are friendly and very devoted to their owners. Westies are generally bred as hunting dogs, so it is best to have a fenced area or a leash if you want to keep this dog.
Westies are intelligent, independent, and confident dogs, so it takes a bit of effort to train them. Plus, they require daily exercise because they are very energetic.
Thankfully, they are low-maintenance and don’t require grooming too frequently. The West Highland White Terrier breed has a life expectancy of about 13 to 15 years.
Bichon Frise is a small, loving, and cheerful dog that is great with children and other pets. With an average weight ranging from 7 to 12 pounds, this fluffy little pooch with its curly white coat is easily manageable.
This breed is gentle and usually doesn’t bark a lot, making it suitable for older adults living in living communities or apartments.
Although it requires periodic grooming, the coat doesn’t shed, so it is low-maintenance. With proper care, the Bichon Frise can provide companionship for up to 15 years.
The Shih Tzu dog breeds can adapt and thrive in just about any environment, whether that’s in an apartment building or your home. If you have grandkids or other pets, these furballs will warm up to them in no time. They are also great with strangers.
They are low-maintenance, small pooches that weigh anywhere from 9 to 16 pounds. Handling them is pretty easy although they can be mildly stubborn sometimes.
While they are not large dogs, they require short, daily walks to remain in good health. Periodic grooming is essential for the Shih Tzu breed.
Like the Pomeranians, this dog breed tends to live longer than most other breeds on this list. They have a life expectancy of about 10 to 16 years.
Miniature Schnauzers love their human companions and are eager to please. They are smallish, compact dogs that weigh around 11 to 19 pounds.
These charming and endearing dogs with their distinctively bushy eyebrows are excellent for active seniors looking for an energetic dog breed. They are typically lively and need plenty of regular exercises, such as chasing toys and running.
Fortunately, the miniature schnauzer sheds very little, so it doesn’t have high grooming needs. They have a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years.
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Corgis are medium-sized dogs that are both energetic and lovable – two qualities that make for a great companion.
These charming dogs with their short legs enjoy hikes and routine exercise, thanks to their herding nature. However, walking them daily should be enough.
With an average weight of about 24 to 30 pounds, it shouldn’t be difficult to handle them. Although they are not very large, they are full of energy and can be very protective. You may want to choose this breed if you want a companion pet that doubles as a guard dog.
Corgis don’t require excessive grooming. They can live for as long as 13 years.
Seniors who prefer a cheerful dog breed may as well choose a French bulldog. These goofy and active dogs can keep you chuckling to yourself all day.
Frenchies, as they are fondly called, weigh around 19 to 28 pounds. But they are compact and smallish, making them easy to handle.
While they can be energetic sometimes, they don’t keep up with it for too long. In general, Frenchies tend to overheat easily, so they are not suitable for seniors living in hot climates.
French bulldogs have minimal grooming needs compared to other dog breeds, and they are happy with moderate daily exercise. With proper care, they can live to be around 10 to 12 years.
If you prefer an intensely loving dog breed, a pug might be the best pet you could ever own. This dog is content to sit in your lap all day and shower you with affection if you let it.
Weighing about 14 to 18 pounds, pugs don’t usually need a lot of exercises. But you want to keep an eye on their feeding habit because they tend to overeat, and that can cause health issues.
Pugs don’t require too much brushing, thanks to their short, smooth, double coat. They may not bark a lot but their distinct snout makes them prone to snoring. Barring any health problems, pugs can live for about 13 and 15 years.
With a top speed of 45 mph, greyhounds top the charts when it comes to the fastest dog breeds around. That’s why it can be surprising to find the breed on a list of the best dogs for seniors.
Here’s the thing; greyhounds may be fast and require lots of exercises, but they are not necessarily high-energy dogs. If anything, these graceful dogs prefer to lounge on couches and have a sweet disposition. They enjoy cuddling just as much as smaller dog breeds and they make excellent companions.
Greyhounds are large dogs that weigh anywhere from 60 to 80 pounds. However, they are easy to handle and very responsive to training. Seniors who prefer larger dog breeds will find greyhounds quite appealing.
Their short, smooth coat doesn’t require a lot of grooming but to keep these dogs happy and healthy, it is best to provide opportunities where they can run at maximum speed instead of merely walking them.
With a life expectancy of about 10 to 13 years, you have plenty of time to enjoy the loyal friendship of greyhounds.
The Maltese dog is another tiny pooch that thoroughly enjoys lounging in its owner’s lap. At only 4 to 7 pounds, handling the dog is considerably easy. Also, it loves to cuddle and tends to be playful.
When it is not cuddling, this little furball likes to go on short walks and you can even stroll around with it in your carry bag. The Maltese dog is smart, so training it shouldn’t be difficult.
Although they don’t shed, these elegant dogs with their beautiful white coats require daily brushing and regular trips to professional groomers.
With proper care and barring any accidents, Maltese can live up to about 12 to 15 years.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Cavaliers are smallish puppy-like dogs that are affectionate and love to cuddle. These pets make great companion dogs, and at a weight of about 13 to 18 pounds, they are considerably easy to handle.
These dogs are playful, intelligent, and great with both adults and children. However, Cavaliers are best suited to seniors with fenced homes. That’s because they tend to chase critters all over the place. If this breed appeals to you, consider getting a long leash when you walk them.
Their long, wavy coat is prone to matting, so it will require regular brushing and cleaning. They also need occasional trips to professional groomers.
Like the Maltese, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has a life expectancy of about 12 to 15 years.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Dog Breed
It is easy to get carried away by a dog’s cuteness, but there are several things to consider if you want to find the best pooch that suits your lifestyle as a senior.
First, it is important to assess your living situation. A yard or ample outdoor space in your home is essential for a dog to have proper exercise. But if you live in an assisted living community, you should find out if certain breeds are prohibited or if dogs are allowed at all.
Also, think about the care level for specific breeds. Some dog breeds can easily develop health problems, which makes them more high-maintenance than others.
Besides these general considerations, here are more specific characteristics to keep in mind when choosing the best dogs for seniors.
Dogs have different temperaments just as humans do. Independent or strong-willed four-legged friends may not be the best dogs for seniors because they can be difficult to control. Consider choosing dogs with easy-going personalities.
Many dogs tend to become calmer as they get older, making older dogs more suitable for seniors. Puppies or adolescent dogs are usually playful, needy, and will require more time commitment.
Consider the coat and skin maintenance needs of a dog before choosing it. Some breeds require regular haircuts and brushing than others. Think about how much time and energy you are willing to dedicate to your dog’s grooming needs.
Lastly, you want to factor in the size of a companion dog. A small dog is usually easier to handle and doesn’t need as much exercise as large dog breeds. But they can yap quite often, which means they are not the best pets for seniors in assisted living communities.
On the other hand, large dog breeds can be great if you want a guard dog. However, they tend to eat more compared to smaller dogs, so you may end up spending more on food.
Also, large dogs are not your best pick if you want something you can easily pick up. Plus, they can knock you over if they become excited.
The important thing to keep in mind when looking at the best dogs for seniors is finding one that can provide entertainment and companionship for years to come. Assess your needs and choose a dog with the right qualities you want.
Also, make sure you can give your desired breed the level of care it needs to keep it happy while it meets your emotional needs.
John E Chambers is an experienced financial advice expert. Born in Chicago, he has a master's in Industrial Finance, but he has spent decades offering investment advice to businesses and individuals alike. He is the founder of RetireeWorkforce.com and wants the website to be valuable for retirement advice. In addition, he writes articles that help users jump-start their retirement plans and choose the best investment options. If not pondering over stock market statistics or reading some magazines, you can find John spending time with his family. As an early retiree, John also offers unique insights into what post-retirement life is like.