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Best Dogs for Seniors: Which Breed Fits Your Lifestyle?

Dogs make good companions for people in all stages of life, as they provide numerous emotional and health benefits to their owners, regardless of age.

Caring for a dog can provide a sense of purpose and a source of joy for older adults. Whether you live alone or in a senior living community, your canine friend can keep you company throughout the day, helping you ward off loneliness, stress, anxiety, and depression. They also can motivate you to stay active and exercise frequently, which benefits your physical and emotional well-being.

If you’re interested in getting a dog during retirement, finding a breed that best fits your lifestyle and abilities is important. Certain dog breeds require extensive maintenance, exercise, or grooming. If you aren’t prepared for the workload, it could undermine your enjoyment and be detrimental to the animal.

In general, low-maintenance dogs – and not puppies – are a good way to go. Energy level and size are other characteristics to take into consideration. With that in mind, here are some examples of the best dog breeds for seniors and retirees that adapt well to their owner’s lifestyle.

Best Small Dogs for Seniors in Apartments

Shih Tzu

With their short smooshed-looking faces and small bodies, Shih Tzus have an adorable appearance. They also are bred to be companions and often enjoy simply sitting with their owners. They can easily adapt to various environments, although they do require routine exercise and grooming.  

Pomeranian

If a tiny dog is up your alley, the Pomeranian may be the right fit for you. Weighing roughly 3 to 6 pounds, Pomeranians are affectionate, good-natured dogs that are easy to handle. They enjoy attention from their owner and playing with toys, and you can feed off their energy to keep yourself upbeat! However, they do have a long, thick coat that requires regular brushing to avoid matting. 

Pug

You can expect a healthy Pug to weigh between 14 to 18 pounds and stand around a foot tall, perfect for seniors considering or undergoing downsizing. Their curly-Q tails and squished noses make for an adorable companion. They will be perfectly happy curled up on the couch – with moderate activity and walks peppered in. Be mindful that Pugs don’t prefer high humidity, so opt for indoor exercise during the hotter Seattle summer days.

Best Companion Dog Breeds

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Spaniels, in general, make good pets for seniors because of their easy temperaments and adaptability. The American Kennel Club (AKC) describes Cavaliers as “affectionate, gentle, and graceful,” making them ideal companions. Cavaliers are a smaller breed of spaniel – typically about 12 to 18 pounds with a medium-length silky coat – that are well-suited for living in an apartment or small house within a Washington retirement community

Bichon Frise

Weighing an average of 7 to 12 pounds (perfect apartment companions!), fluffy white-haired bichons are your typical lapdog. Although they may have traces of cream or apricot in their coats, their appearance generally resembles that of a cotton ball – except one that is sweet and joyful.

A plus: they’re hypoallergenic! We decided to keep them in the companion bracket due to their happy-go-lucky and friendly reputation. With moderate daily exercise and periodic grooming, bichons will make happy, healthy pets for retirees.

Best Medium-to-Large Sized Dog Breeds

Pembroke Welsh Corgis

Though Corgis are also ideal for apartment living, you can expect a Corgi to weigh up to 30 pounds. You can identify Pembroke Welsh Corgis by their short legs, low-set body, and pointy ears. They are intelligent and easy to train, making them good companions for seniors.

However, they are herding dogs by nature, so you must ensure your Corgi gets adequate exercise. That can be accomplished, however, by taking daily walks, which is healthy for you and your pet!

Goldendoodle

Golden Retriever + Poodle = Goldendoodle. These curly-haired cuties can vary in size, which makes them ideal for choosing a ‘Doodle that best suits seniors’ lifestyles. You can find:

• Miniature ‘Doodles weighing 15 to 30 pounds
• Medium ‘Doodles weighing 30 to 45 pounds
• Standard ‘Doodles weighing 45 to 100 pounds

They are a blend of all the best traits from Golden Retrievers – loyal, affectionate, playful, and Poodles – quick learners, easy to train, and a low-shed coat. In addition, energy levels in ‘Doodles are average, meaning they enjoy equal parts walk time and relaxation time.  

woman with his Golden Labradoodle dog isolated on white background

Hypoallergenic Dogs

Please note: According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), “While there are no 100% hypoallergenic dogs, there are many breeds that do well with allergy sufferers. Dander, which is attached to pet hair, is what causes most pet allergies in humans, and these dogs have a non-shedding coat that produces less dander.”

Here are our top picks, in accordance with breed information from the AKC:

Poodles

Poodles are an excellent choice for older adults with allergies or respiratory issues when looking for a four-legged friend. Though they need to be regularly groomed by a professional, their dander has a low probability of causing allergic reactions. They come in a range of sizes, from tiny toy poodles (5 to 9 pounds) to larger standard poodles (45 to 70 pounds). Poodles are fast learners, easy to train, and loyal and affectionate. 

Yorkshire Terrier (“Yorkie”)

Yorkies are the quintessential lap dog – they love being around their “person” just as much as they’ll love a daily tennis ball toss. You can expect a Yorkie to remain under 10 pounds, making them easy for seniors to pick up, walk on a leash, and hold in their lap. Yorkies have a reputation for having a “voice” but are intelligent, eager to please, and highly motivated by treats, making them easy to train. Plus, the Yorkie’s instinct to bring alert to people entering your home or apartment can bring peace of mind to seniors living alone. Finally, Yorkie hair is similar to human hair, making grooming an easy routine to remember and manage.  

Miniature Schnauzer

Mini-Schnauzers are described by the AKC as “friendly, smart, and obedient,” making them a great hypoallergenic fit for seniors. A healthy Mini-Schnauzer can range between 11-20 pounds, making them great for apartment living. They have a “double coat,” which usually requires professional grooming but provides less shedding. In addition, Mini-Schnauzers have moderate energy and love playtime with their owners. 

Bring Your Furry Friend to Retirement Living!

Even though living in a senior living community provides numerous opportunities to socialize with your peers, it can be nice to have your own companion to come home to. With the right dog by your side, you will enjoy your retirement years more fully, from taking walks on campus and sightseeing near Seattle to watching television and relaxing at night. 

At Village Green Senior Living, we understand the value of having a pet – no matter your age – which is why our communities are completely dog-friendly! We invite you to discover active living, enhanced wellness, and a beautiful environment by exploring life at Village Green.

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