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16 Best Dog Breeds for Seniors & the Elderly (With Pictures)

Written by: Jordin Horn

Last Updated on May 15, 2024 by Dogster Team

senior woman cuddling with her dog

16 Best Dog Breeds for Seniors & the Elderly (With Pictures)

Dogs are great companions for all stages of life: childhood, adulthood, and the golden years. Studies have shown that owning a dog can reduce stress and improve cardiovascular health, among other things. Also, seniors who own pets are a quarter less likely to have depression than non-pet-owning seniors. This is likely because they are loving creatures and can get you up and moving more often.

If you are an older adult, that doesn’t mean dog ownership isn’t an option for you. Even younger adults need to research which type of dog breed would best suit their individual and family needs. What’s most important is that you truthfully evaluate your lifestyle and select the right dog breed for you.

So, here is the ultimate list of the best dog breeds for seniors and the elderly.

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The 16 Best Dog Breeds for Seniors

1. Havanese

havanese sitting
Image Credit: JACLOU-DL, Pixabay
Weight: 7–13 pounds
Coat: Varies, from silky and straight to wavy with ringlets
Energy Level Rating: Low to moderate

An outgoing and highly intelligent dog breed, the Havanese is a perfect companion for anyone. Havanese have been known to come up with games to teach their owners. They are content to go on a short 30-minute walk a day, which is great for your heart, too! The only thing that makes this dog breed hard work is their grooming schedule. Due to their long coat, you will want to have them groomed at least once a month. Otherwise, the Havanese dog is a friendly, happy dog to have by your side.


2. Poodle

standard poodle at the beach
Image Credit: everydoghasastory, Shutterstock
Weight: Standard: 45–70 pounds / Miniature: 15–18 pounds / Toy: 5–9 pounds
Coat: Curly, with solid or spotted colors
Energy Level Rating: Low to moderate

Here’s a dog breed where you can pick your size: Poodles come in standard, miniature, or toy sizes, depending on your desires or needs. Poodles are incredibly intelligent. You can even train them to help you around the house. A daily walk is all they need to stay in healthy shape, and when they are not doing that, they are content to sit by your side and cuddle. Every month or so, you will want to take them to the groomer, but they are otherwise easy dogs to care for.


3. Pomeranian

pomeranian playing outdoors
Image Credit: Purplehorse, Pixabay
Weight: 3–7 pounds
Coat: Long and fluffy
Energy Level Rating: Low

If you’re looking for a super small dog that you can carry around with you, look no further than the Pomeranian. Although sometimes known to be a yippy dog, Pomeranians love to play and aren’t that interested in running around all the time. They love to relax and interact with people, making them great companions for owners of any age, but especially older people. Their long and fluffy coat requires a little more grooming than short-haired breeds.


4. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel_BIGANDT.COM, Shutterstock
Image Credit: BIGANDT.COM, Shutterstock
Weight: 13–18 pounds
Coat: Silky, wavy, and medium-length with feathered accents
Energy Level Rating: Low

A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel gives you a spaniel-breed look in a small-sized package. This dog has a beautiful brown-and-white coat with slender legs and lovable, floppy ears. King Charles Spaniels do not require a lot of maintenance: They are happy to run around in the yard for exercise, and their coats only really need a good regular brushing. They love a good lap snuggle, and their playfulness and intelligence will win your heart over for years to come.


5. Greyhound

greyhound standing on sand
Image Credit: David Mark, Pixabay
Weight: 60–80 pounds
Coat: Short, with colors like black, brindle, white, fawn, blue, red
Energy Level Rating: Low to moderate

It might be a surprise to see the Greyhound on this list of dog breeds for elderly people, but while this breed is most well-known for their ability to race, they are surprisingly laidback. If you’re looking for a larger dog without the large dog energy levels, the Greyhound might be perfect for you. They are easier to train than many other dogs, which means they can walk at your pace and lie or sit down on command. When they aren’t with you on a daily walk or playing in your backyard, they are more than happy to lounge around on the couch.


6. Maltese

brown maltese puppy on grass
Image credit: TanyaKim, Shutterstock
Weight: 4–7 pounds
Coat: White, long, and silky
Energy Level Rating: Low

One of the smallest dogs on this list, the Maltese could be your next pup pal. Weighing in at only 7 pounds maximum, the Maltese can be easily carried around with you wherever you go, even fitting in a small bag. These tiny dogs have big personalities, though. Their quirky traits and big heart will bring you lots of joy. Your Maltese will be happy to sit on your lap most of the time, but you will have to make sure to take care of their beautiful coat of fur.


7. Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu_carlosleucipo, Pixabay
Image Credit: carlosleucipo, Pixabay
Weight: 9–16 pounds
Coat: Long, double coat of hair
Energy Level Rating: Low to moderate

Shih Tzus make perfect companions for seniors with their low to moderate energy and ease of trainability. With a low weight of around 12 pounds on average, this dog is handled easily. They love to sit on laps and go on short, daily walks. Shih Tzus are known for their friendly and affectionate personalities. Besides their moderate grooming requirements, their only other high need is their need for attention!


8. Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever
Image Credit: Lars_Nissen, Pixabay
Weight: 55–75 pounds
Coat: Long and golden
Energy Level Rating: Moderate to high

If you want a lifelong companion and still have a fairly active lifestyle, the Golden Retriever might be right for you. Since they have a sixth sense of human emotions, Golden Retrievers are fantastic therapy dogs. They stick by your side and will be there for you when you need them. One reason that this type of dog may not be for you could be their hefty weight. Golden Retrievers are also known to have hereditary health problems, which may cost you a lot of time and money in the long run. However, when it comes to having a best furry friend, the Golden Retriever can’t be beaten.


9. Chihuahua

Chihuahua_Christel SAGNIEZ, Pixabay
Image Credit: Christel SAGNIEZ, Pixabay
Weight: 6 pounds or less
Coat: Short or long
Energy Level Rating: Moderate to high

With an energy that rivals a small child, the Chihuahua is a dog that may be best suited for people with more active lifestyles. That said, Chihuahuas are known to be latched to their owners. Plus, their small size makes them easy to care for. They make great pup partners to older people because their personalities are fun, and they love to be showered with affection.


10. French Bulldog

french bulldog
Image Credit: Mylene2401, Pixabay
Weight: 19–28 pounds
Coat: Short with colors like brindle, white and brindle, white, fawn, tan
Energy Level Rating: Low

This could be the happiest dog breed around. The French Bulldog will keep your spirits up with their scrunchy face, stocky figure, and continuous presence. As long as they are by you, your Frenchie will be content. Although they are on the bigger end of the small dog spectrum, they are strong and can hold their own. With a coat that doesn’t need much care and a lack of high physical endurance, the French Bulldog can make a perfect companion for an older individual.


11. Pug

Pug_Praisaeng_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Praisaeng, Shutterstock
Weight: 14–18 pounds
Coat: Short, tan with dark muzzle
Energy Level Rating: Low

Originally bred to be lap dogs, Pugs are small dogs that love to snooze away. Are you stuck inside due to illness or bad weather? No problem! Your Pug will keep you company and join you in resting on your bed or the couch. Since they do not weigh more than 18 pounds, they are still easy to carry if you need to. Their personality traits are smart, friendly, and calm, making them the perfect dog for even small spaces like apartments.


12. Boston Terrier

Boston terrier
Image Credit: Eve Photography, Shutterstock
Weight: 10–25 pounds
Coat: Short, black and white
Energy Level Rating: Low to moderate

The Boston Terrier was originally a crossbreed between an English Bulldog and a White English Terrier, and these dogs are good-natured. They get along great with their owners and other pets alike. They are lively but do not require more than a daily walk outside. Their snuggling instinct is apparent when they make a small den out of blankets or towels or cuddle up next to you. They love to feel snug and secure and won’t bark too much.


13. Bichon Frise

bichon frise in autumn_Eudyptula, Shutterstock
Image Credit: Eudyptula, Shutterstock
Weight: 7–12 pounds
Coat: Powder-puff-like and curly, usually white
Energy Level Rating: Low to moderate

The Bichon Frise’s strengths lie in their joyful personality, affection, size, and loyalty. No matter the threat, a Bichon will aim to protect you at all costs. Although they need at least one walk a day, at any other time, they will be more than happy to lounge around the house with you. Keep in mind that their pretty coat requires extra maintenance, but a trip to the groomer each month will keep it in good shape.


14. Lhasa Apso

Lhasa Apso
Image Credit: SubertT, Shutterstock
Weight: 11–18 pounds
Coat: Long, dense coat
Energy Level Rating: Low to moderate

Although their hair is very long, the Lhasa Apso is considered a hypoallergenic dog for those with mild allergies. They are quite small, but they are protective. Originally from Tibet, this breed has been mostly used as a guard dog throughout their existence. Lhasa Apsos are playful and happy dogs with a mischievous streak. Do you need a hearing aid dog? Lhasa Apsos are good at that, too. Daily walks are necessary, but this dog breed is not high maintenance unless you decide to keep their hair long. In that case, daily brushing will be necessary.


15. Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Image Credit: Welshea, Shutterstock
Weight: 24–30 pounds
Coat: Short, brown, and white
Energy Level Rating: Low to moderate

This British dog breed oozes cuteness with their short legs and pointy ears. Not only that, but the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is also content with a daily walk as far as energy goes, and their coats are easy to maintain. The Corgi is a great mix between a small and a medium dog. Since they weigh about the same as a young toddler, their weight should be manageable, too.


16. West Highland White Terrier

West Highland White Terrier
Image Credit: anetapics, Shutterstock
Weight: 13–20 pounds
Coat: White, long, and rough
Energy Level Rating: Low

Although they are small, they are mighty! The West Highland White Terrier, also called “Westie,” is tough and muscular, making them a sturdier dog than some other toy dogs on this list. They’ve got a charming personality and are great at entertaining themselves. Besides needing at least one walk or playtime a day, Westies are considered low-energy. They have big dog personalities in little dog bodies, making them great pets for older people.

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The Perfect Dog for Seniors and Elderly

Dog breeds that will be best for seniors will have the following traits.

Calm

All dogs get excited, but a hyperactive dog breed might be more tiring to care for than a rather calm breed. An older individual may not want to adopt a dog breed with high energy needs either, like a Border Collie, for example.

Small

Small dog breeds are generally easier to care for than big dogs. They require less time and energy for grooming, usually have lower activity levels, and eat and drink less than big dogs. A small dog is also less likely to accidentally knock you over than a big dog.

Easy to Care For

A dog for a senior should have no major health issues that require extra care or vet trips. Also, a dog that’s not a puppy anymore is less work for an elderly person (or any person!) than adopting a puppy that has to be trained and kept up with.

Things to Consider When Buying a Dog as a Senior

Dogs, especially bigger dogs, can make you fall more easily. The CDC reports that 86,000 of the falls that happen per year are caused by dogs. So, keep this in mind when looking into dog breeds, and plan to be aware of where your dog is when you walk around your house.

Also, know that a maintenance-free dog does not exist. All dogs, no matter what breed, will need basic care like daily feeding, grooming, trips to the vet, and exercise. When you are researching different breeds, evaluate if the needs of the dog and the dog’s energy level will match well with yours.

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Which One Will You Choose?

With this ultimate list of perfect breeds for seniors and the elderly, you’ve now got the somewhat difficult task of picking out the perfect dog for you. This can be a hard decision for anyone! Whatever you choose, know that you are bringing home a great companion, one that will help you in health and in life.

See also:


Featured Image Credit: Ground Picture, Shutterstock

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