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Best Dog Breeds for the Elderly

Choosing a Good Pet for Seniors

Jan 19, 2009 Joy Butler

Small Mixed Breed Dogs Make Great Pets for Seniors - <i>JButler</i>
Small Mixed Breed Dogs Make Great Pets for Seniors - JButler


Dogs make great companion pets for many people but they are especially beneficial for the elderly who often live alone and spend a great deal of time at home. Studies have shown that having a dog can improve the overall well being of an older person. Dogs can benefit senior citizens in many ways.


A good companion dog is happy to share time watching tv, gardening, or just napping. For seniors who live alone, the unconditional love of a dog provides a boost in self esteem. Feeding and caring for an animal can help them feel useful and give them a reason to get up in the morning. Studies even show that having a dog can lower blood pressure and hasten healing time. A dog can bring much joy and comfort into the life of an elderly person.

A Measure of Security

A canine’s sense of smell, hearing, and eyesight is much more efficient than that of a human. An alert dog can smell, hear, and see things much quicker than a human would. Prowlers are discouraged by a barking dog because of the attention it draws to them. They also understand that a protective dog may attack if they feel that their owner or property is in danger. Law enforcement often recommends a dog as the best burglar deterrent.

Encourages More Exercise

Exercise is important for the elderly to keep them healthy and strong. Walking is a popular exercise of seniors that may be neglected without the encouragement of a dog. Dogs love to go walking and will sometimes go get their leashes and beg for a walk. A senior citizen is also more likely to go out strolling the neighborhood if he has the security of a dog on a leash.

Social Opportunities

Dogs can make wonderful conversation starters for the elderly. Meeting new neighbors over the back fence can be easier when the topic of dogs comes up. Almost everyone loves dogs and can relate a story of his own dog or one he has had.

Choosing a Dog for the Elderly

Taking care of a dog is a commitment and should be considered carefully. There are several main concerns for seniors.

  • Size – the dog should be small enough to handle easily and small enough to be a lap dog if desired
  • Temperament - the dog should be easily trained and reliable with an appropriate level of activity
  • Grooming - breeds that require frequent baths, brushings and expensive clippings may not be appropriate for the elderly

Best Breeds for the Elderly

Although different personalities are present within a breed, the following breeds are some good considerations for older people.

  • Pug
  • Chihuahua
  • Boston Terrier
  • Cardigan Corgi
  • Welsh Corgi
  • French Bulldog
  • Beagle
  • Dachshund
  • Miniature Pinscher
  • Schnauzer
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • American Eskimo

Mixed Breeds

Many mixed breed dogs make fine pets for senior citizens. Good choices are available at shelters and breed rescues. Most shelters and rescue workers are happy to discuss the dog’s temperament, care and grooming requirements.