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14 Best Dog Breeds for Seniors & the Elderly

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Dog with Senior

Dogs are just about the greatest creatures on the planet, and there are few things better than finding the perfect companion breed for you and your lifestyle. For senior citizens and the elderly, having a companion dog can be an extremely rewarding experience; they keep you company, can reduce stress, and they’re always happy to see you and relax with you.

Finding a good breed that matches the slower lifestyle of seniors can be a tough thing to do. A dog that’s perfect for the elderly should be fairly low energy, small enough to control easily on walks, should be relatively low maintenance, and should be affectionate and loving. Below, we’re reviewing the top 14 dog breeds that are perfect for seniors and the elderly due to their size, temperament, and companionship.

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The 14 Best Dog Breeds for Seniors:

1. Poodle

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Poodles are the perfect medium-sized dog for seniors given their friendliness, level of affection, and relatively low energy level. They’ll need to walk and exercise regularly, but they don’t require strenuous activities. When not exercising, they’re happy to relax with you and cuddle, so they make great pets for those who don’t want extensive exercise. They are extremely intelligent, can be trained easily, and can even help you around the house if they’re trained properly.

Bonus: Check out our favorite Poodle names.

2. Maltese

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The Maltese, in comparison, is a very small dog. However, inside of their tiny frame is a huge personality and a whole lot of love and affection. These dogs will bring a lot of joy and laughter to your home, and their personality and friendliness make them the perfect pint-sized companion for senior citizens. The Maltese is attentive, intelligent, and has a pretty low level of energy, so they will fit in nicely with a slower lifestyle and routine.

3. Pomeranian

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The Pomeranian, also known as the Pom Pom, is another perfectly little but boisterous dog that makes an excellent companion for the elderly. They thrive on human interaction and affection, and their low energy level means they’re usually more interested in cuddling and relaxing with you than they are in going for walks. They will need some moderate grooming, and they do tend to bark, so be prepared for a noisy pooch. The Pomeranian has a big attitude and will bring liveliness and joy everywhere they go.

4. Chihuahua

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The Chihuahua is another pooch that has a big, human-like personality packed into a small frame. These dogs are tiny, but they make amazing friends and companions for elderly owners. They tend to latch onto their owners, and they adore affection and attention on a constant basis. They don’t always take well to strangers, but they’re suited well for those who live alone and may not have company often. Chihuahuas are also very low energy dogs, so you won’t need to take them on walks often if they can get some time to play indoors.

5. Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu
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If you love the idea of a small dog who is abundantly friendly, affectionate, and low energy, the Shih Tzu may be perfect for you. They need brief daily walks but are otherwise content sitting in your lap or relaxing by your side, so they make great companions for seniors. They have few grooming needs as well, and they’re generally rather low maintenance except in how much attention they need! Shih Tzus crave your attention constantly, so if you’re looking for a pooch who will happily be a lap dog and a loving friend, look no further.

Bonus: Check out all the different recognized Shih Tzu colors.

6. Havanese

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The Havanese is a small pooch that is always full to the brim with love for their owners. They form strong bonds with their human counterparts and will always be craving your attention. They need only short walks each day, and beyond a 30-45 minute stroll, they’re happy to sit with you and get as much attention as possible. They are also outgoing and friendly toward most people and other dogs they meet, so they’re great if you have company often.

7. Lhasa Apso

Lhasa Apso
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 The Lhasa Apso is a small-to-medium-sized pup that often resembles a mop, so you can expect some regular grooming with this breed. They’re adorable pups that love attention and human interaction, but they can also be content if left alone for short periods of time. Lhasa Apsos are known for their calm and low-energy demeanor, and they have a very low tendency to bark. These two traits alone make them great options for seniors in any kind of housing, including smaller apartments.

8. Golden Retriever

golden retriever
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If you want a dear companion and are still fairly active each day, a Golden Retriever can’t be beaten in terms of friendship. These dogs are extremely happy, positive, loving, and friendly, and their intelligence and understanding of human emotions make them excellent therapy dogs. They do shed quite a bit and need daily exercise, but they are often calm indoors if they get their energy out on a daily walk. Few dogs will provide better companionship than the Golden Retriever.

9. Pug

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Pugs are adorable, low-energy dogs that make excellent companion pets for seniors as well. They require very little in the way of grooming and exercise, and they would much rather sit on your lap and snore away the afternoon than be outside on walks. They are intelligent, affectionate, and friendly, and their calm demeanor and small size make them great for any living situation, including an apartment.

Bonus: There are plenty of Pug mixed-breeds out there. Have a look at some of them here.

10. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
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This is another small-sized pooch on our list, and these pups love being lapdogs just as much as any other low-energy dog! The Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are very affectionate and love spending time with their owners. They are playful and intelligent, and their companionship will bring joy and laughter just about anywhere they go. They do need some regular exercise, but they’re happy to get their energy out playing and running in a backyard rather than out on a walk if need be. These dogs do require some grooming, but we’re sure you’ll find regular brushing a small price to pay for such a wonderful and loving friend.

11. Bichon Frise

Bichon Frise
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The Bichon Frise is a happy, friendly, and cuddly dog that has a great capacity for affection and friendship. They will stick by your side no matter what, and they’ll step between you and any threat, despite their small and unassuming size. They require some daily exercise and regular maintenance, but above all else, they need love and attention. As long as they get their energy out on a walk or two each day, they’re happy to lounge and relax with you indoors, especially if there is space for them on your lap!

12. Greyhound

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You may think the racing-oriented Greyhound made it to this list by mistake, but these dogs are actually very calm and relaxed as long as they get a modest walk or an opportunity to run around in a yard each day. These dogs are larger than most on this list, but they also respond very well to training, so you can teach them to walk calmly and at your speed fairly easily. They’re friendly and affectionate dogs that take well to visits from family and even strangers, so if you love bigger breeds but still want a dog suited for a senior lifestyle, a Greyhound may be perfect for you.

13. Boston Terrier

Boston Terrier
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The Boston Terrier may look like a bit of a pugnacious pup, but they are calm, loving, and affectionate dogs who crave human attention more than anything else. These dogs need some regular exercise but are content staying calm and relaxed for most of the day outside of exercise or playtime. They are friendly, require little grooming, and have wonderful personalities suited perfectly for companionship.

14. French Bulldog

French Bulldog
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Last on our list, but certainly not least, is the French Bulldog. There are few breeds as adaptable to slower, less energetic lifestyles than this one. These dogs are happy to expend some energy in a yard or on a short walk before cuddling up for the rest of the day indoors. They are small and unassuming, and you’ll find that they are content as long as they can be around you throughout most of the day. French Bulldogs also have amusing personalities, so get ready for laughter and joy in addition to love and affection from these dogs.

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Best Dog for Seniors: Finding Your Perfect Breed

It can be tough for any owner to keep up with a new pup. That’s why, if you’re a senior, it’s important to choose wisely which type of dog you will bring into your home and your life. Becoming a dog owner should be fun, not just work! Know that you’re in safe territory with any of these breeds on our list. No matter which you choose, know that you’ll be bringing home a friend for life.

Featured Image Credit: Boryana Manzurova, Shutterstock

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