The company of a furry friend has long been proven to have a multitude of benefits for older adults. Pets can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, help slow cognitive decline, and in general can make retirement life more enjoyable. But not every dog is necessarily the right choice for seniors who want to live a truly independent lifestyle. There are a number of factors to consider in searching for a canine companion, most of which are based on the senior’s individual preferences and daily schedule. To help you narrow down the list of potential choices, here are considerations for the best dog breeds for seniors.
Ideal Dog Traits for Seniors
It’s said that the type of breed dictates the personality, behavior and aggressiveness of the dog. It’s a common myth. The truth is that a dog’s environment and training are the biggest contributors to its personality and behavior. However, there are certain breeds that are better suited for the lifestyle of older adults because of their innate characteristics.
Naturally, small dogs are generally easier to care for, especially for seniors. With large dog breeds, there’s the risk of being physically overpowered. Smaller dogs are simply easier to transport, groom and play with. However, one caveat is that smaller dogs tend to be high-energy and can often be nervous barkers.
The ideal dog is one that matches your level of activity. High-energy breeds that love to run like Greyhounds and Shepherds need active owners to maintain good health and behavior. Smaller to mid-sized dog breeds typically only require daily walks, which is perfect for many seniors trying to keep up a healthy lifestyle.
For the most part, puppies require a lot of training, activity and patience, making them less than ideal for seniors. Older dogs usually have a calmer demeanor and are better adjusted to socialization with other people and pets. However unpleasant it may be, it’s also best to consider the life expectancy of different breeds and if your pet can outlive you.
The Best Dog Breeds for Seniors
After carefully considering all the different factors that point to the best dog breeds for seniors, these five check every box.
1. Miniature Schnauzer
The smallest breed of Schnauzer, the Miniature Schnauzer, is perfectly sized to bring joy to any dog-loving senior. They only weigh between 10-20 pounds and can grow up to a height of 12-24 inches – ideal for lap dogs – and are very easy to groom. These dogs are exceptionally friendly and love to play with other dogs and humans alike. They’re also quite smart and obedient and love to be trained. With a life expectancy of 12-15 years, they’re certainly a frontrunner for the best breed for seniors.
2. Shih Tzu
The Shih Tzu is a favorite small dog breed among apartment owners. They’re generally low-maintenance dogs that are playful in spurts but spend most of their days relaxing. At 9-15 pounds and 10-16 inches tall with a penchant for socialization, they’re perfect for taking around town. Shih Tzus can require a fair amount of grooming because of their flowing hair, but their love of being loved on makes grooming a breeze.
3. Boston Terrier
Boston Terriers are quintessential lap dogs. They’re extremely affectionate and tend to take on the personality of their owner. A daily walk is more than enough to keep them fit and happy, plus they’re very easy to groom due to their short hair. While maybe a bit goofy, Boston Terriers form close bonds with their owners and are easily trained.
4. French Bulldog
French Bulldogs, or “Frenchies,” are far different from their hefty bulldog ancestors. Usually weighing under 25 pounds and growing to only a foot, Frenchies are one of the most popular small dog breeds for seniors and apartment dwellers today. These dogs can have high energy levels, but because they’re so small they tire out easily. Although they have a tendency to be yappy, French Bulldogs love to make new friends and will accept pets from anyone, anytime.
5. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
A highly intelligent, spirited breed, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a toy-like pup bred for loyal companionship. They only weigh up to 18 pounds at most and tout a gorgeous, shiny, soft coat. Their coats are prone to matting, so frequent grooming is required. These dogs are great with children because of their playful nature, but they do tend to chase squirrels and other critters because of their rat-chasing instincts. However, they’re incredibly smart and easy to train.
This list only scratches the surface of dogs that make great companions for seniors. The fact is, the best dog for you is the one that brings you joy, and vice-versa. These honorable mentions are in no way less deserving of consideration. A great many breeds share the characteristics of the ones previously listed, including:
- Bichon Frise
- Pembroke Welsh Corgi
- Yorkshire Terrier
- Scottish Terrier
Companionship Comes in All Shapes and Sizes at The Buckingham
The Buckingham is a pet-friendly senior living community where you and your four-legged friend can enjoy retirement exactly how you want. Residents here are totally free to live at their own pace. Whether that means taking a stroll with your beloved pet, engaging with like-minded neighbors in one of many regularly scheduled activities, or simply lounging with your lap dog in your comfortable apartment home, you’ll find a luxury lifestyle that suits you. To learn more about our stunning community, or to visit The Buckingham for yourself, contact us through our website or call us any time at 713-979-3090.