While dogs make great companions at any age, the friendship and company that they offer only grow in importance as we age. Besides the unconditional love and companionship dogs give, research shows that having a dog can actually help combat loneliness or depression and can even be trained to help with certain ailments including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
For seniors, the best dogs are low-maintenance in terms of grooming, health problems, and activity. If you’re a senior looking for the perfect dog or you’re looking to get an older loved one a new best friend, consider these senior-friendly dog breeds first.
This medium-sized dog is great for seniors thanks to its gentle nature, intelligence, and sweet disposition. Beagles require little maintenance in terms of care and live an average of 14 years. While these dogs are gentle and loving, they can also be energetic and do require some regular activity to help them stay healthy. For that reason, they aren’t recommended for seniors with limited or no mobility.
2. Lhasa Apso
This small breed comes from China, requires little exercise, and is low-maintenance in terms of care. They are cheerful, smart, social, and playful without being overly energetic. In terms of their health, the Lhasa Apso has an average life expectancy of 13 years and the breed doesn’t have a predisposition to any major health concerns. The small size and gentle nature of the Lhasa Apso make it a great option for seniors.
3. Scottish Terrier
A medium-sized dog, the Scottish Terrier weighs an average of 20 pounds and only grows to be about 10 inches in height. It is an affectionate breed that can also be stubborn and sometimes aggressive with strangers. While it doesn’t need a lot of activity, daily exercise will help a Scotty live for an average of 12 years. It doesn’t need much in terms of grooming but as a Scotty ages, it might experience some moderate health problems.
4. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
This small dog is easy to train and is quite well-behaved making it a great choice for seniors. It grows to be around 15 pounds and around 12 inches high. It has a cheerful disposition and is also affectionate and social. Daily exercise is required to keep your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in good health but it doesn’t need anything more than a daily walk.
This dog breed is on the larger size (when compared to most of the others on this list) averaging around 45 pounds and is best suited for seniors who are able-bodied. That being said, otterhounds are considered to be low-energy dogs who don’t need to run around a lot like some smaller breeds. They are alert and independent which makes them excellent watch dogs. Otterhounds are also friendly and affectionate making them great companions, too.
6. Dandie Dinmont Terrier
While this may not be one of the better-known breeds by name, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier is a medium-sized dog known for its affectionate nature. Also known as the Hindlee Terrier, this dog can be aggressive at times but all in all is loving and loyal to its owners. The Dandie is also low-maintenance since it doesn’t shed much and stays in relatively good health throughout its years. With proper care, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier can live an average of 12 years.
This medium-sized dog originates from both Germany and the Netherlands. It is quite playful and can be more energetic than other breeds. For this reason, it’s more suited for seniors who have more energy and can move around easily. The Keeshond grows to be around 35 pounds and lives for an average of 13 years. While the dog’s outward appearance may make it seem high-maintenance in terms of care, it only needs to be bathed and brushed periodically and doesn’t require any specific grooming needs.
8. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
This Corgi is a medium-sized breed that grows to around 27 pounds and 12 inches high. It has a moderate energy level and doesn’t require a lot of exercise. It has an outgoing disposition and is protective over its loved ones. Corgis are also alert, cheerful, and affectionate making them great companions for seniors. They are also obedient and easy to train.
One of the toy breeds, the Biewer averages under 10 pounds and is usually shorter than 10 inches high. They are from Germany and are typically friendly, playful, and affectionate with their owners. The Biewer has a beautiful coat but requires little maintenance since it doesn’t shed as much as other breeds. While exercise is always recommended for dogs, this breed is considered to have moderate energy and won’t need a lot of physical activity.
10. Glen of Imaal Terrier
This Irish breed is a medium-sized one that reaches an average of 40 pounds. Despite its size it doesn’t require a lot of physical activity and is considered to be a quiet and obedient breed that is easy to train. The Glennie doesn’t require much maintenance in terms of grooming but it can run into health problems as it ages. For example, Glennies widely suffer from progressive retinal atrophy as they get older.
11. Rat Terrier
This is a small breed that is known for its agility and hunting skills. The Rat Terrier is low-maintenance especially in terms of health. The main health concern with this dog is allergies. They are native to the USA and are lively, social, and affectionate with their owners. Notably, the Rattie lives an average of 19 years.
12. Staffordshire Bull Terrier
This medium-sized dog is low-maintenance and loving making it a great companion for seniors. It is also great with children making it the perfect option for those who have grandchildren visiting regularly. This breed can reach up to around 40 pounds and can live an average of 13 years. While this dog doesn’t require a lot of physical activity it is a strong breed and may need an owner who can control it properly especially on walks.
13. Sealyham Terrier
This terrier is a medium-sized dog that can be aggressive yet cheerful and loyal. It is considered to be a low-energy dog that only grows to be around 25 pounds. There is no need for additional physical activity or extensive maintenance in terms of grooming or health. Like most terriers, the Sealyham is usually bred for hunting and tracking which can make it somewhat stubborn and independent which may take some patience.
14. Icelandic Sheepdog
This is a medium-sized breed that, on average, weighs around 25 pounds when fully grown. It is a friendly breed that is affectionate and playful without being overly energetic. This sheepdog is also very obedient and because of that is easy to train. The breed is also low-maintenance in terms of grooming and its health.
This Mexican dog, sometimes known as the Mexican Hairless is a medium-sized breed that is loyal, protective, and affectionate when it comes to their owners. Due to the Xolo’s hairless nature, it requires little maintenance in terms of grooming but can be prone to minor skin problems. The average weight for this breed is around 30 pounds but it can reach as high as 50 pounds. On average, this breed can live for around 17 years.
16. Irish Terrier
This cheerful dog breed originated in Ireland and is of medium size. It is protective and can be aggressive but is generally loving, playful, and quite smart. Irish Terriers don’t shed much and are usually in good health. They reach an average of 25 pounds and 18 inches in height. They are low-maintenance in terms of grooming and have a 14-year average life expectancy.
17. Tibetan Spaniel
This is a small breed that weighs an average of 12 pounds. It is a relatively calm dog that is known for its quiet yet cheerful disposition. It needs very little exercise and can be the perfect lap dog for seniors who can’t get around easily or leave the house often. Tibetan Spaniels have an average life expectancy of 14 years and have very little health concerns to worry about.
The Maltese breed is gentle and loving, obedient and playful. If you’re looking for a companion that is playful and easy to train, then you will love this dog breed. Remember that to choose a healthy dog, it’s best to find a reputable breeder instead of buying a puppy from a pet store.