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Best Dog Breeds for Elderly People

July 21st, 2021

Finding the perfect furry friend can be an extremely rewarding experience. Dog ownership has a number of benefits and can provide strong companionship for humans, which is really important for elderly people, especially those who are living alone or have recently retired. 

Deciding on the best dog breed for an elderly person is an important step in the process. Whether you’re an experienced owner looking for an active dog or you would prefer a mellow dog that spends most of the day curled up on the couch, there are a number of things you need to consider before bringing your new friend home. 

Here, we take a look at what you need to think about when choosing a dog breed and some of the best dog breeds for older people. 

What To Consider When Choosing a Dog Breed for Elderly People? 

Age alone should not be a barrier to having a dog. Instead, it is important to see whether your lifestyle matches the needs of the dog. Aspects like the energy level, temperament, and age of the dog are the most important parts to consider. Some dogs are strong-willed and need a lot of training, whereas others are of a more laid back disposition and are perfect for owners of all experience levels. Most importantly, a dog’s temperament needs to gel with your personality in order for you both to get the most out of the companionship. 

dog with elderly couple

If you are retired and have a lot of time, consider giving a rescue dog a chance. They long for a caring home to settle down in and often, they have a lot of love to give. Seeing rescue dogs gain your trust, grow, and learn is a beautiful experience that is certainly worth the commitment.   

Low Maintenance, Small Dog Breeds for Seniors   

As a senior looking for a dog, it is generally best to look for an easy-going breed that can adapt to your living situation and space. This often means having a small dog like the Shih Tzu, French Bulldog, and the Yorkshire Terrier – these breeds enjoy moderate exercise and simply enjoy being in your company.

1. Shih Tzu

This small breed was bred solely for human companionship making them a number one family pet. “Shih Tzu” translates to “little lion” and they are known for showing unconditional love to those close to them. They are also really versatile pets and can adapt to your lifestyle, from curling up on your lap to enjoying the great outdoors. 

If you like this breed be sure to offer short daily walks and interactive puzzles to keep them physically and mentally occupied.

2. French Bulldog

An easy-going companion who is alert and affectionate, French Bulldogs are lively but not overwhelmingly so. This breed needs a daily walk or a few short walks to keep them happy. Make sure you can spend a lot of time with your “frenchie” as they enjoy spending time with their companion and aren’t tolerant of being left for long periods.                                                                                                                                          

3. Yorkshire Terriers 

“Yorkies” are small in stature but have a quirky personality, making them a feisty but affectionate companions. Due to their small size, they are the perfect dogs for small apartments or assisted living. Although they are generally low maintenance they will need a groom every few months. 

The Best Companion Dogs for Retired People 

Senior person with dog

If you are newly retired, still active, and looking to take your four-legged friend on many adventures then breeds like the West Highland White Terrier, Staffordshire Terrier, and King Charles Spaniel are perfect. 

 1. West Highland White Terrier 

“Westies” are a truly loyal breed. They are also full of character and are known for their stubborn, bold nature. Do not be fooled by their small build though, these sturdy dogs are very active and are at their happiest on frequent adventures or sniffing in the long grass. Surprisingly, these little dogs have a ferocious bark and will let you know of anyone passing by. 

Westies certainly will not appreciate being lapdogs and can exhibit bad behaviour if not occupied! They need at least two 25 minutes walks a day so bear this in mind.

 2. Staffordshire Bull Terrier 

Despite their bad reputation, staffies are sweet-natured, gentle dogs who are well-known for their “staffy smile”. Unfortunately, staffs frequently find themselves in rescue shelters due to being in the wrong hands or having bad experiences. But this should not put you off, they often have a lot of affection to give to whoever is willing to spend time with them.

They also make great family pets, so there is no need to worry if you have young grandchildren around. They simply love being part of the family and getting involved! Again, these dogs are active so are best with someone who can take them on regular walks.

3. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel 

These sweet, gentle dogs make for perfect companions. They get along well with children and other dogs and are happy to spend time in the home or run around all day – they adapt really well to their owner’s lifestyle!

Larger Dogs for Elderly People 

Sometimes the best dogs for seniors are not just small breeds. Larger dogs are often thought of as harder to handle and maintain but this is not always the case. Some larger breeds are perfect for seniors because they are laid back by nature or because they themselves are nearing retirement age. 

Senior dog sleeping

1. Greyhound

Despite the stereotype of greyhounds being high-energy dogs, they are surprisingly laid back. They do enjoy daily walks and the opportunity to have a quick burnout, but for the most part, they love nothing more than lazing around with their companion by their side. 

For elderly people who like larger breeds but are worried about the handling of one, greyhounds can be perfect! Often, racing greyhounds find themselves in rescue shelters once they have retired, so consider visiting your local shelter if you’re looking to adopt this breed.

2. Golden Retriever 

Golden retrievers are naturally intelligent and caring dogs who are bound to get on with the whole family. Young golden retrievers need a lot of exercise, but senior ones are much more laid back and suited to elderly owners. 

These dogs are also eager to please which means they are often obedient and respond well to training and treat bribery. Do not rely on them as watchdogs though as they have a very low guard dog instinct!

Start Looking for the Best Dog Breeds for Seniors 

We hope you have found this guide to dog breeds for elderly people useful. There are many options for seniors to consider when searching for a new pet. From companion dogs, rescue dogs or senior dogs who are looking to enjoy their last years. Whatever your activity level or situation, there is a perfect dog out there waiting for a new home with you.