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20 Best Dog Breeds for Seniors & The Elderly (With Pictures)

Misty Layne Profile Picture

By Misty Layne

senior woman cuddling with her dog

Canines make excellent companions no matter your age, but they’re particularly good for older adults. Studies have shown evidence that owning a dog can lower the chances of cardiovascular disease and even lessen the likelihood of depression and anxiety in people.1 There’s a reason they’re called “man’s best friend”!

But the first step of owning a dog is figuring out which breed would be best for you. There’s plenty to consider—how much room you have for a dog, how much exercise one would need, the costs, and more. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the 20 best dogs for seniors and the elderly. It’ll help you make good headway on your search for the perfect canine companion!

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The 20 Best Dog Breeds for Seniors & The Elderly

1. Beagle

beagle dog lying on the ground
Image Credit: Masarik, Shutterstock

Height 13–15 inches
Weight 20–30 lbs
Energy Moderate
If you’re a senior who’s still pretty active, a Beagle could be a perfect fit. These medium-sized pups aren’t overly active, but they’re still energetic and will love long walks or trying to chase small animals outside. More importantly, the Beagle is friendly, laidback, and fun, so the breed makes for a wonderful pet. And because they have shorter hair, they require less grooming (though they do shed, so they need to be brushed regularly). However, these dogs are scent-driven, as they used to be hunting dogs, so a Beagle may run off in search of an enticing scent; that means you need to have a fenced-in yard, or your pet must always be on a leash while outdoors!

2. Bichon Frise

white bichon frise dog sitting on the grass
Image Credit: Vladimir Nenezic, Shutterstock

Height 7–12 inches
Weight 12–18 lbs
Energy Low to moderate
These adorably fluffy dogs are known for being joyful, affectionate, and friendly. They also make wonderful pets for those who’ve never owned a dog before. And despite their fluffiness, they’re a low-shedding breed (although one that needs to be professionally groomed once a month or so). They’ll be more than happy to sit on your lap for hours at a time but do need to be walked for 20–30 minutes each day. Overall, this breed is one of the easiest for older adults!

3. Boston Terrier

Boston terrier
Image Credit: Eve Photography, Shutterstock

Height 15–17 inches
Weight 12–25 lbs
Energy Low to moderate
The Boston Terrier looks like it’s all dressed up for a fancy party, but these pups are surprisingly chill. The breed is also incredibly devoted to its owners and loves nothing more than socializing with their person, so they make fabulous companions for those who spend a lot of time at home. Because they don’t bark a lot, they’re a good fit for apartment and condo living. They do sometimes get a burst of energy, though, and will want you to play. The Boston Terrier also enjoys a short daily walk.

4. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel dog outdoors
Image Credit: Courtney Mihaka, Unsplash

Height 12–13 inches
Weight 13–18 lbs
Energy Low
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is one of the absolute best dogs for older people. These dogs are beautiful with their big floppy ears and silky coats, but they require very little maintenance—just a good brushing each day. An extremely affectionate breed, the Cavalier will love cuddling up to its owner, and its playful nature will bring joy to your life. These dogs aren’t that active; a good romp in the backyard will satisfy them. They’re also easy to train due to their eagerness to please their owners.

5. Chihuahua

chihuahua with waste bag
Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock

Height 6–9 inches
Weight 3–6 lbs
Energy Moderate to high
The Chihuahua is best for seniors who still lead relatively active lifestyles, as these pups can often have the energy of a child. Known for being full of personality and highly entertaining, these tiny pups are incredibly loyal. When not racing around, they’ll adore sitting in your lap to be petted, as they’re huge fans of affection. And with their small stature, the Chihuahua is incredibly easy to care for! However, these pups have a reputation for being yappy, so they might not be the best breed for those living in close quarters with others.

6. French Bulldog

french bulldog on the beach
Image Credit: Patryk Kosmider, Shutterstock

Height 11–13 inches
Weight 19–28 lbs
Energy Low
The French Bulldog is one of the most cheerful canines around, so they’ll be able to keep you in high spirits all the time! These medium-sized, muscular dogs will be content as long as they’re near you and aren’t overly active, so you can spend plenty of time snuggling up together. The breed also has minimal grooming needs, so caring for them is pretty easy. However, you should be aware of the French Bulldog’s propensity for brachycephalic syndrome and skin issues.

7. Golden Retriever

Smiling Golden Retriever
Image Credit: MISS_SUMMER, Pixabay

Height 21–24 inches
Weight 55–75 lbs
Energy Moderate to high
Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular dogs around, and it’s easy to see why. These pups are friendly, love to please people, loyal, and often tuned in to their humans’ emotional needs. They are an active breed, though, one that loves swimming and running, so they aren’t suitable for those who don’t get around too much. When properly exercised, the Golden Retriever will be quite laid back indoors and more than happy to try crawling into your lap for a cuddle. The bonus? Your grandkids will adore your Golden Retriever!

8. Greyhound

Image Credit: nonmisvegliate, Pixabay

Height 25–30 inches
Weight 60–80 lbs
Energy Low to moderate
When you think of great dog breeds for seniors, the Greyhound probably isn’t the first breed that comes to mind. After all, these are large racing dogs! But Greyhounds are incredibly laidback and, despite being racers, aren’t as high-energy as you’d think. These pups are perfectly happy with a nice walk a day and the ability to run every once in a while. They’re also quite simple to train, so it’s easy to handle them despite their larger size. The only downside with the Greyhound is you do need a bit of space to house one. But if you’re older and prefer large dogs, this could be the perfect pet for you!

9. Havanese

a sable havanese puppy in the park
Image Credit: Dorottya Mathe, Shutterstock

Height 8.5–11.5 inches
Weight 7–13 lbs
Energy Low to moderate
These small, fuzzy pups are a fabulous option for seniors looking for an extremely sociable pet. Always eager for attention, the Havanese gets along with practically everyone it meets (though it’s happiest when with its owner!). In fact, this breed doesn’t enjoy being left alone, so they’re a perfect fit for those who spend most of their time at home. They’re also incredibly intelligent, so you’ll have a simpler time training them. A daily walk should suffice when it comes to exercise (though be prepared for your pup to stop to say hi to each person and animal it comes across!). The Havanese does require lots of brushing due to its coat, but you can also keep its fur at a shorter length to save time on grooming.

10. Labrador Retriever

labrador retriever dog standing on long grasses
Image Credit: Tosha174, Shutterstock

Height 21.5–24.5 inches
Weight 55–80 lbs
Energy Moderate to high
The Labrador is another of the most popular breeds, and it’s no wonder why. This breed is friendly and outgoing and adores being around people, which is why they make such wonderful companions. They’re also often used as service dogs, so they’re easily trained. And if you’re someone who deals with anxiety, you’ll find that this is one of the best dogs to help with that. The breed does need about 45 minutes of exercise a day, but that can come in many forms—a long walk, a trip to the dog park, or fetch in the yard. Still, you do need to be a bit active to keep up with a Lab. You’ll have plenty of fun with these pups, though (as will the grandkids)!

11. Lhasa Apso

Image Credit: SubertT, Shutterstock

Height 9–11 inches
Weight 13–18 lbs
Energy Moderate to high
The Lhasa Apso is one of the calmest of the toy breeds, so they do well in smaller spaces, such as apartments and condos. Though incredibly loving and affectionate with their people, these pups are also fairly independent, so they’re alright being left on their own some of the time. The Lhasa Apso is also highly protective of its owner, but that doesn’t mean it will always bark; this dog only does that when it has a good reason to. Energy-wise, the Lhasa Apso loves to take walks, but it will likely tire itself out within 15–20 minutes. Their coats do require a bit of grooming, though, so you’ll need to brush your dog once a day.

12. Maltese

happy adult maltese running outdoor
Image Credit: Kimrawicz, Shutterstock

Height 8–10 inches
Weight 4–7 lbs
Energy Low
If you’re looking for an incredibly easy dog to own, look no further than the Maltese. This small pup is the quintessential lap dog, so it will be happiest when it’s snuggled up with you. These dogs are also easy to pick up and carry around everywhere you go; you can even fit them into your bag! And the Maltese has a lot of personality, often including a big heart and lots of quirkiness, so it’s guaranteed to bring you plenty of joy. When it comes to exercise, your dog will only need a short walk to satisfy it. But when it comes to grooming, you will need to visit the groomer regularly to maintain the Maltese’s long, silky coat.

13. Miniature Schnauzer

miniature schnauzer dog at the park
Image Credit: Roman Zaiets, Shutterstock

Height 12–14 inches
Weight 11–20 lbs
Energy Moderate to high
These small, sturdy pups shed so little they’re considered “hypoallergenic”, so they’re good for older people with allergies. They also require little grooming, which is a plus. The Miniature Schnauzer is affectionate and loves to play; in fact, this dog is fairly active and will need almost an hour of exercise and play a day, so you will need to be able to keep up with it. A trip to the dog park or playing with rambunctious grandchildren will thrill it, though! These dogs can also be extremely calm, enough so that they make fabulous therapy dogs. Once they’ve gotten their daily exercise, the Miniature Schnauzer will be perfectly happy watching television with you or “helping” while you bake!

14. Pembroke Welsh Corgi

pembroke welsh corgi dog sitting on the ground
Image Credit: Natalia Fedosova, Shutterstock

Height 10–12 inches
Weight 24–30 lbs
Energy Low to moderate
This British dog breed is well-known for being a favorite of Queen Elizabeth II, and chances are they’ll quickly become a favorite of yours, too! With its tiny legs and pointy ears, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is adorable, and its size makes it suitable for living in smaller spaces. These pups love to please people and adore being the center of attention. They make fairly good watchdogs, too, if that’s something you’re looking for. They aren’t incredibly active, but they need at least a daily walk and love being outdoors. One downside to the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is that it’s rather barky, so this might not be the most suitable breed if you have close neighbors.

15. Pomeranian

Red pomeranian sitting in the dirt
Image Credit: TATYANA ZAGORNYAK, Shutterstock

Height 6–7 inches
Weight 3–7 lbs
Energy Low
If your goal is to have a tiny pup you can take with you everywhere, then the Pomeranian could be the perfect fit! These dogs are incredibly small (and adorable since they look more like little puffballs than anything). The Pomeranian is super affectionate, loves interacting with people, and enjoys playing. But they’re also more than happy to relax with you and curl up in your lap. If you’re concerned about having a “Velcro dog”, no worries here, as this breed generally has an independent streak. Their puffball status means their coats require a bit more grooming than you’d get with a short-hair breed, but it isn’t unmanageable. And, despite their size, the Pomeranian is a rather fabulous watchdog—the breed is alert and prone to barking. They also have low exercise needs, so a quick walk and some playtime should suffice!

16. Poodle

Sable Poodle
Image Credit: Wally82, Shutterstock

Height Toy: 10 inches & under; Miniature: 10–15 inches; Standard: 15 inches
Weight Toy: 5–9 lbs; Miniature: 15–18 lbs; Standard: 45–70 lbs
Energy Low to moderate
The great thing about the Poodle is there’s a size for everyone! No matter if you want a toy, miniature, or standard size, you’ll find it with the Poodle. The other fabulous thing about this dog breed is its intelligence. Poodles are among the smartest canines, so you can not only house train them easily, but you can even teach them to help you with things around the house. Other wonderful things about the Poodle include its loyalty, affectionate nature, and adaptive nature. These pups don’t need a ton of exercise; just a daily walk should be good for them. However, they do need to be professionally groomed about once a month.

17. Pug

fawn pug puppy
Image Credit: kikkian, Shutterstock

Height 10–13 inches
Weight 14–18 lbs
Energy Low
The Pug was bred to be a lap dog, so you’ll have no trouble convincing it to curl up in your lap while you read or watch television. This breed is incredibly loving and will give you all the kisses while you cuddle if you allow it to! These dogs are also on the excitable side, but that doesn’t mean they’re highly energetic. A quick walk will keep them happy. However, Pugs do come with a couple of health concerns, mainly brachycephalic syndrome and obesity. Just be careful to keep your dog on a healthy diet to avoid obesity-related health problems.

18. Shih Tzu

shih tzu dog running outdoors with tongue out
Image Credit: Nikolay Tchaouchev, Unsplash

Height 8–11 inches
Weight 9–16 lbs
Energy Low to moderate
If you’re seeking a smaller dog that isn’t big on barking, consider the Shih Tzu. These lap dogs live for their owner’s attention and bond quickly with people, so you’ll have a new best friend in no time. And their size makes them a perfect fit for smaller spaces, such as condos. Though plenty playful, the Shih Tzu isn’t highly active, so a quick daily walk will be enough exercise for them. And their happy-go-lucky personalities will provide you with lots of cheer! These pups do have a bit of a stubborn streak at times, though, so watch for that. They also need regular brushings to keep their coats looking fantastic, but that will provide excellent bonding time for the two of you.

19. West Highland White Terrier

west highland white terrier dog standing on grass
Image Credit: Nixx Photography, Shutterstock

Height 10–11 inches
Weight 13–20 lbs
Energy Low
The West Highland White Terrier, aka the “Westie,” may be small, but they’re incredibly sturdy for their size! These pups are also quite low-maintenance, making them an excellent fit for seniors. With a friendly, charming personality, this dog is sure to delight, and if you aren’t always up to playing with it, no worries, as the Westie can easily entertain itself. However, this dog will need at least a short walk a day to help it get all its energy out. Its coat does require a bit of regular brushing, but it isn’t that difficult to maintain. This small dog’s large personality will guarantee you always have a hilarious companion around!

20. Yorkshire Terrier

yorkshire terrier dog standing on a wooden table
Image Credit: Mr. SUTTIPON YAKHAM, Shutterstock

Height 7–8 inches
Weight 6–9 lbs
Energy Low to moderate
Want a pup that’ll keep you on your toes? Look no further than the Yorkshire Terrier! Yorkies may be small, but they have large, feisty, occasionally stubborn personalities that are tons of fun. These pups are also incredibly affectionate and want to be the center of your attention at all times, so you’ll certainly never get lonely. They enjoy going on walks but aren’t high-energy, so they’re equally happy relaxing with you. Their coats are fairly high-maintenance, though; you’ll need to brush your dog out daily and keep its fur regularly trimmed.

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Plenty of wonderful dog breeds will make great pets if you’re a senior looking for a dog. Even if you aren’t as active as you once were, you can still get a canine companion, as there are several that are relatively low-energy and don’t require much more than a short walk to be happy. Whichever breed you go with, you’ll have a wonderful new pal that can help keep your mind and heart happy!

Featured Image Credit: Ground Picture, Shutterstock

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