The Best Companion Dogs For Seniors | Right At Home

The Best Companion Dog Breeds For Seniors 

If you're an older adult interested in having a dog, your age should not be a barrier to getting one. However, the ability to adequately care for a dog can be influenced by your health and lifestyle. So regardless of your age, the key is to find the dog that best suits your lifestyle and skills. It's also crucial to ensure that you'll be able to fulfill your dog's basic needs, such as exercise, grooming, and health care.

Choosing The Best Dog For Seniors

Since purebred dogs have consistent characteristics, you can find that some dog breeds are better suited to a more laid-back lifestyle. The following are only a few examples of excellent senior dog breeds. These dog breeds have a modest amount of energy and are generally smaller in scale. Above all, the following breeds make lovely companions and adapt well to their owners' lifestyles. Some of the best dogs to spend the golden years with are mentioned below.

What To Consider When Choosing A Dog Breed For Seniors

Energy Level

Some breeds tend to need more physical activity than others. For example, if you're a reasonably active person, you may be able to accommodate a dog that requires a lot of playtime and running opportunities. However, if you have agility or endurance problems, a dog who is comfortable with a few short walks may be a better option. On the other hand, some tiny dogs might be able to get all of the exercises they need simply by running around your house.


Smaller dogs are easier to handle and are well suited to seniors who live in condos, hotels, or nursing homes. Small dogs fit easily on your lap, are more compact than larger breeds, are less physically demanding, and can be washed in the sink. But some small dogs have a lot of nervous energy and attempt to compensate for their small size by barking a lot. However, this isn't always the case, as smaller breeds like the Pug and Boston Terrier are among the least barking dogs. Alternatively, big, docile dogs that don't need a lot of upkeep might be a good fit.


Seniors should adopt older dogs rather than puppies that are hyperactive and prone to chewing and nipping. By the age of seven, adult dogs are typically well trained to go around the house and are well-socialized with humans. Mature dogs also have the most consistent behavior patterns and are the calmest. It's also a good idea to consider the lifespan of various breeds of dogs and how likely it is that your pet would outlive you. If you aren't able to look after your dog, who will?

Temperament or Disposition

The genes that dogs are born with and the way they are raised have an effect on their temperament. While any dog can be social, certain breeds are more naturally inclined to be gentle and accepting. The breeds with the highest temperament are Beagles, Retrievers, Poodles, and Bulldogs. However, bear in mind that each animal has its personality. Try to get along or interact with any future pet you're thinking of getting to see if you're a suitable match for each other.

Grooming Requirements

Some breeds require daily bathing, trimming, and clipping, while others only require a short brush now and then. Choose a dog whose requirements you can meet on your own or with the assistance of a family member or a skilled groomer.

Puppies Vs. Adults

Puppies are full of energy and need a lot of care, not to mention that they must be housetrained. Therefore, adopting an elderly dog that has already been trained is an excellent option for many seniors who want to concentrate on spending time with their dog instead of worrying about their home being ruined. And since so many people want to adopt dogs, you should also feel confident about adopting an elderly dog less likely to find a good home.

Best Large Dog For Seniors


How can a running dog be beneficial to senior citizens? You may be shocked to hear that greyhounds aren't the high-energy dogs that many people believe them to be. Greyhounds enjoy daily walks and the rare opportunity to race, but most of them are couch potatoes that enjoy lounging with their owners. Despite their 60 to 80 pounds weight, they usually are very receptive to training and thus easy to handle. The greyhound is a breed to consider if you enjoy larger dogs but are concerned about your ability to manage one. The greyhound has long legs and a streamlined body; its head is long and narrow.

Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retrievers are one of the most typical dog breeds in America. For a good reason: they make excellent companions with their warm, friendly temperament, outgoing attitude, and love of human camaraderie. In addition, they are one of the best dog breeds for anxiety sufferers because they respond well to training as service dogs. Labrador retrievers are friendly and even-tempered, but they are also very lively and need a lot of physical activity (think swimming and playing fetch).

Golden Retriever

Golden retrievers, like Labrador retrievers, are gentle, friendly people who respond well to training and are responsive to human emotional needs, making them one of the most common therapy dog breeds. They prefer healthy lifestyles and enjoy running, hiking, and swimming. They can be pretty mellow indoors if they get enough outdoor exercise. They enjoy being with other people and are known for their patience.

Poodle (Regular)

The poodle is one of the cleverest dogs in the world and one of the most famous. The best part of getting a poodle is that you get to choose your size. This dog will be a faithful and affectionate companion if you choose the tiny toy poodle, the small miniature poodle, or the big standard poodle. Poodles are quick learners who adapt well to a variety of environments. For most poodles, regular walks are appropriate. They need professional grooming once or twice a month, but they are otherwise reasonably easy to care for. Their single-layer coats are curly and dense and come in various solid colors, including white, black, grey, orange, and apricot.

Best Small Dogs For Seniors

Boston Terrier

Are you looking for a small pet dog that will be entirely devoted to you? Boston Terriers are adaptable, polite, and mild-mannered dogs that enjoy sitting quietly with their owners. They are easy to train and do not bark excessively, making them ideal for apartment or condo living. Since their soft coat (which resembles a black-and-white tuxedo) is easy to care for, their grooming requirements are minimal. However, they do not thrive in hot weather.


The Maltese, like the bichon, is the quintessential little white lap dog. This breed loves sitting in the lap of its owner and taking quick, simple walks. Grooming requirements are similar to those of the Bichon Frise, and visits to a skilled groomer are required to keep the breed in good shape. The Maltese are also a relatively simple breed to train. This dog is easy to handle, weighing just 4 to 7 pounds. It's small enough to fit in your backpack. They have a single-layer coat with no undercoat and dark, alert eyes shrouded by white fur that is naturally long and silky.

French Bulldog

It's almost hard to be depressed in the presence of the cheerful Frenchie. Of all dog breeds, French Bulldogs are among the happiest. They are active, lightweight, muscular dogs. They are, however, still very manageable at 19 to 28 pounds. They have a lot of muscle, but they don't have a lot of stamina. As a result, for this breed, moderate physical exercise is typically appropriate. While their grooming requirements are limited, be mindful of health issues such as brachycephalic syndrome and various skin problems.  They have a big head, short snout, and bat-like ears on a robust, compact dog breed.


Another typical small dog is the Shih-Tzu. The breed is easy to handle, weighing between 9 and 16 pounds. Though the Shih-Tzu has a stubborn streak, most of them can be trained relatively quickly. However, this breed needs daily walks and grooming regularly. Skin problems and brachycephalic syndrome are common in Shih- Tzus, albeit to a lesser extent than in French bulldogs. Shih-Tzus are small but tough dogs with a thick, double-coated coat and a short, "smooshed" muzzle.


The Bolognese is another cuddly, fluffy white dog that is playful, intelligent, and quick to train. These animals adore their owners and follow them around everywhere they go. Bolognese dogs don't need much exercise and are perfectly content to be couch potatoes as long as they can stay close to you. They are peaceful and quiet, and they adapt well to a variety of living environments. To keep their curly locks in good health, they must be bathed and groomed constantly.

Best Medium Dogs For Seniors


Vizslas are known for being cheerful and willing to please their owners. Although a dog's temperament varies from animal to animal, it is less consistent than physical inheritance. Therefore, consistent training will also help you shape your dog's temperament. The easygoing nature of Vizslas is one of their most endearing characteristics. Vizslas get along with just about everybody, including strangers and other species. However, this is only true if they are adequately socialized early in life with new people, animals, and experiences.


Are you a person who loves going for long walks in the outdoors? A Beagle may be a good match for you. These dogs are friendly, energetic dogs that enjoy playing. They're easygoing, welcoming characters who consider anyone they encounter to be their new best friend. Beagles, which were originally bred as hunting hounds, are a scent-driven breed that will bolt if they detect a new scent. It's essential to have a properly fenced yard and to keep a close eye on these dogs.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

If you're looking for a small to medium dog that'll be an excellent friend, the Corgi is a good choice. This breed is small enough for most people to handle, weighing 24 to 30 pounds. Corgis are intelligent and relatively quick to train. With those short little legs, they're still adorable. As a herding dog by default, your Corgi will require regular exercise, but frequent walks are also sufficient. The Corgi needs very little grooming, which can be very convenient. With a low-set body, big upright, pointy ears, and a stubby tail, Corgis have short stature and a robust build.

Specialized Dogs For Seniors

Therapy Dogs

Therapy dogs have been specially trained to offer comfort and therapeutic support to people who are not their owners. They go to hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, retirement villages, hospices, rehabilitation centers, and other places to see patients. Since therapy dogs are intended to be petted and treated by various people, they must have a friendly, stable temperament. However, these dogs are not protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and do not have the same rights—regarding access— to public spaces as other dogs.

Emotional Support Dogs

Emotional support dogs are pets who help their owners cope with anxiety and stress. While any dog can play this part, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Poodles, Pugs, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are popular choices. They don't need any special training and aren't protected by the ADA. On the other hand, they have more legal rights than therapy dogs. Emotional support dogs, for example, are permitted to live with their owners in housing projects that don't usually accept pets under the Fair Housing Act if the owner's doctor has approved it.

Service Dogs

Service dogs undergo extensive training before being assigned to support an individual with a disability. This is why a service dog can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000, depending on the level of training. Service dogs are legally permitted to accompany their human companions on buses and into public buildings—such as restaurants and shopping malls— thanks to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Service dogs for the elderly will do things like wake owners up, fetch medicine, pick up dropped objects for wheelchair owners, lead owners with impaired vision, and prevent dementia patients from walking out alone. They should not be petted because it should cause them to lose focus on their work.

What Type of Dog to Avoid?

If a senior lives a particularly active lifestyle and can give their dog plenty of exercises, they might be able to handle a high-energy dog. On the contrary, if they’re worried about keeping up with an energetic dog over time, a calmer breed may be a better choice. Likewise, if a senior has health issues that make handling a big dog challenging, they could be better off with a small dog.

Also, consider the dog's expected lifespan of 12 to 15 years (or more). Do you think you'll be able to care for a high-energy dog for the next ten years? If you want to escape the extra needs of a puppy or teenage dog, you may want to consider a middle-aged or senior dog.

High-Energy Dogs

High-energy dogs make fantastic pets, but they need a lot of exercise and attention to stay content and safe. Seniors tend to be more sedentary, so a low-energy dog, or even a senior dog searching for a forever home, is more recommended. These dogs only need a small amount of exercise, a few treats, and a lot of love.

Oversized Breeds

How to choose the right breed? You may ask. In general, big breeds are not recommended for seniors. If anyone is thinking about getting a huge or giant breed puppy, they should expect to pay more for anything, including health care, because big dogs cost more than small breed dogs. In addition, large breeds need more maintenance than smaller ones, whether you're talking about health issues or nutritional requirements, and are more demanding in all aspects of their life. 

Puppies Or Senior Dogs (Depending On The Person)

Aside from breed, age is another consideration when choosing the right dog for a senior. While the relaxed temperament of an older dog can be a good match for seniors, you should weigh all of the benefits and drawbacks, such as the fact that many animal shelters give discounts to seniors who choose to adopt senior pets. In the end, it will highly depend on the necessities of the senior and how much energy and money the person is committed to investing. In a general scope, senior dogs are the best choice. Still, each individual has its needs, and maybe they can have a puppy in their lives, but only if they can fully take care of it or become a member and the responsibility of the whole family. 

On a final note, when looking for perfect dogs for seniors, it is essential to spend the right amount of time asking all the questions regarding them, such as medical history and their behavioral background. 

Is your loved one looking for the perfect dog match? Would you like to have someone help them in their daily lives and guide them with their canine companion? Call Right At Home today and let us answer your questions regarding the benefits of a dog companion and the possibility of having a life improved with a professional caregiver by their side. We have the right team for you, and we’ll make you feel right at home.

Bruce Gropper
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