Dog Breeds For
Senior Citizens


Senior citizens need and appreciate the company of a dog probably more than any other age group. The main thing to consider for an elder who is getting a dog is that if the person is 65 now, and the individual gets a puppy that will live 15 years, will the senior citizen be able to walk and care for the dog at age 77 to 80? A lot can happen in those years. An older shelter dog might be better.

If there ever was a time to own a dog, it’s around the time you hit 70. For older citizens, owning a dog can make a huge difference. The couple has been used to kids running around the house all their lives, and now they’re alone and all is quiet. The rooms feel so empty.

Put a friendly, loving dog in the house and a senior’s heart is warmed instantly. A dog can be better medicine than any doctor could ever prescribe. The older, lonely person has someone to pet, brush, play with, talk to and be responsible for. A dog can be exactly what s/he or they need. As long as the senior can drive to the vet and walk each day, it will work well.

Smaller dogs are generally preferred, as they are easier to manage and pick up after. We did include several larger dogs just in case. I know 75 and 80 year olds with Pit Bulls, German Sheppard's, Labrador Retrievers, Collies and Rottweiler's so you kind of wonder. The lady next door is 76 and has two Collies that stay home alone all day while she works.

A senior and his black Poodle
enjoy a lengthy conversation about worldly affairs.

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Senior citizens are more into walking and jogging now than ever before for health reasons so having an active companion like a dog seems like a good idea.

WARNING: Never get a dog for an elder citizen without consulting with the individuals first! Sit down with dad or mom or whomever the dog is for and discuss it. Are they ready to feed, walk, scoop poop, exercise and play with a dog for the next 10 to 15 tears? Do they want the responsibility of annual vet trips? How about trips to the groomer? After a discussion, THEN, take granddad or grandmother with you when you go to the kennel or breeder and let THEM pick out what THEY want!

All information given about the breeds is accurate to the best of my knowledge. Dogs can differ in temperament and attitude within a given breed depending on many factors ranging from how they were treated by the breeder to the environment they grew up in and even hereditary factors. I can tell you that a given dog is “fun loving” because that is common for the breed and you may get a sour-puss that’s no fun at all. It happens.

This little terrier mix keeps his
senior citizen owner young at heart!


Best dogs for seniors...
Here are some suggestions:

Mixed Breed MuttYes, you read that right. My first choice in dogs for seniors is one you pick out at your local SPCA or Humane Society or other animal shelter. They have some of the best dogs you’ll ever find and most of these places have a staff that can help you find what YOU need, and at an affordable price!. Just go in and tell them your circumstances and let them help you. You may need to come back a few times. Shelters have a constant turnover and get new dogs in regularly.

They screen the dogs and show you only the ones you’d be happy with. The dog you get won’t have to be raised as a puppy, won’t have to be trained in all the obedience steps and it will have some idea how to behave in the world of the human. Sure, you may need to do some training, but not nearly as much as if you bought a puppy! So, give this a try. Look around. See what’s already waiting for you. If you remind them you’re a senior citizen they will take that into consideration when selecting a dog for you.

Two senior citizens walking their dog in the snow.
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Yorkshire Terrier(Yorkie)
The alert and lively little 6 to 8 pound Yorkie stands about 8 inches high and is an affectionate and happy lapdog with a big bark that will alert to strangers. The Yorkie needs daily brushing and gets along just fine romping in the house with a ball or other toy, or with outdoor walks on leash. Yorkies don’t shed if brushed. This is a great all purpose companion dog who is loyal to his family and loves apartment life and people.

Boston Terrier
The Boston Terrier is a cute little 15 to 25 pound American dog that stands 15 to 17 inches high at the shoulders with a life of 10 to 14 years. This is a very affectionate, loyal family companion dog that loves to play and take walks on leash, chase balls or just hang out in the house. His exercise needs are minimal, he is an excellent watchdog, sheds some and needs regular brushing to remove dead hair from his coat. The Boston Terrier is a loving dog that is a great couch potato and fun-loving buddy. The Boston is one of my top picks for senior citizens.

Pug’s weigh 14 to 20 pounds and stand 9 to 11 inches high at the shoulders. The Pug is a bit of a playful clown with low energy and low exercise requirements, although they are enthusiastic and like to show off. They make a good family dog, are affectionate and love to be included in whatever the family is doing. They are outgoing and friendly but not always with strangers. The Pug is a real lap dog and a wise choice for a senior.

Miniature Poodle
This dog weighs 16 to 20 pounds and is 10 to 15 inches tall at the shoulders with a life of 15 to 18 years. The Mini Poodle is an energetic family dog with a lot of love to give. He loves to please, is perky, always wants to learn new things and is very trainable. The Poodle needs a LOT of interaction with people, making him ideal for retired folks who are home most of the time.

Miniature Schnauzer
This is a really good choice, weighing in at 12 to 16 pounds and 12 to 14 inches tall with a life of 12 to 15 years. The Miniature Schnauzer is one of the most playful, inquisitive, spunky and companionable breeds of all. They love to play and act silly. It is a well-mannered house dog, loving, gentle and kind, very obedient and enjoys being in the middle of family activities; a real “best friend” buddy. The Mini Schnauzer loves people and other dogs as a rule, although he is a good watchdog.

Shih Tzu
These gems weigh in at 12 to 16 pounds and stand about 8 to 11 inches tall at the shoulders with a life of 14 to 16 years. The Shih Tzu is a spunky, sweet, gentle little lap dog that loves to play and romp around the house. He's affectionate with family and older kids. This is a dog that needs lots of human companionship and attention. Exercise needs are minimal. A walk or some play time in the house will do it. Not a great watchdog. Does not shed but needs a groomer every 6 to 8 weeks and needs combing and brushing daily.

White French Bulldog
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French Bulldog
This dog weight 19 to 28 pounds and stands 11 to 13 inches at the shoulders with a life of 9 to 11 years. This is a bit of a clown and lapdog rolled together. They love to play. The dog is very affectionate and loving, especially with his owner; he tends to be a one-person dog, favoring, and protecting his master over all others. Yet, this is an entertaining, silly lapdog. He is alert, independent and wants to please. You can’t exercise them too much or they’ll develop breathing problems. They will bark at perceived danger but not much else. They shed and must be brushed to remove dead hair. The wrinkles in their face must be cleaned daily. An obvious pick for a senior citizen!

Maltese The Maltese only weighs 4 to 6 pounds and is 9 to 10 inches at the shoulders with a life of 12 to 14 years. This is one of the favorite lap dogs that also loves to run and play. It is bold and feisty but very playful. The Maltese is affectionate toward and needs to be with his family but doesn’t care much for strangers. They are not good with children. The Maltese are loyal and need lots of attention… the kind a senior could give. This is essentially a quiet lapdog. Exercise needs are moderate. A walk on leash or a romp in the yard with a ball is all he needs. Excellent watchdog. Sheds little, Brush frequently, see groomer every 6 to 8 weeks.

Cocker Spaniel
A Cocker Spaniel weighs around 24 to 28 pounds and stands 15 to 16 inches with a life of 14 to 16 years. The Cocker is playful, sensitive, sweet, responsive, willing to please and wants to obey his family’s wishes. He is a sturdy, quiet little fellow that stands reliably by your side and sits quietly waiting for your undivided attention. This is a VERY social dog and needs to be part of his family, even if it is only one person. Some can be temperamental but not with their owner. They normally like other dogs and people which makes them easy to walk.

Lhasa Apso
This dog weighs 13 to 15 pounds and is 10 to 11 inches tall with a life of 12 to 14 years. The Lhasa Apso is a bit independent and needs the companionship of the people he knows. Otherwise, he can be stubborn. Yet, he is affectionate and playful. He gets along with older children which is good for a senior with grandkids. The Apso loves walks and play time in the yard or house. He’s also happy to curl up and take a nap beside his owner. This is an excellent small companion for the older citizen. He keeps a distance from strangers and dogs he doesn't know and he’s a good watch dog. He does not shed and needs daily brushing and combing.

This little gal weighs 4 to 6 pounds and stands, stands 5 to 9 inches tall and has a life of 15 to 18 years. She’s not a total lap dog, but close. She has quite a lot of energy and prefers a few romps around the house to a nap on the sofa. (She will nap on your lap after play time) This dog will get out and run with the kids but be careful, they are fragile. The Chihuahua will be very protective of her owner and is a great watchdog. Easily paper-trained and can become an indoor dog. Play in the house will suffice for exercise outdoor walk is better. Chihuahua’s are loyal and eager to please their family and are ideal family pets which makes her a good choice for a retired senior. She sheds some. Needs moderate brushing to remove dead hair.

A Whippet with his lady friend
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How about a little larger dog? The Whippet weighs 25 to 40 pounds and stands 18 to 22 inches with a life of 12 to 15 years. This is for the senior that takes walking seriously. The Whippet is a loving, affectionate, loyal companion similar to the Greyhound who loves to take several long walks a day and then curl up on the couch or bed and nap. This is a quiet house dog and devoted companion and is calm indoors and loves to play outdoors. The Whippet is affectionate and will kiss you until you run for a towel. These are real “people” dogs. Good watch dog. Sheds some, needs frequent brushing. This dog needs two good long walks daily so needs a senior citizen who is into walking or jogging for their health.

Miniature Dachshund
The Miniature Dachshund weighs less than 11 pounds and stands 5 to 6 inches tall at the shoulders with a life of 15 to 19 years. This dog is bold, curious and always looking for adventure. He is energetic and fun-loving around his family but not overly playful. This is a kind, gentle, loving dog that is loyal to his family. He can be temperamental at times. He’s good with children in his own family but could snap at strangers. Exercise needs are minimal. Normal play around the house or a walk on leash is good. Excellent watchdog. The shorthaired Dachshund sheds and needs to be brushed frequently

English Bulldog
This mean-looking critter weighs 40 to 50 pounds and stands 12 to 14 inches at the shoulders with a life of 8 to 10 years. The Bulldog is an amiable, clownish character that loves family and home. This is a laid-back, people friendly dog. He’s friendly with other animals and strangers but not overly playful. They sleep a lot and chew on rawhide. The Bulldog is devoted to family and will snuggle next to you on the couch. English Bulldog’s love affection and have a lot to give. They make a great family pet and are tolerant with children. Ideal for senior citizens! This is a low energy dog with low exercise needs so a casual walk a day is fine. This dog want lots of love, affection, attention and petting, something seniors have all day to do. Pretty good watch dog.

Cairn Terrier
The Cairn weighs 12 to 14 pounds and is 9 to 10 inches tall at the shoulders with a life of 12 to 14 years. My dad had one until he died at age 83. The Cairn Terrier is playful, loves to clown around and play fetch and do tricks like “beg” and “roll over.” After a play session, this affectionate dog will curl up on the sofa next to you or on your lap for a nap. He is extremely loyal to his master. He’s good with kids, especially 6 and up and is a sturdy little dog that will follow around with the kids. As long as the senior can walk some and toss a ball in the yard or house, that’s all the exercise this guy needs. Excellent watchdog

This little guy weighs 7 to 13 pounds and is 8 to 12 inches tall with a life of 12 to 14 years. The Havanese loves water and loves to swim, so if you have a pool, great! He’s an active and curious dog who is active, loves to play and clown around. He’s very affectionate with his family, as well as other dogs, strangers and pets… just about everyone. This dog needs constant human companionship and should not be left alone for long periods so a senior citizen should be ideal. He’s loyal, playful; likes to show off and act silly as long as he gets lots of attention. The Havanese is good with older children. A walk or two a day and some play in the yard or house will take care of his exercise. He is a good watchdog. He does not shed but needs comb and brushing 3 to 4 times a week. Perfect for the senior.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
This wonderful little Toy breed weighs 13 to 18 pounds, is 12 to 13 inches tall at the shoulders and has a life of 9 to 14 years. Her primary function is that of a kind, sweet companion dog, something that appeals to senior citizens. This is an affectionate, playful, willing to please and quiet house dog. She is amiable toward other dogs, pets and strangers. This dog is unusually affectionate and loyal to his family. She will get along with older children, 10 and up and may try to tolerate younger kids a little but they need to be supervised closely. A walk or two daily and a little back yard play is all she needs for exercise. Maybe fetch a ball. She’s a moderate watchdog, not the best. She’s pretty quiet. She sheds a little and needs brushing 3 to 4 times a week as her long fur mats easily. Her long ear flaps need frequent cleaning.

West Highland White Terrier (Westie)
The Westie weighs 15 to 21 pounds, stands 10 to 11 inches tall at the shoulders and lives 12 to 14 years on average. This is a spunky little family dog that craves attention from her family. She gets along pretty well with other dogs and strangers but not with very young kids. The Westie is basically a quiet lap dog. This is an affectionate, “loving little package” as some call them. She has a lot of energy but some play time with a ball in the yard and several walks will take care of that. The dog should not be alone too much so it’s ideal for a senior. She’s a good watchdog. Sheds a little and needs brushing weekly. She is all white.

Bichon Frise
This little dog comes in white only and weighs 11 to 15 pounds. She stands 10 to 12 inches at the shoulder with a life of 12 to 15 years. The Bichon is a lively, playful, curious, friendly, gentle family dog. She is full of fun, excitement, is quite cuddly and loves to be with people. She is subject to separation anxiety if left alone for too long. This is a good match for seniors since they tend to be home much of the time anyway. She’s a very affectionate lapdog and gets along well with children over 6 years old. Exercise needs are moderate; a short walk twice a day and maybe toss the ball for her a little in the living room. She’s a good watchdog. Almost no shedding and needs brushing every day.

How about a bigger dog for a change? Weight 65 to 80 pounds and height 21 to 25 inches with a life of 9 to 11 years. The Boxer is playful, fun loving, attentive, devoted and outgoing. She is the perfect companion dog. Due to her size, obedience training is necessary. (The same as we offer on this website) This is a laid-back dog that loves to play! Boxer’s are not aggressive. They are very friendly, playful and affectionate and fiercely loyal to their family. The Boxer tolerates kids quite well but they should be supervised with smaller children. If a senior can walk and drive a car, he can manage a Boxer. The dog needs one or two walks daily and perhaps chase a ball in the yard or park. She’s not a watchdog by nature. She does shed and needs brushing twice weekly.

Golden Retriever up for some tennis!
He's holding at least 3 tennis balls.

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Golden Retriever
Another pick for a larger dog is the Golden Retriever,” everybody's friend.” They weigh 65 to 75 pounds, are 23 to 24 inches tall at the shoulders and live 10 to 13 years. Again, if you can walk several times a day and drive a car so the dog can get to a vet, you can manage a Goldie. This is a devoted, good natured, obedient dog. She’s friendly toward other dogs, strangers and even other household pets. This is an affectionate, loving dog that is good around children Goldie's are playful and love having fun. They are gentle kids at heart. They love to play fetch. This is not really a guard dog. Almost no shedding but brushing several times a week is needed. If you want a bigger dog, check this one out!

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
The wonderful little Wheaten Terrier is a playful, fun-loving companion who weighs 30 to 40 pounds and is 17 to 19 inches at the shoulders with a life of 12 to 14 years. He is quite at home as a family companion dog and loves to romp and run with older children, around six and up. This breed is very affectionate and loves to meet new people. The Wheaten needs a good walk or two daily and some play time with a ball, something a senior citizen can do with ease. He sheds none to some and needs a lot of time for grooming with a brush. Good choice for seniors with older grandchildren

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