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Seniors & Pets: The 5 Best Dog Breeds for Seniors


Today I am wrapping up a three-part series on seniors and pets, sharing five dog breeds best suited for seniors. My first article listed the benefits of owning a pet. I then shared the factors that go into choosing a dog. There is ample data showing how pets benefit us physically and emotionally and I cited an article by Lawrence Robinson and Jeanne Segal echoing that research. The argument could be made that our pets need us just as much as we need them, especially since there is a biblical mandate for us to care for every creature on the planet, including dogs. Not every dog, though, is suited for us, especially as we age.


Factors for choosing a dog include the senior’s mobility, living space, and the dog’s energy level. These factors can help the senior choose what dog would best suit their wants and needs. The experts lean toward smaller breeds, but that may not always be the case. Below are five breeds that may fit a senior’s needs and situation.


  • Boston Terrier – Nicknamed the “American Gentleman” (or lady), this breed is a borderline medium in size. Full grown it will reach 15-17 inches in height and weigh up to 25 pounds. The terrier “spunk” may occasionally show up, but as a breed they are well-mannered, easy going and gentle. They are highly intelligent and easy to train.


  • Pomeranian – A toy dog that will reach only about 8 inches in height and 8 pounds, it is an ideal companion for people who enjoy smaller breeds. Because of their size, they don’t require a lot of space and do not require as much food as larger dogs. They are easy to care for, but can be a bit aggressive around larger dogs.


  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – Named for King Charles II of Britain, this is one of the more popular breeds. Full grown they will be 12 inches in height and weigh 18 pounds. They like to be cuddled and are considered ideal lap dogs. They are not high energy dogs, requiring one or two daily walks.


  • Bichon Frise – Since they don’t shed, they are ideal if you have allergies. A toy dog, full grown they will weigh about 10 pounds and can live up to 15 years. They enjoy people and going everywhere with their owner. As a breed they are highly intelligent and affectionate.


  • Maltese – For many centuries, this breed was the favorite of wealthy women along the Mediterranean coast. They made their first showing in the US in 1877. The ultimate lap dog, full grown they are ten inches in height and weigh about seven pounds. Because of their size, they don’t eat a lot and they do well in small spaces like apartments. Highly intelligent, sociable and energetic, they love to show off.


The five breeds listed above are not the only breeds listed by the experts. Other breeds included the shih tzu, corgi, miniature schnauzer, cocker spaniel, and, believe it or not, greyhound. Of course, your senior may not want a lapdog and want something much larger, like a Great Dane. That’s fine. It’s all a matter of choice and what can be handled. I wish you luck in choosing your next best friend.