Depending on the stage of life you're in, there are certain breeds that will fit you, or someone you know, better. The best dogs for seniors will be more calm, less demanding, low maintenance and affectionate. They can also serve as semi-therapy dogs.
Benefits of Dog Ownership for Seniors
When children leave home, and grandchildren start growing up and getting busy with their own lives, senior adults can experience loneliness, isolation and boredom. A dog will make a great companion and friend to alleviate these negative symptoms.
Moreover, studies show that dogs improve health of elderly people as well. They keep senior citizens more fit, mentally stimulated and improve their quality of life. Owning a dog can also prevent cardiovascular disease in seniors.
Other benefits of dog ownership for seniors include a better organized day, making seniors more social and providing companionship.
How to Find the Best Dogs for Senior Citizens
Even though adopting a dog for a senior citizen could be beneficial, there are also some drawbacks. To make this relationship between an elderly and a dog the most fruitful and least complicated, it's crucial to pick the right breed and the right individual dog.
Ask the below questions before adopting a dog yourself or a senior you know.
Do they have any disabilities? For someone with limited mobility, a dog can become burdensome, especially more active breeds or those that need tons of attention. In such cases, a cat may be a better choice than a dog.
Do they have experience in dog ownership? It's better to be familiar with caring for a dog, but not essential. If the future owner is inexperienced, some breeds might be better than others (for example, dogs that require less training).
Are they good with changes? Seniors who are completely set in their own ways and refuse to change their daily lives are unlikely to be good candidates for pet ownership. A dog will require many adjustments, which is part of the benefit dogs provide to seniors, but the new owner must be comfortable with this.
What's their temperament and personality? Some dogs will gel better with certain personalities. If an elderly person is a homebody, spending most of their time reading books, a puppy or a hyperactive dog like Jack Russell Terrier aren't going to be a good choice. Lazy breeds will make a better fit.
Will finances become a problem? Owning a dog will add an additional strain on a new owner's wallet. It's crucial to discuss this aspect and budget wisely before adopting a dog. Take a look at a dog's lifelong care costs and calculate whether this can be covered by the new elderly dog owner.
Do you have a “Plan B” in place? Just as it is important to plan for the elderly person's care and lifestyle, it's also crucial to consider the same for pets. When the senior citizen needs to be hospitalized for a long-term period, or if they pass away, do you have backup plan for what happens to the dog?
Many of the best dogs for seniors listed below will make for perfect companions. They are also very affordable, especially if you're adopting them from a shelter rather than buying from a breeder.
10 Best Dogs for Seniors
The Havanese is a great dog for seniors. They are playful and social, and will make any lonely person's day much brighter. A small breed, they are easy to care for and maintain. Havanese love to get attention and are great for stay at home seniors.
They are peaceful and gentle dogs, providing great companionship for those who maybe can’t get out as much for walks. Considered to be a pretty healthy dog, this breed makes a great all around house pet and is certainly one of the best dogs for seniors.
Papillons are small breeds, making them easy for elderly people to care for, bathe and transport. They are intelligent which makes them easy to train. Papillons have a silly personality that will entertain their human companions.
This breed is very energetic. They need to be in a home with adults that are still active, willing to play and take their dogs for walks. They can be possessive with their owner, so it is best to have this dog as the only one in the house.
Poodles are still a very popular breed among senior adults, even though many might consider them high maintenance due to their famous haircuts. But these elaborate cuts aren't necessary at all. They are very regal looking. Their intelligence makes them easy to train. You will never be bored when you own a poodle.
Their playfulness and energy make them a very entertaining dog. They are one of the best dogs for seniors because Poodles are clean dogs and have minimal shedding. They come in 3 varieties: standard, miniature, and toy. You are sure to find one that fits your situation.
Although Bassett Hounds are larger dogs than the above three mentioned, they are still perfect for seniors. This breed is very intelligent. Many will say they are the most pleasant dogs in terms of attitude. Laid back and calm, they just go with the flow.
Bassett Hounds can be very lazy dogs and great for the person who likes to stay in. These hounds were bred to be hunting dogs, so their keen senses make them perfect watch dogs. If you don’t mind taking a little more time to train, this dog may be the perfect one for you.
Maltese were bred specifically to be a companion to people and a good house dog. They are gentle and loving. Their small size makes them one of the best dogs for seniors who may be lacking in strength. Maltese shed little, which makes for quick cleanup.
Their hair is long, but most people keep their coat short so it is manageable. If you don’t mind daily brushing, you can let your pet's glorious mane flow. Good health is one of the Maltese's strongest features. These lap dogs also love learning tricks and pleasing their owners.
6. Shih Tzu
Another popular lap dog, the Shih Tzu is the perfect size for people who may be lacking in arm strength. Shih Tzus are intelligent and easy to train. Like the Maltese, they have long, luxurious coats that you will want to keep trimmed if you do not want the hassle of almost daily brushing.
They shed less and have less dander than other dogs, so the Shih Tzu is one of the best dogs for seniors with allergies. They are generally healthy, so require fewer trips to the vet. They make excellent companions. The Shih Tzu is happy on their owner’s lap, or playing with some toys.
This is a great dog for an older adult who doesn’t want the typical lap dog. They are medium size. Shar-Peis are one of the easiest dogs to housetrain. They usually do not like strangers and make excellent watch dogs.
Shar-Peis are very independent and they also make for good watch dogs, which makes them a great choice for senior pet owners who may not be home all the time. If you still enjoy getting out and taking walks often, a Shar-Pei is the perfect companion for you. They have short hair, so grooming is kept at a minimum.
If you have a good size yard for your dog to run around in, the Labrador Retriever maybe for you. They have short, easy to care for fur. Labradors are very intelligent breeds, meaning they train fast, which is perfect for senior citizens. They are gentle and loving, making for excellent companion dogs for seniors.
They are active and will keep their owner busy playing fetch. Labradors are one of the most popular breeds in America, so they are readily available and easy to find. Labs are great working dogs and perfect for seniors who have retired to the country.
Pomeranians are virtually scent-less. Due to this reason, these dogs make excellent indoor pets. They are affectionate and docile. Pomeranians do need brushing a couple times a week. These dogs do well with seniors who live in apartments.
Although they are active, they do fine with no yard as long as they get frequent walks. If you need a motivator to exercise, this little dog could be for you. Pomeranians are a toy breed meaning they are small and easy to pick up and handle. They are very lively and inquisitive and provide good entertainment to lonely seniors.
Although Beagles are traditionally hunting dogs, they can make excellent companions for seniors. Beagles are a healthy breed with easy to care for coats. Their short fur means brushing can be kept to a minimum.
Beagles are fun and affectionate. They are friendly and loyal to their owners. Beagles are energetic and need a small yard and toys for playing. If no yard is available, they will need daily walks.
Dogs can make excellent companions. If you take your time and do a little bit of research, you can make sure and find one of the best dogs for seniors. Dogs can motivate you to get exercise, and provide lively company for nights spent alone.
You can also make sure to find a breed that will be a companion to you while still being a friendly dog to the grandkids. Talk to your local vet if you have any questions or concerns about the dog breeds you are interested in.
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