The 20 Best Dog Breeds for Seniors

shih tzu

Dogs are one of the most popular pets for many reasons. Having a canine member of the family is a great way to bring joy and love into the home, teach kids responsibility, and help reduce the number of homeless animals. People of all ages can benefit from having a dog, but one group that will see an incredibly positive impact from owning a dog is seniors.

Seniors stand to gain a great deal from having a dog. Firstly, having a dog is a great way to provide older people with a loyal and loving companion when family cannot always be around. Further, caring for a dog is an excellent way to give a retired person a sense of purpose and value. While each individual has unique needs and abilities, dogs can also provide excellent motivation to get out of the house and walk, ensuring that seniors stay as fit as possible.

In addition to these benefits, studies have shown that dogs can reduce stress and blood pressure. In specific cases, dogs can be trained to assist individuals with Alzheimer’s or similar ailments. In short, just about every senior can benefit from having a dog. However, just as each individual is unique, so is each dog. Different breeds are known for having different energy levels, grooming needs, and temperaments. For this reason, certain breeds tend to be better suited to living with a senior. Here is a list of twenty of the best dog breeds for seniors.

golden retriever

20. Golden Retriever 

Golden Retrievers are one of the most beloved and famous dog breeds. They are gorgeous, friendly, and intelligent. They are fairly large, usually ranging from 60-70 pounds and 20-24 inches in height. These dogs live for around 10-12 years. What makes this breed great for seniors is their intelligence and playfulness. Golden Retrievers are easily trained and can work as assistance dogs for the blind or disabled. Further, as they require a great deal of exercise, they are well-suited to a senior who desires to stay in shape.


19. Havanese

A small but sturdy dog, the Havanese is one of the most popular dogs for families. They generally weigh around 10 pounds and stand only 10 inches tall. Their coat requires a great deal of combing, especially if it is curly. Havanese dogs are great for seniors because they are incredibly loyal and sociable. They do not do well if left alone for hours during the day, making them perfect for a retired person. As well, they are one of the smartest toy dogs, and can be easily trained for a wide range of tasks.

French Bulldog

18. French Bulldog

The French Bulldog is a relatively rare breed that are known to be outstanding companion dogs. They weigh from 15-25 pounds and stand around 11 inches tall. They are known to drool and shed, but are fantastic for apartment living because they are great with small spaces and do not bark loudly. Seniors will adore the French Bulldog because it is a breed that thrives on human contact. They are fairly easy to train and incredibly gentle, even around children. As well, they are intensely loyal and can serve as watch dogs.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

17. Pembroke Welsh Corgi 

A dog that is highly popular with British royalty, in particular with Queen Elizabeth II, Pembroke Welsh Corgis are small and affectionate dogs that have a fox-like appearance. While historically bred for herding, these dogs are excellent companions. Their small size makes them ideal for seniors. The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is also known as one of the smartest herding dogs and are easily trained. Further, they are great for the active senior because they require regular exercise.

lhasa apso

16. Lhasa Apso

Originating from Tibet and being trained to act as watch dogs in Buddhist temples, the Lhasa Apso is an alert and attentive dog with dense, straight coats. They generally weigh around 15 pounds, and have only modest exercise requirements. This dog is perfect for seniors because of its alertness and strong sense of loyalty. Although it can take time to develop a bond, Lhasa Apso dogs are loyal companions for their owners. Further, they have one of the longest life spans, with some living into their 20s.

pocket beagle

15. Beagle

One of the most popular and famous dog breeds, Beagles are beloved by people both for their utility and personality. Famous for their incredible sense of smell, Beagles are great for tracking and hunting. However, they are also very gentle and amiable. Beagles are great companions for seniors because they have an affectionate disposition and are known to be quite healthy. As well, they have great stamina but do not require excessive exercise, making them ideal for seniors of all activity levels.

italian greyhound

14. Greyhound

This may come as a surprise, but Greyhounds make excellent pets. While most commonly associated with racing (these dogs can run at 40 miles per hour), they are also very loving and gentle. Standing at around 30 inches in height and weighing up to 80 pounds, it may be surprising to know that Greyhounds are beloved as affectionate couch potatoes. Retired Greyhounds are loving and gentle, virtually never biting humans.


13. West Highland White Terrier

Most commonly known as “Westies” the West Highland White Terrier is a distinctive and popular breed. Although quite small, weighing roughly 15 pounds and standing only 10 inches tall, the Westie packs a great deal of personality into its small body. It is highly intelligent, making it a popular therapy dog. Westies are perfect for seniors because of their small size and combination of affection and independence. These dogs are loyal and social but do not require constant companionship. They are fairly active and require around 30 minutes of exercise a day, which is perfect for the active senior.

Newborn Chihuahua Is One Of The World's Smallest Puppies

12. Chihuahua

The smallest breed of dog, Chihuahua’s are excellent pets for seniors. They are full of life and personality despite weighing only 5 pounds. Perhaps the greatest benefits of this breed are its outstanding abilities as watch dogs and its minimal exercise and grooming requirements. They are fiercely loyal, to the point of being aggressive towards others. For seniors who can keep up with these energetic companions, they are a fantastic breed.

the bichon frise is a darling dog

11. Bichon Frise

Another small dog, the adorable Bichon Frise is a highly popular breed for seniors. Even large Bichon Frise dogs will barely reach 1 foot in height. Further, their silky, white curls do not shed, which makes them great for people with allergies. In addition, this breed is known to be highly playful and affectionate. They are great with children, making this dog perfect for seniors with grandchildren. They do require a fair amount of exercise each day, so they will be best suited for active seniors.


10. Yorkshire Terrier 

A toy breed that is famous for its big personality, the Yorkshire Terrier most often weighs only around 7 pounds. These “Yorkies” have a silky coat that comes in a variety of colors. They live for quite a long time, with some reaching their 20s. In addition to their small size, these dogs are perfectly suited for seniors because of their intelligence and affection. They are quite easy to train and love attention. They can keep seniors fit because they require daily exercise.

Welsh Terrier

9. Welsh Terrier

This medium-sized tan and black breed is a true terrier. As it was bred for hunting, this dog is full of energy and has an independent spirit. They will generally weigh around 20 pounds. What makes this breed great for seniors is its playfulness, energy, and spirit. While it may not be ideal for less able seniors, this dog requires a great deal of exercise, which can help a person to stay in shape. In addition, they are very playful and lively, making them great dogs for playing with grandchildren.


8. Pomeranian

A highly popular and distinctive breed, Pomeranians are defined by their small size and the ruff of hair around their necks. This dog is very small, often weighing less than 5 pounds. This dog is perfect for seniors. It is lively but affectionate, loving attention from their owners. As well, this breed is known to be quite alert and intelligent. They are typically quite healthy, which is an added bonus.

great lap dogs are cavalier king charles spaniels

7. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

A toy dog that is growing rapidly in popularity, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is adorable and affectionate. They tend to weigh only 15 pounds and stand roughly 1 foot tall. They are typically defined by silky straight or wavy coats that come in a variety of colors. Their gentle nature and affection makes this breed perfect for seniors. In fact, they were historically bred as lap dogs, although they can be active as well. This breed is known to get along with other dogs and children, as well as being able to thrive in just about any living situation. Seniors will adore this affectionate and easygoing breed.


6. Maltese

Another toy dog, the Maltese is an ancient breed that is highly popular. They usually weigh under 8 pounds and rarely reach heights of 1 foot. They normally have silky white coats, although sometimes have curls. Seniors will love these tiny dogs because they are famously affectionate. Maltese love humans and thrive inside or in houses with small yards. Therefore, a Maltese is a perfect dog for a senior who wants a loving companion without excessive exercise requirements.

the miniature schnauzer is a great lap dog

5. Schnauzer

A dog famous for its bearded look, the Schnauzer hails from Germany and is quite popular. This breed comes in three different sizes, ranging from giant to miniature. They typically have salt-and-pepper coloring, although some can be brown. What makes this breed ideal for older individuals is its temperament. While some assume the Schnauzer will have the typical terrier personality, this breed is actually very loving and social. They are highly intelligent and love to please people. This personality, in addition to the range of sizes that can be chosen to suit the individual, makes the Schnauzer a great choice for a senior.

boston terrier

4. Boston Terrier

The Boston Terrier, known as the “American Gentleman,” is one of the most popular breeds. Typically weighing around 20 pounds, these medium-sized dogs are excellent companions. They are normally black, brindle, or seal colored, with white markings. There are many reasons why the Boston Terrier is a perfect dog for a senior. Firstly, the dog requires minimal grooming and is known to be very quiet. As well, it will bring a great deal of happiness and love into the home, as it is known to be an affectionate and cheerful breed.


3. Poodle

Another dog that comes in a variety of sizes, poodles are easily one of the most popular breeds. Their dense, curly coat is only a single layer and comes in many colors. Poodles are kind and love to be around people. What makes them ideal for seniors, however, is their extremely high intelligence. Poodles are among the easiest dogs to train. With fairly high exercise requirements, active seniors will simply adore these smart and loving companions.


2. Pug

A highly distinctive and adorable breed, Pugs have a characteristically wrinkled face and short but sturdy body. Their coat is fine and smooth, coming in a variety of colors. They have a distinctively curled tail. In addition to their small build, the Pug is a great breed for seniors for several reasons. Firstly, they are highly affectionate and intuitive, often changing their behavior to suit the mood of their owner. As well, they are very rarely aggressive, sometimes being described as lazy. They are a charming, small, and loving companion that seniors can love without having to meet high exercise requirements.

shih tzu

1. Shih Tzu

One of the most popular companion dogs, the Shih Tzu is a breed that was developed specifically for companionship. These toy dogs generally weigh from 10-19 pounds and have long, straight double coats. This breed is fantastic for seniors of all fitness levels as they do not require a great deal of exercise. Further, they are among the most affectionate and loyal dogs. While similar to the Lhasa Apso, this breed is so affectionate that it will be kind and welcoming even to strangers. With its small size, loving nature, and easy maintenance, the Shih Tzu is a fantastic dog for any senior.

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