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Which are the best dog breeds for seniors

An elderly couple with a Golden Retriever

10 dog breeds for seniors

© Shutterstock

We look at some of the best companions for the elderly among us: dogs that have lower energy levels, are easy to train, and do not mind becoming couch potatoes.

By Nick Whittle

Updated on the 08/02/2021, 13:23

Simply because some is a senior does not mean they are restricted to own certain breeds of dog. But as we progress through life we all must eventually face the fact that long, strenuous walks with a dog are not as easy as they once were.

Some elderly people will be thoroughly capable of owning a dog of any age and breed, but others may prefer the calmer breeds, and the ones that can be more easily carried and cared for. We look at which breeds of dog are the more apt choice for seniors.

Dog breeds for seniors

It is not for us to stipulate certain breeds as being the only ones appropriate for senior owners. In any case, the traits of dogs vary within and between breeds, and general statements about breed is only a guide.

Here we suggest 10 breeds that due to their character and temperament are known to fit in well with those looking for a less-than-challenging canine companion.

1. The Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu ©Shutterstock

Gentle affectionate, loving and loyal. Daily walks are a must for the Shih Tzu, but not to the top of a mountain. Low shedding fur makes for an easy clean-up.

2. The Pug

The Pug ©Shutterstock

Easily groomed and requiring of little exercise. The Pug is a born lap dog with an excellent temperament, although prone at times to a spot of jealousy.

3. The Chihuahua

The Chihuahua ©Shutterstock

Loyal and loving, the Chihuahua can be a little demanding and lively. It is a vocal breed, and one that is prone to jealousy.

4. The Poodle

The Poodle ©Shutterstock

Intelligent and trainable, the Poodle is a poplar breed due to its temperament and love of family. Grooming is essential for this dog, and ought to be undertaken by a professional.

5. The Boston Terrier

The Boston Terrier ©Shutterstock

Pleasant, friendly and infinitely trainable, the Boston Terrier is a great companion. The breed is known for its laziness and love of warm cuddles.

6. The Miniature Schnauzer

The Schnauzer ©Shutterstock

The miniature version of the Schnauzer is a friendly dog, but with a terrier temperament. As such, it enjoys cuddles but will enjoy equally rummaging in the garden or chasing anything that moves!

7. The Yorkshire Terrier

The Yorkshire terrier ©Shutterstock

Again a dog that is true to its terrier roots, the Yorkie is known for its active ways and tendency to dart off in pursuit of cats, mice, rats and badgers. On the flip side, the Yorkshire Terrier is immensely loyal.

8. The Maltese

The Maltese ©Shutterstock

A lively, excitable dog is the Maltese, but it is also a great family dog. It loves to show off and be the centre of attention, although it is also quite happy to sleep for hours on someone’s lap.

9. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles ©Shutterstock

Unlike its bigger cousins, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is laidback and quiet. It is a true companion dog and one that has adorned the laps of the good and the great for centuries.

10. Pekingese

The Pekingese ©Shutterstock

A lazy dog is the Pekingese; one that is happy to be lap-bound for the best part of the day. Some dogs may be a little vocal and nervous.

What's the most low maintenance dog?

When it comes to choosing a dog that does not ask too much of its owner we may look no further than a Bichon Frise. This biddable and pleasant dog has, for centuries, been the choice companion of people young and old who would rather own a dog that is ‘low maintenance’ (in other words, a dog that is easily groomed, cuddled, picked up and walked). 

The Bichon Frise grows only to between 9 and 12 inches tall and will weigh up to about 12 pounds (about 5.5 kilos). It is exceptionally easy to train, and wishes to please its owner at every opportunity. Its fluffy, curly white fur needs regular, but not intensive, grooming, and is most ably attended to by reputable groomers.

Are Dachshunds good dogs for seniors?

Dachshunds are renowned for their attentiveness to their owner. An adult sausage dog possesses loyal and obedient traits, which make ownership of one superbly easy. The breed’s calmness and lack of demand of fuss makes it an ideal companion to a senior owner.

Puppies are a little trickier to deal with, but young dogs of any breed will be. Instead, to adopt a grown-up Dachshund would be preferable for someone in their late life.

What is the best pet for a senior citizen?

Pets of all species require some degree of care and love. Clearly, a dog that enjoys hilltop walks first thing in the morning and last thing at night will not be 100% happy living with someone who does not get out much. Likewise, a dog that prefers rough play to calm cuddles will feel frustrated if its human companion is one who sits quietly for a large part of the day.

The best pet for a senior citizen (or for any of us) is one that should also consider US the best owner. To find that syncope is essential in order to spend quality time together. Thus, elderly people will often look for a dog that can comfortably settle in to a certain lifestyle and a later-life financial wherewithal.

Small dogs are a great choice. Dogs such as the King Charles Spaniel, Shih Tzu and Maltese are a popular choice of people over a certain age.

Wondering how best to look after a newly adopted dog? Here are five things that happen when you adopt a dog. 

What is a good dog breed for an older couple?

The answer is determined only by the couple’s combined abilities to look after a dog. Thus, energetic and very active elderly people may have no trouble at all caring for big, strong and fast dogs. Many elderly owners are even more attentive to their dogs needs than some younger owners.

Here we have compiled a checklist of what to look out for of a breed of dog when beginning the adoption process: 

Grooming

Some dogs such as the Saluki require literally hours of grooming each week. Other dogs hate to be groomed and will make things tough for whoever is tasked with attending to them. A dog that can be brushed while enjoying lap time tends to be the choice of the elderly owner. 

Size

Smaller dogs are of course more easily handled than big dogs. Are you able to carry a dog that weighs over 11 pounds? To be able to carry a dog doesn't necessarily dictate your ownership of it, but should you need to rescue the dog or carry it to a bath you may need to consider your own limitations.

Energy level

How much exercise does the dog need? Are you active and fit enough to provide the dog with the type of activities it enjoys. If not, a dog that enjoys cuddles more than CrossFit may be for you.

Age

Puppies are harder to look after than grown-up dogs, but they are no less loveable! Puppies tend to be more active and agile than adult dogs, and they will need to be trained and socialised. A grown-up dog will hopefully be house-trained and more able to understand the rules of your house.

Is the Poodle the breed for you? 

When we consider the points above, the breed that stands out as a perfect mix of companion and easy-going dog is the Poodle. The poodle possesses intelligence and loyalty, and it is easy to train.

Toy Poodles tend to be more active and a little cheekier than the larger standard, but they are no less enjoyable to be around.

As a bonus trait, the Poodle does not moult its fur. It may require regularly grooming, but it will not leave a floor or sofa covered in dander.

At what age are you too old to get a puppy?

You are never too old to get a puppy. As long as an elderly person is physically able to look after the puppy properly there is no bar to ownership. Puppies require quite a bit of intensive care and attention, and an owner will find themselves more active than ever in their bid to clean up after the new arrivals. However, many people young and old relish the challenge of owning a puppy.

A dog that is ‘good’ for a senior must surely be one that matches closely its owner's lifestyle. A dog that is happy and content to sit on laps and be petted is the perfect choice of someone who enjoys doing those things, and who cannot offer long and strenuous walks.

The benefits to both dog and owner are only apparent when each receives from the other only what is needed. A dog that is hyperactive and energetic will not be happy in the house of someone sedentary, but nor will its owner be happy.

Research and understanding the traits of certain dogs will inform the prospective owner, regardless of their age.

Frequently asked questions

When an elderly person dies what happens to their dog?

Can dogs be happy doing nothing?

What time of the day is best for a dog walk?