13 Best Dogs for Seniors That Provide Comfort Without the Fuss

Best Dogs for Seniors

There is something uniquely special about every dog breed, from the smallest pup that fits in your shirt pocket to the large beasts that demand our couch be theirs. While some pups thrive with families with small children, others do well in a quieter home.

If you’re older, that doesn’t mean you can’t adopt a pup. In fact, it’s probably a better time now than ever before, especially if you find that you have more time on your hands to care for them.

You might have heard that not all dog breeds are suitable for seniors, and while this is true to some degree, being older isn’t a valid reason that someone can’t properly care for a dog. My grandmother is 87 and owns a big beast that she loves and is more than capable of taking care of.

That said, keep in mind that the best dogs for seniors are those that match your energy levels and your home size. Many people, when they retire, move to smaller homes or into small communities to downsize.

If that’s the case, you’ll want to consider small to medium-sized dogs rather than larger breeds, though there are larger dogs that are pretty moderate in their exercise needs.

Best Dogs for Seniors

There were so many breeds to choose from, but we’ve narrowed down the best dogs for seniors to a list of 13 to enjoy in your golden years. Let’s check them out.

1. Shih Tzu

best dog for seniors
GROUPToy
DOG’s SIZE8″ to 11″
WEIGHT9 to 16 pounds
FUR AND COLORLong, double coat; black, blue, white, liver, gold, or combinations thereof
LIFE SPAN10 to 16 years

The Shih Tzu is a regal-looking pup with a gentle nature that gets along with everyone, including other pets. The Shih Tzu is a joyful and affectionate dog that is always happy.

Shih Tzus love to cuddle with their owners and have moderate exercise needs, which means they’re ideal if you’re not quite as active but still enjoy a daily walk or two.

If you own a Shih Tzu, take note that they will need regular grooming because their long, double coat grows fast, and they are prone to skin issues. The Shih Tzu can also have a bit of a stubborn streak, which can affect training, but most Shih Tzus take to it very well.

2. Miniature Poodle

best small dogs for seniors
GROUPNon-Sporting
DOG’s SIZE10″ to 15″
WEIGHT10 to 15 pounds
FUR AND COLORLong curly coat; black, white, blue, brown, apricot, cream, silver, red, and others
LIFE SPAN10 to 18 years

This pup is just like the Standard Poodle, in a slightly smaller size that’s easier to handle and doesn’t need quite as much exercise. This breed, like its larger counterpart, is super friendly and super intelligent, which means training is likely to be a breeze.

Recognized as the national dog of France, this breed is a loyal, affectionate pup that you will be happy to have by your side. It will need regular grooming, typically a trim every four to eight weeks, to keep its curly coat in check.

The pup also adapts very well to any environment and travels well, too! A Toy Poodle is also a good option to consider for companionship with the same breed characteristics — all three sizes are intelligent dogs!

3. Bichon Frise

dogs for seniors
GROUPNon-Sporting
DOG’s SIZE9″ to 12″
WEIGHT7 to 12 pounds
FUR AND COLORCurly, medium-length coat; white 
LIFE SPAN14 to 15 years

If it’s on your agenda to own the cutest cotton puff dog there is, you’ll find that the fluffy little Bichon Frise is one of the best dogs for seniors. These small dogs are easy to care for because they tend to be relatively low maintenance.

Many Bichon owners have their pups groomed every few weeks, and they will need some regular brushing daily to keep their fur tangle-free. Bichon Frises are one of the best companion dogs that don’t need a lot of exercise.

Bichon Frises love playing indoors or out, or you can take them for a walk to work off their excess energy levels. They get along with other pets, including other breeds.

4. Maltese

best dog breed for seniors
GROUPToy
DOG’s SIZE8″ to 10″
WEIGHT4 to 7 pounds
FUR AND COLORLong, silky coats; white fur
LIFE SPAN12 to 15 years

Some people confuse the Bichon Frise for the Maltese because they’re both small white dog breeds. But other than their same loving personalities, they are different. The Maltese, for example, has straight fur, while the Bichon’s is curly. Maltese are also smaller dogs in size.

Often used as a therapy dog, these pups were built to hang out in your lap, so if your day consists of watching television or going for short daily walks around the community, you’ll enjoy having the Maltese join you.

Training these dogs is pretty easy as they are smart and eager to please. The Maltese is very affectionate plus charming and will easily win you over.

5. Pug

small dogs for seniors
GROUPToy
DOG’s SIZE10″ to 13″
WEIGHT14 to 18 pounds
FUR AND COLORShort, smooth coat; black or fawn
LIFE SPAN13 to 15 years

The Pug is one of the cutest pups you just can’t help but love. They’re smaller dogs with a larger-than-life presence because of their personalities. They’re also an intensely loving breed.

If you own a Pug, you’ll notice that it matches your energy — if you’re active, it will join you on daily walks and the like, but be careful not to over-exercise them as their brachycephalic syndrome can cause breathing issues.

The Pug can be an excitable breed, but it works out its energy fast and is more than happy to cuddle on your lap. When it comes to training, the Pug is definitely eager to please and catches on quick.

It also has moderate mental stimulation needs and is low maintenance in terms of grooming, making it one of the best dog breeds for seniors.

6. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

best lap dogs for seniors
GROUPToy
DOG’s SIZE12″ to 13″
WEIGHT13 to 18 pounds
FUR AND COLORMedium-length wavy, silky coat; Blenheim, black and tan, tricolor, and ruby
LIFE SPAN12 to 15 years

Want to look into some of the most soulful eyes you’ll ever see? A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel will warm you from the inside out and make a great companion.

These small dogs tend to keep their puppy-like charm, and they are very adaptable to their circumstances. As one of the spaniel breeds, they’re easy to train with an eagerness to please their owners.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are more than content to sit on your lap and won’t demand a lot of exercise. However, when it comes to grooming, this dog breed needs daily brushing to keep their fur from tangling and to visit a professional at least once a month.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels also tend to need their ears cleaned more since they hang.

7. Miniature Schnauzer

best dogs for senior citizens
GROUPTerrier
DOG’s SIZE12″ to 14″
WEIGHT11 to 19 pounds
FUR AND COLORDouble coat, wiry top, soft undercoat; black, black and silver, salt and pepper
LIFE SPAN12 to 15 years

Handsome and playful, you’ll never be bored with a Miniature Schnauzer around. These pups were originally working dogs but have since adapted to being more domesticated as lap dogs.

Miniature Schnauzers are very intelligent, which makes them easy to train. They are playful, loyal pups who want nothing more than to command your attention and then curl up on your lap afterward.

When it comes to exercise, Miniature Schnauzers do need a moderate amount, but a quick trip to the dog park or a brisk walk can help meet these needs. Grooming is a must as their wiry fur can grow out of control quickly, but they are typically a low-shedding breed.

8. French Bulldog

small dogs for seniors
GROUPNon-Sporting
DOG’s SIZE11″ to 13″
WEIGHT19 to 28 pounds
FUR AND COLORSmooth, short coat; brindle, white, fawn, or combination thereof
LIFE SPAN10 to 12 years

The French Bulldog is one of the happiest little buggers you’ll ever meet. One look at their faces, and you can’t help but smile back.

French Bulldogs are actually considered one of the most cheerful dog breeds, and it shows in their lively temperament and demeanor. Frenchies love their people and aren’t afraid to show it with sloppy kisses and lots of affection. Studies have revealed that owning dogs can play a significant role in preventing depression and reducing anxiety levels.

The French Bulldog doesn’t have hefty grooming needs as it has a short, smooth coat, but health issues such as trouble breathing because of brachycephalic syndrome and obesity can be concerns.

The French Bulldog does have a lot of energy, but it wears out quickly, so exercise needs are moderate. These high-energy dogs are smart and very trainable.

9. Pembroke Welsh Corgi

best small dog for seniors
GROUPHerding
DOG’s SIZE10″ to 12″
WEIGHT24 to 30 pounds
FUR AND COLORMedium-length double coat; red, sable, fawn with white markings, or black and tan
LIFE SPAN12 to 13 years

Can we say adorable? Because that’s the very first word that pops into my mind whenever I see a Pembroke Welsh Corgi. This cute breed is lower to the ground in stature, but boy oh boy, it is packed with personality.

Corgis are herding dogs, which is an energetic dog category, so they do need a bit of exercise, but if you take this small dog with you on daily walks, this should suffice.

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi has a medium-length coat that can benefit from some weekly brushing, but otherwise, its grooming needs are minimal. Training is sure to be easy as these pups are not only smart, but have a drive to please their owners, making them ideal for older folks.

10. Greyhound

best large dog for seniors
GROUPHound
DOG’s SIZE25″ to 30″
WEIGHT60 to 80 pounds
FUR AND COLORSmooth, short coat; black, fawn, white, blue, red, brindle, or combination thereof
LIFE SPAN10 to 13 years

If you’ve only ever seen a Greyhound on the racing track, you’re really missing out. These pups, while documented as the fastest dog breed in the world (they can run up to 45mph!), are absolute lazybones at home — serious couch potatoes.

Greyhounds are perceived as an energetic breed, but unless they’re trained as racing dogs, they can suffice on moderate daily exercise.

While bigger, Greyhounds are one of the best dog breeds because they’re relatively easy to handle as they are very responsive to proper training and commands.

Grooming? With the Greyhound, it’s virtually nonexistent; minimal grooming needs other than the occasional bath. The Greyhound is a very gentle dog breed that is quiet and affectionate. Also, check out if Greyhound racing is cruel.

11. Pomeranian

good dogs for seniors
GROUPToy
DOG’s SIZE6″ to 7″
WEIGHT3 to 7 pounds
FUR AND COLORLong, double coat; cream, red, sable, orange, brown, blue, black
LIFE SPAN12 to 16 years

The first time I ever saw a Pomeranian, I asked what the walking ball of floof was. In my defense, I was four years old, but that has stuck with me for life.

These small dogs are absolute dolls, and they pack such personalities into a tiny package. It’s happy and affectionate and makes a wonderful canine companion.

It’s fairly easy to train a Pomeranian, which tends to be an active little pup. However, because of their size, you can easily exercise them at home by tossing toys for them to fetch. 

Though they have long coats, they don’t really require too much grooming, but you’ll want to brush them to ensure their fur remains free of tangles and mats.

12. Beagle

best breed of dog for seniors
GROUPHound
DOG’s SIZE13″ to 15″
WEIGHT20 to 30 pounds
FUR AND COLORSmooth, short coat; black, white, tan, red, with white
LIFE SPAN10 to 15 years

If you look up the definition of ornery in the dictionary, you’re more than likely to see a picture of the Beagle. This playful, mischievous pup is seemingly always getting into something, and boy, do they love to howl.

However, it’s a wonderful pup to have because it’s easy to train — as long as something doesn’t catch its nose — and makes for a great companion for an older adult.

Beagles do shed quite a bit, so invest in a good vacuum or be prepared to sweep up daily. They don’t typically require a professional grooming service unless you want to pamper them.

Daily short walks are enough to keep this pup from becoming hyper, but be warned — they will give chase to squirrels and other small prey if not properly trained.

13. Havanese

companion dogs for seniors
GROUPToy
DOG’s SIZE8.5″ to 12.5″
WEIGHT7 to 13 pounds
FUR AND COLORLong, silky coat; many different colors
LIFE SPAN14 to 16 years

If you’re looking for a sociable pup, this is it! Havanese are beautiful and affectionate, and they’re relatively quiet, too. This pup can make a great guard dog because it’s alert and loyal to its people. It’s also very intelligent and loves to learn tricks.

According to AKC (American Kennel Club), the Havanese, with its compact yet robust build, adaptability, and sociability, is perfectly suited for city living.

Professional grooming is a must to keep this small breed neatly trimmed because it grows very long. When it comes to routine exercise, the breed prefers to be at home on their owner’s lap, making it one of the best dog breeds for a low-activity senior.

Breeds That Are Not Recommended 

There are some breeds that just don’t fall into the best dogs for seniors category. Seniors who prefer to be homebodies or live a sedentary lifestyle should opt for low-maintenance dog breeds with low energy needs and avoid larger breeds or those that have an extremely high energy level or are high maintenance.

However, if you live an active lifestyle, you may welcome them with open arms.

FAQs

Should a 70-Year-Old Person Get a Puppy?

This truly depends on the person. Some 70-year-olds are spry and have the energy levels to keep up with a puppy, while some don’t.

Be honest in your assessment as to whether you can take on the responsibility. If not, adopt an older pup to keep you company — they’re often left in shelters much longer.

Which Dog Is Ideal for a Senior Living in an Apartment?

Most dogs do well in apartments. The small dog breeds, such as Pomeranians, Shih Tzus, French Bulldogs, and Bichon Frises, are just a few of the many options for apartment living.

What Is the Best Dog for Senior Citizens?

This is a pretty subjective question because the type of dog a person, even a senior, chooses should be based on their lifestyle, owner’s energy level, and their personality. For some pet parents, this will be the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, which is content to snuggle all the time.

Others will prefer the Greyhound, even though it’s larger. Still, don’t be surprised to see active seniors with a Great Dane or a Newfoundland!

Which Lap Dog Is Ideal for Senior Citizens?

As a pet parent, if I had to make a recommendation, I would choose one of the small or medium-sized dogs, like the Miniature Poodle or the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, as these small breeds are very low-maintenance dogs that are easy to care for and make excellent companion dogs.

But, again, when considering dogs for older people, it can vary based on a person’s individual preferences.

Conclusion

When it comes to the best dog breeds for seniors, we have our favorites, but this is a very short list. There are a number of certain dog breeds that will be more than happy to keep you company during your golden years, whether you want a furry friend to accompany you on a jog or just to curl up in your lap while you relax.

Christina Drury
Meet Christina Drury, a dedicated animal enthusiast, and proud pet parent. She has a deep-rooted affection for all creatures, and Christina has called the Buckeye State home for the past four years. As a seasoned writer, she possesses a versatile writing style that spans various niches, yet her heart truly belongs to animals. With her innate connection and expertise, Christina is committed to crafting engaging and insightful content for animal-related issues.

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