Choosing good dogs, for seniors or anyone else, can be a fun and enriching process. But it starts with assessing the needs and wants of a prospective owner (which might be you or a loved one). After all, everyone has a unique set of preferences, so the kind of dog that makes the best pet will vary from one older adult to another. Some seniors gravitate toward smaller dogs that can cuddle in a lap, while other prefer larger dogs that can romp around and play fetch. Ultimately, any breed of dog is good for older people if it meshes with their abilities, likes, and lifestyles.
This article will help you figure out what factors you need to consider in your search for the perfect canine companion. You’ll also read about 18 specific breeds that are among the best dogs for seniors, including a range of both small dogs and large dogs. You’ll explore the uses of (and distinctions between) therapy, support, and service dogs. And you’ll learn about the emerging trend of robot pets.
So keep reading. The information may just help you achieve greater vitality. After all, it’s well established that dog ownership can lower people’s stress and blood pressure levels. Having a dog is a great way to get some exercise, socialize with others in your community, and enjoy the benefits of companionship. Many seniors also thrive on the experience of nurturing and caring for another living being.
5 OF THE OVERALL BEST COMPANION DOGS FOR SENIORS
What are some of the best companion dog breeds? Elderly people have a wide range of needs and preferences, so the perfect pet for one senior may be entirely unsuitable for another. That said, some breeds have certain combinations of traits that make them popular choices for retirees. Here are eight of the top companion dogs for older adults:
Thanks to their extraordinary intelligence and highly trainable nature, poodles are good companion dogs. They form a strong bond with more than one member of their human families and are one of the best dogs for couples. They are sweet, gentle, and loving animals. Poodles need a daily walk but are otherwise content to play or just lie on the couch. They don’t shed, but they do need to be groomed every month or so. You can choose from three sizes of poodle: toy, miniature, or standard.
Looking for a smaller-sized companion dog who will be utterly devoted to you? Boston terriers are adaptable, friendly, mild-tempered dogs whose favorite activity is sitting peacefully with their owners. They are easy to train and don’t bark much, which makes them well-suited to apartment or condo life. Their grooming needs are minimal, since their short, smooth coat (which resembles a black-andwhite tuxedo) is easy to care for. They don’t do well in hot weather, though.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is very easy to like. This breed is one of the most adaptable of all dogs, and is quite comfortable in a wide array of living and social situations. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels love people. What this breed wants most in life is to be around its favorite people. These dogs always want to be right next to their owners, or preferably on top of them. This is the definition of a lap dog, and will always choose to place itself where its owner can pet it.
Weighing in at just four to seven pounds, the tiny Maltese is widely regarded as the quintessential lap dog. Bright, gentle, and playful, these dogs get along well with other pets and are extremely attentive to their owners’ moods. (In fact, they are frequently used as therapy dogs.) While they don’t need a lot of outdoor exercise, they do like going for short walks and dashing around the house. Their silky white coat doesn’t shed but does require daily brushing and weekly bathing
Intelligent and lively, Pembroke Welsh corgis are high-energy dogs that live for human attention and are big on pleasing their owners. They have squat bodies and short legs, and they typically weigh between 25 and 30 pounds. Originally bred as herding dogs, corgis love hiking and being outside, and they need frequent daily walks. They have a protective nature and make good watchdogs.
Some breeds require more exercise than others. If you’re fairly active, you may be able to handle a dog that needs lots of play time and opportunities to run. But if you have mobility or stamina issues, you might want to choose a dog that is content with a few short walks. Some very small dogs may even be able to get all the exercise they need just by running around inside your home.
Smaller dogs are easier to keep under control and are more suitable for seniors living in condos, apartments, or care facilities. Small dogs can fit in your lap, are more portable than larger breeds, won’t physically overwhelm you, and can be easily washed in a sink. However, some small dogs have lots of nervous energy and try to make up for their diminutive stature with plenty of barking. Alternatively, docile larger dogs that don’t require a lot of maintenance may be a good choice
Older dogs are better dogs for seniors to adopt than puppies that are super active and tend to chew and nip. (Most dogs are considered to be “seniors” when they reach about age seven.) Adult dogs are typically already housetrained and well-socialized with people. Mature dogs also tend to be the calmest dogs, with more predictable behavior patterns. In addition, it’s wise to think about the life expectancy of different dogs and how likely it is that your pet will outlive you. Who will take care of your dog if you aren’t around to do so?