10 Best Dog Breeds For Seniors

Senior and his black dog outside at soccer ball park

A variety of dogs can be found in numerous sizes, forms, and breeds, guaranteeing a suitable companion for anyone, seniors included. It may come as a surprise, but owning a dog offers incredible advantages.

Acquiring a dog can reduce your stress level, boost your happiness and lower your blood pressure. Therefore, you owe it to yourself to have a pet like a dog as it motivates you to go outside when you bring them for exercise.

For seniors, don’t assume that you’re too old to adopt a dog. Obviously, choosing a high-maintenance dog is not the best idea. On the other hand, a calm, friendly and loyal dog breed can be a great addition to an elderly person’s life.

10 Best Dog Breeds For Seniors

Whether you prefer a small dog or love larger ones, there is a breed that will suit your tastes and preferences as a senior member of the society. Here are some of the best companion dog breeds that many elderly people find to be a great companion during their golden years.

1. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

If you are looking for the best lap dog for seniors, you should seriously consider getting the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Their tiny size means that they are easier to handle than many other breeds. Playful, sociable and adaptable, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel can be a great addition to your life whether you live in an apartment or a house.

Although this breed has the potential to be a good watchdog and will always alert you to strangers, this dog is very calm and friendly.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is not hypoallergenic and will require moderate brushing and grooming to help prevent tangles from forming. With this breed, you need to find a reputable breeder since they are vulnerable to several health problems [1], including skin conditions, neurological conditions, and heart disease.

These old man dogs are quite active and require moderate exercises. Regular walks and trips to a nearby dog park are highly recommended. This breed could be ideal for you if you lead an active lifestyle or have a spacious backyard for your pooch to play and run around.

2. Pembroke Welsh Corgi

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is one of the best dog breeds for seniors. Originally bred to herd livestock, the corgi is a lovable, friendly, and adaptable dog who thrives in different living conditions. These pets for seniors are happiest when living with his family. He is smart and eager to please, making them easy to train. They have an average life expectancy of around 12 to 15 years.

They require grooming and brushing to help maintain their thick, double coat in good shape. Most Pembrokes crave the attention of anyone they come across and get along well with children and other pets. It’s vital to socialize these dogs for seniors with children, adults, and other animals when they are still young to help prevent aggression or anti-social behavior later in life.

3. French Bulldog

The French Bulldog is one of the best dog breeds for seniors and retirees because they are very kind, adaptable, easy to maintain and do not need excessive exercise. It’s no surprise that they’re one of the best dogs for seniors in America. They are playful and love being close to their owners.

French Bulldogs have an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years and shed infrequently. They’re easygoing, patient, and loving dogs who also make great family pets.

A family of grandparents and grandkids outside with their dog

4. Boston Terrier

An intelligent and playful breed, the Boston Terrier has some excellent personality traits. Very friendly and affectionate dogs for seniors, Boston Terriers are great companions and are happy to be around their owners whether they enjoy plenty of walks or are appropriate to spend a leisurely day indoors.

Since the Boston Terrier is a brachycephalic breed (short-headed), they tend to be prone to health conditions such as breathing problems. Also, it is important to note that they generally tend to snore a lot. Apart from respiratory problems, Boston Terriers are hardy dogs that can live healthy and long lives with proper care and attention.

Brushing is important to maintain any dog, but the Boston Terrier has a short coat that is moderately low-maintenance. They are not hypoallergenic, and they don’t shed a lot too – which means they can be one of the best dogs for elderly citizens.

5. Shih Tzu

Also known as “Lion Dog”, the Shih Tzu is one of the best dogs for seniors thanks to its loyalty, easy-going nature, and friendly personality. These therapy dogs require little exercise needs since they love snuggling up against their owners indoors.

Despite their small size, Shih Tzus make great guard dogs for old people. Whether you’re leading an apartment life or live in a house in the countryside, the Shih Tzu is a playful and adorable small dog that will easily adapt to any lifestyle.

Yorkshire terrier and backview of an old couple

6. Yorkshire Terrier

Most owners will tell you that there’s nothing cuter and more adorable than their Yorkies. As one of the most popular toy dog breeds for seniors, the Yorkie is known for its huge personality. At just 7 pounds, the Yorkshire terrier also comes in different colors.

Add that to the fact that the Yorkies can live for more than 20 years, and you have an adorable and loyal companion for a long time to come. Not only are they easy to manage, but they are also very smart and affectionate. This means the training process is extremely easy.

7. Scottish Terrier

Also affectionately known as the Scottie, the Scottish Terrier lived in the White House during the presidencies of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and George W. Bush. Former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was also an admirer of this brave and independent dog.

Scottish Terriers are not only excellent companions for their prominent personalities but are also the best dogs as companions for the elderly thanks to their small size, hypoallergenic coat, and adaptable personality.

Being a hypoallergenic breed, the Scottie is ideal for grandparents with allergies. They are very clever, which makes them quite hard to train. Fortunately, they love food treats, which makes training easier.

Scotties are good dogs for elderly people and get along well with kids and adults alike. However, they can also benefit from having a large yard considering their fondness for digging due to their long history of hunting badgers.

Senior with his black dog

8. Bichon Frise

Another great dog breed for the elderly is the Bichon Frise. This tony breed of dogs is a very adorable pet for seniors. The best thing about these small dogs for seniors is that they remain small even in adulthood.

Moreover, their cute white coat is hypoallergenic, which is beneficial for older adults with allergies. Moreover, the Bichon Frise is friendly to kids. Or if you have young grandchildren, they will have fun playing with this dog.

However, bear in mind that this breed has a high energy level and loves going out for daily walks. On a positive note, these dogs make it a good excuse for you to exercise regularly as well.

9. Otterhound

If you’re searching for a larger and more active dog breed, then the Otterhound might be a great choice for you. With up to around 50 pounds, these cute and friendly dogs have a slightly longer lifespan of around 12 years.

Alert and affectionate, these relatively active dogs enjoy all kinds of activities and exercise, including swimming. They have webbed toes and a water-repellent coat, which makes them well suited for various water activities.

Although not hypoallergenic, the Otterhound doesn’t shed a lot and has moderate grooming demands. They are generally a healthy breed, but as with all dogs, it’s vital to do your homework before getting them from a rescue or breeder.

Old man with otterhound

10. Poodle

Another thing that retirees should keep in mind when selecting a dog is their grooming needs. The poodle seems to be a high-maintenance lap dog, but you can make grooming an easier process for you and your pup if you make periodic appointments or learn how to maintain them in a puppy clip.

Being small dogs, these miniature poodles remains small their entire life but makes it one of the best companion dogs for daily walks. Moreover, the poodle is easy to train and has a hypoallergenic coat so they are a great choice for seniors with dog allergies.

Benefits of Dog Companionship for Seniors

Although any dog parent can definitely attest to the numerous benefits of dog companionship, research endorsing the health benefits of dog ownership has appeared in several reputable medical journals and publications.

Research studies have shown that people with dog companionship can help enhance fitness levels through regular exercise, reduce stress and make their owners live happier – leading more fulfilling lives.

Some of the many health benefits of owning a dog include reduced blood pressure, reduced cholesterol levels, reduced feelings of loneliness, and more opportunities for growth, learning, and socialization.

Elderly women with her black dog

Factors to Consider When Getting a Pooch

If you’re an elderly person thinking about adding a new four-legged friend to your life, make sure to consider the following factors when getting your furry friend.

Size and Weight

Smaller lapdogs are generally easier to maintain. With a small pup, you don’t have to worry about them knocking you down or pulling hard on a leash. Moreover, they are easier to move around with, whether you are taking them for regular vet checkups or going on a short trip. Moreover, they tend to have lower medical costs compared to larger canines.

Larger and heavier dogs can be fun to be around, but they generally need to be groomed more regularly. While the likes of Saint Bernard, Golden Retriever, and Labrador Retriever might still be good options, the canines are not couch potatoes and need more maintenance.

Age, Health and Life Span

Puppies tend to be demanding for older people, so it’s advisable to get a full-grown dog. Older dogs are fully trained and have already passed their energetic stage. That way, older individuals don’t have to deal with the hassle of teething and other puppy transition requirements.

Some pups are more vulnerable to certain health conditions than others. For instance, the Dachshund is prone to back issues while the Miniature Schnauzer is likely to suffer from diabetes.

Moreover, the aging profile of canines will vary from one type of dog to another. Small dogs tend to live well over 15 years while medium and larger dogs have a lifespan of around 10 to 13 years. Some giant breeds such as mastiffs live for just 7 to 8 years.

Senior instructing dog

Temperament and Trainability

Guard dogs for seniors should not be aggressive. They shouldn’t have a high prey drive. As companion dogs, they should be calm, friendly, and easy to train. With this, however, you need the perfect balance of aloofness and friendliness.

Avoid dogs that are more difficult to train and handle. These include large pups with high energy and activity level needs. That’s why most seniors choose small and medium-sized dogs instead.

Level of Maintenance

Moreover, avoid breeds of dogs that are difficult to groom. Depending on the needs and preferences of the dog owner, a dog with low to moderate energy is ideal. They’re much easier to handle and they don’t require too much playtime, walks, or exercise.

Dog Breeds to Avoid For Seniors

As a senior citizen, you know that there are many things that are changing in your life. You’re considering what to do with the last years of your life instead of planning for the long-term. It is simply another important stage of your life. While you would like to live a more peaceful life at this stage, you could also get a family companion with a loyal canine.

Elderly couple with their big dog

As we’ve mentioned, however, there are certain breeds that are best suited for seniors and others to avoid. Here are some of the dog breeds that senior citizens should try and avoid.

Dalmatians – Dalmatians are high-energy dogs that will require plenty of exercises on a daily basis. They also tend to be quite destructive if they don’t get enough exercise. Moreover, they can be quite stubborn and challenging to train. They are ideal for a family with older children and active individuals who can provide them with their required frequency of exercise needs.

Border Collies – Trying to maintain this breed of the dog alone is more than most seniors can manage. Firstly, if they don’t get enough exercises they will create havoc at home. Moreover, they need a lot of brushing and grooming. They are best suited to families with a large space and a lot of energy.

Australian Shepherds – This breed also craves attention to be happy and active. Unless you have lots of energy and time to maintain this breed, senior citizens are highly recommended to avoid adopting this breed.

Rottweilers – Rottweilers are very large and powerful canines that require proper training and firm leadership. Moreover, they are not suitable for apartment living and do best on larger properties.

Irish Setter – These large dogs are also very energetic and have a lot of grooming demands. Additionally, they should not be left alone for far too long and they are also prone to many health issues.

Senior playing checkers with his dog

Frequently Asked Questions

Are pets good for the elderly?

Yes, pets are good for the elderly because they offer several health benefits. They help to alleviate loneliness, stress, and depression. For seniors living alone, pets can be an excellent source of companionship.

What breed of dog is low maintenance?

Some breeds such as Beagles, Bolognese, Cocker Spaniel, Chihuahuas, Havanese, Pug, and Shih Tzu are low maintenance dogs and could be ideal for busy pet parents. Whether it’s their small size that is ideal for a small property, their coat that rarely sheds or their minimal maintenance needs, toy dogs are clearly the best low-maintenance dogs.

What are the calmest breeds of dogs?

The calmest breeds of dogs include the Bernese Mountain Dog, French Bulldog, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Bichon Frise, and more. The calmest dog breeds are known for their confidence and calm demeanor. They are also known for their faithfulness and need for attention, which makes them ideal for the elderly.

Can You Be Too Old To Adopt A Dog?

You can never be too old to adopt a dog, provided you get a breed that you can outlive when it comes to pet care. Or if you have someone you know will happily inherit the dog. This means you may want to choose an older dog instead of getting a puppy.


Dogs are wonderful human companions for the elderly. They are great guard dogs and watchdogs ready to give seniors protection against any kind of harm.

However, it is still very important for older adults to consider the dog breed’s temperament and personality as well as their activity level and grooming requirements. Each breed suits different owners and some will not do well in a laid back environment.

Ideally, older adults should look for an older dog who has been trained properly and socialized well. That way, he will behave well with their new elderly owners. Good luck with finding the dog of your dreams!

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