Dogs for elderly owners – senior sensations

best dogs for elderly ownersWe all know that owning a dog has many benefits, including improved health, confidence, and better social lives. So it’s no surprise that as we get older and we have more time on our hands, owning a dog can be even more appealing.

But what are the best dogs for elderly owners, and how do we choose the right one?

We may not like to think of ourselves as elderly, but our health, activity levels, and ability to do certain tasks may diminish as we get older. It’s important, to be honest about your own capabilities before deciding what breed of dog you want. So here is our list of things to consider before you make a decision.

Bigger isn’t always better.

If you prefer larger dogs, it can be tempting to choose one as you age.  Maybe a larger dog seems more solid and reassuring than a small one. However, there are disadvantages to having a humongous hound. Would you be able to hold onto a big dog if it pulled? What if you needed to lift it for any reason? Could you manage? What if the dog jumped up at you or one of your friends? Would you cope?

Although it may seem that a small dog is more likely to get under your feet, they tend to move out of the way quicker than large dogs. Small dogs are infinitely more portable than large dogs too. Depending on their size, small dogs can be lifted, carried, and transported relatively easily.

Then there’s the cost. There is no getting away from the fact that a larger dog will cost more to keep. As most retirees are on a fixed income, it’s an important consideration. It’s not just the food that will cost more, but Vet bills, collars, toys, and treats will all be more expensive.

However, if you think that getting a small dog will mean less walking or that they have reduced exercise needs, that’s not always the case. Many small dogs are high energy, so choosing a dog’s energy level to meet your own is important.

Dog breeds for seniors – Energy and activity

How much energy do you have? Is it enough to walk around the block once a day or an hour-long trek twice a day? This is perhaps one of the most important aspects to consider when choosing a dog. A high-energy dog won’t be happy with a short daily walk, and couch potatoes won’t keep up on long hikes.

Mismatched energy levels are why a lot of dogs end up in rescue centers. People either realize that they can’t meet the needs of their dogs, or their dogs become destructive through boredom and an excess of energy and are given up for re-homing.

Don’t worry if you think you can only manage a 30-minute daily walk and prefer a lap dog. There are dogs out there that would be happy with a shorter walk and some playtime.

If you are currently very active, consider the future. Depending on your age and the age of the dog you choose, will you slow down gradually together, or is there likely to be a mismatch in your daily exercise levels as you both get older?

Small dogs tend to live longer than large breed dogs. Is it likely that you will need to make arrangements for your dog if you are no longer around? It’s worth noting that larger dogs are more difficult to re-home. If you want to ensure the long-term care of your dog, then you’ll need to think carefully about the future.


Not only is it important to consider your own health, but it’s worth thinking about whether the dog that you choose will be prone to any genetic health issues.

Although you can never guarantee that any dog will reach its potential age expectancy without health concerns, it’s worthwhile looking at any potential issues as these are likely not only to create logistical problems, like getting your dog to the vet but also create additional costs.

Do you have anything that will prevent you from remaining active and walking your pet in the future? If you do, are you in the position to make arrangements to have your dog walked for you? Are any existing medical needs interfering with you owning and caring for a dog? If you have any ongoing issues, do they mean that you will need to spend any time away from home? Do you have mobility problems that need to be considered?

I know it’s unlikely that you are sitting in front of a crystal ball looking into your own future, but to get the most out of your relationship with your dog, consider how both you and your dog’s health may change as you get older.

best dogs for elderly owners


You may wonder what grooming has to do with choosing the best pets for elderly owners, but grooming can be time-consuming and costly. If you choose a dog that has a coat that needs regular brushing, will you be able to manage it? Can you afford to make regular trips to the groomers? What about in the next 5 or 10 years?

If not, pick a dog that has a wash and wear coat. Many dogs only need a brush once a week and a bath once a year. Keeping your dog healthy includes maintenance of their coat, ears, eyes, and paws.

Puppy versus adult

It’s not always an easy decision whether to get a puppy or an adult or senior dog. There are advantages and disadvantages to each.


Without a doubt, a puppy will pull at your heartstrings.  The combination of innocent exuberance and cute looks can tempt even the most practical people into thinking it’s a good idea to get one.

However, puppies are an enormous amount of work. If you haven’t had a puppy for a while, here’s a little reminder about teething, chewing, house-training, leash walking, socialization, and sleep deprivation! Not to mention vaccinations, neutering, and the cost of equipment as the puppy grows. It’s been said that puppies are just furry babies!

The benefit of having a puppy is, of course, that you get to share your life with a dog that you have known and trained yourself. And there is something special about seeing a puppy grow and develop into a mature dog.

Adult and Senior Dogs

One of the advantages of choosing an adult or senior dog is that they have already been through their difficult ‘teenage’ years and are emotionally mature. The largest proportion of dogs given up for adoption is within the age range of adolescence, which tells us how difficult this time is for both the dog and the owner.

By choosing older adults, you pretty much know what you’re getting. Their basic temperament is already established, and after a settling-in period, you will have a dog that, in many cases, is already housetrained, vaccinated, and neutered.

Some people are concerned that an adult or senior dog won’t develop a bond with them as strongly as a puppy would, but this isn’t the case. Adult dogs can and will show you as much devotion and love as a puppy that you’ve raised yourself.

One of the disadvantages of getting an adult dog, and especially a senior, is that their health may deteriorate, and you will end up with unexpected trips to the vets. However, older dogs have a lot to give, so do think about the advantages. Senior dogs, in particular, tend to need fewer walks, so they are great for less energetic owners.

Best dogs for elderly owners

We’ve based our best dog breeds on 3 things; size, energy level, and health. We have assumed that smaller dogs will be more manageable both in terms of lifting and also cost. We’ve also chosen dogs that don’t require over an hour’s exercise a day and ones that are generally considered healthy breeds.

However, there are hundreds of dogs that would be suitable as companions as we get older. So if you don’t find anything that takes your fancy on our list, there are plenty of other dogs out there to choose from.

Although we’ve based our list on pure-breed dogs, please don’t forget the thousands of dogs currently waiting for a best friend in the rescue centers. Not all dogs given up for adoption have problems, and there is sure to be one that would fit perfectly into your life.

If you decide that a puppy is a right choice for you, make sure that you get your puppy from a reputable breeder. Unfortunately, puppy mills are rife, and not only are they miserable places for the dogs, but you are likely to end up with a puppy with problems.

best dogs for elderly owners

7 of the best dogs for Seniors

Bichon Frise

The Bichon Frise is a hardy little dog that is affectionate, playful, and gentle. Although their grooming needs are above average, they have the advantage of being classed as non-shedders.

bichon frise for elderly owners

Exercise needs30 minutes a day
Grooming needsA brush everyday and trips to the groomers
Life expectancyOver 12 years
HealthGenerally healthy
TemperamentMerry and sensitive

Yorkshire Terrier

Despite its size, the Yorkie is a tough, spirited and affectionate dog. They need to be groomed regularly but more than makeup for this with their big personalities.

yorkshire terriers for elderly owners

Exercise needs30 minutes a day
Grooming needsA brush everyday and trips to the groomers if you want to maintain a short coat
Life expectancyOver 12 years
HealthGenerally healthy
TemperamentAlert, quick thinking and affectionate

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Who could resist a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, with an appealing face and personality to match they are gentle, affectionate, eager to please, and happy little dogs that are content with daily walks and a lap to sit on?

king charles cavaliers for elderly owners

Exercise needs1 hour a day
Grooming needsMore than once a week
Life expectancyOver 12 years
HealthHeart mitral valve disease (MVD)
TemperamentHappy, intelligent and bold

Poodle (miniature)

Poodles are great all-rounders. With three sizes to choose from, we have gone for the miniature Poodle to add to our list. They may be on the higher than average maintenance list for grooming, but they are even-tempered and highly intelligent. They make for engaging and entertaining companions.

poodles for elderly owners

Exercise needs1 hour a day
Grooming needsEveryday with trips to the groomers
Life expectancyOver 12 years
HealthGenerally healthy
TemperamentSocial, affectionate and humorous

Miniature Schnauzer

The Schnauzer makes a great companion. They are alert, intelligent, spirited, easy to train, and obedient. They are friendly with everyone and are very adaptable. With expressive eyebrows and a playful personality, they are amusing and steady companions.

schnauzers for elderly owners

Exercise needs1 hour a day
Grooming needsMore than once a week with trips to the groomers
Life expectancyOver 10 years
HealthGenerally healthy
TemperamentAdaptable, reliable and intelligent


Although the Whippet is built for speed, it doesn’t need as much exercise as you may think. Up to an hour, a day, and a play in the yard will keep your whippet happy. They are very adaptable, low maintenance, and make excellent companions for senior citizens.

whippets for elderly owners

Exercise needs1 hour a day
Grooming needs Once a week
Life expectancyOver 12 years
HealthGenerally healthy
TemperamentFriendly, gentle and affectionate

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Despite some bad press, Staffies make a wonderful companion dog. They are extremely affectionate, especially with children. They are a reliable, steady, and quiet dog breed that hates to be left alone.

staffies for elderly owners

Exercise needs1 hour a day
Grooming needs Once a week
Life expectancyOver 12 years
HealthGenerally healthy
TemperamentBold, intelligent and affectionate

How to choose

It’s important to choose the type of dog that will fit in with your current lifestyle. If you are a social butterfly or have lots of visitors that include children, you will need a steady dog that is friendly with everyone. If you prefer long walks with just your dog for company, you will need one to keep up with you.

Having a dog to share your life with is a joy, but it isn’t without its challenges. Think carefully about the next 5 to 10 years before you decide. And remember that there are many dogs out there looking for their perfect partner too.

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