Best Dog Breeds for Seniors

Growing older comes with a series of changes. Feelings of loneliness and depression, as well as a decline in physical health may become more common. As such, seniors who are going through the motions of aging may consider having a pet to make it through these rough transitions. Dogs, in particular, are fantastic pets for seniors. After all, there's a reason they are are called man's best friend.

Looking for ways to improve one's overall senior health may be challenging, but there is evidence to prove just how beneficial dogs for seniors are. Studies among pet owners show that one of the most important and prominent benefits of pet ownership is unconditional love. Aside from this, there are also several other physical, mental, and emotional benefits of taking care of a dog.

Retirees may find comfort and companionship in their dogs, enhancing their overall quality of life during their golden years. Still uncertain of what the specific benefits are or what dog breeds are best for seniors? Read on to learn more!

The Benefits of Dog Ownership for Seniors

Increased Chances of Exercise

Seniors need at least 2-3 hours of moderate-level activity every week. Dogs are a fun way for seniors to keep active, whether through playing catch or taking them along for a walk. You can do this at your own pace, and your furry friend will definitely be happy to explore outdoors with you. All this activity can lessen the number of trips to your doctor, and even reduce your body mass index.

Reduced Blood Pressure

Statistics have shown that caring for a pet dog has numerous physical health benefits, such as reduced blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol levels. The simple act of petting a dog can also reduce cortisol levels, which is the primary stress hormone.

Establishment of a Routine

Caring for a pet allows senior citizens to establish a routine. Structure gives them security, peace of mind, and a sense of purpose. This is especially true if you live alone or if you have grown-up kids who no longer live with you. Having a routine also gives you something to look forward to each day.

Improved Mental Health

Dogs can ameliorate feelings of loneliness and depression as they provide you with companionship. Having a pet who is always around to accompany you as you go about your day can help you feel less alone. Senior citizens can also meet new people through their dogs, especially when they go on neighborhood walks. One's mental health can improve due to these newfound connections.

Top Picks for the Best Dogs for Seniors

To bring you one step closer towards meeting your furry companion, we have created a list of some of the best dog breeds for seniors. You or your loved one can choose among lap dogs, larger dogs, low maintenance breeds, and energy-filled playmates. Rest assured, the right dog is out there waiting for you.

Best Lap Dog: Maltese

  • Small breed that grows up to 7 lbs. Its height is around 8-10 inches.
  • Minimal outdoor exercise needed
  • Does not shed a lot but needs daily brushing

The Maltese is one of these best lap dogs, and this small breed only grows up to about 7 lbs. They are very attentive to their owners' moods, and are even used as therapy dogs. They are alert towards their surroundings, and are playful and intelligent. A Maltese will also get along with other pets in the house. They can do with minimal outdoor exercise, and will manage with short walks and play time.

This dog breed does not shed a lot, but its beautiful white coat needs to be brushed daily. You can also have them professionally groomed once in a while. Maltese are prone to tear stains, so attending to these will also be part of your grooming routine. This dog is easy to train, and you can bring them around with you with no trouble at all. Maltese also have a long life expectancy of 12-15 years.

Best Hypoallergenic Dog: Bichon Frise

  • Small breed with a weight of about 12 lbs as an adult. Its height is around 9-12 inches.
  • Moderate activity levels with brief and simple exercise needs
  • Low maintenance grooming as they do not shed a lot

Bichon Frises are fantastic companion dogs for retirees who want a smaller breed. They only reach about 12 lbs, and 9-12 inches in height when they are fully grown. Bichons only require moderate amounts of exercise on the daily. They simply crave for companionship and are happy to just be around their owners. This is why they're great indoor pets and are satisfied with staying at home.

Bichons love to show affection towards their owners, and their cotton ball looks make them perfectly cuddly. They surprisingly do not shed a lot, so only low maintenance grooming is required. You may need to brush them frequently, and take them to the professional groomer as needed to keep their color white. Bichons are also hypoallergenic – which is a huge bonus.

Best at Adapting: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

  • Small breed that can reach up to 18 lbs at full size. Its height is 12-13 inches.
  • Take the cue from their owners with regard to the day's activities and exercise
  • Sheds a moderate amount and grooming needs are minimal, save for regular brushing

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, or just 'Cavalier' is a small canine friend that may reach up to 18 lbs at full size. They are highly adaptable small dogs, and can go from being gentle and cuddly today to energetic and vivacious tomorrow. The Cavalier is generally quiet but cheerful, patient, and easy to train. They are one of the best dogs for people who want a gentle and constant companion.

Cavaliers take the cue from their owners with regard to what play time, exercise, and activities look like for the day. Other than that, they also enjoy lazing around and cuddling indoors with their owners. They shed a moderate amount, which can be fixed with regular brushing. You'll also need to clean their big floppy ears often.

Best Independent Dog Breed: Greyhound

  • Large breed with a weight of 60-80 pounds. Its height is 25-30 inches.
  • Needs quite a bit of exercise, but can be left on their own to do so (for as long as they are in an enclosed area)
  • Do not shed a lot as they have a short, smooth coat

Greyhounds are a large breed that weigh up to 80 lbs. This slender and elegant breed may grow up to 30 inches. They are known to be the fastest breed in the world, and can be left independently in enclosed areas to sprint and channel their energy and athleticism. They will wind down afterwards, once their energy levels are exhausted. They will then stay calm, gentle, and relaxed around their senior owners.

Greyhounds do not shed a log because of their short and smooth coats. Despite their size, they make great companions and are actually easy to train and manage. They are not aggressive towards humans, but they will need to be kept on a leash when outdoors because of their predilection for hunting prey. In fact, they have 270-degree vision, which lets them spot things half a mile away.

Best for High Energy Level: Pembroke Welsh Corgi

  • Medium-sized dog, roughly 30 lbs at full size. Its height is between 10-12 inches.
  • Energetic and sociable; may need a lot of exercise and play time
  • Has a double coat but sheds quite a lot, and may need regular grooming

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi, or simply just the 'Corgi' is a medium-sized dog that is perfect for seniors who want a playful and energetic pet. At full size, they can hit around 30 lbs. They are known for their big ears, twinkling eyes, and stubby legs. Corgis are a very sociable dog breed, and you will need to take them on daily walks as they are a type of herding dog.

Aside from daily walks, corgis also enjoy completing tasks or doing anything that involves mental stimulation. They are easy to train, protective over their masters, intelligent, and loving. Corgis have a double coat and shed quite a lot – but this can be easily fixed with regular grooming. You will love having this playful companion dog around, especially if you are up for some action and exercise.

Best for Laidback Owners: Pug

  • Small dog breed; full-sized at about 18 lbs. Its height is about 10 to 13 inches.
  • Moderate activity level and exercise needed
  • May shed a lot, but has a short coat that is easy to brush

If you are a stay-at-home type of person, then a Pug may be the ideal breed for you. Pugs are a small dog breed that grow to about 18 lbs. They are indoor dogs who like playing inside the house, and simply hanging around their owners. Pugs love to sleep (and snore), and you will have to make sure that they are comfortable despite changes in weather. They are typically laidback and eager to please.

Pugs do not need a lot of exercise as this is one of the breeds that can make do with short strolls – except in hot weather – and the occasional play time. This breed sheds quite a lot, but they have a short coat that is easy to brush. You may have to clean between the folds and creases on their face regularly as well.

Best for Cheerful Disposition: French Bulldog

  • Medium-sized breed that can grow up to 28 lobs. Its height is 11-13 inches.
  • Moderate activity and exercise needed to keep a healthy lifestyle
  • They do not shed a lot and have a short coat

The French Bulldog or 'Frenchie' is a medium-sized breed that can grow up to 28 lbs. They are stocky and muscular, but are still very much manageable. Frenchies are known to be very cheerful and are people pleasers. They love their humans and love nothing more than spending time with them. Exercise needed is moderate, especially since they don't have much endurance.

They actually tire out easily with lots of active outdoor exercise, and are happy to just keep their owners company while they run errands. They are one of the best companion dog breeds as they thrive with attention and human connection. Frenchies do not shed a lot due to their short coats, which you can just brush. Grooming this breed also means cleaning the wrinkles on their face.

Best For Intelligence: Poodle

  • Can grow up to 15 inches and 70 lbs for a Standard Poodle, 10-15 inches and 18 lbs for a Miniature Poodle, below 10 inches and 9 lbs a Toy Poodle.
  • Moderate to high amounts of exercise, such as walks, should suffice for their lifestyle
  • Do not shed too much, but need to be professionally groomed regularly

Known to be one of the most intelligent dog breeds, poodles are also one of the best dog breeds for seniors. They adapt to their surroundings and other people easily, and end up becoming extremely loyal. They are well-mannered and like it when their owners pamper and give them attention. Poodles come in three sizes: Toy, Miniature, and Standard – so you can find one suited to your lifestyle.

Seniors who have respiratory ailments or allergies will be happy to hear that they are hypoallergenic. They do not shed a lot but grooming needs can be attended to by a professional regularly. They require moderate to high amounts of exercise to shake off all their pent up energy. Poodles are also easy to train, sweet, affectionate, and eager to please.

Best for Emotional Support Animals: Labrador Retriever

  • Medium-large dog breed that hits around 70-80 lbs at full size. Its height is 24.5 inches.
  • Needs at least an hour of exercise everyday, with more action-based activities than a simple walk
  • Sheds quite a lot, but can be easily brushed and bathed every two months

Labrador Retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds, and for good reason. These medium-large dogs are friendly and outgoing, and love human companionship. Labs are also recommended for adults who suffer from anxiety, and make great service dogs or emotional support animals because they are gentle and respond very well to training. They can also be good guide dogs for those who are blind.

Labs will need at least an hour of action-packed exercise everyday, from swimming to playing fetch. They enjoy routines, and play crucial roles in the event of an emergency or rescue operation. This breed may shed a lot, but you can just brush them regularly. They only need to be bathed every two months.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should seniors have pets?

Pets are a great way to combat feelings of loneliness and isolation many seniors feel. They can help alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and physical health issues like high blood pressure and cholesterol.

Is 67 too old to get a dog?

There are many reasons why you should get a pet. If you can provide the proper care for a dog and have the necessary financial resources, there is no reason why anyone should not go out and find themselves a loyal, loving companion to keep them company.

How often should a dog bathe?

There are many bathing frequencies for dogs. The most common timeframe is every four weeks, but some dog owners will wash their pup more or less often, depending on the breed of your pooch and how much time they spend outside.

Can an elderly person adopt a dog?

Pets for the Elderly is an organization that helps animal lovers find their pets. They match people with animals who are over 60 years old, and they help pay part of the adoption fee to get them at reduced cost. This provides both beneficial relationships to owner and pet when matched successfully.

At what age dog the naughtiest?

Many of you may be unfamiliar with the concept of a puppy hitting its "teenage" stage. Technically, dogs hit this phase between 6 and 18 months old, but for an urban dog it can happen as early as 5 or 10 months depending on environmental factors like how much time they spent in shelters, socialization exposure, and more.

Do dogs like when you talk to them?

Studies have shown that dogs are more likely to come closer and spend time with us when we use dog-directed speech.

Why do dogs want to sleep with you?

Your dog's constant desire to sleep next to you may not be just for physical warmth. It could also signify a deep emotional connection between the two of you.

While pets come with their fair share of responsibilities, the benefits of dog ownership for seniors outweigh any reservations you might have. It takes a lot to care for a dog, but in the long run, you may realize that they are also taking care of you.

Want to do some further reading on senior health and living? Check out some of our previous posts for more insight. Contact Senior Strong today!

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