Every retiree has a list of things they want to do or have now that they have more time. For many of us, adding a dog to our family is on that list.
And when we were working forty or more hours a week, having a canine companion was too much to juggle, making retirement the ideal time to bring a dog home.
There are several excellent reasons for having a dog in your life, but did you know that some of them are health benefits? It has been scientifically determined that dogs can contribute to promoting a longer, healthier, and happier life. Some of the common health benefits are:
- Lowers Blood Pressure – Even just petting a dog can actively lower one’s blood pressure.
- Heart Health – Research reflects dog owners have healthier blood sugar, blood pressure, and maintain better diets.
- Reduces the Chances of Depression – A survey reported that 73% of seniors with pets felt a greater sense of purpose, which supports good mental health.
- Helps Create and Maintain Routines – Dogs thrive in an environment that provides a reliable routine, which aids their owners in maintaining a regular schedule as well.
- Decreases Social Isolation – Studies show that those suffering from social isolation had a 30% increased chance of dying within seven years. However, 65% of senior pet owners feel that pet ownership has improved their ability to connect with others.
- Reduces Pain and Anxiety – Pets have shown to minimize the need for pain meds post-surgery as well as decrease chronic pain caused by diseases like arthritis.
- Increases Mobility and Exercise – It is a well-known fact that dog owners tend to be more active than non-dog owners.
However, when the time is right, and you’re looking for that perfect four-legged furry friend, it can be challenging to choose the ideal breed. Since there are hundreds of dogs to choose from, the decision process can be a bit overwhelming.
We have compiled a list of the top ten breeds that are excellent for seniors. The dogs have been chosen for various reasons such as:
- Shedding/Grooming Needs
- Energy Level
Unlike many lists you will find, this list includes a variety of breeds for those looking for an active companion to hike with, along with the more laid back dog who is happy to relax with you at home.
Best Dog Breeds for Seniors
- Welsh Corgi
- Tibetan Spaniel
- Shetland Sheepdog
- Shih Tzu
- Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
- French Bulldog
- Golden Retriever
- Boston Terrier
- Rescue or Retired Service Dog
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
- Size: Height 10-12 inches and up to 30 pounds
- Temperament: Affectionate and smart
- Shedding/Grooming Needs: Daily brushing will minimize shedding
- Energy Level: Moderate daily exercise
- Trainability: Intelligent and trainable
Pembroke Welsh Corgis are best known for their outgoing, happy disposition. These agreeable pups are perfect house dogs and excellent walking companions.
Corgis have moderate energy, so though they do best with daily exercise. But don’t worry, Corgis are far from hyper. Though these hardy pups are up for long walks, they are not good running or bicycling buddies.
Corgis are friendly dogs that love being with their humans, so they would love nothing more than to keep a retiree company. They excel in activities such as obedience, herding, agility, and tracking/nose work activities.
They are not yippy, but they are excellent watchdogs, happy to let their humans know if something is going on in the neighborhood.
- Size: Height 10 inches and 9-15 pounds
- Temperament: Playful, bright, and self-confident
- Shedding/Grooming Needs: Regular brushing, but requires little trimming except for the feet
- Energy Level: Calm
- Trainability: Happy to please
Though Tibetans are petite, they have prominent personalities. In fact, they were initially used as watchdogs for Tibetan monasteries.
Though their name includes “spaniel,” they are not of the spaniel family.
These fluffy little cuties are smart and affectionate, making them an easy fun dog to train.
Tibetans are flexible when it comes to their exercise needs. They are happy to hang out on the couch or go for a long walk, but they are not the best breed for joggers.
Tibetans are happiest when they are with their human companions as they form a very strong connection to their owners.
Shetland Sheepdog aka Sheltie
- Size: Height 13-16 inches and 15-25 pounds
- Temperament: Playful and intelligent
- Shedding/Grooming Needs: Weekly, their double coats are prone to mats during spring and fall
- Energy Level: Moderate
- Trainability: Eager to please
Shetland Sheepdogs are more commonly known as Shelties. These mini-lassies have the same beautiful colors and coats as their larger counterparts, but just in a much smaller package.
Shelties were originally bred as herding dogs, but today, they are seen more frequently as family dogs. Shelties are very easy to train due to their desire to please and their high intelligence.
Though they love their families deeply and are very affectionate, they tend to be more reserved with strangers.
Shelties are sensitive dogs and pick up quickly on the mood of their owners.
- Size: Height 9-10.5 inches and 9-16 pounds
- Temperament: Affectionate and outgoing
- Shedding/Grooming Needs: Daily brushing and monthly baths
- Energy Level: Minimal exercise
- Trainability: Challenging
Shih Tzus were initially bred to be house companions, and require little in the way of exercise. However, for those looking for a walking companion, they will happily accompany you on a short daily walk.
If you are looking for a dog that will be good with your grandchildren, Shih Tzus are well-known for their affection towards children.
Because of their petite size and temperament, Shih Tzus make great apartment and condo dogs.
Their one drawback is their ability to manipulate their owners with their puppy dog eyes, often getting away with bad behaviors. Unfortunately, Shih Tzus will take advantage of lax training resulting in a less than an obedient dog.
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
- Size: Height 17-19 inches and 30-40 pounds
- Temperament: Friendly and happy
- Shedding/Grooming Needs: Fair amount of grooming needs
- Energy Level: Higher energy level
- Trainability: Smart but willful
For seniors looking for a hiking companion but not looking for a huge dog, the Wheaten Terrier is a hearty medium-sized dog. These guys are exuberant, friendly, and happy to greet anyone along the trails or paths.
Wheaties are known for their deep devotion to their families. But they also have the occasional stubborn streak, which comes from their terrier side.
Wheaties require a fair amount of grooming to ensure their coats don’t mat. However, they have a low-shedding coat increasing the overall appeal of this dog.
- Size: Height 11-13 inches and up to 28 pounds
- Temperament: Adaptable and smart
- Shedding/Grooming Needs: Minimal grooming but sheds a lot
- Energy Level: Low energy level
- Trainability: Stubborn, yet happy to please
French Bull Dogs are sturdy bundles of joy with a bit of a stubborn side. However, they can often be coaxed into cooperation with the proper encouragement.
Frenchies are happy in any size household and adapt well to change, making it easy to add new people or pets to the family.
French Bull Dogs have happy, outgoing personalities and make great apartment dogs. Plus, these little charmers are on the quieter side so barking won’t be an issue either. And if that isn’t enough to convince you that they make excellent apartment dogs, Frenchies also don’t require much exercise.
- Size: Height 21.5-24 inches and weight 55-75 pounds
- Temperament: Friendly and intelligent
- Shedding/Grooming Needs: They shed a lot during spring and fall, but otherwise their grooming needs are moderate
- Energy Level: Daily exercise
- Trainability: Eager to please
Golden Retrievers are best known for the wonderful gentle demeanor. They have been used as service and therapy dogs for years because of their high level of intelligence, willingness to learn, and outgoing personality.
If you are looking for a happy, family-friendly canine companion to go hiking, walking, or even jogging, a Golden would be glad to join you.
Golden Retrievers do best when they have a yard to play in, so they would not be the ideal dog for apartment living unless they had a regular outlet to run and play.
- Size: Height 15-17 inches and weight 12-25 pounds
- Temperament: Bright and amusing
- Shedding/Grooming Needs: Low
- Energy Level: Varies
- Trainability: Eager to please
Bostons are fun, intelligent dogs that are compact but can still keep up during a long hike. The amount of energy varies from dog to dog, but most young ones can be fairly active.
They have short hairs and require weekly brushing to ensure their coat stays healthy and shiny. Due to their short coat, they will need some warm weather gear in colder climates.
Bostons do great in agility, fly ball, and obedience. These clever little pups are happiest when your happy, so training is often a breeze. Also, due to their friendly disposition, they are great around kids, so you won’t have to worry when the grandkids come to visit.
- Size: Height 10-over 15 inches and 10-70 pounds
- Temperament: Active and proud
- Shedding/Grooming Needs: High – they don’t shed much, but do require daily maintenance unless you keep them trimmed
- Energy Level: Moderate – active but not high energy
- Trainability: Eager to please
Somewhere in the history of the Poodle, they started to get a bad rap, but the truth is these dogs are quite amazing! Poodles come in three AKC recognized sizes from standard, the largest, miniature, and toy the smallest.
There are also several colors to choose from, such as apricot, black, cream, and brown.
The Poodle is very intelligent and eager to please making training a fun and easy experience. Though these dogs can be as active as you are, the toy Poodle can also be quite content with a quick walk around the block.
As a bonus Poodles are also considered hypoallergenic, so work well for families who have mild allergies to dog dander.
Rescue or Retired Service Dog
Rescue and Retired Service dogs are not a breed, but they are great companions. Many dog rescues offer a senior program, placing senior dogs with senior citizens.
There are several benefits to getting an adult to a senior dog, instead of a young puppy. Some of those advantages are:
- They are often housebroken
- They are usually already trained in basic obedience
- Have a calmer more mature disposition
- Lower energy level
Rescues are not always dogs that have been abused or dumped due to behavior issues. Many dogs in rescue are there due to family circumstances such as divorce, loss of a job, or moving, and they can’t go with the family.
Rescues come in every size, shape, color, and breed. Plus, many of the seniors for seniors programs offer financial assistance for the care of the dog, depending on the household income.
Patti Stowers says
Beautiful photos, and a very informative article. I will use your article to help me make a decision!