10 Dog Breeds That Are Ideal for Seniors
If there's one thing that Martha has taught us time and time again, it's that it's never too late to welcome a new furry friend into your home. A dog can bring you so much joy—not to mention a holistic boost to your physical and mental health, especially for those who have recently relocated, finished up a long project or job, or for those who have recently become "empty nesters." That doesn't mean that you won't have to make a serious commitment to your new pet. While age should never prevent you from enjoying the thrills of canine companionship, some breeds could be better suited for your lifestyle based on their unique traits.
The best dog breed for a senior—especially those with health concerns or those who are looking for quiet, low-impact additions to their home—isn't a one-size-fits-all solution, says Dr. Jerry Klein, the chief veterinary officer of the American Kennel Club. But most of the following breeds provide owners with an opportunity to get active by adopting a generally enthusiastic, energetic pooch, whose smaller size won't provide additional obstacles to any living situation. As with a dog of any breed, you'll need to meet their individual needs, from routine exercise to grooming, so it's important to consider their inherent energy level. Dr. Klein says that nearly any puppy (young dogs that mature at 12 months of age) will be very energetic and time consuming compared to older dogs, which makes the dogs' age a main concern for most.
If you're worried about your pooch being too energetic, you should consider adopting older dogs, Dr. Klein says, recommending show dogs who have retired from competition or former breeding dogs. "Crates will be your best friend and your dogs', too. Use them to help in housebreaking, when leaving puppies unattended to prevent them from causing destruction, and get them used to a crate early on."
Since purebred dogs tend to have predictable traits, you may find that certain dog breeds are ideal for a more relaxed lifestyle. Whichever breed attracts your eye—even if it's not on this list, or if it's a special mixed breed pooch—can better adjust to your home with a bit of training, however. That could be formal classes, Dr. Klein says, or informal opportunities like community training groups, allowing both you and your dog to meet new friends on similar journeys.
Ready to welcome your newest four-legged friend into your home? These breeds are some of the best to grow old with.
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Corgis always seem to have a smile on their face, with a friendly mood and demeanor to match. The Pembroke, in particular, is a "bright, sensitive dog" that enjoys playtime and is a great match for someone who always wants to be on the go, Dr. Klein says. "Though their legs may be short, they are energetic and good for energetic seniors, too."
Martha is so enamored with these playful pups that she has two—Creme Brûlée and Bete Noire. You'll notice that French Bulldogs are quite engaging, enamoring, and love to play with their owners, but they tend to have less energy compared to other dogs on this list. "They're alert and playful, but not extremely boisterous," Dr. Klein says. "They are fantastic companions and are wonderful apartment dogs."
Most people often see poodles as prim and proper, and for good reason; experts often extol poodles for their overall intelligence and immediate response to training, Dr. Klein says. They make great companions for seniors because they come in three different sizes: Standard poodles are the largest at an average 70 pounds, whereas miniature poodles are just slightly larger than toy poodles. Each variety has less energy and needs less room to let loose than the next. "Poodles are eager, athletic, and wickedly smart 'real dogs' of remarkable versatility," he says.
Pomeranians rarely exceed seven pounds, which makes them easy to handle for any owner, minus their "commanding big-dog demeanor." Dr. Klein says that most pomeranians can be on the noisy side, frequently barking, as they're bred to be top-notch watch dogs, which could be an issue if you live in an apartment building or a condo complex. "Poms are active, but can be exercised with indoor play and short walks, so they are content in both the city and the suburbs."
Pugs are popular with dog lovers for a reason: They're devoted to their owners and love to socialize with other dogs around them. "Pug owners often say their breed is the ideal house dog," Dr. Klein says, and shares that their amicable demeanor makes them a top choice for those who have frequent visitors like grandchildren, friends, or for owners who have more than one dog.
Have you always avoided a furry friend due to allergies? Dr. Klein says that out of all breeds, Yorkies are remarkably hypoallergenic, and shed relatively low amounts of their long, wavy hair. While they're small in size, Yorkies are often feisty, brave, and sometimes bossy; they were once trained to be vermin-chasers in mines across America, per the AKC.
Known for their affection and for their petite size, maltese are one of the smallest breeds on this list. Maltese are very affectionate with their owners and overly playful at times. These toy dogs are known to be highly portable, Dr. Klein says, and often make for great traveling companions for those who may spend their time in multiple states throughout the year. The only downfall? Maltese' lustrous white coats require frequent trips to the groomers.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
This breed is rather intelligent—Dr. Klein says that King Charles spaniels' have advanced insight into the moods and preferences of each member of the family it lives with, and can adapt its behavior to two wildly different people who may live under the same roof. "They can be upbeat athletes or shameless couch potatoes," Dr. Klein shares. "Their sweet, quiet nature makes them perfect for retirees."
Don't have a backyard and live in a big city? The affectionate Shih Tzu won't care. "Some dogs live to dig holes and chase cats, but a Shih Tzu's idea of fun is sitting in your lap, acting adorable as you try to watch television," Dr. Klein says. They're easily trained, and while they're hair is naturally long, it can be trimmed down for convenience.