Generally, the best dogs for seniors are those on the smaller side, with few health problems and relatively low energy. Ultimately, though, the perfect dog is one that you will love and care for to the best of your ability.
Updated February 8, 2023
What Are The Best Dogs for Seniors?
Dogs are excellent companion animals and help alleviate some symptoms of loneliness and social isolation. They are especially suitable for the elderly and those who live alone or away from family. Not only that, but they are a perfect incentive to stay active with daily walks and other activities.
10 Best Dogs for Seniors
Yes, large dogs can be excellent companion animals for seniors, and the ever-faithful golden retriever proves it. Goldens are gregarious people-pleasers, similar to labrador retrievers (another one of the best dogs for seniors, even if it’s not on this list). Golden retrievers won’t mind when strangers approach them and will welcome the attention with their signature smile.
They are easy to train, and while they have some health problems, they are relatively low maintenance. However, golden retrievers love physical activity, so it’s essential to make sure they have a chance to burn off any extra energy they have. Doing so will also help them calm down while they are inside. So take your golden for a long walk, throw a ball around, or let her swim in a local pond.
Poodles are among the best dogs for seniors because their above-average intelligence makes them very easy to train. They also have a gentle nature, are very laid back, and can become attached to multiple people, making them an excellent choice for couples.
They are perfectly happy to lay on the couch, but they still need a daily walk. On the other hand, poodles don’t shed and only need grooming once a month. Another plus is poodles come in three different sizes, so you have more options based on your living situation.
Their comically adorable faces will bring a smile to your face every time you look at them. Pugs have a childlike disposition, affectionate, and intensely loyal. Seniors who aren’t very active or mobile will appreciate pugs’ low energy levels. They don’t need much exercise and usually become very uncomfortable in high heat.
However, pugs are prone to obesity and should be taken on a short walk at least once a day before the weather gets too hot. As they are brachycephalic, it is important not to overexert them or let them become overweight. Additionally, pugs’ cute folds need a quick wipe daily to prevent bacteria from building inside them.
This breed is up for anything, whether a lazy day at home or a busy day outside. Lhasa apsos have one of the mildest temperaments of any small dog breed. They are also more independent than many others, which makes them well-suited for apartment living. However, while their personality may be low-maintenance, they require a lot of grooming.
Shih Tzu’s tiny size makes them an ideal candidate for any best dogs for seniors list. However, they are stubborn and may take some extra work to train. Also, they have a few minor health problems regarding their skin and brachycephaly. Therefore, it’s crucial to walk Shih Tzus daily and regularly groom them.
West Highland Terrier
Commonly known as “Westies,” these dogs are affectionate, friendly, loyal, and low-maintenance. They are small but sturdy and have minimal grooming needs. Westies don’t have the same energy level as other terriers but still need daily walks.
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Corgis’ prominent personalities are delightful and entertaining, which is why they’re one of the best dogs for seniors. Although they can be stubborn, corgis are easy to train and get along well with others. They are an active breed and are best for seniors who can handle lots of time exercising outdoors with them. However, they do well in apartments or smaller homes. Their double coat will cause them to shed a lot, but daily brushing should help.
These dogs are soft and cuddly, making them the perfect lap dog. They are happiest when they are around people and love to please. Since they are so intelligent, they are easy to train. Bichon Frises’ small size is great for apartment living, although they need daily walks. They also require regular grooming and bathing to stay happy and healthy.
Frenchies are perfect for seniors living in apartments because they are quiet, easygoing, and do well with other people and pets. Frenchies shed an average amount and don’t require much grooming. However, while they need a daily walk, like pugs, French bulldogs can overheat and don’t do well in warm weather.
Surprisingly, Italian greyhounds are one of the best dogs for seniors because their
sensitive and playful nature makes them loving companions. Plus, they are small enough to curl up in your lap and have some of the lowest grooming needs of any breed.
Adopting an older Italian grayhound may work best for seniors, as younger ones still require multiple daily walks. Of course, older “Iggies” still need daily exercise, but if they’re given time to sprint around an enclosed yard or field, they will be ready to relax on the couch at the end of the day.
Things To Consider Before Getting One Of The Best Dogs For Seniors
When figuring out the best dogs for seniors, it’s essential to step back and consider a few things beforehand. Doing so will ensure you give your four-legged friend the best possible life.
Some low-energy dogs only need a short walk to satisfy their exercise needs. Others are bursting with stamina and require several hours of intense playtime and walking. Therefore, finding a dog with an energy level that matches yours will make it much easier to care for it.
Seniors who are less active or mobile may find some breeds too energetic for their lifestyle.
Walking your pup is a great way to stay in shape regardless of the activity your dog needs. In addition, for seniors who have arthritis or other joint problems, finding arthritic-friendly leashes will alleviate some discomfort from holding onto a strap.
The size of your pet may be the deciding factor when picking a dog. For example, do you live in an apartment or a house with a yard? If you live in an apartment, a large dog may not enjoy the limited space to explore, and both of you may feel cramped.
Smaller breeds are some of the best dogs for seniors because they are less likely to cause falls by jumping up on people or pulling on the leash during outings. Additionally, their small size makes them lighter, easier to transport, and generally have fewer medical expenses than larger pooches.
Adopting a puppy is incredibly tempting. After all, who can resist those adorable eyes and cute little whimpers? However, seniors should remember that puppies need much more care and attention than adult dogs. In addition, housetraining, higher energy levels, and other things might cause stress for seniors who don’t have the time or ability to train them.
Community or Apartment Rules
Some residential or retirement communities may only allow specific types of dogs. So before adopting a new dog, it is important to check any rules about dog ownership. For example, some places may not allow large dogs or breeds like pit bulls and rottweilers.
The last major thing to consider is the health of certain breeds. Some types, like pugs and other flat-faced dogs, are brachycephalic and might be more high maintenance than you can afford. It’s important to consider the breed’s health to avoid paying more for vet bills than you can manage.
MeetCaregivers Can Help
It can take time to decide which breeds make the best dogs for seniors. Still, if you carefully consider your situation and health, you’re sure to find the perfect companion.
If you or a loved one needs companionship but aren’t allowed to own a pet, MeetCaregivers can help. We prioritize strong, positive relationships between caregivers and seniors and match based on personality and interests (not just care needs and availability).
Visit our Blog for more resources to support seniors and caregivers.
- American Kennel Club. (n.d.). Dog Breeds. Dog Breeds – Types Of Dogs – American Kennel Club. Retrieved March 3, 2019, from https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/
- Marrs, M. (2018, April 18). 12 Best Dogs For Seniors: Top Dogs For Seniors & Elderly. 12 Best Dogs for Seniors: Top Dogs for Seniors and Elderly Owners. Retrieved March 3, 2019, from https://www.k9ofmine.com/best-dogs-for-seniors/