Many believe that dogs are too active and high maintenance to be good pets for seniors. Now, this may be true for certain breeds, but there are literally hundreds of breeds out there and some of them are actually very well-suited to seniors. Below, we highlight 11 of the best dog breeds for seniors from corgis to Westies and explain what makes them such great companions for elderly adults
Poodles frequently rank on lists of the best dog breeds for seniors, and that’s for good reason: They’re easy to train if you get them young, and they’re very devoted to their humans. Poodles are also low-shedding dogs. They do require some grooming, though it’s easy to take them to a groomer or maintain the puppy clip yourself. Poodles also come in three sizes (toy, miniature and standard) so you can opt for whichever one will best fit your living space and lifestyle.
Pugs are couch potatoes at heart and they’ll be happy to stay inside and watch TV with you all day, making them an excellent choice for seniors who are less mobile. Pugs may have a facial expression that makes them look cranky, but they can be very affectionate and love to be lap dogs. Pugs are also easy to groom thanks to their low maintenance short hair, so you won’t have to worry about shedding too much.
Many people think of greyhounds as being very active since they are used for racing, but they’re actually very lazy dogs when left to their own devices and will be content to lie around the house all day. If you’d like, you can adopt a retired greyhound and give them a forever home after they’ve hung up their racing harness. Greyhounds can be quite large, so if you’re looking for a smaller dog, you should consider an Italian greyhound.
These regally bearded pups (affectionately called “Scottie dogs”) are a great option for those living in an apartment due to their small size. They have moderate amounts of energy and do need regular walks, but they won’t be as active as, say, a corgi. They are affectionate, love to be petted and interact well with children. Scottish terriers are also generally pretty quiet–so they won’t disturb the neighbors–and they don’t shed that much.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
This breed of spaniel stays on the small side and usually won’t get any larger than 18 pounds or so. They are extremely affectionate and are born to be lap dogs, which is why they’ve been the favored pets of royalty for centuries. They have beautiful soft coats which do require regular bathing and brushing to maintain. But since the spaniel is so small, this usually isn’t much of a chore.
These gorgeous little white dogs were specifically bred to be companions, and they want nothing more than to remain by your side at all times. These tiny dogs adapt well to apartment living and are also easily transportable, so you can take them along with you whenever you go to visit the grandkids. Their fur can and does grow long, but you can keep it clipped short if the constant grooming is too much of a hassle for you. They look cute either way.
If you’re a more active senior looking for an energetic dog, but you don’t have the space for a larger pup, then corgis are a great option. These pups pack a lot of energy into a small package. They’ll always be up for a walk or a game of fetch, so put on those tennis shoes and go. Corgis are also super smart (sometimes too smart for their own good) and they don’t let their big ears and short little legs stop them from doing anything.
Chihuahuas sometimes get made fun of for their small size, but tiny dogs such as this breed are often easier for seniors to keep up with. Their legs are so tiny that even a quick lap around the neighborhood will tucker them right out. Extremely devoted, they love to curl up in your lap or cuddle on the couch–and they’re just the right size for snuggling. Chihuahuas come in both long- and short-haired varieties, but even the long-haired ones are still relatively easy to groom.
This smart, loving dog packs a lot of intelligence and energy into a small pup. Pomeranians do tend to be rather active, but since they’re on the small side, it’s not difficult to work off their energy. They also adapt well to apartment living. They do have fluffy coats, but their fur doesn’t require regular care other than a good brushing to keep them looking good.
Bulldogs are lively, fun and loving pups to have around. Their super-short coats make grooming a breeze. They’re also rather lazy animals, so they don’t require much effort in the exercise department either. French bulldogs definitely have strong personalities, and they can be a bit more difficult to train as puppies as a result. However, if you put in the work, you’ll be rewarded with a devoted pup. You can always adopt an already trained adult from a shelter if you’d like.
West Highland White Terrier
Westies are a great option if you want a small dog but Maltese, Pomeranians or Chihuahuas are too fragile for your lifestyle. West Highland terriers are still small (falling between 13 and 20 pounds) so they’re easy to handle but a little more sturdy than some of the other breeds listed here. Their coats do require some grooming, but they don’t need to be trimmed, so they’re relatively low maintenance.
If you’re a senior looking to give a furry friend a forever home, these 11 breeds are a great way to start your search for a dog. Make sure you buy all the proper supplies before you bring them home. Also, invest in a pair of comfortable therapeutic shoes for yourself so that you have the support you need while you take them for walks.
By Kaki Zell
Kaki Zell is the Vice President and co-owner of Ames Walker. After graduating from Virginia Tech she worked for Pepsi for several years before joining the family business. When she is not working she enjoys running, hiking, traveling, Virginia Tech football & spending time with family & friends.