It’s hard not to love dogs because, well, they’re dogs. Before we can even take our first steps, we are drawn to the companionship of these furry friends. (Here’s a cute distraction to prove my point.) But that doesn’t change with time.
Believe it or not, our elders love dogs just as much as the rest of us – and perhaps even have more to gain from them. From alleviating loneliness, to protecting from home invasion, to preventing heart disease, dogs can truly change the lives of elderly humans.
Recommended dog breeds for seniors
The popularity of the French bulldog has soared in recent years. Mostly due to the dog’s loyalty, playful character and low activity level, this pooch is perfect for retirees as they require relatively little stimulation and don’t shed too much (less grooming). Though one should bare in mind that they do eat anything so therefore should be closely observed to make sure they don’t swallow any household items they shouldn’t.
Next we have the Poodle, one of the most popular choices for seniors. This comes down to the dog’s gentle nature and easy-going attitude. The dogs also shed less than others, making them easier to care for – and less hassle for someone with less energy or time. Disadvantages of owning a poodle include their need to be groomed every six to eight weeks and predisposition to certain diseases.
West Highland Terrier
The West Highland Terrier, or Westie, is another favourite and one we would most certainly recommend to seniors. A superb companion, this breed is a good lap dog but is by no means delicate or ‘soft.’ Full of character, they can provide great company and don’t need as much exercise as other dogs. But with the fun character comes a bit of attitude too, and Westies can be loud animals – quick to bark and let you know who’s boss.
The English or American Cocker Spaniel is another popular option for seniors as they are particularly affectionate. The medium-sized dogs are energetic, fun and loyal and exactly the kind of companion you’d want to have around during lonely hours. But Spaniels do require a bit more grooming than the other dogs seen on this list.
Here we have another terrier on the list. Though Boston Terriers are incredibly popular in all age groups, we’ve put it on the list due to its relaxed attitude, love of cuddles and relatively low need of exercise. That said, as loyal and fun as they are, sometimes they can be quite naughty – so be careful with those cushions!
Small and playful, the Dachshund gets a place on the list for its low-maintenance, character and size. A great companion for the elderly due to its suitability in apartments and smaller houses, this breed is exceptionally fun, too – with a love of games such as fetch. Like the Boston, this dog has a lot of attitude and is known for its stubbornness – which isn’t always a good thing.
Cute and playful, the Beagle gets a spot on the list due to its loyalty, friendliness and suitability in a family home. They are great for retirees as they can be independent and don’t demand too much attention. But bear in mind that they shed more than the other dogs on this list.
Yet another terrier, the Yorkie is small and fun and particularly suited to assisted living. Just like the Westie, they also enjoy sitting on a lap and don’t need huge amounts of exercise. But again, the attitude can be a bit of a problem.
By far one of the lowest maintenance dogs on the list, the Welsh Corgi is attractive, easy-going and perfectly suited to a home. But that’s not the only place they like to be. Although easily pleased, they enjoy the outdoors just as much as the next dog, which makes them a good fit for more active seniors.
A small little number, the Pomeranian is great for home living and keeping a senior company. Small, energetic – but not too energetic – the Pomeranian is full of character and is likely to brighten up your day. Though they need a lot of care with their thick coats and are fairly active. Something to think about for those who are looking for a less demanding companion.
This breed isn’t far down the list because we’ve forgotten about it; Pugs are just about suited to everyone. One of the more fashionable dogs of the moment, they require little grooming and are again great lap dogs. They suit seniors just as they suit anybody.
Not overly active but great lovers of outdoor fun, the Schnauzer is a great companion for seniors who need to keep fit. They also come in lots of shapes and sizes and are loyal companions whose coats need little care. They also are easy to train but are more prone to health problems than a lot of other dogs on the list.
Low maintenance and full of a lazy-like charm, the Basset is great for those seniors who aren’t too active. However, though devoted to their owners, its the owner who could end up doing a lot of the caring for them as they can often have trouble with their eyes and other health problems.
A small little number which normally weighs little over 15 pounds, the Chihuahua is another great lap dog and loyal companion which lives longer than many of the dogs on this list. At the same time, they can be slightly high-maintenance, and are prone to putting on weight, which is something to think about.
Last and definitely not least, the Greyhound deserves a spot on the list for the classier retiree. Attractive and loyal, they’re perfect companions for just about anyone, but suit seniors particularly well due to their long lifespan and need for just one hour of exercise per day.
At the end of the day, we have a number of options when it comes to choosing a dog to keep us company in our later years. Nevertheless, we must be wise when deciding between dog breeds, keeping both our lifestyles and personalities in mind. That said, this is by no means an extensive list, but it’s a great place to start!