Choosing the right type of dog is always a big decision. Each individual will have a unique set of preferences and needs, so they’ll need a breed or mix that possesses qualities that align with them properly.
This decision is even more important if you’re an older person looking for a new pooch or looking for a dog for an elderly member of your family. To help you make the right decision, we explain some important factors you should consider when searching for a dog for a senior.
Not only will we go over some of the important breed characteristics that tend to make a dog breed a good match for a senior citizen, but we’ll also go over some of the best dogs for seniors!
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Dog for a Senior
Before we get into specific breeds, let’s go over some of the important factors you should consider if you’re looking for a breed that will mesh well with an elderly person:
While most people think the main difference between dog breeds is their physical characteristics, there are also many temperamental differences between one breed and the next.
For seniors, you’ll want to choose a friendly breed that’s both gentle and easy to train. While every dog will have its unique personality, there are certainly some breeds that tend to be calmer and more relaxed than others.
As you might know, some breeds are far more energetic than others. Seniors tend to have a slower lifestyle than younger adults, so you should look for a breed that doesn’t need as much daily exercise as others.
For example, a highly energetic Siberian Husky isn’t going to be a good match for a slow-moving senior citizen, but a relaxed Shih Tzu will only need brief daily walks, which would be a much better fit for an elderly person.
Seniors usually prefer smaller dogs, as they can comfortably sit on an elderly person’s lap.
A smaller breed will not physically overwhelm the elderly person, either. In many cases, big dogs don’t realize how big they are, especially when they’re young. They can jump up and potentially injure elderly people that are less stable on their feet.
Physical size is also a consideration if the senior citizen has a smaller home or apartment. Many people downsize their homes as they approach their golden years, and it makes sense to choose a smaller breed that will be more comfortable in a smaller space.
Typically, a low-maintenance dog is a better option for seniors. Where some of the larger, double-coated breeds need to be bathed, brushed, and trimmed on a very regular basis, some breeds are far easier to manage, which is usually better for an elderly dog owner.
The Best Dog Breeds for Seniors
Now that we’ve discussed some of the factors that can make a dog breed more suitable for dog ownership for an older person, let’s explore some of our top picks for the best dog breeds for senior owners:
1. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
While the Welsh Corgi is one of the more active breeds on our list, they’re still a great match for seniors that enjoy taking daily walks outdoors. This breed is a smaller dog and known for its cute face, short legs, and devoted personality.
Given that Corgis are the breed of choice of one of the most famous seniors on the planet, Queen Elizabeth II, it’s no surprise that they continue to be a popular breed amongst elderly dog lovers.
Corgis usually weigh about 20 to 30 pounds, a manageable size for most seniors. They’re sociable but also can be very protective of their owners. They’re somewhat energetic but also enjoy snuggling up and relaxing, making them a great companion.
As for grooming requirements, Corgis have double coats and need frequent grooming. With that said, they tend to sit still during grooming sessions, so it can be a fairly relaxing experience for the dog and its senior owner!
2. Shih Tzu
These unique pups are one of the most popular breeds on the planet for elderly dog owners, and there are many good reasons for this. For starters, they’re incredibly gentle and affectionate. They enjoy snuggling up with their owner, so they’re the ideal lap dog.
Another reason for the popularity of the Shih Tzu among elderly dog owners is that they’re very quiet. Shih Tzus rarely bark, which is a nice trait for dog owners that prefer a quiet and calm lifestyle.
In terms of exercise, Shih Tzus need a daily walk, but they don’t need to go far. Most Shih Tzus prefer to spend most of their day relaxing and napping.
If you have grandchildren, you’ll also be happy to learn that they’re an incredibly child-friendly breed. With proper socialization training, you can trust your Shih Tzu to safely play with grandchildren and others.
They do need to be brushed regularly, but they actually shed very little, so they’re still considered a fairly low-maintenance breed.
These funny little dogs are a great option for seniors. Not only do they love spending time curled up with their owner, but they’re also incredibly loyal.
They have a very calm temperament and tend to enjoy spending the majority of their day snoozing, snuggling, and quietly playing indoors. Pugs also prefer brief strolls rather than lengthy walks, which can work better for seniors with limited mobility and stamina.
They’re also easy to train and can be very well-behaved dogs with basic obedience and socialization training. While they’re fairly easy-going dogs, they do tend to snore quite a bit, as their flat face and restricted nostrils can impact their breathing.
If you like the unique look of a Pug, you might find this breed to be an excellent companion dog.
Pugs are also often bred with other fun-loving breeds to make them even better lapdogs. We wrote about the 15 Best Pug Mixed Breeds, and we gotta say, they’re adorable!
4. Miniature Schnauzer
These dogs tend to be very friendly and loyal. They’re also obedient, especially when they’re trained properly. Many dog owners find that they can teach their Mini Schnauzer basic obedience commands in just a few training sessions.
They’re active dogs, but their small stature means they don’t need long walks. If you have a backyard, you’ll find that your Miniature Schnauzer can get the majority of its exercise playing outside on its own.
One of the best qualities of this breed is how easy they are to care for. Their coat is low maintenance, and they’re also hypoallergenic, which means they shed very little. You’ll need to brush your Mini Schnauzer’s fur if you want to avoid matting and tangles, but this is fairly easy and doesn’t take long.
If you like the idea of a cute, bearded pooch with a friendly personality, you can’t go wrong with a Miniature Schnauzer.
Maltese are one of the most popular dog breeds amongst elderly dog owners. They are extremely affectionate and gentle, making them the perfect match for seniors with a slow-paced lifestyle.
They’re true lapdogs that enjoy spending their time snuggled up with their owner. A Maltese dog often acts as a therapy dog, which should tell you everything you need to know about this best dog breed for seniors.
Their coats are also really soft, which is why so many elderly people find them so soothing and relaxing to touch and pet. Their soft and silky coat also sheds very little, which means they’re easy to care for.
With that said, an occasional clipping and regular grooming session with a professional groomer will help your Maltese dog look its best.
These cute little dogs also have fairly limited energy levels, so you’ll only need to take your pooch out for a short walk each day. If you’re looking for a dog with all of the qualities that make a breed suitable for elderly owners, look no further than the Maltese!
Speaking of therapy dogs, we wrote a post about the Best Dogs for Anxiety. Some of these breeds would even make great companions for seniors concerned with mental health!
6. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
These little dogs are also a great option for senior dog owners, as they’re incredibly intelligent, gentle, and quiet. They tend to be happy around people and other dogs, which can be a major advantage for elderly dog owners.
They have a truly regal appearance, which explains their royal-sounding name. While their coat looks like it would be a lot of work, it’s fairly easy to care for. With a few brushings per week, your King Charles Spaniel can look fantastic.
That said, they’re susceptible to ear infections, so you may need to clean their ears every once in a while.
Another reason why the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a great option for elderly dog owners is that their energy level tends to match that of their owner.
Younger and more active dog owners will find that their Spaniel enjoys keeping up with them, while slower-paced, elderly owners will find that their King Charles is content with a much slower pace.
These stunning little dogs like curling up with their owners for a scratch, and they can be wonderful companions.
7. Miniature Poodle
Miniature Poodles are incredibly intelligent, which means they’re easy to train. Not only are these little dogs usually a very obedient breed, but they’re also very friendly and eager to please their owners.
Poodles are truly one of the best dogs for seniors because they barely shed. Their coat requires very little work, which is helpful for seniors that don’t have the time or energy to spend hours each day cleaning up fallen fur.
These companion dogs form a strong bond with their owners, which is a trait that many seniors enjoy. They require a daily walk, but they’re otherwise happy to spend the day napping and laying with their owner.
If you’re looking for a highly intelligent breed that doesn’t require very much work, a Miniature Poodle is a great option. While younger couples might prefer the full-sized version of the breed, the miniature variety is usually a better fit for seniors.
There you have it, the best dogs for seniors! While big dogs can be affectionate members of the family, the lapdogs on our list have the ideal temperament, size, and care suitable for elderly owners. No matter which dog you choose for your elderly family member, or for yourself, all of these breeds are a safe and fun bet!
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