Best Dog Breeds For Senior Citizens

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Author: Jeanette Hampton

As you grow old there is an instinct to connect with some other individual or even a pet to spend time with. Some people prefer dogs because of their loyalty. This social animal has a lot to offer and if you are one such senior citizen who is looking for the best dog breeds for senior citizens, then this article is the perfect guide for you.

I say this because there are some eye-catching benefits for senior citizens. These benefits include companionship, exercise, security and mental stimulation. So, keep reading and find out the best possible dog for a senior citizen. 

Best Dog Breeds For Senior Citizens

There are many dog breeds out there and choosing one that suits best for a senior citizen can get tricky. The commonly preferred dogs by senior citizens are Pugs, Shih Tzu, Poodle, and so on. The options are plenty but, you need the pick the right one as per your needs.

So, before we get into the best dog breeds for senior citizens let’s understand what factors you need to consider while picking one.

Factors to consider while choosing a dog for a senior citizen

Getting a dog randomly without any due diligence can have some serious implications. For instance, if you get a rescue dog without knowing their background, their behaviour traits or health status, you could end up struggling to cope with them, especially if they are aggressive in nature.

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The worst-case scenario is they may end up biting the owner. So, here are some of the factors you need to consider while choosing a dog:

  • Age

Adult dogs are perfect companions for senior citizens because they are well-behaved and are not aggressive like small dogs or puppies are. These dogs are well-trained and are not prone to chewing or nibbling behaviour.

There is no exact age tagged for a dog to be considered an adult dog because every breed has a different life expectancy. For instance, mastiffs live for roughly 8 years and smaller dogs live for 15 to 16 years so, their ageing profile differs. Likewise, larger breeds are not adults until 2-3 years old.

The age factor is crucial because you don’t want your furry friend to outlive you.

  • Size

While smaller dogs are easy to handle size-wise, their behaviour may pose some significant challenges for a senior citizen. For instance, chihuahuas, these dogs bark frequently when they feel threatened or excited. Other such dogs are Carin Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, Beagle, Poodle, and Maltese.

However, this doesn’t imply that they are not suitable for senior citizens. There are many rescue homes and shelters that groom these pups well and they acquire proper training as well. Still, for senior citizens larger dogs are more suitable. They bark less and demand less maintenance.

  • Energy level

Dogs who are highly energetic require more exercise or playing time. Also, not every senior citizen is capable of matching their energy levels and some may even have genuine stamina issues. So, getting a young dog who is fully energetic is not a feasible option.

Therefore, a dog who needs less walking, exercise or playtime is the perfect fit for the old age person. Finding such a dog is tough but, it’s a viable choice.

  • Temperament

A dog’s temperament and personality are genetic and its behaviour is often a reflection of how they were raised. Yes, dogs are trained to be gentle and behave friendly with their owners but, some dog breeds naturally have this trait of being gentle and a sense of calmness in their behaviour.

Bulldogs, Labrador retrievers, and German shepherds are gentle obedient and loyal. However, any dog can act radically and start barking as an instinctive response. There is no anticipation for such an instance. So, it’s crucial to bond with the dog you plan on getting as a companion.

  • Grooming and Training

Every dog needs regular grooming and training. Some dogs may need more, some less. So, picking a dog with minimal grooming and training requirements is the best bet for a senior citizen. Because it’s possible they may not have the capacity for training or groom the dog.

However, if there is a family member who is willing to take the responsibility there is no issue getting a dog who needs regular trimming, bathing, and clipping. In fact, if you can afford the grooming or professional dog training session charges, you can pet any dog you want.

These are some of the factors you must consider before getting a dog. In addition, you’ll also have to ensure that you consider the health factor. Because if your dog is unhealthy the vet bills will pile up and in old age, you don’t want that hassle.

Dog Breeds For Senior Citizens

We saw some of the factors that would make the job of picking the best dog breed for a senior citizen a lot easier. In this section, we will have a peek at the different dog breeds which are potentially the best options as a dog companion for our senior citizens.

To make it easy for senior citizens, we have conjured up a list of the most preferred dogs by senior citizens in the UK.

#1 Pugs

Pugs are small, flat-faced and friendly in nature. They are gentle and quiet but, also curious, sociable and cheerful. These pups don’t require heavy exercise and exhibit good behaviour around other people and dogs.

Their adaptability is impeccable, meaning, they can easily adjust to any living environment and this is one of the prominent reasons why many old individuals prefer their company. In addition, they need less grooming, but, some are needed as they shed more.

The only point of concern is their health issue. Pugs are prone to skin problems, eye problems, breathing issues, and obesity so, there is a need for regular vet checks. Also, their flat face makes them snorty and are not often quiet.

#2 West Highland White Terrier (Westies)

West Highland White Terriers are small white dogs which are highly energetic and have a cheerful personality. These dogs are loyal, independent and intelligent. The Westies need a moderate level of exercise and mental stimulation.

So, individuals who just entered senior age, and are healthy enough to play along, often pick this breed. In addition, these dogs love playing and exploring new places. They don’t shed much fur but, grooming is necessary for avoiding skin allergies.

Healthwise West Highland White Terriers are just fine. They are also prone to liver problems, joint problems, and eye problems so, you’ll have to set up a routine checkup schedule with the vet.

#3 Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus are small, fluffy dogs with adorable faces. They are affectionate, calm and friendly in nature. Their coat is silky and doesn’t shed much fur. Shih Tzus are hypoallergenic so, it’s the best option for individuals who are prone to allergies.

These dogs can adjust to any environment and don’t need much exercise. However, they like interacting with their fellow canines so, you need to ensure they get enough social interaction.

While regular grooming is necessary, make sure you clean their eyes and ears regularly to avoid infection. Also, like the previously mentioned dogs, they will need regular medical checkups to ensure there is no dental problem, breathing issue, or such health issue.

#4 Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are a small, affectionate, elegant and sociable dog breed that is well-known for its coat length and feathered ears. They are obedient, loyal, and always eager to please their owners and learn some new tricks.

Adapting to different climate conditions is not an issue for the Spaniels as long as they receive some moderate exercise, and a chance to interact with other people and engage in some new activities.

Like Shih Tzus, they need proper cleaning of their ears and eyes to avoid infection. The Cavaliers are susceptible to heart, eyes, ears, or joint problems. They are also prone to a neurological condition syringomyelia. Hence, a regular vet visit is a must.

#5 Greyhound

Greyhounds are large, smart, gentle and have a calm nature. These dogs are sensitive but loyal and intelligent. They may not need much exercise but, adore running quickly in short sprints.

In addition, they are lazy and like sleeping on the sofa all day long. Their behaviour around children and other pets is also good. Their fur doesn’t shed much and there is no need for regular grooming. But, they do need regular dental care and nail trimming.

Normally, greyhounds live a healthy life but, they can suffer from life-threatening conditions such as bloat, bone cancer, or hypothyroidism. So, visit your vet regularly and get them checked.

Additional Dog Breeds For Senior Citizens To Consider

The previous list includes the most preferred dogs in the UK by senior citizens but, there are plenty of dog breeds a senior citizen can consider for companionship. This section will highlight other breeds which are good for senior citizens. I have also made a clear distinction using their energy levels so, you can pick the right one.

#1 Small Dogs (Low Energy Breeds)

Small dogs don’t require much space and it’s easy to accommodate them in the house. They are adorable and you can cuddle and play along with them on your sofa. Here are a couple of breeds a senior citizen can consider:

  • Maltese

Maltese weigh roughly seven pounds and are quite small. They are smart, cheerful and have a sweet temperament. In addition, they are playful and get along well with other canines.

Interestingly, these dogs thoroughly pay attention towards their owner’s mood and act accordingly. They are also used as therapy dogs.

Maltese don’t need much exercise, you can simply take them out for a walk and they will remain active. Their silky coat doesn’t shed much fur and is hypoallergenic.

  • Bichon Frise

These dogs are quite famous for their fluffy white coat. Bicho Frise is an obedient, intelligent, and cheerful dog. They are friendly with the humans and love snuggling with them. In addition, they easily adjust to any household environment.

Bicho Frise doesn’t need much exercise because they prefer spending their time inside and hence, are one of the perfect dog breeds for companionship for a senior citizen. They don’t shed much fur, are hypoallergenic but, need some occasional grooming.

#2 Medium dogs (moderate energy)

In comparison with the small dogs, these dogs may require some exercise but, are more mature than them. Also, they will bark less and are more friendly. These dogs can also protect their owners. So, an individual who has just entered this phase of seniority can pick such dogs. Here are the breeds to consider:

  • Poodle

Poodles are extremely intelligent and are great companions. This dog breed is known for its curly coat and graceful appearance. Poodles are very friendly and they will bond with every family member of yours.

This breed is suitable for big families but, because of their loyalty and capacity to bond with different people, senior citizens could get a great companion for themselves. Poodles are neither small nor big but, are still available in standard, miniature, and toy sizes.

They don’t shed fur and are hypoallergenic so, no risk of getting an allergic reaction as well. They are active and can engage in regular activities if you make them.

#3 Large dogs (calm breeds)

Senior citizens who lack stamina or have trouble coping with the intense behaviour of canines should pick these less energetic dog breeds. They are not much demanding and are well-trained and mature. Interestingly, these breeds may not have the same energy as small or medium dogs but, can provide safety to their owners.

Normally, these dogs are retired working dogs who receive professional training and hence they are well-behaved as well. They are loyal and faithful and are perfect for old individuals. Here are a few names to consider:

  • Labrador retriever

These dogs are famous for their short coat and friendly face. Their personality is friendly and their love for humans makes them one of the best choices for a pet for a senior citizen. Labrador retrievers are easy to train and only require a moderate level of exercise.

  • Bernese mountain dog

These dogs are calm, loyal, and gentle. They are completely faithful to their owners and are protective of them and the house. Protection is one of the aspects which senior citizen looks for in the later stages of their lives and a Bernese mountain dog is a feasible choice.

  • Golden retriever

Are well-behaved and socially confident dogs. These dogs respond well to their owner’s emotions. Getting a senior dog will help manage their training well because when young Golden retrievers are quite adventurous and demand a highly active lifestyle.

Challenges For Senior Citizens Owning Dogs

While the idea of having a dog as a companion is not bad, there are some challenges senior citizens might face while owning a dog in their household. Because regardless of how much picky an individual gets anticipating a dogs’s behaviour is tough and the age constraint always comes into the picture while handling the dogs.

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Let’s have a peek at some of the noteworthy challenges:

  • Affording the cost of managing a dog’s lifestyle is difficult.
  • Lack of physical strength and stamina in old age always compromises a dog’s health as they might not match their daily physical exercise needs.
  • Vet’s bills can compromise the budget and they may have to give up their dog.
  • Similar to exercise, a senior adult will have a hard time training their dog and playing with them.
  • If the bonding with their furry friend gets strong and they die for some reason, they may go into depression, feel lonely and worse get sick.
  • If a senior citizen is not able to take care of their dog they may have to travel to different shops, shelters or places to find a new home which is a tedious task.


What is the perfect dog for elderly citizens in the UK?

Pugs, poodles, Shih Tzus, and Maltese are perfect dogs for elderly citizens in the UK. These dogs are friendly and are not high maintenance. An elderly individual can easily manage their lifestyle and spend some fruitful time with them without having to meet their exercise needs.

What is a therapy dog?

A therapy dog is precisely trained to provide much-needed emotional to individuals who are facing issues such as stress or loneliness. These dogs do not have the same public access rights as the service dogs and are only allowed on invitation or permits. They are useful in cheering up people, especially senior citizens who are alone and have no companion.

What are some benefits of owning a dog for senior citizens in the UK?

There are three prominent benefits for a senior citizen in owning a dog in the UK. The first one is the physical one- a senior citizen is motivated to play with their dog and this can help improve their physical state. The second one is – their mental state gets better while spending time with their dog. The third benefit is a major one, a senior citizen’s social life can improve significantly after owning a dog.

What are some best dogs for people over 50?

Pugs, Poodles, Labrador retrievers, and Shih Tzus are some of the best dogs for people who are over the age of 50. There are many studies conducted that suggest that senior adults can have ample benefits after owning such dogs and can live better lives.

Closing Remarks on Best Dog Breeds For Senior Citizens

I have covered most of the dog breeds which are suitable for senior citizens. You can also consider picking some other dog because, during this phase of life, you don’t want your physical limit to compromise a canine’s health or lifestyle. Because as per the government’s guidelines, you are responsible for the dog’s health.

So, thoroughly analyse the factors that I have mentioned in the article and pick the best possible dog that will meet your requirements and be a perfect companion in the latter stages of your life. There are many challenges that will come along so, prepare yourself mentally before you pet one.

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Jeanette Hampton
Jeanette Hampton is a content writer at WWD and an expert on all things pets. She’s been writing pet blogs for over 5 years and knows everything there is to know about dogs. Jeanette enjoys writing about pet-related topics because she enjoys helping people learn more about their furry friends.

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