Dogs make great companions throughout our lives, but as we age, sometimes the type of dog that fits best in our lifestyle can change, especially as we grow older. While dogs are great at providing company and unconditional love, some pooches (especially those with a ton of energy!) can be overwhelming for those with a less active lifestyle.
In this article we will look at different breeds to find the dog that best fits your lifestyle – specifically, the best dogs for seniors! No matter what your level of activity, there is a perfect pooch for you!
Factors to Consider When Getting a Pooch
If you’re a senior thinking about bringing a four-legged friend into your life, be sure to consider these factors when selecting a new buddy.
Energy Level: For seniors that are leading less active lifestyles, a dog with lower energy levels will be an ideal companion for you. Some pooches only require one or two short walks a day, this is a great way to keep you both healthy while still being manageable! Dogs with lower energy levels are also more apt to want to cuddle up with you while you’re reading a book or sitting by a fire!
Size: Dogs that are smaller can be much easier to manage. With a little pooch, you won’t have to worry about them jumping up on you and knocking you over, or pulling too hard on the leash. They are also easier to transport, whether you are going for a short trip or taking them to the vet. And as an added bonus, they tend to have cheaper medical costs than larger dogs!
Adult vs Puppy: Puppies have much higher energy levels and require a lot of attention – not to mention, puppies need to be house trained. For many seniors, adopting an older dog that is already trained is a good choice, as you can just focus on enjoying time with your pooch without worrying about your house being destroyed! You can also feel good about adopting an older dog that is less likely to find a good home since many people want to adopt puppies.
Community: For elderly people that live in communities, there may be residential guidelines for what types of pets you’re allowed to have! Some communities only allow pets under a certain size, while in other places certain controversial breeds are banned, such as pit bulls.
Health: Some dogs are more likely to have expensive health problems than others. For example, breeds such as Dachshunds are prone to back problems and Miniature Schnauzers have higher chances than other breeds of developing diabetes.
Best Dogs For Seniors and the Elderly
We’ve compiled a list of the dogs we’d recommend as the best dogs for seniors, due to their easy maintenance and relatively low energy (for the most part). Of course this list isn’t exclusive – there are plenty of other breeds that would work great with elderly owners!
Shelter dogs and mixed breeds are also fine choices, so long as you assess their energy and care requirements and consider how those needs will fit in with your lifestyle.
This hypoallergenic dog breed averages 4 to 7 pounds with a long life expectancy of 15 to 18 years. Very portable, the Maltese is bred to be a perfect lapdog and companion animal. Maltese’s tend to be incredibly affectionate and intelligent, making them very receptive to training. This is a great dog for someone who is looking for a loving, attentive snuggle buddy!
With this breed there are several health issues to consider, such as glaucoma, liver defects, and “shaker dog syndrome.” These can be partially avoided by carefully choosing a breeder when looking for your new pooch!
While Maltese’s require a certain amount of grooming, their hair makes them great for someone with allergies. And with all pets, it is important to keep your pup healthy by maintaining proper weight, diet, and exercise!
Pugs are a super gentle, affectionate breed whose playful, inquisitive natures make them an endearing and lovable companion. Pugs usually weigh between 14 and 18 pounds, and often live to be 13 to 15 years old. Moderately active, pugs love to go for walks, but are also happy to snuggle up to you on the couch! In fact, pugs really shouldn’t engage in strenuous activity due to their breathing issues (which result from their snubbed noses).
While pugs can suffer from eye problems and breathing issues, they are a generally healthy breed – though it is important to keep an eye on their weight as they are voracious eaters. As with other purebred dogs, it is wise to go through a reputable breeder – some even do genetic testing to reduce the chances of your pup developing certain diseases.
Pugs are short-haired and, while not hypoallergenic, they require minimal grooming, making them a low-maintenance and cost-effective option for a companion animal. Small, but sturdy, pugs pack a lot of personality in their little bodies!
Beagles are known for being sweet, gentle, independent, and energetic (not to mention it’s the breed of Snoopy). While intelligent, beagles can be stubborn and curious, which may require creativity and extensive training! With an average weight of 24 pounds and an average life expectancy of 14 years, these hound dogs make great furry companions. Naturally a pack dog, beagles are social and usually do well being around other dogs!
This breed has moderate to high energy, and does well with multiple walks per day or being able to run around in a backyard. Beagles also thrive on lots of attention and stimulation. This would be a good breed for someone looking for a fun hiking companion!
Beagles enjoy good health and, while they are not hypoallergenic, they have short coats that are easy to care for. It is important to keep an eye on your beagles’ diet however, as they tend to love their food! While small, beagles are quite sturdy and enjoy a wide variety of activities.
Chihuahua’s average 3 to 6 pounds and can live a long life of around 18 years. A lively, loyal,
quirky breed, chihuahua’s can have a wide variety of personality traits. Very small and easy to carry or transport (they can easily fit in a carrier purse), this breed can be a cuddly, affectionate snuggler perfect for someone who isn’t looking for a dog that needs a lot of exercise or long walks.
Chihuahua’s are generally a healthy breed, but, as with all purebred dogs, it is important to find a reputable breeder. With their short coats, grooming is fairly simple and easy. However, they are not hypoallergenic!
Because Chihuahuas are so small, they have very tiny bladders. With this breed it can be a good idea to try a litter box or have doggie pee pads somewhere in the house for them to be able to relieve themselves in an acceptable place.
This breed is very small and fragile, and can be prone to barking due to their often nervous nature.
5. Boston Terrier
Boston Terriers are 10 to 25 pound dogs with a life expectancy of around 12 years. A smart, playful breed, your Boston Terrier is sure to have a colorful personality! A very affectionate and friendly, Boston Terriers make excellent companions that are happy to be with you whether you enjoy lots of walks or are more apt to enjoy a leisurely day in your living room.
Because Boston Terriers are brachycephalic (short headed), they can be prone to health issues such as breathing difficulties. And be warned, they may also snore! Other than respiratory issues, Boston Terriers are sturdy dogs that can lead long, healthy lives with the right care!
Proper brushing is always good to maintain with any pooch, but Boston Terriers have short coats that are relatively low-maintenance and won’t shed a ton; however, they are not a hypoallergenic breed.
Older Owner Tips
Dog companionship is great for any age, but there are a few consideration older owners should keep in mind:
Dog Manners & Training. Due to less balance and a higher fall risk, senior owners need to devote more time to training. A dog that jumps up when you come in the door with your hands full of groceries, or a dog that yanks you across the street isn’t just an annoyance – it can be a serious danger. Make sure to find a reputable dog trainer in your area to ensure your furry friend is polite and well-behaved.
Consider Arthritic-Friendly Leashes. Traditional leashes can be quite uncomfortable for owners with arthritis, so try to opt for special dog leashes for arthritic hands that feature additional padding and a more comfortable grip.
Walks & Physical Activity. Dogs need a fair amount of physical activity each day, so make sure you’re up for the task. There are low energy dog breeds who don’t require as much physical exertion, but even these dogs need at least a short walk each day and potty breaks. If you can’t exercise your dog yourself, there are dog walking services that can help, but be sure to take into account the additional cost.
Thinking Ahead. Older owners should also make sure to consider what will happen to the dog if they end up needing to move into a care facility that does not allow pets. Is there a friend or child who would be willing to take the dog if something unexpected happens? Are there care facilities nearby that do allow pets? Take all this into consideration if you’re thinking about adopting a new friend.
Written by Meg Marrs
Meg Marrs is the Founder and Director of Marketing at K9 of Mine. She is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! She loves iced coffee, hammocks, and puppy-cuddling!