best dog breeds for seniors

Dog Breeds that Make Great Pets for Seniors

Let’s face it, as seniors we are not as nimble as we used to be. We don’t have the same amount of energy as we used to have. We get tired easily. So, if we’re going to have a pet dog, we might as well have a dog breed that fits our lifestyle.

Of course, everyone is going to have a different personality and thus a different dog to fit that personality. An athletic senior needs a dog that can keep up with him. A senior executive needs a dog that can suffer separation. A senior with a large family needs a friendly dog that’s good with people. A senior hiker needs a dog that can hike for hours. A senior who lives in an apartment needs a quiet dog.

If you’re one of the lucky seniors to own a mansion, you might need a dog breed that’s more playful and likes to play on its own. And if you’re a senior who owns a farm, you need a farm dog breed or watchdog. And if you’re a really old senior, you might want a dog that’s a charmer.

We’re seniors so we need a dog that will coax us a bit. We need a dog that can nudge us for walks but not drain us. A dog that can sit on our lap but not get restless. A dog that can go fishing with and enjoy a nice day outside. A dog that is not a drain on money and energy. A gentle dog. A peaceful dog. A graceful dog. 

Best Dog Breeds for Seniors

1. Pembroke Welsh Corgi

good dog breeds for seniors - welsh corgi
The Welsh Corgi – A Perfect Companion for Seniors

With their fox-like face and dwarfish legs, lustrous coat and excited expression, corgis are one of the most gorgeous country boys. Bred for herding livestock, corgis are an independent, assertive little breed. They like to bark a lot which is a good thing for watching out for wandering sheep but people in cities are not herds of sheep and they don’t like to be startled. So that can cause some annoyance to your urban neighbors.  

Their herding instinct makes them loving, caring, and intelligent; Short but powerful legs, muscular thighs, and a deep chest equip them for a hard day’s work. They have a lot of energy and need daily exercise which makes them an excellent choice for active seniors. They are eager to please and easy to train although they can be a little stubborn. 

They shed a fair amount daily, and even more so in early summer. Daily brushing will remove a lot of the shed hair before it is all over the place. Otherwise, they require little grooming. Moreover, if you are into tails, for whatever reason, maybe you like the way they wiggle, corgis are not for you. They don’t have a tail. 

Welsh Corgi Facts:

  • Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years
  • Size: Medium 
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Temperament: Tenacious, friendly, bold, outgoing, playful, protective

2. Poodle 

The Poodle is a Great Dog for Active Seniors

The national dog of France, poodles are active, elegant, and proud with a well-proportioned body. They are the ones with popular clippings that look like fetters of clouds around their ankles and lion’s mane on their face. Eager to please, easily trainable, and widely considered the second smartest breed, they are skillful in many dog sports and activities such as agility, obedience, tracking. They have won many dog shows and are one of the most popular breeds in the US. 

Behind all these skills, there is a playful, social, and affectionate dog. Poodles are energetic and goofy. Upon first meeting, they are reserved but after a while, they become warm and friendly. They are calm but active and need regular exercise to burn off some steam—basic daily walks are enough for most poodles although they love to swim and retrieve as well. Normally they are calm but can get snappy, especially at strangers.  

Poodles have dense curly fur that barely sheds and could be considered relatively hypoallergenic. They do shed, but instead of the fur coming off the dog, it becomes tangled in the surrounding hair. This can lead to matting without proper care. You have to brush their hair to the root. To avoid daily brushing, you can trim their hair as well. 

Poodle Facts:

  • Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years
  • Size: Small to medium
  • Hypoallergenic: Yes
  • Temperament: Intelligent, alert, faithful, active, instinctual, trainable

3. Bichon Frise

bichon frise - good dog breed for seniors
The Bichon Frise is an Adorable Dog for Seniors

With almost a toy-like appearance, bichon frise could be safely considered the most adorable dog on the planet. They give and take love. They are affectionate and friendly with everybody. There are no bad guys, only potential friends. This makes them great for cities and their apartments. Classified as companion dogs, bichon frise are bought for the pleasures of their company, not for working. 

They are frequently mistaken for white poodles because of their fluffy white hair. Like them, they can swim and retrieve but they are not the athlete that poodles are. They are somewhat active—long stretches of calm are interspersed with brief bursts of high activity, often just running through the house or around the yard. They require quality playtime and walking with their owner and should not be left alone for long stretches of time. 

They can become territorial and It is difficult to train them to pee and poop in a specified space. Other than that, they are easy to train and love to perform for people. They respond well to reward rather than punishment. 

The grooming habits required are similar to that of poodles. They need to be brushed, bathed, and clipped. The bichon is considered to be relatively hypoallergenic, as the breed sheds very little because the shed hair is caught up in the undercoat. That shed hair has to be brushed out to prevent mats from forming. 

Bichon Frise Facts:

  • Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years
  • Size: Small
  • Hypoallergenic: Yes
  • Temperament: Feisty, affectionate, cheerful, playful, gentle, sensitive

4. Pomeranian

dog breeds for seniors - Pomeranian
The Pomeranian – A Small Dog with a Big Personality

They are a small dog with a big dog demeanor. With a foxy face, fluffy hair, and short stature, pomeranians were made popular by Queen Victoria. A darling of royals and commoners alike, they are one of the most common breeds of dog. Their dark almond-shaped eyes sparkle with energy and curiosity. They love to sit on laps, go on walks, and explore new sights and smells. 

Poms are cute and intelligent but they are also bold and feisty. When outside, you need to protect them from themselves and other animals. They often harass bigger dogs which can lead to them getting injured. They are not friendly to strangers either. They are ready to chase and bark at any possibility which makes them a terrible choice for apartments but a great watchdog. They are fierce in their demeanor and their loyalty. Although not the best dog around kids and other dogs, they can be trained to behave. 

Poms are easy to train but you must be firm when training them. You must show who is in charge, who runs the house, and who is the top dog. If not, they will gladly take over. 

Frequent brushing is necessary along with occasional bathing and cleaning. They shed a lot and are sensitive to heat. They also love toys and tricks training. All these make them a good indoor dog. 

Pomeranian Facts:

  • Life expectancy: 12 to 16 years
  • Size: Small
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Temperament: Friendly, intelligent, sociable, extroverted, playful, active 

5. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

best dogs for seniors - King Charles Spaniel
King Charles Spaniel – An Affectionate Dog for Seniors

A magnificent breed with a magnificent name and character, cavaliers are noblemen of the canine world with an affectionate, patient, and gentle temperament. Their face has a sweet expression and large round eyes emanating innocence. Affectionate and friendly with dogs and strangers, cavaliers make a terrible watchdog but a great athlete and an even greater lap dog. Cavaliers are top tail-waggers. What is the cutest puppy behavior? Yup, when they are looking up at you with their innocent eyes and wagging their tails. 

Descended from sporting bred, Cavaliers love to go on walks and do other outdoor activities but they are just as happy to lay on the couch in your company. Eager to play and please, they are easy to train and incredibly athletic. A beautiful silky smooth coat doesn’t stop them to get down from their royal high seat for chasing squirrels. 

Their lustrous silky coat with a slight wave requires frequent brushing and bathing. And like all the other breeds, their nails should be trimmed, their ears should be checked and their skin must be inspected.

King Charles Spaniel Facts:

  • Life expectancy: 9 to 14 years
  • Size: Small
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Temperament: Sociable, affectionate, fearless, patient, playful, adaptable

6. Maltese

Maltese – A Lively Dog for Seniors

Maltese’s Long white coat reaches down to the floor, blanketing their whole body, including their legs, like a white wedding dress. Beneath the white cover, they have a sturdy compact frame. 

The glorious white coat requires daily brushing to prevent mats and conditioning for great looks. Prone to dental disease, maltese’s teeth should be brushed frequently. 

Maltese are highly intelligent and fairly easy to train but they can be stubborn. They are energetic but do not require much exercise. Daily walks and backyard fun proves sufficient. 

With a history as companion dogs, maltese need a lot of human attention and might suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for long periods. They don’t always get along with children and dogs, and if they have been overly pampered by their family, they can become protective, barking and biting if they perceive something as a threat to their relationship. Like all dogs, they must be taught socialization and obedience. 

Maltese Facts:

  • Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years
  • Size: Small
  • Hypoallergenic: Yes
  • Temperament: Easy-going, affectionate, intelligent, lively, fearless, good-tempered

7. Shih Tzu

dog breeds for seniors - Shih Tzu
Shih Tzu is a Popular Dog Breed for Seniors

With a Chinese name, a Tibetan heritage, and a floor-length coat, like a Maltese, Shih Tzu are adorable little dogs famous for their classy temperament—loving, affectionate, and outgoing. 

They are often confused with their western counterpart, Maltese, but they are less playful yet more family-friendly. They would rather sit on your lap as you watch TV than dig a hole in your backyard. They are good with strangers, kids, and animals but can be stubborn especially in training. 

Unlike Maltese, which are only white, they come in all sorts of color. Grooming requirements are similar to that of Maltese although they shed slightly more and are not hypoallergenic like Maltese. Be prepared to brush their coat daily because it mats easily. 

Shih Tzu are intelligent dogs yet stubborn so they can be a bit frustrating to train. And as they are so people-friendly, rewards work better than punishments. Harsh corrections should not be used. They simply want to be with you and are not much into hunting or retrieving. So, if you want to sit on your porch and watch the sunset with a dog in your lap, get yourself a Shih Tzu. 

Shih Tzu Facts:

  • Life expectancy: 10 to 16 years
  • Size: Small
  • Hypoallergenic: Yes
  • Temperament: Clever, affectionate, friendly, intelligent, lively, spunky, happy, outgoing, independent, alert

8. Boston Terrier

best dogs for seniors - Boston Terrier
The Boston Terrier is a Good Watchdog for Seniors

They are short, compact, muscular with erect ears and broad chest, making them look like a cage fighter. They usually have a black, shiny, straight coat with white markings in a way that resembles a tuxedo. The reason they are nicknamed American Gentleman. 

They look like tough guys but like true tough fellas, they are gentle, friendly, and have a sense of humor about life. Although they can match their bullish looks with their personality to protect their human friends from perceived danger. 

They have large, prominent round eyes, set widely apart that emanates curiosity, kindness, and mischief. If tails are your thing for some weird reason, they are not for you. They have a tail that refuses to grow beyond two inches. 

Boston Terriers are smart, sensible, and generally quiet and, therefore, a good choice for living in cities, like Boston. They are easy to train, friendly with people, and need minimal grooming. 

Boston Terrier Facts:

  • Life expectancy: 13 to 15 years
  • Size: Small
  • Hypoallergenic: No 
  • Temperament: Friendly, intelligent, lively, protective, playful, good-natured (some can be stubborn, at times)

9. Pug

best lapdogs for seniors - pug
Pugs Are Some of the Best Lapdogs for Seniors

We have all known or seen a pug—short, compact, muscular, with a squishy face. Brought from China to Europe, they were bred for companionship. Pugs were well-liked by the royals across the world. A legend holds that the pug became the mascot of Holland’s royal House of Orange after a Pug saved the life of the Prince before an attack by Spanish troops. 

Pugs are cheerful and affectionate, loyal and devoted, playful and mischievous. They are intelligent but also stubborn, which makes it difficult to train them. They are mostly quiet and friendly with strangers which makes them good for cities and their tiny apartments. But pugs have their mischievous side too, to put a spark in your retired life. They are playful but do not require a lot of exercises. 

Pugs are ideal house dogs thanks to their stable temperament and loving disposition. Very loyal to their proprietors, pugs pretty much are content to do what you are doing, whether it is watching TV or going for a walk. They are the ultimate lap dog, happy to snuggle on your lap or hop into your bed. They do sneeze, snore and shed a lot, so keep your vacuum cleaners and earplugs ready. 

Pug Facts:

  • Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years
  • Size: Small
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Temperament: Mischievous, docile, clever, stubborn, charming, affectionate, sociable, playful, loving, quiet

10. French Bulldog 

best dog breeds for seniors - French Bulldog
The French Bulldog is a Charming Dog for Seniors

The alert and affectionate french bulldogs are a charmer. They will gladly live with bachelors, families, and seniors. They require little grooming but a lot of love.

And if that wasn’t enough… They get on well with other animals and humans (but can get a bit protective and jealous). They bark little and don’t get rattled by all the noise or the wave of strangers in the cities.

City dwellers from New York to London swear by this Jovial and social little toy dog. 

The French Bulldog, like many other companion dog breeds, requires close contact with humans. If left alone for more than a few hours, may experience separation anxiety. They have fairly minimal exercise needs but do require at least daily short walks. 

Because of their front-heavy structure, French Bulldogs cannot swim and should never be tossed in the water or left alone near a pool or a beach. Like all flat-faced dogs, they are prone to breathing problems and do poorly in hot or humid weather. 

It is difficult to teach them to poop only in specified places. Also prone to drooling, shedding, and farting, they can be a little annoying but given the little ball of joy they are, many believe they are worth it. 

French Bulldog Facts:

  • Life expectancy: 10 to 14 years
  • Size: Small
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Temperament: Easygoing, affectionate, lively, sociable, keen, bright, patient, alert, playful, athletic

11. Chihuahua

dogs for seniors - Chihuahua
The Chihuahua is a Lively and Playful Dog for Seniors

Named after a city in Mexico, Chihuahuas are an incredibly small breed with an incredibly large personality. Like many delusional short guys in high schools, many Chihuahuas consider themselves a real tough cookie.

Devoted and courageous, they can grow overprotective for you. Alert and quick, they can get their exercise running around the apartment. Loving and loyal, they want nothing more than to be with you. 

Just around 6-9 inches tall, they can be tucked in your bag or your pocket—maybe not in your pocket. And because they were bred for warm temperatures in Mexico, they don’t do well in the cold. But you can buy them cute little sweaters, in which they can prance around the house. They don’t shed much and require very little grooming. 

Chihuahuas seem well aware of how cute they are and try to get their way. From the very beginning, you must enforce the fact that you are in charge. Despite their tough-guy attitude, Chihuahuas are fragile and therefore unsuitable for homes with small children. If you want a devoted, loving companion that you can take anywhere, a Chihuahua might be the dog for you. 

Chihuahua Facts:

  • Life expectancy: 12 to 20 years
  • Size: Small
  • Coat: Short-haired
  • Temperament: Devoted, lively, alert, courageous, quick, smart

12. Greyhound

dogs for seniors - greyhound
The Greyhound is a Good Dog for the with Lots of Space

They are tall and slender. Swift and keen-sighted. Gentle and intelligent. Their slim frame with long, powerful legs, a deep chest, and a flexible spine allows them to reach a speed of 40 mph. 

They sound more appropriate for a sprinter in his prime, don’t they? Which they are. But they make wonderful pets for seniors as well. They are very loving and enjoy dog and human companionship. They are sensitive, bark occasionally, and are friendly to strangers, making them great for cities and suburbs. Gentle commands work best as training methods. 

Their frame is built for racing and has given rise to a misconception that greyhounds are always hyperactive. This is not the case. Like a cheetah, they are capable of amazing speed and love to run around, but they are also happy to be lazy and lounge around the house all day. Amazingly, they can sleep up to 18-20 hours a day.

That said, Greyhounds will still need to go out for exercise. They also require a lot of space to run around. A 20-30 minute per day walk outside should be enough. However, if you’re not up for regular walks or don’t have a ton of space outside for the dog to play, this might not be the best dog for you.

Another thing to note is that Greyhounds (especially retired racing Greyhounds) are often muzzled. This is not because they are overly aggressive dogs. However, it is in their nature to chase down whatever they consider prey. Here is a list of reasons why you might consider getting a muzzle for a Greyhound to wear on occasion.

Greyhound Facts:

  • Life expectancy: 10 to 14 years
  • Size: Large
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Temperament: Even-tempered and calm, affectionate, intelligent, gentle, athletic, quiet, lazy, good manners

13. Golden Retriever

best dogs for seniors - golden retriever
The Golden Retrier – Another Great Dog for Active Seniors

For more active seniors (or those seniors looking to turn active), a Golden retriever can be your workout companion. They can give you a reason to wake up and walk around your block, keeping you away from the incessant thoughts, and filling you up with love and positivity. They can put a smile on your face and spring on your steps. 

Golden retrievers are medium-sized sturdy dogs with brilliant golden hair which gives them their first part of the name. They have been bred to retrieve game, so they are easy to train and have the ability to retrieve game undamaged because of their soft mouth. They are also popular as a disability assistance dog for the deaf and the blind. Although their friendly temperament makes them mostly unfit as a guard dog. Though, their bark alone may be enough to scare off would-be intruders. 

Golden Retrievers shed profusely. Daily brushing will get some of the loose hair out of the coat, keeping it from settling on your clothing and all over your house. But if you live with a golden retriever, you’ll have to get used to dog hair.

Golden Retriever Facts:

  • Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years
  • Size: Large
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Temperament: Friendly, intelligent, reliable, kind, trustworthy, confident

14. Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever: America’s Number One Dog Breed

The warm and intelligent labrador retriever is America’s number one breed registered with the American Kennel Club. They were bred to help the local fisherman originating on the island of Newfoundland for retrieving fish that had escaped the nets and to be a family dog. 

Like Golden Retrievers, they have a water-resistant coat but are short-haired and therefore much easier to groom. Golden Retrievers have longer snouts, while Labs have broader heads and are more muscular. Labs are slightly larger and come in starkly different colors. Wanting nothing more than to be loved, Labradors and Goldens are both friendly and get excited when they see their owners.

Both of these sporting dogs tend to have a lot of energy and a need for attention. They need daily exercise and space for exploration and are two of the friendliest breeds. They are all about love. They love everyone. You’ll love them too.

But don’t be fooled by their loving nature. Because they’re so loyal, they’re great guards for your home. If their bark isn’t enough to scare their bite surely will.

Labrador Retriever Facts:

  • Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years 
  • Size: Medium to large 
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Temperament: Even-tempered, intelligent, kind, agile, outgoing, trusting, gentle


As can be seen, there are a bunch of wonderful dog breeds for seniors. However, the best dog breed for seniors is going to be one that fits your lifestyle. If you buy an energetic dog, don’t expect him to want to be docile. Don’t just buy a dog that you think “looks cute” without making sure his personality fits yours. It’s not good for the dog and it won’t be good for you.

If you’re still having trouble choosing a dog breed, you might want to do some more research on dog breeds. The American Kennel Club keeps a complete list of dog breeds. Perhaps there is a dog breed listed there that fits your better than the dogs above. Another good option is to take a dog personality quiz which will match your personality to the dog.

Whichever dog you choose, make sure you are able to take basic care of your dog before you get it. If you can’t see yourself bending over outside to clean up droppings, facing the elements on a day-to-day basis, or being able to play with your dog on a regular basis, it might be best to opt for a different pet, such as a cat. For the rest of you, good luck in your search for your new pet dog!

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