Best Dogs For Seniors: Top 20 breeds

Most older adults love animals and most especially dogs. This is because they have that extra time that they may have always wanted to take care of an animal such as a dog. The thing is that a dog is able to offer us the kind of companionship that is very healthy. It is always advisable to actually share a part of your life with one.

However, there are different things in your lifestyle and health that may make it hard for you to own a dog because you may not be able to care for it well. The most important thing, therefore, is to find the best dogs for seniors that can match your abilities and lifestyle despite age.

Owning a dog can have a lot of emotional and health benefits. This is because companionship with our four-legged friends reduces stress and it lowers blood pressure. When you have a dog, the chances are that anxiety and depression will be greatly reduced.

When you exercise or take the dog for a walk, you are essentially staying active, which is always very important for health. If you can take care of a dog, then you should definitely own one.

Choose a dog that matches the lifestyle you lead. It is also very important to be sure that all the needs of the dog will be met. This includes healthcare, grooming, and even exercise.

What is the best pet for an elderly person?

Loneliness is probably the hardest thing that seniors have to deal with every day. This is because their children are already grown up and probably moved out of the nest.

Their spouse may also have already departed, leaving them feeling isolated. Having pets for seniors can alleviate this situation. However, which is the best pet?

According to studies, companion animals can lift your spirit incredibly but you also need to consider that taking care of them is ever easy so you need to choose wisely. Dogs for elderly are the best choice. They are intelligent animals and can be taught a lot. The other options include birds and cats.

Which dog breeds are most affectionate?

Some dog breeds prefer being by themselves most of the time while others want to be around you most of the time. If you love an affectionate dog, then you should pick one with that trait. There are dogs with great personality characteristics and they tend to be the best for the elderly. They, in no particular order, include:

  1. Golden Retriever
  2. Labrador Retriever
  3. Affenpinscher
  4. Old English Sheepdog
  5. Brussels Griffon
  6. Pit Bull
  7. Cavalier King Charles spaniel
  8. Shelter Mutt
  9. English bulldog
  10. Great Dane
  11. Collie
  12. Irish Wolfhound
  13. Chihuahua
  14. Maltese
  15. Shih Tzu

How to choose the best dogs for seniors?

Getting the best dogs for senior citizens is a great decision and it should not be taken lightly. Before you even start the process involved, you should first evaluate your needs and your capability of taking care of one.

Understanding dog ownership means that you will be ready for the responsibilities that lie ahead. When you are ready, then you need to find out what the right dog is in the first place.

  • Size

For the elderly, this is very important. You may want a little dog that can be placed on the lap or a dog that can be easily carried around. In case the elderly person cannot handle a lap dog, you may consider a giant or large dog breed that can keep them occupied.

A medium sized dog is also a good consideration. Small dogs are usually vulnerable and quite delicate, so they require a lot of care or serious injuries can occur. They are also sensitive to cold temperatures. Some of the smaller dogs have a “tough” attitude. Large dogs tend to need more space and more food.

  • Activity level

We all have different characters and if you are to get a dog for an elderly person, then you should consider what they like. The activity level of the dog should match the elderly persons need. Some dogs are very energetic.

This may have to do with the breed, although this is not the only determinant. Active dogs need to be walked several times a day. Make sure that the elderly person can handle all these or they can afford to get someone to do it for them. The elderly person should be ready to offer the attention and exercise that the dog needs or have someone to do it.

  • Maintenance

The way a dog looks physically has to do with maintenance. Dogs need grooming. However, there are some more demanding dogs, especially based on the color and type of their hair coat. If the hair of the dog is ever growing, then you need routine grooming and it has to be done regularly.

The short-haired dogs are shedders so you should be ready to clean more often. Some tools can reduce this. Dogs with floppy ears happen to get ear infections often and so they need ear cleaning thoroughly and regularly. There are also some dogs that drool, be sure the elderly person is ready for the task.

  • Age

The age of a dog determines how much attention it really needs. Puppies need a lot of attention and training, especially when they are in the first months of life. This means they can take up a lot of your time. Puppies may chew on belongings, but the issues lessen as they grow older and are trained.

If you choose a mixed breed, you may not be able to predict their character when they are all grown up. Adult dogs, especially if already trained, are a great choice for the elderly who cannot handle younger dogs. A senior dog can also be considered especially when you do not want too much energy around the home. However, be aware that just like us as we age, the senior dogs will require special care.

  • Breed

Purebred dogs are popular and most people are attracted to some breeds for very specific reasons. In this case, you can choose a pure breed or a mixed breed. You need to evaluate your capability of handling the breed that you choose.

An elderly person has to deal with different limitations and they need to pick a breed that will not be too demanding on them. Health, grooming, and temperament are some of the things that you need to consider a particular breed. The breed should be able to fit the lifestyle of the elderly loved one. Seniors need a breed that is intelligent and good-natured.

  • Physical appearance

Being around animals can be therapeutic. However, you need to actually like an animal to be attached to it. Physical appearance is very important to consider. Some dogs are cute, cuddly, and fluffy. Others are masculine and tough looking.

There are those with a field temperament while others may be fierce and intimidating. Sometimes this can be seen through their physical appearance. Every elderly person has their own personal preference when it comes to picking the ideal dog. Ensure that they can handle it they will be living in fear.

Best 20 dog breeds for seniors

According to research, pet ownership has many benefits for the physical, emotional, and mental health of seniors. A dog can be a source of happiness and joy for the owner regardless of age. Seniors find having a dog a wonderful way of dealing with loneliness because they offer companionship. The following are some of the best dogs for elderly:

1. Bichon Frise

Bichon Frise - best dogs for seniorsThis is an affectionate and joyful dog that is a great companion. The average weight is around seven to twelve pounds. The dog is a small breed and it is quite easy to manage.

Training a bichon is not hard. You can do periodic grooming and the maintenance is low. You can choose to take the dog to a groomer every month to get a professional outcome.

To keep the dog healthy, you need to make plans for exercises. Exercising also ensures that the dog remains happy and therefore a good companion.

2. Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever - best dogs for seniorsThis is a rather large dog and it is so called because it retrieves waterfowl after they are shot. Waterfowl include game birds and ducks. These are very useful to shooting and hunting parties. They retrieve the game without any damage because they have soft mouths.

They love water and they can be trained easily regardless of whether you want the advanced or basic standards. This breed is an amazing choice for a residence in the country or suburb environments.

When the seasons change, they tend to shed copiously so you should be ready for regular grooming. They are great as assistant dogs for people with disabilities and seniors. It is gentle and friendly.

3. French Bulldog 

French Bulldog - best dogs for seniorsFrench bulldogs are very happy animals and it is almost impossible to feel sad when they are around. Of all the breeds, these are definitely very cheerful. They are muscular and compact dogs, but they are active.

They can weigh between 19-29 lbs. But they can be managed easily. They have a lot of energy and that is why they are so active. However, they do not have the endurance. This means that they should be exercised moderately on a daily basis.

The kind of grooming that they need is just like a normal dog’s and it mainly depends on the pet owner. You may, however, have to deal with some health issues like skin disease and brachycephalic.

4. Boston Terrier 

Boston Terrier - best dogs for seniorsThe dogs are originally from the USA. They are seal, brindle, or black and often they have white marks. They are a small sized dog breed. Their height can be anywhere between 9-15 inches.

The weight range is 12 kg. The Boston terrier dogs are very friendly and they work quite hard to impress the owners. You won’t have to deal with too much if you choose to keep these pets.

Its friendly and strong personality is one of the things that make it a great choice for the elderly. They can also be quite protective and so they become territorial, especially when they are around strangers and other pets.

5. Maltese

Maltese - best dogs for seniorsThis is another small dog breed. The average weight of this breed is around 1 to 4 kg. The average height is between 8 to 10 inches. The Maltese was bred specifically to be a great companion pet. This is why they enjoy being near humans.

This means that the breed is an amazing fit for the elderly. The only downside regarding this breed is their barking habit. As the dog’s ages, they still maintain their playful demeanor and energy level constantly.

Some of these dogs can be a bit snappish when they are around children so you need to have them supervised if they are playing. They are however one of the best dog breeds for seniors.

6. Pug

Pug - best dogs for seniorsThis dog breed is very distinctive when you consider the features. It is wrinkly and has a face that is short muzzled. Its tail is also curled. The coat is glossy and fine and it has different colors.

The most common ones are black and fawn. The body is compact and has muscles that are well developed. The mood of a pug mainly depends on how the owner is.

If the owner is depressed and sad, it means that the pug will also feel that way. They weigh around 9 kg and they have a hard time handling the heat.

7. Pomeranian

Pomeranian - best dogs for seniorsThis dog is often referred to as Pom. It is a Spitz type breed and its lifespan is around 12-16 years. Pomeranians are playful and friendly. They are also intelligent animals and they can be trained easily.

They are affectionate and very cute and it is these traits that make them such a perfect option for seniors. This breed can be aggressive with other humans or dogs to try to make a point.

They are also very alert and can detect when the environment changes. They are also territorial and they may react whenever they hear buses.

8. Schnauzer

Schnauzer - best dogs for seniorsThis dog breed is from Germany. It has a bearded snout and thus the name, which means mustache. The intelligence of this breed is above average.

Its mind is also independent and so you should train it as early as possible. Also, you should make sure that different methods of exercising are applied. The dog is energetic and protective as well. If any danger arises, the dog will definitely warn you.

Because of their nature, they may bark persistently. The best way to deal with the barking is through training. The dog has a double coat. For this reason, stripping off the undercoat has to be done about twice every year.

9. Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu - best dogs for seniorsThis is yet another best small dog for seniors. Its weight can be anywhere between 9-16 pounds. The breed is quite easy to handle.

The dog is a bit stubborn, but they can be trained easily. If you choose this dog, then you have to carry out periodic grooming and daily walks. These are very important things to remember.

The breed may develop some skin issues as well as brachycephalic syndrome, but not as much as the French Bulldog. Their lifespan is around 12 years. This means that your elderly love done will have a lot of time to spend with the dog.

10. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel - best dogs for seniorsThis is a small dog breed whose origin is in the UK. Its popularity has grown over the years and today it is amongst the most popular pure breeds in the USA.

The coat is smooth and silky while the tail is undocked. It comes in different colors and or is a friendly and affectionate dog. It is a great dog if you have kids around and it is friendly to other animals.

The thing about this dog is that it needs a lot of interaction with humans. This means that you should not leave it alone for long time periods, making it an ideal companion dog for the elderly.

11. Havanese

Havanese - best dogs for seniorsThis is Cuba’s national dog. It is a small dog that has a sturdy structure and its tail is usually carried over the back. Its ears fold and drop. It has a coat that is silky, long, and abundant.

They come in many different colors. The personality of the dog is curious. The Havanese has a springy gait and this is what distinguishes this breed from others.

This is a great companion dog and many people recognize it as a family pet. They can adapt to many different environments. They have many needs socially. They should not be isolated.

12. Greyhound

Greyhound - best dogs for seniorsThis breed is meant for greyhound racing. Retired greyhounds are adopted quite largely and this has made the breed resurge in its popularity as a pet.

The breed is a tall, a slender, graceful dog, which is smooth, coated, and they are characterized with keen sight and swiftness. This breed is intelligent and gentle and has powerful legs, flexible spine, deep chest, and they are slim too.

This is what allows them to manage average speeds with a full speed of about 70 kilometers per hour. They are calm, easy-going, lazy, and docile and this makes them a great choice for the elderly.

13. Lhasa Apso

Lhasa Apso - best dogs for seniorsThis dog breed originates in Tibet. It was used in Buddhist monasteries to let the monks know when there were intruders. This dog can be trained even though it takes time to do so.

The dog is very loyal to the owner and that is why it serves as a great companion. The dogs are independent and they are always trying to please even though they may be hostile towards strangers.

It takes time for owners to build trust. The dog is calm and intelligent and even though they are not easily trained, they can be entertaining and comical. They are also caring as companions.

14. Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Pembroke Welsh Corgi - best dogs for seniorsThis is a breed used for herding cattle originating from Pembrokeshire. This breed is very famous and it is the breed that Queen Elizabeth II prefers. The dog is said to be a great working dog and it stands as a popular breed even today.

The breed is affectionate and they love being around a family. They usually follow their owners and they try hard to please them. They are always eager to train and to learn.

They are an easy breed to train. They have functioned as watchdogs because they are alert and they bark only when there is a need to do so. They are also good around children as well as pets.

15. Beagle

Beagle - best dogs for seniorsThis is small hound and its appearance is a bit larger than a foxhound’s. It is also a scent hound and its development was for hunting hare. Its sense of smell is great and it also has great tracking instincts.

It is used as a detection dog for foodstuffs and agricultural imports that are prohibited. The breed is quite intelligent and its popularity is because of the good temper and size. It does not come with any inherited health issues as well.

It has a gentle disposition and an even temper. It is a merry dog and it is neither timid nor aggressive depending on the surroundings and the individual. They are not friendly with strangers, but love being around people and can be easily befriended.

16. Poodle

Poodle - best dogs for seniorsThis breed is an intelligent one and it is skillful in different sporting activities. The most outstanding thing about the dog is beauty. The dogs are easily trained and they are an amazing option for seniors.

They are formal dogs and their origin is disputed. The poodle ranks second in terms of intelligence. They are agile dogs. They are also very obedient and serve as assistance dogs. They are also common with circus performers.

They are also sociable and energetic. They need activities that are both intellectual and physical. They may act reserved when around strangers, but they become more friendly over time.

17. Chihuahua

Chihuahua - best dogs for seniorsThis is a Mexican breed and it is among the smallest dogs on earth. They weigh around three kgs. And can reach a height of up to 10 inches. Their lifespan is anywhere between 12 and 20 years.

This means that a senior person who chooses a Chihuahua as a companion will definitely have it for a long time especially if the dog is cared for well. The breed is very protective and loyal which makes it an even better choice for seniors.

Just like other dogs, the Chihuahua needs training and socialization. This is the only way you can guarantee that they will thrive. The dogs can be easily provoked, especially when they feel frightened or if they are not well socialized. They are also one of the best dog for older person.

18. West Highland White Terrier

West Highland White Terrier - best dogs for seniorsThis dog is often referred to as the Westie. The breed is from Scotland and has a coat that is white harsh. The undercoat is soft and white as well. The white fur fills the face and it gets that rounded appearance.

It is an intelligent breed that can be easily trained. It is also quite good with the kids even though sometimes it cannot handle rough handling. It is active as it is intelligent.

The temperament of the dog can vary a lot. Some are very friendly while others prefer to be alone. They can be toy or food possessive at times and so this makes it very important to train them while they are still young.

19. Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terrier - best dogs for seniorsThis is another small dog breed and its origin is England. The maximum size is 3.2 kg. The dog is quite popular as a companion. It has also been used in developing other breeds like the Australian silky terrier.

The coat can be tan, black, or gray. Even though it is a small dog, it is quite overprotective and active. It is also a curious dog and loves attention.

When mentally sound and secure emotionally, they don’t show the submissive temperament that is common with lap dogs. However, this behavior can become apparent if they are not trained properly. The dog is better for older families.

20. Welsh Terrier

Welsh Terrier - best dogs for seniorsThis breed is from wales and it was originally meant for hunting badger, rodents, and fox. Its temperament is typical to the terrier dogs. When in the right hands, it can be lively and happy.

It is rarely timid or shy even though it may have a kind of attitude at times. The dog is friendly with dogs and people, but doesn’t back down when it feels challenged.

These are good dogs for the elderly and can serve as devoted friends and are ideal for the countryside or city. This makes them one of the most suitable options for seniors.


The above are dogs that can be a perfect fit for the elderly. If you are in a position to take care of a dog, then you should be able to have one without any issue. It is important for a senior to pick a dog that they can actually care for or have someone do it for them. Pick dogs for older people that can blend into your lifestyle without feeling out of place or distressed. Grooming, healthcare, and exercise are some of the most important things for a dog. If the senior person is still in good health and active, then a high-energy dog can be a great choice for them.

Written By
Kate Mallord is a health blogger. In the year 1988, She graduated from the University of Texas School of Medicine at San Antonio. Kate is an exemplary doctor. She has always devoted herself to caring for older adult patients. Read More