Suitable Dog Breeds For Seniors

11th April 2019

Senior citizens can benefit greatly from having a dog, both emotionally and physically. Not only do they provide companionship, but pets reduce depression and stress, lower blood pressure, encourage activity and increase the opportunity for social interaction. However, time and time again as dog trainers, we see seniors burdened with a dog or puppy they can't handle. It's really more about the training than the breed, but certain breeds may be easier for seniors based on their size and temperament.

Other qualities to consider when looking at any breed is the dog’s energy level, health history and child tolerance (especially if you have grandkids). Older dogs that have been trained are much easier than puppies. Puppies require a tremendous amount of time and they have limitless energy. Seniors need a dog that enjoys a life of being patted and cared for. In other words, your basic "lap dog" is ideal.

Pugs - Pugs are generally smaller - an ideal size for senior housing. They are playful, cuddly and by nature well-behaved. However, they do shed a lot, so if you don't like vacuuming, this may not be the right breed for you.

Poodle. Poodles have remained popular with people in their golden years, decade after decade. Why? They are personable, easy to train and have a great sense of humour (they laugh with you, not at you). They are also relatively clean, low-shedding dogs who are easy to maintain as long as you get them groomed regularly. The Toy Poodle is very popular with people who want a fun tiny dog, but the miniature may be a better pick if you need a dog that's a little sturdier and more capable of a good long walk.

Miniature Schnauzer - This is another small dog that makes a loving companion for seniors. If you have grandchildren, Schnauzers have a great personality and a high tolerance. Miniature Schnauzers are energetic, affectionate and relatively easy to train. They can, however, be overly aggressive with other dogs. This may not be a good choice if you live in an area that is home to a lot of larger dogs.

Scottish or Yorkshire Terrier - A Scottish terrier weighs around 6 to 9 kgs, is highly intelligent and needs daily exercise. Tough and compact, the Scottie is a loyal and protective family member. The Yorkie is a tiny dog with lots of spunk. This breed is happy to spend his days lounging on the couch, but this calm dog requires regular grooming.

Maltese - This dog sheds the least and is attentive and perfectly in tune with its owners. They are small, so if you ever need to take them to a vet, they are easily transportable.

Greyhounds – Many people think that Greyhounds are hyperactive, however, they tend to be ‘couch potatoes’ and are content to laze around beside their owners. They are quiet, gentle and loyal to their owners, making them a suitable pet for seniors, as well as great therapy pets for aged care facilities. This is a breed to consider if you have the room and a spare lounge.

When choosing the best dog for an elderly owner, it's important to compare the potential senior owner's residence, health status and physical strength with the pet's physical traits, personality and routine care requirements. We're happy to help seniors train their dogs so that owners and dogs are a good fit for each other.

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