There is no bigger decision than deciding whether to get a new puppy or an older pet when you first bring your home a canine companion. The age of the animal can make all the difference in how it interacts with you and other people around them as well as its ability to be trained.
Not only do some older dogs have behavior problems that may require training (or medication), but they also tend to outlive their owners because many become couch potatoes. So here’s our list of the 30 best dog breeds for seniors!
- 1. Pug
- 2. Shih Tzu
- 3. Chihuahua
- 4. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- 5. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
- 6. Bichon Frise
- 7. Maltese
- 8. Boston Terrier
- 9. Poodle
- 10. Pomeranian
- 11. Greyhound
- 12. Golden Retriever
- 13. Miniature Schnauzer
- 14. Cockapoo
- 15. Basset Hound
- 16. Beagle
- 17. Pekingese
- 18. Havanese Dog
- 19. Dachshund
- 20. Papillon dog
- 21. French Bulldogs
- 22. Toy Poodle
- 23. English Cocker Spaniel
- 24. American Eskimo Dog
- 25. Border Terrier
- 26. Bracco Italiano
- 27. Miniature Poodle
- 28. Shiba Inu Dog
- 29. Akita Inu
- 30. Miniature Dachshund
The pug has always been known as one of the friendliest dog breeds. They love being cuddled and will let you know by licking away at your face. But there are several health issues associated with this breed including hip dysplasia and heart disease.
This makes the pug not ideal for those who want a long-lived family pet. It does however excel at companionship, making it perfect for apartment dwellers like myself. You’ll find that these little guys won’t mind sleeping on the floor beside the sofa and will even curl up right next to you while watching TV.
These sweethearts need lots of exercise though so don’t expect them to sit still for too much more than 15 minutes. If you live near water they’re sure to enjoy swimming and playing fetch. Their short coats require regular brushing which is easy enough if you use baby oil.
This beautiful French bulldog was bred in France over 200 years ago. Bullies were originally used as guard animals during WWI. As such, they are very protective of their territory and owner. Bulldogs are intelligent, active, playful and loving. They’ve got a lot going for them… besides looking great! While they aren’t prone to obesity, they definitely wouldn’t win any prizes for “cuddly”.
They weigh between 35 – 80 pounds and stand about 26 inches tall. Because of the size of this dog, we recommend getting a large yard space. And watch out — they drool quite often. A few tips include keeping their food warm before serving, feeding them treats instead of table scraps, and teaching them to walk politely on leash. Not surprisingly, this breed loves company and should ideally spend most of his time with children.
2. Shih Tzu
One of my favorite things about owning a shih tzu is that they look cute and small when sitting in a basket but grow into huge kitties when standing up on their hind legs. They are affectionate and gentle. I had a couple cats growing up and having a cat will help teach your shih tzui to scratch properly. Cats are natural predators, after all. Don’t worry though, you can train them to stay off furniture without killing them.
If you’ve ever seen a tiny little chihuahua, then you probably think that you’d never own one yourself. However, they are actually really good lapdogs. Weighing just 8 lbs., they measure anywhere from 11″ to 14″ high. In fact, the average height is 12″, although some larger ones have been recorded.
They are extremely energetic and usually bark nonstop unless taught otherwise. They sleep somewhere between 16 hours per day and 24 hours per day depending on activity levels. Although they are smaller than standard sized dogs, they are nonetheless full of energy. One thing worth noting is that they shed hair constantly. Like most dogs, they need grooming every 2 weeks or so. Most importantly, they thrive indoors and outdoors.
These gorgeous pooches come in two varieties: smooth coat and wire haired. Smooth coated corgis have soft fur covering their bodies whereas wire haired corgi’s fur covers their ears and muzzle. Both types of corgi’s are friendly and smart. There are a variety of colors available ranging from solid reds and blues to brindles or fawns.
Typically weighing 3 – 7lbs, they stand 20 – 22 inches tall. They are said to be relatively low maintenance compared to other toy spaniels. They are excellent swimmers and love to chase balls. Corgie’s can be aggressive towards strangers and must be socialized early. Fortunately, they respond well to positive reinforcement techniques once learned.
Training sessions last approximately 30 minutes each and consist of rewarding behaviors rather than scolding bad habits. After initial training, daily walks outside provide plenty of opportunity to practice commands and reinforce learning.
4. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Another popular choice among seniors is the elegant yet laid back cavalier king charles spaniel. These graceful creatures are fun to play with and snuggle up against. They are also fairly quiet and calm overall. Many prefer them over purebreds simply due to their adaptability.
They typically weight between 40 – 60lbs and stand roughly 27 – 32 inches tall. At least twice weekly baths are necessary to keep down shedding. Just like other spaniels, cavaliers are highly sensitive to heat, cold, noise, odors and touch. Owners must take extra precautions to avoid exposing their dogs to extreme temperatures. Cavaliers are generally healthy dogs, although deafness is hereditary. Despite what the name might lead you to believe, they are not related to royalty.
5. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
What could possibly be cuter than a giant white ball of fluff? Well, maybe a fluffy black cockatiel or parakeet. That would give me another reason to add either to my household. My newest addition is a big ol’ white Cocker Spaniel named Mandy. She runs circles around her miniature schnauzer brother Maxx.
With an estimated lifespan of 13 – 18 years, she already seems to be slowing down and needs frequent breaks now. Corgis are similar to wolves genetically speaking. They are strong, loyal and smart. They are happiest when running free in open spaces where they can hunt for rabbits, squirrels and birds.
Unfortunately, they are notorious chewers. Therefore, they need proper supervision when eating and chewing objects to prevent injury. Some common illnesses associated with Corgis include bloat, diabetes mellitus and eye disorders. To keep this problem under control, regularly check for signs of swelling and discomfort around the stomach area.
6. Bichon Frise
With their silly faces and adorable wiggling tails, bichons are truly irresistible. Unlike yorkshire terriers, they don’t dig holes or jump onto counters; however, they do shed excessively. Also, unlike dachshunds, they don’t drool. Still, despite some minor flaws, these little buddies are wonderful additions to families.
Bichon frises originated in Switzerland and are descendants of Belgian Malinois. They are considered to be both independent and stubborn. Due to their intelligence, they learn quickly and can easily pick up tricks. On the flipside, they can be overly rowdy sometimes.
When excited, they often squeal loudly. Other notable traits include hyperactivity, excessive vocalization, and digging. Regular bathing helps reduce odor, keeps ticks out, and prevents tangles. Since these dogs are so active, they require ample amounts of fresh air and exercise. Taking trips to the park is recommended since they can run freely.
When choosing a maltese pup, choose wisely. Maltese puppies are born blind and deaf and cannot see or hear until eight days old. Maltese adults are mostly greyish-white in color with dark spots. Even though they are tiny, they are very lively critters. They can fly across rooms, climb stairs and hop fences effortlessly.
Maltese are friendly and lovable. Similar to other members of the goslings family, they are monogamous and bond closely with their mates. They are naturally curious and inquisitive. Maltese are commonly kept as indoor pets, which means they shouldn’t be allowed access to outdoor areas. They are susceptible to hypothermia, frostbite and sunburn. Maltese droppings contain calcium salts called tartaric acid, which causes dental erosion.
Daily oral hygiene reduces the risk of tartar buildup. Maltese sheds less than other dogs and requires fewer baths. However, these droppings do smell terrible. Cleanup involves rinsing dishes thoroughly to remove traces of urine. Finally, don’t forget to brush your maltese’s teeth!
8. Boston Terrier
An alert, friendly and athletic Boston terrier is a joy to own. Though they may seem aloof at times, they are actually very sociable and crave human interaction. Originally developed in England circa 17th century, the Boston terrier is a compact version of the original English mastiff.
Sporting brown eyes and tufty ear tops, these furry bundles of joy are eager to please. They are happy just lounging around or chasing toys. Boston terriers are known to be smart, agile and tireless workers. Boston terriers are medium-sized dogs measuring 25 – 38 inches tall. Owners of these dogs can expect 6 – 9 year life spans. They are generally healthy dogs, except for allergies to pollen and dust mites.
Common ailments involve fleas and worms, respiratory infections, coughs, diarrhea, cancerous tumors and bladder stones. Boston terriers are particularly vulnerable to overheating, dehydration, malnutrition, bone fractures and joint dislocations. Proper nutrition and hydration are essential to ensure longevity.
The Poodle is a small toy sized dog which makes them great as housemates for children or smaller adults without too much space being taken up. They love water and do well around kids and enjoy playing games like fetch and frisbee.
This leads me nicely to their temperament – friendly towards all people and animals, good natured and calm even if they become upset or over excited. Their fur is short and flat making grooming easy but they require regular brushing because unlike many dogs they shed hair everywhere. The colour range available includes cream, silver/grey, fawn, black and red.
- Small size means less mess and fewer trips outside
- Friendly disposition and good natured
- Good with kids
- Makes a very affectionate companion
- Hair shedding
- Requires daily brushing
Another tiny little friend is the Pom. Like the Poodle they come in colours including white, grey, blue and chocolate brown. They were originally bred to hunt rodents and therefore aren’t particularly fast runners however they run happily at top speed in a straight line.
They are incredibly playful and energetic and will chase anything from balls to toys. Even though they tend to stick together they still manage to escape and end up running off where ever they feel like going. As they get bigger they develop a strong desire to chew shoes and clothing so make sure you invest in sturdy footwear.
Unlike most other dogs they prefer sleeping curled up rather than stretched out and usually sleep under beds or chairs. Grooming isn’t difficult once you know how to clip their nails properly.
- Very active and full of energy
- Excellent with kids
- Gets along with others easily
- Chews everything except food
- Needs plenty of exercise
- Can damage furniture or equipment
- May dig holes if left unsupervised
These gentle giant’s origins date back hundreds of years ago when they would race through the countryside chasing rabbits. Today they are used primarily for racing although they are equally happy walking alongside you while you go shopping.
They have a long thin body which allows them to travel long distances comfortably. Because of this they are often called ‘the camel’ and they enjoy spending time outdoors enjoying long walks and rides. Although not naturally vocal they learn quickly and soon start talking to themselves and each other. They should always be kept inside during bad weather and away from traffic.
- Easy to train
- Great with kids
- Long lasting stamina
- Hard to potty train
- Easily frightened
- A poor choice for areas prone to heavy rain
- High maintenance
12. Golden Retriever
This popular pooch was developed for pulling carts carrying hunters across rough terrain. They are extremely intelligent and eager to please and due to their large head and wide muzzle they form close bonds with humans and are perfect for families needing someone to play with.
They are known to be loyal, loving and protective of their owners. Their coat is thick and coarse and needs weekly combing. They don’t bark but instead whine loudly and incessantly if something goes wrong. They are very sensitive to cold temperatures and shouldn’t be allowed to hang around doors.
- Affectionate and loves attention
- Eager to please
- Will follow commands
- Loyal and obedient
- Good with kids
- Sensitive to extremes of hot and cold
- May attack other animals
- Not suited to apartments or busy locations
13. Miniature Schnauzer
Originally bred to guard sheep against predators, today they have evolved to become highly intelligent watchdogs. They are alert and perceptive yet relaxed enough to allow guests to approach freely. They are tolerant of strangers and are generally laidback however they could possibly try to bite anyone approaching their home or even worse steal things from them. There are two types of miniature schnauzers both male and female.
One type is larger with longer silky coats and the other shorter and finer haired. Both types are equally affectionate and sweet tempered. In order to ensure they remain safe and healthy it is important to feed them correctly and regularly.
- Make wonderful family pets
- Alert, smart and observant
- Love children and will tolerate them
- Generally laidback
- Aggressive bites
- Larger version requires higher fences
- Short coated variety sheds excessively requiring frequent cleaning
They say beauty lies within and the same certainly applies to these adorable canine beauties. Originally created to mimic human features such as curly locks and eyebrows, their modern day use is as a hypoallergenic alternative to traditional dogs.
They resemble wolves in appearance, behaviour and intelligence hence they are commonly referred to as wolfhounds or coyotes. They are very social creatures and love interacting with their owner. They are exceptionally beautiful and typically weigh no more than 12kg giving them the nickname’small cockers’.
This gives rise to another common misconception that they are easier to groom but unfortunately this couldn’t be further from the truth. To maintain this gorgeous looking coat they must be brushed every few days and cannot be washed more than twice per month. It is important to note that they are unable to stand up to moisture or sun exposure and thus shouldn’t be expected to live outside permanently.
- Gentle nature
- Adorable appearance
- Fun loving
- Acceptable anywhere indoors or outdoors
- Highly susceptible to fleas
- Can’t withstand heat or humidity
- Need special care
15. Basset Hound
Also known as “gentlemen hounds” these handsome dogs originated in Scotland and England. Their name derives from the fact that they track game using their nose. They mainly hunt vermin however they are also trained to assist with fox hunting. They are medium sized dogs weighing approximately 30kg and measuring 50cm tall.
They are said to be reserved and quiet dogs preferring to work alone rather than forming packs. They are very clever and have been compared favourably to cats because they are able to solve problems independently whereas cats rely heavily upon instinct. They have long ears which fold backwards and are tipped with soft bristles that collect dirt.
- Independent thinkers
- Quiet and confident
- Fair amount of self discipline
- Adapt to almost any environment
- Tendency to urinate frequently
- Low tolerance for noise
A typical English working class mutt, the original purpose of the Beagle was to retrieve birds shot by falconers. Today they are mostly owned privately and rarely seen in the wild. They are considered to be among the gentlest of dogs and are ideal for younger children.
Similar to terriers they are fiercely devoted to their owners and will protect them effectively. They are sociable and outgoing and love meeting new people and exploring surroundings. They are happiest when given sufficient room to move and should never be confined or cooped up.
- Playful and curious
- Obedient and reliable
- Social and adaptable
- Tolerates young children
- Stubborn and stubborn
- Poor eyesight
- Doesn’t bark
One of the oldest living Chinese dogs, it’s believed that Emperor Yong Le brought his first Peke named Yuan Tan to China in 1599 BC. Today, the breed is one of the largest in Europe and North America. Their ancestry dates back thousands of years and is derived from various Asian countries including Mongolia, Manchuria, Korea and Tibet.
They originate from a population of semi-domesticated stock originally raised to fight enemies in hand-to-hand combat. Despite this they have remained docile throughout history and are now classified as gentle giants. Due to their high levels of intelligence they excel in obedience training and are often used as therapy dogs. They have a muscular build and huge paws that enable them to walk firmly over rugged ground.
- Strong character
- Patient and forgiving
- Amicable personality
- Favourite couch potato
- Potty training issues
- High maintenance
- Food preferences
18. Havanese Dog
Havanese dogs are gentle sweet loving dogs with long silky coats. They were developed as house pets for royalty in France. These small but sturdy little dogs tend to be very good around children and other animals. They love being cuddled and they are also calm and relaxed in large crowds.
They make great family dogs because they do well around kids and other pets. They will enjoy sleeping on your bed, playing fetch and running around indoors. The Havanese is also a wonderful companion as an older pet. Their small size makes them easy to handle. This is one of the most popular breeds among senior citizens because of its gentleness and affectionate nature. It is also one of the easiest breeds to train.
The main health issue associated with this breed is hip dysplasia which is corrected by careful breeding. Other possible issues include allergies, ear infections, eye problems, breathing difficulties, heart murmurs and bloat.
Dachshunds originated from Germany where they were used as hunting dogs due to their ability to run down prey. Today they are mostly kept as household pets but there are still many active members in the dachshund sport clubs across America.
These friendly dogs are known to bark at strangers and may become aggressive if provoked. If you want a dog that loves to chase balls, runs around outside and snooze under the table, then you should consider getting a dachshund puppy. However, if you are looking for a more sedentary dog, then choose a mature dachshund.
Dachshunds are not prone to obesity like other larger breeds. They do need plenty of exercise though so they are better suited for owners who live near areas with lots of open space or parks nearby. There is no medical reason why senior citizens would not be able to own a dachshund. Although these dogs are generally healthy and easy-going, it is important to monitor any behavioral changes that may occur during the aging process.
20. Papillon dog
Papillons are one of the oldest recognized dog breeds. Originating from Asia Minor, papillons were originally bred to hunt birds and rodents. In fact, they are called “the bird hunters”.
A papillon’s coat is short and soft and ranges between 1/2 inch to 3 inches in length. Their coloring varies depending on whether the fur color is white, red or black.
Because they are such loyal and devoted lapdogs, papillons are often referred to as “lapdogs”. This is particularly true since they don’t growl or bark if left alone. They are very easy to groom and only require brushing every few weeks. They love being held and cuddled and are usually happy to sleep on top of their owners’ laps.
It is recommended that Papillon puppies receive regular checkups by your vet since they might develop health issues similar to other purebred dogs.
21. French Bulldogs
French bulldogs are named after the 17th century King Louis XIV whose nickname was the “Great Monarch”. He had a penchant for big boned women and tall men. So too did his successors – Napoleon Bonaparte and Charles X Gustav.
Today, the French bulldog has been reduced to smaller sizes. But despite its diminutive stature, it remains a beloved member of families worldwide. The French bulldog is a toy breed that needs daily attention and interaction. Because they are so sensitive to cold temperatures, keep the temperature constant throughout the home.
If you are interested in adopting a French bulldog, it is advisable to get a young pup rather than an adult. As Frenchies age, they lose their elasticity and their joints begin to creak. They are also quite fragile and can suffer injury easily. Senior citizens should definitely avoid having a French bulldog as a pet.
22. Toy Poodle
Toy poodles are adorable tiny dogs that look cute dressed up in costumes or wearing funny hats. However, unlike real poodles, they are energetic and playful. This means that they are happiest when they are actively engaged in playtime activities.
Since they are small, they are relatively inexpensive to buy. They also come in a variety of colors including cream, wheaten, fawn, black and blue. Some toy poodles are born without the characteristic curly tail. Others have varying degrees of curl.
Senior citizens should take note that although toy poodles are extremely adaptable and resilient, they can experience age related health complications such as cataracts, hearing loss, arthritis and diabetes. Also, since they are so small, they are susceptible to overheating in hot weather. Therefore, be sure to provide adequate shade and water access.
23. English Cocker Spaniel
Cocker Spaniels are a medium sized spaniel with a distinctive cocker appearance. They are also commonly called Cockers.
English Cocker Spaniels are considered an intelligent breed. They make excellent watch dogs because they are both protective and alert. They are also highly responsive to training and eager to please their owners.
Although they are typically thought of as indoor dogs, they are equally comfortable living outdoors. Since they are full of energy and excitement, they aren’t really suitable for busy retired adults. Instead, they are best suited for individuals who work full time and also have enough time to spend with them.
24. American Eskimo Dog
American Eskimos are small huskies that originate from Alaska. They are one of the largest sled dogs. They were once used by Alaskan Native tribesmen to pull sleds loaded with supplies, gear and food while crossing frozen rivers.
Eskimos are not suitable for apartment dwelling senior citizens. They do however, thrive in homes with yards and snowmelt. Due to their size, they must stay away from swimming pools and other bodies of water. American Eskimos are also prone to overheating and hypothermia.
25. Border Terrier
Border terriers are small, compact and agile working dogs that were originally used to herd cattle. They now make fantastic companions for anyone who wants a lively friend.
Border terriers are playful and active dogs. They are very smart and eager to learn. They are also sensitive to harsh climates. Keep them inside during winter months. Otherwise, they will shed excessively. Senior citizens should never attempt to brush their hair. It requires frequent grooming.
They are also prone to hip dysplasia. It is important to visit your veterinarian regularly to ensure that your border does not suffer from this condition.
26. Bracco Italiano
Bracco Italianos are miniature versions of the Italian greyhounds. These fast moving dogs were originally bred to race. Today, they are used primarily as show dogs.
Their unique gait resembles a trotting horse. They are also ideal for racing enthusiasts and sports lovers. Unfortunately, they are not suitable for seniors who are unable to maintain their speed.
Bracco Italians are independent thinkers and can be stubborn. They can be difficult to housetrain and should always be supervised closely. They also have a tendency to dig holes and escape through fences. They are not recommended for beginners.
27. Miniature Poodle
Miniature poodles are elegant and graceful dogs. They are also one of the oldest recognized dog breeds. They first came into existence in 1875 and are still widely popular today.
Miniature poodle’s are hypoallergenic meaning that they are less likely to cause allergic reactions. They are also non-shedding which minimizes hair allergy symptoms. Because they are small, they are also very economical to own.
Senior Citizens should know that they are prone to hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. In addition, they are not suited for outdoor activity. Like other small dogs, they are vulnerable to extreme heat. Provide them with ample amounts of fresh water and shady locations to rest in.
Choosing the right dog breed is crucial. Not only should you pay close attention to their personality traits but also their overall lifestyle requirements. With this information, hopefully you’ll be able to pick the perfect canine companion for yourself or a loved one.
28. Shiba Inu Dog
The shiba inu (pronounced “shee – ba”) is one of Japan’s oldest domesticated canine species. It has been used as hunting partners by samurai warriors since ancient times. This graceful Japanese Akita look-alike comes in two varieties — smooth coated and rough coated. They come in solid colors such as black, silver, blue, red, fawn, apricot, white, cream and brindle.
Their medium length coat requires minimal grooming. The long slender nose looks like that of an AKC standard poodle. Both male and female shiitsuki make wonderful family pets. They get along well with other animals and do not bark much at strangers. However they tend to become aggressive when threatened.
29. Akita Inu
Japanese Akitas are large, powerful working farm dogs. Originally bred to help farmers clear fields of weeds and thorns, they are still used in Japan for pulling carts and hauling firewood and hay. But today Akitas enjoy being part of families as pets. They are alert, energetic and protective. They love running and swimming and can be aggressive toward strangers and smaller animals who cross their path. They are generally calm indoors, however, and get along better with other pets and children when given regular daily attention and affection. Japanese Akitas are medium sized dogs weighing between 75 and 125 lbs. They usually live 6 to 8 years.
30. Miniature Dachshund
Also called teacup or mini dachshund, these tiny little wiener dogs were developed in Germany during World War I. Since then there has been many variations created through selective breeding. Originally bred for pulling carts loaded with explosives away from enemy soldiers, today’s miniature versions still possess strong protective instincts.
Like other members of the weiner dog group, they are also excellent watchdogs and guard against intruders. They are easygoing and quiet dogs which makes them ideal housemates even if you live alone. They are very affectionate towards owners so expect lots of kisses! Expecting mothers must avoid contact with the puppies until after 8 weeks due to possible health risks.
As you can see, each of these furry friends provides hours of enjoyment no matter what kind of lifestyle you lead. Whether you want a lap companion, watchdog or someone to chase down rabbits, owning one of these lovely pooches is sure to brighten your days every single day.