dogs for seniors

Top 18 Dogs for Seniors: Finding Your Perfect Furry Companion

Are you a senior looking for a four-legged friend to share your golden years with? You’re in the right place. This guide will delve into the top 18 dogs for seniors based on various lifestyle needs.

Criteria for Selection


Image source: Pinterest

Choosing the right dog for your golden years involves more than just picking out a cute face from a lineup of puppies. Various factors should be considered to ensure you find a pet that fits well with your lifestyle, living arrangements, and physical capabilities. Here are some criteria we’ve examined to select the best dogs for seniors:

  • Size and Weight: One of the most crucial factors to consider is the size and weight of the dog. Seniors who may have physical limitations need a dog that is manageable. While smaller dogs are generally easier to lift and maneuver, some larger breeds are known for their gentle, calm demeanor.
  • Grooming Needs: Grooming can be a fun bonding activity but can also turn into a cumbersome task if the breed requires frequent care. Breeds with shorter coats or those that are hypoallergenic often make excellent choices for those who want a lower-maintenance grooming routine.
  • Exercise Requirements: Seniors who lead an active lifestyle may opt for breeds that require more exercise and are eager to go on walks. However, there are also breeds that are quite content with minimal physical activity, which can be a better match for those with mobility issues or a more sedentary lifestyle.
  • Temperament: The dog’s temperament is vital. Breeds that are known for their calm, friendly, and loyal nature are often better suited for a serene home life. It’s also important to consider how the dog behaves around strangers or in social settings if you plan to take your pet out and about.
  • Lifespan and Health Considerations: While it’s hard to predict the future, some breeds are known for their long lifespan and relatively fewer health problems. Choosing a generally healthy breed can mean fewer trips to the vet and a longer, happier life with your new companion.
  • Adaptability: Some dogs adapt better to living in smaller spaces or dealing with changes in routine. If you’re living in an apartment or expect to travel, breeds known for their adaptability can be a good fit.
  • Training and Intelligence: While not a primary criterion, ease of training and intelligence can make day-to-day life easier. Breeds that are known for being quick learners can be house-trained more easily, understand commands faster, and adapt better to new situations or routines.

By carefully evaluating each of these criteria, you can better align your needs with the attributes of particular breeds, making for a happier, healthier relationship between you and your new furry friend.

What Are the Best Dogs for Seniors?

Best Large Dogs for Seniors

1. Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever

Image source: Pinterest

Often topping the charts as one of America’s favorite breeds, Labrador Retrievers are known for their versatility, intelligence, and friendly demeanor. They are excellent companions for seniors who are looking for a loyal and low-maintenance pet.

Breed Overview:

  • Friendly and Sociable: Exceptional at bonding with humans, which makes them ideal companions.
  • Low-Maintenance Grooming: Short coats that require basic grooming, freeing up time and reducing physical strain for seniors.
  • Trainability: High intelligence and eagerness to please make them easily trainable, a bonus for seniors who may not be used to training dogs.

2. Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever

Image source: Pinterest

The Golden Retriever is another breed that embodies a combination of intelligence, friendliness, and beauty. They are often chosen as family pets and do exceptionally well with people of all age groups, including seniors.

Breed Overview:

  • Intelligent and Obedient: Known for their smarts, they are highly trainable and adaptable.
  • Affectionate: Extremely loving and eager to please, providing emotional companionship.
  • Exercise Needs: They enjoy physical activity, which can be beneficial for seniors who are looking to maintain an active lifestyle.

3. Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain Dog

Image source: Pinterest

Bernese Mountain Dogs are large, yet incredibly gentle, creatures. Originating from Switzerland, they were originally used for farm work but have since become beloved family pets. With their calm disposition and loving nature, they make fantastic companions for seniors who have enough living space for a large breed.

Breed Overview:

  • Calm yet Protective: These dogs are very peaceful and tolerant but will rise to the occasion if they sense a threat, making them excellent guardians.
  • Longevity: They tend to have a shorter lifespan, so emotional preparedness for potential health issues is advised.
  • Size: While they are large, their gentle nature generally makes them manageable, even for seniors.

Best Medium-Sized Dogs for Seniors

1. Beagle


Image source: Pinterest

The Beagle is a small to medium-sized hound that’s curious, friendly, and merry. Beagles make excellent companions for seniors due to their moderate energy levels. They love exploring their surroundings but are equally content snuggling on the couch. They are not excessively demanding of exercise, making them well-suited for more laid-back owners.

Breed Overview:

  • Curious and Merry: Their playful nature can bring joy to any household.
  • Low to Moderate Exercise Needs: A few short walks and playtime are generally sufficient.
  • Friendly Temperament: Great with people and other animals, making them excellent companions.

2. Cockapoo


Image source: Pinterest

A delightful mix between a Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle, the Cockapoo is known for its intelligence and affection. This breed is highly trainable and forms strong bonds with its owners, making it an excellent choice for seniors looking for a loving companion. The Cockapoo’s size can vary, but they are generally small enough to be manageable for people of all ages.

Breed Overview:

  • Affectionate: Known for forming close bonds with their owners.
  • Hypoallergenic: The Poodle lineage provides a coat that’s easier on allergies.
  • Moderate Exercise Needs: A few walks and some playtime are generally sufficient to keep them happy.

3. Shetland Sheepdog


Image source: Pinterest

Shetland Sheepdogs, or Shelties, are known for their striking resemblance to Rough Collies but come in a more manageable, medium size. These dogs are extremely intelligent, loyal, and adaptable, making them well-suited for seniors who enjoy mental stimulation and bonding activities with their pets.

Breed Overview:

  • Intelligent and Loyal: Known for forming deep emotional bonds and are quick learners.
  • Moderate Exercise Needs: They are active but not overly so, and enjoy walks and interactive play.
  • Good with Family: They are typically excellent with family members and even grandchildren, making them wonderful family pets.

Best Small Dogs for Seniors

1. Maltese


Image source: Pinterest

Known for their luxurious white coats and loving nature, Maltese dogs make excellent companions for seniors who enjoy a low-key lifestyle but want a touch of elegance. They are small, easy to handle, and generally content with short walks and indoor play. Their affectionate nature and strong bonds with their owners make them ideal for companionship.

Breed Overview:

  • Low Shedding: The Maltese have a beautiful coat that sheds very little, which is good for keeping the house clean.
  • Good for Apartment Living: Their small size makes them ideal for apartments or smaller living spaces.
  • Affectionate Nature: They love to cuddle and are very attentive to their owners.

2. Dachshund


Image source: Pinterest

Dachshunds are known for their unique body shape and bold personality. They are curious, brave, and can be quite entertaining with their playful antics. Despite their small size, they have a big personality and can provide a lot of love and companionship. They are adaptable, content with both indoor and outdoor activities, making them a versatile choice for seniors.

Breed Overview:

  • Active but Manageable: They love to play and are active, but their small size makes them manageable.
  • Low Maintenance: Short-coated varieties are very low-maintenance in terms of grooming.
  • Alert and Watchful: They’re good at alerting you if someone comes to the door.

3. Pekingese


Image source: Pinterest

Hailing from ancient China, the Pekingese is a small dog with a big personality. These dogs are revered for their lion-like mane and unique “rolling” gait. They are often great companions for seniors who are looking for a low-energy, affectionate lap dog that also possesses an independent streak.

Breed Overview:

  • Low Exercise Needs: Generally content with short walks and indoor play, making them ideal for seniors who aren’t overly active.
  • Independence: While they love to cuddle, they’re also perfectly happy to spend time alone, offering a good balance of companionship and independence.
  • Grooming Requirements: They have a long, luxurious coat that requires regular grooming; however, many seniors find the grooming process to be a rewarding, bonding activity.
  • Regal Demeanor: The Pekingese carry themselves with a sense of dignity and calm, which many owners find endearing.

Best Lap Dogs for Seniors

1. Chihuahua


Image source: Pinterest

Chihuahuas are tiny dogs with a huge personality. They are loyal, intelligent, and can be fiercely protective of their loved ones. Because of their small size, they are ideal for apartment living or for seniors who may not be able to handle a larger breed. They make excellent lap dogs but are also content to sit by your side as you go about your day.

Breed Overview:

  • Very Low Maintenance: Short-haired Chihuahuas need very little grooming.
  • Health: Generally healthy with fewer medical issues compared to some other breeds.
  • Strong Bonds: They form strong emotional bonds with their owners.

2. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

King Charles Spaniel

Image source: Pinterest

Known for their expressive eyes and beautiful coat, Cavaliers are a top choice for a lap dog. They are very adaptable, comfortable in an apartment or a house with a yard, and their gentle temperament makes them excellent companions for seniors.

Breed Overview:

  • Adaptable to Living Conditions: Equally happy in small apartments or larger homes.
  • Affectionate and Friendly: Known for their loving nature and ease around people.
  • Moderate Exercise: They’re active but not overly so, enjoying walks and interactive play.

3. Pomeranian


Image source: Pinterest

This fluffy toy breed is a bundle of energy packed into a small package. Pomeranians are well-suited for seniors who enjoy a lively, intelligent, and incredibly loyal companion. With their vivacious personalities, they’re sure to add a burst of energy to any household.

Breed Overview:

  • High Energy, Small Package: These dogs are active and enjoy playtime, but their small size makes them manageable, even in smaller living spaces.
  • Intelligent and Trainable: Pomeranians are quick learners, and many seniors enjoy teaching them new tricks, providing mental stimulation for both the dog and the owner.
  • Grooming Needs: Their fluffy coat requires regular brushing but generally, they are quite clean and low-odor.
  • Good Watchdogs: Despite their size, Pomeranians are very alert and will let you know if someone is at the door, providing an added sense of security.

Low-Maintenance Dogs for Seniors

1. Basset Hound

Basset Hound

Image source: Pinterest

Known for their droopy eyes and long ears, Basset Hounds are low-maintenance and laid-back, requiring minimal exercise and grooming. They are quite content with short walks and lounging around the house. Their gentle temperament makes them excellent companions for seniors who are looking for a relaxed, easy-going pet.

Breed Overview:

  • Low Exercise Needs: A few short walks and they’re usually content.
  • Minimal Grooming: Their short coat requires less grooming than breeds with longer hair.
  • Quiet Disposition: They are generally quiet and get along well with other animals and people.

2. French Bulldog

French Bulldog

Image source: Pinterest

The French Bulldog is a sturdy little dog with a large personality. They are not particularly active, which means they are well-suited for a more relaxed lifestyle. Their calm demeanor, coupled with their affectionate nature, makes them excellent companions. They are also good in apartment settings and are relatively easy to care for, requiring minimal grooming.

Breed Overview:

  • Minimal Exercise: Short walks and some indoor play are usually enough for this breed.
  • Short Coat: Very little grooming is required, making them easy to care for.
  • Good Companions: They tend to form strong bonds with their owners and are generally good-natured.

3. Whippet


Image source: Pinterest

Whippets are graceful, medium-sized dogs known for their speed. However, despite their racing lineage, they are surprisingly low-key when indoors and are quite content to be couch potatoes. They are excellent for seniors living in smaller spaces and who prefer a dog that isn’t overly active but still enjoys the occasional sprint in the yard or park.

Breed Overview:

  • Low Energy Indoors: Surprisingly low-key when inside, making them easy to manage.
  • Short Coat: Requires minimal grooming; a quick brush is usually sufficient.
  • Good for Small Spaces: Their smaller size makes them suitable for apartment living.

Best Guard Dogs for Seniors

1. German Shepherd

German Shepherd

Image source: Pinterest

German Shepherds are large, intelligent, and versatile, making them one of the best choices for a guard dog. They are deeply loyal and form strong bonds with their families. While they require regular exercise, their adaptable nature makes them suited for a variety of living conditions. They are highly trainable and can provide both companionship and security.

Breed Overview:

  • Highly Intelligent: Easy to train for basic obedience as well as more specialized tasks.
  • Loyal to Family: Very protective of their human family, making them excellent guard dogs.
  • Needs Exercise: Best suited for seniors who are relatively active and can provide daily exercise.

2. Rottweiler


Image source: Pinterest

Rottweilers are strong, confident dogs known for their guarding instincts. Despite their imposing appearance, they are loving and loyal to their families. They are intelligent and trainable but require a firm hand in training. They make excellent protectors and are good for seniors who are looking for a dog that can offer security as well as companionship.

Breed Overview:

  • Strong and Alert: Natural guarding instincts make them an effective deterrent against intruders.
  • Family-Focused: Extremely loyal and protective of their human family.
  • Moderate Grooming: Their short coat requires relatively little maintenance.

3. Doberman Pinscher

Doberman Pinscher

Image source: Pinterest

Dobermans are known for their loyalty and intelligence. They are sleek, powerful, and make excellent watchdogs. While they are active dogs, they are often content with a couple of good walks and some playtime, making them manageable for active seniors. They are good in various living situations, whether you have a large yard or live in an apartment with enough space to move around.

Breed Overview:

  • Highly Intelligent: Easy to train, which is beneficial for seniors who may not have had a dog before.
  • Good in Various Living Situations: Adaptable to both houses with yards and more urban settings.
  • Energetic but Manageable: They do require exercise but are often content with a couple of good walks and some playtime.

Other Important Considerations

Important Considerations

Image source: Pinterest

1. Adoption vs. Buying

Adoption is often a rewarding experience, offering a home to a dog in need. Adopted dogs frequently come house-trained and may even be vaccinated, saving time and effort. On the other hand, buying a puppy offers the opportunity to raise a dog from a very young age, which has its own joys but also requires a lot of time and energy for training and socialization.

2. Health Considerations

Being a pet owner requires physical activity, from walks to feeding and grooming. Seniors must evaluate their physical abilities carefully. Can you walk a dog daily? Can you lift a dog if needed? Some breeds may also be prone to health issues that require regular veterinary care, so it’s essential to assess whether you can meet those needs.

3. Lifestyle Compatibility

The dog’s energy levels should match your lifestyle. Are you active, enjoying daily walks and outdoor activities, or are you more homebound? The breed’s temperament should also align with how much time you can dedicate to the dog, as some dogs require more attention and companionship than others.

4. Financial Aspects

Dog ownership comes with various costs, including food, veterinary care, grooming, and unforeseen medical expenses. Monthly costs can add up, so it’s important to budget accordingly. Insurance for your pet could be a consideration, especially if you’re on a fixed income.

5. Space and Living Conditions

Larger breeds typically require more space and a good-sized yard to roam, while smaller breeds or less active dogs can comfortably live in an apartment setting. Always consider the size of your living space, as well as your proximity to parks or open spaces where the dog can exercise.

6. Allergies

If you or close family and friends have allergies, this will significantly impact your choice of breed. Hypoallergenic dogs, such as Poodles or Malteses, could be an excellent choice, as they tend to shed less and produce fewer allergens.

7. Local Ordinances and Community Rules

Always check your local pet rules or homeowners’ association guidelines concerning pets. Some areas have restrictions on the number or types of dogs you can own, and ignoring these could lead to problems down the line.

8. Support Network

In times of illness or travel, it’s good to have someone who can help with pet care. Whether it’s a family member, a neighbor, or a professional pet sitter, a support network is crucial for any pet owner but particularly for seniors who might have fluctuating health concerns.

9. Longevity and Future Planning

Different dog breeds have different lifespans, ranging from around 7 years to upwards of 15 years. It’s important to have a plan for your pet’s care in case they outlive you or if you can no longer care for them due to health issues. Setting up a pet trust or arranging for a caretaker are ways to ensure your pet will be well looked after.

Taking these factors into account will help ensure a mutually beneficial relationship between the senior and their canine companion. By doing the necessary prep work, seniors can improve their chances of finding the perfect pet to enrich their lives.


Owning the right breed of dog can significantly enhance the quality of life for seniors. Whether you need a large, small, or medium-sized companion, the options are abundant.

AboutCorinne Switzer

Corinne is an avid reader and takes a keen interest in conspiracy theories. When not busy with her day job, she likes to indulge the writer in her and pens columns on a wide range of topics that cover everything from entertainment, healthy living to healthcare and more.