What is the Best Dog for Seniors? Top 20 Breeds to Consider

For many seniors, the companionship of a four-legged friend can make a significant positive impact on daily life. From offering emotional support to encouraging physical activity, dogs can be a boon to a senior’s well-being.

But, the question often arises: what is the best dog for seniors? Different sizes and temperaments may be better suited to different lifestyles and activity levels. In this article, we’ve curated a list of the 10 best small dog breeds and 10 best regular-sized breeds for seniors, taking into account factors such as energy level, grooming needs, and compatibility with older adults.

Table of Contents

10 Best Small Dog Breeds for Seniors

1. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

This friendly and affectionate breed is often considered the best small dog for seniors due to its mild temperament and low maintenance. Its small size makes it easy to care for and ideal for apartment living.

Key Features: Low to moderate exercise needs, easily trainable, and generally healthy though they may have some heart issues.

AttributeInformation
GroomingModerate
ExerciseModerate
TrainingEasy
TemperamentFriendly
Activity LevelModerate
Health SpecificsHeart issues
Height and Weight12–13 inches, 13–18 pounds
ColorsVarious
Lifespan9–14 years
Coat TypeMedium-length

2. Maltese

Maltese

Known for its luxurious coat and charming personality, the Maltese requires regular grooming but is otherwise a low-energy, well-behaved option for seniors.

Key Features: Minimal exercise requirements, excellent for allergy sufferers due to its hypoallergenic coat, and prone to dental issues.

AttributeInformation
GroomingLow
ExerciseLow
TrainingEasy
TemperamentAffectionate
Activity LevelLow
Health SpecificsDental issues
Height and Weight8–10 inches, 4–7 pounds
ColorsWhite
Lifespan12–15 years
Coat TypeLong, silky

3. Pomeranian

Pomeranian

This tiny bundle of energy might require regular exercise, but it’s small enough to be manageable and offers tons of personality.

Key Features: Moderate exercise needs, fluffy coat that requires regular grooming, and generally healthy.

AttributeInformation
GroomingModerate
ExerciseLow
TrainingModerate
TemperamentEnergetic
Activity LevelLow
Health SpecificsDental issues
Height and Weight6–7 inches, 3–7 pounds
ColorsVarious
Lifespan12–16 years
Coat TypeLong, silky

4. Poodle (Miniature)

Poodle (Miniature)

Highly intelligent and trainable, Miniature Poodles are great dogs for old people who still enjoy some level of activity and mental engagement.

Key Features: Hypoallergenic coat, moderate exercise needs, and prone to hip dysplasia.

AttributeInformation
GroomingModerate
ExerciseModerate
TrainingEasy
TemperamentIntelligent
Activity LevelModerate
Health SpecificsHip dysplasia
HEIGHT and WEIGHT11–15 inches, 15–17 pounds
ColorsVarious
Lifespan12–15 years
Coat TypeCurly

5. Chihuahua

Chihuahua

Small but feisty, the Chihuahua is perfect for seniors who want a low-maintenance pet that is easy to carry and doesn’t require much space.

Key Features: Minimal grooming needs, low to moderate exercise requirements, and generally healthy, though they can have dental issues.

AttributeInformation
GroomingLow
ExerciseLow
TrainingModerate
TemperamentAlert
Activity LevelLow
Health SpecificsDental issues
HEIGHT and WEIGHT5–8 inches, 2–6 pounds
ColorsVarious
Lifespan12–20 years
Coat TypeShort or long

6. Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu
AttributeInformation
GroomingModerate
ExerciseLow
TrainingEasy
TemperamentAffectionate
Activity LevelLow
Health SpecificsRespiratory issues
Height and Weight9–10.5 inches, 9–16 pounds
ColorsVarious
Lifespan10–16 years
Coat TypeLong, dense

Known for their friendly disposition and beautiful coat, Shih Tzus are low-energy dogs that enjoy lounging as much as their owners do.

Key Features: Moderate grooming needs, low exercise requirements, and prone to respiratory issues.

7. Bichon Frise

Bichon Frise

With a hypoallergenic coat and cheerful disposition, the Bichon Frise is an excellent choice for seniors with allergies.

Key Features: Moderate grooming and exercise needs, and generally healthy.

AttributeInformation
GroomingModerate
ExerciseModerate
TrainingEasy
TemperamentCheerful
Activity LevelModerate
Health SpecificsAllergies
Height and Weight9–11.5 inches, 12–18 pounds
ColorsWhite
Lifespan12–15 years
Coat TypeCurly

8. Dachshund (Miniature)

Dachshund (Miniature)

These tiny hounds are low-maintenance and offer a lot of personality in a small package, making them ideal for seniors.

Key Features: Low to moderate exercise needs, minimal grooming requirements, and prone to spinal issues.

AttributeInformation
GroomingLow
ExerciseModerate
TrainingModerate
TemperamentCurious
Activity LevelModerate
Health SpecificsSpinal issues
Height and Weight8–9 inches, 16–32 pounds
ColorsVarious
Lifespan12–16 years
Coat TypeShort or long

9. Boston Terrier

Boston Terrier

Friendly and intelligent, Boston Terriers are easy to train and make fantastic companions.

Key Features: Moderate exercise needs, minimal grooming, and prone to respiratory issues.

AttributeInformation
GroomingLow
ExerciseModerate
TrainingEasy
TemperamentFriendly
Activity LevelModerate
Health SpecificsRespiratory issues
Height and Weight15–17 inches, 12–25 pounds
ColorsBrindle, black & white
Lifespan11–13 years
Coat TypeShort

10. Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniels are known for their loving and gentle temperament, making them a strong candidate as one of the best dogs for seniors. The breed does require moderate exercise and grooming, which can be a rewarding way for seniors to stay active and engaged.

Key Features: Moderate grooming and exercise needs, generally healthy but can have ear issues.

AttributeInformation
GroomingModerate
ExerciseModerate
TrainingEasy to Moderate
TemperamentAffectionate, Gentle, Smart
Activity LevelModerate
Health SpecificsEar infections, Hip dysplasia, Eye conditions
Height and Weight13.5–15.5 inches, 20–30 pounds
ColorsVarious including black, brown, and parti-color
Lifespan12–15 years
Coat TypeMedium-length, wavy or curly

10 Best Regular-Sized Dog Breeds for Seniors

1. Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever

Friendly and outgoing, Labrador Retrievers are often considered the best dog breeds for seniors due to their gentle temperament and easy trainability.

Key Features: Moderate to high exercise needs, minimal grooming requirements, and prone to hip dysplasia.

AttributeInformation
GroomingLow
ExerciseHigh
TrainingEasy
TemperamentFriendly
Activity LevelHigh
Health SpecificsHip dysplasia
Height and Weight21.5–24.5 inches, 55–80 pounds
ColorsBlack, chocolate, yellow
Lifespan10–14 years
Coat TypeShort

2. Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever

Similar to the Labrador, the Golden Retriever is affectionate and easy-going, making them ideal for seniors who enjoy a moderately active lifestyle.

Key Features: Moderate grooming and exercise needs, generally healthy but can be prone to cancer.

AttributeInformation
GroomingModerate
ExerciseHigh
TrainingEasy
TemperamentGentle
Activity LevelHigh
Health SpecificsCancer
Height and Weight21–24 inches, 55–75 pounds
ColorsGold
Lifespan10–12 years
Coat TypeMedium-length, wavy

3. Beagle

Beagle

Beagles are good-natured and require minimal grooming, making them another of the best dogs for seniors.

Key Features: Moderate exercise needs, low grooming requirements, and generally healthy.

AttributeInformation
GroomingLow
ExerciseModerate
TrainingModerate
TemperamentFriendly
Activity LevelModerate
Health SpecificsObesity
Height and Weight13–16 inches, 18–30 pounds
ColorsVarious
Lifespan12–15 years
Coat TypeShort

4. Boxer

Boxer

Known for their playful nature, Boxers are great for seniors who are still physically active and enjoy spending time outdoors.

Key Features: High exercise needs, minimal grooming, and prone to hip dysplasia.

AttributeInformation
GroomingLow
ExerciseHigh
TrainingModerate
TemperamentPlayful
Activity LevelHigh
Health SpecificsHip dysplasia
Height and Weight21–25 inches, 55–71 pounds
ColorsFawn, brindle, white
Lifespan10–12 years
Coat TypeShort

5. Collie

Collie

Intelligent and gentle, Collies are easy to train and make excellent companions for seniors.

Key Features: Moderate grooming and exercise needs, generally healthy but can have eye issues.

AttributeInformation
GroomingModerate
ExerciseModerate
TrainingEasy
TemperamentIntelligent
Activity LevelModerate
Health SpecificsEye issues
Height and Weight22–26 inches, 50–75 pounds
ColorsVarious
Lifespan12–14 years
Coat TypeLong

6. Bulldog

Bulldog

With their calm disposition and minimal exercise needs, Bulldogs are ideal dogs for old people who prefer a more laid-back lifestyle.

Key Features: Low exercise needs, minimal grooming, and prone to respiratory issues.

AttributeInformation
GroomingLow
ExerciseLow
TrainingModerate
TemperamentCalm
Activity LevelLow
Health SpecificsRespiratory issues
Height and Weight14–15 inches, 40–50 pounds
ColorsVarious
Lifespan8–10 years
Coat TypeShort

7. Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherd

For seniors who are still active and enjoy spending time outdoors, the Australian Shepherd offers a perfect blend of intelligence and energy.

Key Features: Moderate to high exercise needs, moderate grooming, and prone to hip dysplasia.

AttributeInformation
GroomingModerate
ExerciseHigh
TrainingEasy
TemperamentEnergetic
Activity LevelHigh
Health SpecificsHip dysplasia
Height and Weight18–23 inches, 40–65 pounds
ColorsVarious
Lifespan12–15 years
Coat TypeMedium-length, wavy

8. Greyhound

Greyhound

Believe it or not, Greyhounds are couch potatoes at heart. They are one of the best dog breeds for seniors who want a low-maintenance, large breed dog.

Key Features: Low exercise needs, minimal grooming, and generally healthy but can be prone to bloat.

AttributeInformation
GroomingLow
ExerciseModerate
TrainingModerate
TemperamentGentle
Activity LevelModerate
Health SpecificsBloat
Height and Weight27–30 inches, 60–70 pounds
ColorsVarious
Lifespan10–14 years
Coat TypeShort

9. Basset Hound

Basset Hound

Low-energy and easy-going, Basset Hounds are excellent dogs for seniors who enjoy a slower-paced lifestyle.

Key Features: Low exercise needs, minimal grooming, and generally healthy but can be prone to obesity.

AttributeInformation
GroomingLow
ExerciseLow
TrainingModerate
TemperamentEasy-going
Activity LevelLow
Health SpecificsObesity
Height and WeightUp to 15 inches, 40–65 pounds
ColorsVarious
Lifespan10–12 years
Coat TypeShort

10. Newfoundland

Newfoundland

Known for their gentle and affectionate nature, Newfoundlands make great companions for those who have the space for a larger breed.

Key Features: Moderate exercise needs, moderate grooming, and prone to hip dysplasia.

AttributeInformation
GroomingModerate
ExerciseModerate
TrainingEasy
TemperamentGentle
Activity LevelModerate
Health SpecificsHip dysplasia
Height and Weight26–28 inches, 100–150 pounds
ColorsBlack, brown, grey
Lifespan8–10 years
Coat TypeLong, dense

Conclusion

When considering a pet, it’s crucial to think about your lifestyle, health conditions, and the amount of space you have. Regardless of whether you’re interested in the best small dog for seniors or a larger breed, there’s likely a perfect match for you. Take the time to meet different breeds and individual dogs to find a companion that will bring joy and comfort to your golden years.

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