Dogs make some of the most fantastic companion animals, especially for senior citizens.
Choosing the right dog breed if you are a senior citizen is a critical step. You need to take into consideration the dog’s size, temperament, grooming requirements, and more! Take the time to ensure you pick a dog that will work well with your lifestyle and be compatible with your personality and needs.
There are many different breeds, temperaments, and styles of dogs that could be a good choice for seniors. Keep reading to learn all about them!
Why Dogs Make Great Companions For Seniors
Dogs have long been known to be “man’s best friend” and for good reason.
They have been our hunting partners, our friends, our children’s playmates, our protection system, and so much more for thousands of years.
After my grandfather passed away, my grandma grew to become very lonely. This broke our hearts to witness. We got her a dog and this helped tremendously.
Having a dog in the home can truly help seniors deal with loneliness and can also improve their health.
My grandmother’s quality of life greatly increased when her dog became a part of her life. She was happy and filled with joy again.
Something all the gold in the world wouldn’t be able to be as valuable as the joy she experienced from her pet dog.
Benefits of Owning a Dog For a Senior Citizen
Having a pet dog can:
- Reduce stress levels and increase happiness
- Lower our blood pressure
- Decrease feelings of loneliness
- Increase our activity levels
- Provide emotional and trauma support or those who suffer from PTSD
How to Choose a Dog For a Senior
When you are choosing a dog for either yourself to enjoy in your golden years or for someone you love, you want to make sure you get the right dog… the first time.
Here are a couple of tips to help you choose the right dog and keep everyone happy.
When choosing a dog breed specifically for family members who are seniors, you want to make sure you pick a breed that has moderate energy levels and is suited to a more relaxed lifestyle.
Low-maintenance Dogs with Lower Activity Needs
This will be a very important aspect of choosing a dog. There are many breeds of dogs that do not need much exercise to stay healthy.
Dogs That Enjoy Smaller Spaces Like Apartments
Many small dog breeds and even a few larger breeds enjoy and even prefer smaller areas.
These dogs would be ideal for older individuals who are looking for great lap dogs to spend time with.
Dogs With Less Grooming Requirements
Choosing a dog with relatively few grooming needs or upkeep requirements is another great idea.
Dogs with shorter coats tend to require less grooming and maintenance than dogs who have long coats or thick double coats.
Every dog generally needs some sort of maintenance whether that be weekly baths or regular brushing.
If you or your loved one has a dog or has more than they can handle care requirements many options are available for professional grooming or dog walkers to come to your home.
What are the Best Dogs for Senior Citizens?
In this section, I am going to discuss the personalities and characteristics of some of the best dog breeds for older people.
We put the mighty Beagal on our list mainly because it is fairly small in size and an affectionate companion. They are super friendly dogs and very sociable.
Keep in mind though, that the Beagal, with its high energy level, could be too much for some seniors to deal with on a daily basis.
The Beagle has a short coat so is easy to groom.
These dogs may be little but their personalities are said to be “larger than life.”
They are also one of the best choices for anyone who may have dog sensitivities or allergies as they are considered hypoallergenic dogs.
The Bichon Frise are also known to be very friendly and adaptable dogs.
Boston Terriers have earned the nickname “The American Gentlemen” due to their calm, collected, and respectable nature and attitude.
They would make a great dog for someone who enjoys a moderate amount of activity. They are small, compact dogs who lead fairly healthy and long lives.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
They are low-maintenance dogs that are happy to just do whatever you are doing, along with being very cute.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is considered to be the best of both worlds, between a larger sporting dog and a small toy breed.
I don’t think any list of good dogs for seniors would be complete without a mention of the amazing Chihuahua!
Chihuahuas come in long and short-haired versions, and apple or deer-headed versions.
They are tiny, sweet, and take with you everywhere-sized dogs that enjoy constant companionship with their owners.
Chihuahuas require minimal exercise and food making them reasonable and affordable companion dogs for elderly individuals.
Cocker Spaniels are very kind and loving dogs who would make the perfect furry friend or companion for anyone in just about any situation.
They are sweet and well-mannered dogs who have few, if ever, behavioral issues.
Cocker Spaniels are prone to certain health conditions, so make sure you adopt or purchase a dog wisely when looking into a Cocker.
The amazing Dachshund has always been a big favorite for older adults as it is small and lively so a lot of fun to have around the house. They also act as a great watchdog!
There are long-coat and short-coat versions and they also take well to living in small spaces such as an apartment.
Please note though that Dachshunds tend to ‘rule’ the house and can be bossy at times.
The French Bulldog or “Frenchie” is one of the most lovable and enjoyable small dogs. They are a best friend and entertainment system all in one.
They look similar to a bulldog but with larger, more erect ears. They are commonly loved and owned by people who live in apartments or cities.
The Frenchie is extremely adaptable and healthy.
Golden’s have long been known as excellent family dogs, but they also make great dogs for seniors as well.
They are among some of the most intelligent dog breeds of all time and are low-maintenance dogs.
Golden Retrievers are mixed with a lot of other breeds, one example is the beautiful Goldendoodle.
They will tend to have more energy and need more space than some other breeds due to their retriever bloodlines. They are medium-large sized dogs.
Italian Greyhounds are cute, small dogs that are descended from greyhounds. They have many of the same characteristics and traits of the greyhound but in minuscule formation.
Italian Greyhounds are very loving dogs but do require a warmer climate or jackets during colder months. They are notorious snugglers and couch potatoes.
They do well in moderate to smaller living areas and live relatively healthy lives.
The “Lab” is more than likely America’s most favored dog breed of all time.
The lab is gentle-natured, great with kids and adults alike, enjoys lounging and playing, and is exceptionally easygoing.
Labs are also commonly cross-bred with many, many other breeds of dogs which makes finding them or a cross-breed lab easy to find.
Labs love attention, treats, and their families.
The Lhasa Apso is a small dog that originally lived within the palaces and places of worship among Buddhists.
They are gentle and peaceful dogs that enjoy time spent on the laps of their loved ones.
Lhasa Apso dogs have long coats, so they will require a generous amount of grooming, but other than that small flaw they make great companion dogs.
The Maltese is a favorite of many seniors due to their small size and beautiful fluffy white coat! These are very loving dogs and are always a conversation starter.
Just be advised that while the Maltese is a beautiful dog they do require a lot of grooming to stay that way! A senior citizen may need help in that area.
Mini Schnauzers are easy to care for and are generally very healthy dogs.
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Commonly just referred to as the “Corgi” it is a happy-go-lucky little dog that is known for its intelligence, loyalty, fun-loving attitude, and extremely short legs.
The Corgi has plenty of energy for short to moderate walks or outings but enjoys time spent laying next to the fire on a cold day just as much.
They are extremely versatile and enjoy both adventure and time at home.
They have plenty of energy to keep up with an active lifestyle, but your lap is going to be their favorite spot. They have interesting and personable personalities and are easy to care for.
The Pug dog is small and compact, low maintenance, and can be very loving! Pugs also provide a lot of entertainment with their somewhat silly nature and antics.
Very commonly called the “Scottie” this little, black, highlands dog is playful, full of spirit, and is also hypoallergenic.
This makes them a great choice for someone sensitive or allergic to dogs. They have a decent amount of energy but do not need much exercise to keep them happy and healthy.
Short walks or letting them run in your backyard or play with a toy would keep them very happy.
These small-sized dogs are lovable and are one of the most common and best dogs for seniors. They have happy and lovable personalities and enjoy spending time with their owners.
Shih Tzu dogs do have long hair so they will require more grooming than some other breeds, but they are otherwise fairly easy to care for and keep.
West Highland White Terrier
The “Westie” is another great dog breed. They are among some of the sturdiest and easiest to care for and maintain smaller dogs you will find.
They were originally bred to hunt small rodents so you will need to make sure you have a safe area for them to be as they tend to chase things.
The West Highland White Terrier is extremely intelligent and lovable and makes great companions who also enjoy traveling.
Yorkies are beautiful and elegant, silky-feeling, toy-sized dogs. They love to be with their people, perched on a comfortable blanket, or out enjoying a short stroll.
They are dogs that will want to be with their human companions all the time, so they make great and easy to care for companions for elderly individuals.
Yorkies are low maintenance but some can tend to be a little yappy at times.
Any of the dogs on this list would be a great choice depending on your lifestyle and other needs in a pet. Each breed has pros and cons, but there are many wonderful options to choose from.
How to Purchase or Adopt a Dog For Seniors
If you decide to purchase a dog or puppy you will want to find a reputable breeder. You can check the American Kennel Club or AKC for a list of dog breeds and breeders.
If you choose to adopt you can call or visit a local shelter and discuss your needs with one of the adoption specialists at the facility.
They will walk you through the process and aid you in choosing the right dog.
Top 10 Reasons a Senior Citizen Should Get a Dog
There are many good reasons a dog is a smart decision for a senior citizen but here is a list of our top ten!
- Emotional support – Having a dog can really cheer you up at times!
- Protection and security – A dog will be a great alarm system and also help you feel safer.
- Unconditional love – Your dog will give you love you no matter what!
- Not being lonely – You will always have someone there to talk to!
- Exercise – Having a dog will force you to be more active.
- Companionship – Your dog will be your best friend who is always there!
- Structure and routine – You will need to take care of your dog each day.
- Social – A dog can always be a conversation starter and a chance to meet new people.
- Keep your mind active – Dogs will keep your attention!
- Sense of responsibility – You will have the sense of being that someone counts on you.
Should senior citizens get a puppy or an older dog?
Getting a puppy is a lot of work for just about anyone as the puppy is working through their puppy stages and phases.
Everyone is different and has different needs when they are looking for a dog.
Whether or not a senior should be advised to get a puppy or not will depend on the individual, their time commitment level, energy levels, and plans for the future.
Puppies can require a lot of attention
Puppies are a lot of work, time, care, and commitment, but can be very rewarding to raise for many people.
Older dogs have health issues
Older dogs are another great option for seniors, but they also present their own sets of pros and cons. Older dogs may need more visits to the vet or have health issues.
They also may deal with incontinence issues but the same can be said for many small dog breeds.
Whatever age of dog you or your loved one chooses will be dependent on many different factors, each dog is an individual as well
Can my dog be trained as a guide if I become disabled?
More than likely, yes, your dog can be trained to become a service dog or emotional support dog. You can even find dogs that are already trained from their puppyhood to be service dogs.
You do want to keep in mind that if you already have a senior dog or a dog that has had very little training, they may not be the most suited to service.
They could still be considered a companion though and may have special licensing or adherence you may be entitled to.
What dog breeds are not good for seniors?
In our opinion, it is probably best to stay away from dogs that tend to be aggressive, are large and powerful, and require a lot of grooming or care.
This may include dogs such as the Chow Chow, German Shepherds, Pit Bulls, and Rottweilers to name a few.
Seniors Love Having a Dog
Choosing the right dog for your loved one or yourself can sometimes be a challenging process but in the end, it is always worth it to find a beloved companion to have by your side!
I hope that this article was insightful and able to provide practical and helpful insight into which breeds of dog would be best suited for senior citizens.
Wishing you a wonderful day and good luck in finding a dog!