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Best Dog Breeds for Seniors

Reviewed by Vanessa Farner, DVM on July 08, 2021

Owning a dog has been shown to improve quality of life, increase social interactions, and improve health. Dogs also make great companions for seniors because they reduce loneliness. They also increase physical fitness and reduce anxiety. Whatever your reasons for getting a dog, there are options for you to choose from

Choosing a Dog Breed

Poodle. Poodles are smart and easily trained. They form a strong bond with their owner and love to be in a family setting. They’re very gentle and sweet animals. They don’t need a lot of exercise other than a daily walk. They don’t shed, but do need to be groomed monthly. Poodles come in three sizes: toy, mini, and standard. 

Pomeranian. Pomeranians are small soft and furry dogs. They are very affectionate and love attention. They are great for older adults who can give them plenty of time and energy. Because they have a longer coat, they need to be brushed frequently to maintain a healthy shine. Pomerianians can be stubborn but are also trainable. They have plenty of energy and can be more vocal than other dogs, which may be something to consider depending on where you live.  

Pug. Pugs are great small dogs for older adults. They love to be inside and to cuddle with their owner. They don’t need a lot of exercise and like to spend most of their time napping or with their owner. They don’t bark a lot, but they do snore. Pugs require minimal grooming, but you may need to keep wipe the wrinkles on their faces so dirt and dust doesn’t collect.  

Havanese. Havanese are small and hairy dogs. They are great for retired seniors who can spend a lot of time with them. They are very smart and easily trainable. They can even serve as therapy dogs. They are happy dogs and love to be the center of attention. They don’t require a lot of exercise. Their long coat does need frequent brushing. 

Maltese. Maltese are very small dogs which make them a great lap dog. They are intelligent, playful, and gentle. They are also frequently used as therapy dogs. They don’t need a lot of exercise but enjoy going on short walks. Their white coat doesn’t shed, but they do need brushed daily and bathed frequently. 

Golden Retriever. Golden retrievers are larger dogs, but they’re friendly and well-attuned to their owners. They do need an active lifestyle, as they love to run, hike, and swim. They love to be with their owners, and are very calm if they’ve gotten enough exercise. Golden retrievers are strong, so when training it is important not to let them pull on the leash. 

Labrador Retriever. Labrador retrievers are a very popular dog breed because of how even-tempered, friendly, and outgoing they are. They love their owners and make wonderful companions. Labs are easily trained and can serve as service dogs. They’re also larger dogs that are very energetic and need plenty of exercise. You’ll want to consider if a large dog can fit into your lifestyle.  

Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Pembroke Welsh Corgis are intelligent dogs that have a lot of energy and love pleasing their owners. They get happiness from human attention and work to please their owners. Their short legs and round body make them cute. Even though they’re small, they are herding dogs that love being outside and require daily walks. They can be known to bark a lot, so you’ll need to consider if that will be a problem where you live. 

Lifestyle Considerations

Before bringing a dog into your home there are some things you need to consider first. Finding the right dog for your lifestyle will help you both live a happy and healthy life.

Your activity Level. You’ll need to consider if you can take your dog on a daily walk and offer them playtime. Do you have family close by that can help you with your dog’s exercise needs? There are some dogs that require less exercise than others, and depending on your lifestyle may be better suited for you. 

Where you live. If you are living at home or with family, can someone else help take care of your dog if you are traveling or away? If you live in an assisted living community or senior community there may also be rules regarding what types of pets are allowed. 

The dangers of owning a pet. There are some risks that come with owning a pet. There have been incidents where owners have fallen while trying to take care of their pet. You may want to consider how you can handle a small or large dog and how much experience or resources you have for training. 

Show Sources

SOURCES: 

Aging In Place: “Seniors and Pets.”

American Kennel Club: “AKC Facts and Stats: Seniors.”

Great Senior Living: “18 Good Dogs for Seniors Who Want or Need a Furry Companion.”

The American journal of orthopsychiatry: “Another breed of “service”animals: STARS study findings about pet ownership and recovery from serious mental illness.”

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