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30 Worst Dog Breeds for Seniors and Elderly (With Pictures)

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

senior man sitting beside a beagle

There are thousands of dog breeds available ranging in size from the Chihuahua, which can almost literally fit in the pocket, to the Great Dane, which is large enough to take over pretty much any apartment or home. Many of them make great companions and watchdogs for seniors and the elderly, but many of them are considered unsuitable. Some are too boisterous, some require too much care, and others are prone to serious physical health problems that would make them unmanageable for all but the most physically able of people.

Below, we have included a list of 30 dogs that are not considered suitable as senior companion dogs, along with the reasons why they should be avoided.

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The 30 Worst Dog Breeds for Seniors and Elderly:

1. Dalmatian

dalmatian standing on snow
Image Credit: Rebecca Scholz, Pixabay

The Dalmatian is a beautiful, well-recognized breed. They are often referred to as the “fire engine” dog and have been used for search and rescue missions.

However, while there is no doubting their beauty or their skills, there is also no doubting their physicality. These dogs require a lot of outdoor exercise, and if they don’t get it, they are likely to become emotionally unstable. They may be destructive and very difficult to handle. They are also stubborn, which means that they are difficult to train except in the most experienced hands of capable handlers. They are also high maintenance as they shed all through the year.

2. Jack Russell Terrier

jack russell terrier outdoor
Image: Jumpstory

The Jack Russell Terrier is the archetypal terrier dog. They were bred to hunt and kill rats and other small animals, and they retain this hunting behavior. As such, the Jack Russell will chase virtually anything smaller than them, and a few animals that are the same size as them.

They will pull on the leash if they see a cat, a squirrel, and sometimes even a leaf or a bag. They can jump over fences, dig under walls, and they love to roam and will go looking for the opportunity to do so if it isn’t naturally presented to them. The Jack Russell Terrier can also be nippy, especially if they are not receiving enough daily exercise. They are very stubborn, too, which makes training them a major challenge.

3. Labrador Retriever

black labrador retriever
Image credit: Jumpstory

It feels counterintuitive placing the Labrador Retriever on any list of unsuitable dogs. They are the most popular breed in the world. They are loving, can be a little bit goofy, and are considered the perfect family pet thanks to their generally pleasant demeanor.

One of the reasons for the Lab’s popularity as a pet is also one of the reasons that they are not suitable as an elderly companion: they require a lot of attention. They also need a very good amount of exercise, and they particularly enjoy laying on their owner’s feet, lap, and other available parts of the body.

4. Pit Bull

male vs female pitbull
Image credit: Melounix, Shutterstock

The Pit Bull has received a lot of bad press over the years. They have proven popular with breeders looking for fighting dogs, and they are often trained to be aggressive. With that said, a well-socialized dog that is discouraged from being aggressive can make a loving and loyal pet. But, one of the reasons for the Pit Bull’s popularity as a fighter is that he has perfect physical attributes for the job. They are naturally aggressive, have a very strong jaw, and will never back down from confrontation. They also need plenty of time outdoors, or they will act out if they feel like they are cooped up.

5. German Shorthaired Pointer

German Shorthaired Pointer pointing
Image credit: Burry van den Brink, Shutterstock

The German Shorthaired Pointer makes a great family pet for extremely active and lively families. Even with a family of four bowing to their energetic and lively demands, the Pointer will have energy left to spare. And they will use it. They don’t act out, per se, but a bored German Shorthaired Pointer will look for innovative ways to entertain themselves. These tend to be quite destructive in nature.

They can be trained, but it takes time, and even when fully trained, they still need a lot of daily exercise.

6. Springer Spaniel

English Springer Spaniels
Image credit: Photosounds, Shutterstock

The Springer Spaniel is a beautiful and friendly dog and, in most cases, has a heart of gold. However, the phenomenon that is referred to as “Springer rage” is real, and estimates suggest that around one-quarter of this breed has bitten somebody.

This is also another very active dog with incredible exercise demands. They love to swim, will roll around in the mud, and will bring most of the puddles home with them. What’s more, this breed’s long and wavy hair takes a lot of care.

7. Border Collie

border collie
Image credit: Pikrepo

The Border Collie is the archetypal sheepdog. They will work tirelessly in the field, is considered one of the most intelligent dog breeds in the world, and excels at dog agility and other dog competitions.

Their intelligence means that the Border Collie is always looking for mental stimulation. Their tireless attitude means that they are looking for physical stimulation, too. And because they are so intelligent, they can easily find ways of providing this entertainment themselves. They are another breed, like the Springer, that will bring most of the field home with them in their coat.

8. Pug

Image credit: Pxhere

The Pug has risen to become one of the most popular breeds in the world. He looks and acts funny, and they can be very loyal. But they also come with a long list of problems.

Breathing difficulties, snoring, bad gas, and a desire to go to the bathroom anywhere in the house are just some of the main problems. Then there’s the litany of illnesses that they are prone to. Owners of this breed tend to spend a lot of time at the vet.

9. Beagle

Image credit: Alexey Androsov, Shutterstock

Like a lot of the breeds on this list, the biggest potential problem with the smart Beagle is their high energy demands. This hunting dog must be walked on a leash and will drag their owner for miles at a brisk pace, never slowing down except if he catches what they believe to be their hunting quarry.

They are also very vocal dogs. They bay, howl, and bark to get their owner’s attention. Unfortunately, the level of noise they produce will probably get the attention of most people on the street, too.

10. Irish Setter

irish setter in mountains
Image Credit: Kseniia Kolesnikova, Shutterstock

Irish Setters are like red-haired puppies throughout their entire lives. And despite looking sleek, they can be quite accident-prone. Their coats require a lot of maintenance. They abhor being left alone and are prone to a host of health conditions that will mean plenty of trips to the vet, too.

11. Husky

Siberian Husky indoor
Image credit: Jumpstory

The Siberian Husky is a striking-looking animal reminiscent of a wolf. They have been bred to pull carts through the snow for many hours a day with very little need for rest. As it is unlikely you will be using them in this way at home, they will look for other ways in which to expend their massive energy reserves.

They are also loud, prone to howling, and enjoy being up high. They also love to be outdoors, and they will use every open door or open window as an opportunity to get out. They are cold-weather dogs, so they will shed a lot, too, and this means multiple sweeping and cleaning-up sessions over a day.

12. Australian Shepherd

blue eyed australian shepherd
Image credit: eather Skau, Shutterstock

The Australian Shepherd shares a lot of the same tendencies as the Border Collie. They will happily run and herd for 12 hours a day, and when he’s done, they can probably manage another couple of hours more. They require this high level of exercise every single day, with no excuses, so even if you’re having a slow day, your Aussie Shepherd is not.

13. Cocker Spaniel

Black English Cocker Spaniel
Image credit: Aneta Jungerova, Shutterstock

Cocker Spaniels are sporting dogs. They look elegant, but they are highly demanding pets.

First, there’s their long coat. It requires daily brushing and will pick up leaves, water, and just about any dirt and debris from the house or yard. Then there are the ears. Their ears are prone to infection, which means that you will have to inspect inside them every day and probably clean them out with a damp cloth. There’s also the energy levels, which are something that we have mentioned in a lot of breeds.

As a sporting dog, the Cocker Spaniel requires time outside running around. They also need mental stimulation. Finally, they require a lot of cuddles and attention, which sounds great—but it may be too much for one person to provide.

14. Rottweiler

Image credit: TeamK, Pixabay

The Rottweiler makes a great guard dog and protection dog. One of the skills needed to excel in these areas is a wariness towards strangers. When combined with their incredible strength, this makes the Rottweiler very difficult to manage when on a leash. And they should always be on a leash. If they perceive any kind of threat, they can become aggressive if they have not been properly trained.

15. Akita Dog

Image credit: Nikoleta Vukovic, Shutterstock

Akita dogs were bred as a protector in their homeland of Japan, where they were also seen as a sign of prosperity. If you had an Akita, it meant that you had something to protect. Today, they are friendly and loyal to their owners. But they do not play well with other animals. This includes animals in the house, but also in the park and on the street. They also require proper grooming to ensure their coat is kept in the best possible condition.

16. Chow Chow Dog

chowchow in china
Image credit: Katoosha, Shutterstock

The Chow Chow has a reputation for being aggressive. Typically, this aggression is aimed toward people and animals that the dog perceives as being a threat to his family, but it can be a real problem.

While they don’t require a lot of exercise, and they enjoy some time alone, they are not suitable pets for seniors, especially those with grandchildren, because they don’t usually get along well with children.

17. Airedale Terrier

Airedale Terrier on grass
Image credit: Lumia Studio, Shutterstock

Some Terrier breeds are named because they look like Terriers. The Airedale Terrier is not such a breed. They are named Terrier because he was bred to hunt and kill rats and rodents. They retain this prey drive, which means that they can take off at a second’s notice if they see something small and running. They are high-energy, and they need to be well-exercised to be happy.

18. Afghan Hound

Portrait of two Afghan greyhounds_wildstrawberry_shutterstock
Image credit: wildstrawberry, Shutterstock

The Afghan Hound has hair like an 80s glam rocker, and they are going to take as much maintenance as their highly coiffured look suggests. They require almost constant grooming. They are also high energy, even though running around will undoubtedly cause knotted locks and yet another meeting with the dog brush.

They are a striking dog to look at, but this is perhaps the best approach to this breed—adore them from a distance and settle on a more suitable pooch for your senior years.

19. Basenji Dog

Basenji outdoor
Image credit: Verbitskaya Juliya, Shutterstock

The Basenji is widely considered one of the oldest dog breeds in the world. They are also one of the most active, and not only does he need a daily walk, but they will demand a daily romp. If they don’t get this romp outside, they will embark on an indoor romp, which can mean serious damage to your property.

They can also be very loyal and fiercely protective of their family. Combine this protectiveness with their strength, and you have a dog that is difficult to manage on walks but that requires a lot of them.

20. Australian Cattle Dog

Australian Cattle Dog
Image credit: Best dog photo, Shutterstock

Cattle dogs and herders share the same high energy requirements. You can add the Australian Cattle Dog to the same list as the Border Collie and the Australian Shepherd. They will demand multiple walks a day, and they will take you over mountains and into valleys. They are also prone to barking and being noisy, so there are several ways in which they simply are not suitable for apartment living and can be a challenge even in a generously proportioned house.

21. Cane Corso Dog

brindle cane corso
Image credit: Stivog, Shutterstock

A lot of breeds have made this list because they require huge amounts of exercise every day. The Cane Corso is not an overly active breed, although he does still require some daily exercise. They will enjoy walks more than runs, but several other factors mean they are not considered suitable for seniors.

For a start, the Cane Corso is a big dog. This does not automatically mean that they are unsuitable for the role, but combined with their headstrong and stubborn nature and their desire to be the dominant top dog in the house, they will prove too much to handle for the vast majority of owners, regardless of age.

22. Neopolitan Mastiff

Neopolitan Mastiff on meadows
Image credit: Christian Mueller, Shutterstock

The Neopolitan Mastiff is similar in its tendencies to the Cane Corso. They are a big breed that does not require too much exercise, but they are stubborn and will expect to get their own way.

They are also massive dogs that will not do well in an apartment because they will tend to knock things over or stand on their feet. This Mastiff is best left to experienced handlers with a lot of room and experience owning this type of breed.

23. Briard Dog

Briard in park
Image credit: kyliskova.cz, Shutterstock

The Briard is a French dog that was used to herd and round up animals. They are made for outdoor living. As well as the incredible shaggy coat, they even have double dew claws, which make them better equipped to deal with difficult terrain than most other breeds.

They are big and strong and have a tendency to herd anything and everything in their family. In addition to having high exercise requirements, their coats will need regular grooming, and it has a tendency to pick up objects like they were magnetized. These aspects don’t make them a good match for a calmer lifestyle.

24. German Shepherd

black and red german shepherd
Image credit: Osetrik, Shutterstock

The German Shepherd is one of the most widely recognized breeds in the world. They are a popular family pet. They are used as guard dogs privately and in service of the Armed Forces and the police. They make excellent search and rescue dogs and are used to sniff out bombs and drugs in some of the most difficult and trying conditions around the globe.

However, they do have high energy levels. They are also prone to several health conditions, which can make them expensive to keep. Finally, although they can be well trained by an experienced handler who asserts their dominance in a non-threatening way, they can be stubborn and difficult to train for others.

25. Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois
Image credit: Ekaterina Brusnika, Shutterstock

The Belgian Malinois is another breed that has found regular use as a police dog and service dog in various countries. However, they can be very wary of strangers, which means that they need early and ongoing socialization. They also require consistent training. As a working dog, the Malinois wants a job to do. Ideally, something that will exercise their body and mind. If they don’t get this, they will act up and cause trouble around the home.

26. Bearded Collie

Bearded Collies
Image credit: Rolf Dannenberg, Shutterstock

The Bearded Collie is only considered a medium-energy dog. As such, their energy levels could be met by a senior, so this isn’t the problem with this distinctive-looking breed. The big problem with the Bearded Collie is their incredible coat. It will take considerable effort to care for and maintain, so you will be spending large chunks of your days brushing and grooming them.

27. Cairn Terrier

Cairn Terrier
Image credit: EiZivile, Shutterstock

The Cairn Terrier is another Terrier that was bred to hunt small animals out of their lair. To do this, they had to be able to pick up scents or spot their quarry from a distance. They had to be able to follow them over various types of terrain and then dig and forage in holes until they caught their prey. Some Terrier breeds retain their high prey drive, and the Cairn Terrier is one of those breeds.

This combination means that they are energetic and they like to dig. If they don’t get enough exercise, their digging habits may transfer indoors, so they will try digging up carpets, rugs, and pretty much anything else that stands in their way. Daily exercise can reduce these tendencies somewhat, but even then, they are likely to cause some mess.

28. Dachshund

Female Dachshund
Image Credit: Denisemeneces, Pixabay

The Dachshund is a great little dog with a unique appearance. They tend to be friendly and loyal, too, and they don’t require too much in the way of exercise. However, there are several reasons that this breed is not considered suitable for seniors.

First, one in four Dachshunds will develop a spinal problem that can end in total paralysis. This takes a lot of money to treat, and even with treatment, you are only slowing the progress. Furthermore, they are difficult to house train, they can be noisy, and they tend towards wariness and moderate aggression towards strangers.

29. Bloodhound

Image credit: Degtyaryov Andrey, Shutterstock

The Bloodhound is a scent hound. This means that they pick up on the scent of their prey and then follow it over fields, through hedgerows and rivers, and wherever it may take them. When they have a scent, they are very single-minded, and it is incredibly difficult to take their attention away from that. When they are hunting, that is an admirable trait. When you are walking them through the park, and they pick up the scent of a squirrel that has run up a nearby tree, it is less than admirable.

They are also noisy with a tendency to bark, and you will have to spend a lot of the few short years that they live cleaning up their slobber.

30. Boxer Dog

boxer on grass
Image credit: Dmitry Kalinovsky, Shutterstock

Last on our list is the lovable and goofy Boxer. They can be comical and loyal to their owners, too. But they require a lot of exercise to curb their enthusiasm. They also love jumping up and lying on your lap. Another good reason to avoid the Boxer is that they are prone to a multitude of illnesses that will cost you a ton in vet bills and could potentially shorten their life considerably.

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This is a long list of breeds that seniors should avoid, and it might seem like there are few options left, but nothing is further from the truth. There are dozens of breeds that are considered ideal to keep you company during the day and let you know of any visitors at your door without the need for multiple runs a day. Be sensible when choosing a breed, avoid groups like herding and sheepdogs, and ensure that you have a network of people around you to provide exercise for the dog if you aren’t able to.

Featured Image Credit: Monkey Business Images, Shutterstock

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