The Best Dog Breeds for Older Adults
Older adults living alone sometimes have limited interaction with other people. If you’re a senior who could benefit from some canine companionship, the key is to find a breed that matches your personality and lifestyle.
Start by reviewing the 30 best dog breeds for older adults. No matter what your daily life is like, you can find the pooch that is perfect for you!
The Family-Friendly Beagle
A solidly mid-sized breed, the beagle has a short coat and requires relatively little grooming, although it does shed. Even better? Beagles are great family dogs that will play nicely with both you and the grandkids.
The Super-Affectionate Golden Retriever
Ask the owner of a golden retriever what they like most about their dog, and you won't be able to shut them up. There's just so much to love! Goldens are known for being super-friendly, and they make great pets for children and seniors alike.
Boston Terrier: The Perfect Apartment Dog
Boston terriers have long been a favorite of seniors everywhere. Terriers are on the smaller side and are fairly easy to manage, making them an excellent choice for an apartment or senior-living community.
The Sassy Scottish Terrier
Like Boston terriers, the Scottish terrier is a great choice for seniors. The breed is very sensitive to praise and blame and loves to keep owners happy — although some can be a bit stubborn at times. As a low shedding breed, they don't require a lot of daily grooming.
The Pretty Havanese
As the name suggests, the Havanese is a native of Cuba. At around 10 to 15 pounds, it’s a small — but super tough — dog that is known for being playful, friendly and adaptable. Despite their diminutive frame, these dogs will happily roughhouse with your grandchildren (or you!).
The Sturdy Welsh Terrier
The terrier group makes perfect companions for the elderly, and this little guy is no different. In fact, he's one of the better choices, as he tends to be a little sturdier and less excitable than most other breeds in his family.
Lhasa Apso: The Perfect Companion
Lhasa Apso were originally trained as guard dogs, and they're also known for making excellent companions. A highly attentive and intelligent breed, they are perfect for seniors who enjoy affectionate pets.
Labrador Retriever: The Perennial Favorite
The Labrador retriever routinely pops up on the AKC's list of most popular dog breeds. Although some people may think the large, playful breed wouldn't be appropriate for an older adult, they would be wrong. In fact, labs are ideal companions for seniors due to their high intelligence and level of trainability.
The Cheerful Bichon Frise
You know that little white dog that looks exactly like a powder puff? It’s not a tiny poodle; it’s a Bichon Frise. These small, adorable pups are highly popular among the senior crowd. Like most lap-sized dogs, they are happy to lounge around, but they also enjoy playtime and can even get a bit goofy.
The Squish-Faced Pug
Pugs have a long history of being well loved in pop culture. The breed has been featured in several movies — remember Frank, the talking pug, in Men in Black? — and is often spotted around Hollywood as a celebrity companion.
Poodle: The World's Smartest Dog?
Poodles are known for being super-duper smart. As such, they are quick learners and easily trained. If you want a breed that you can teach ALL the tricks, this is the one! Even better? They come in a range of sizes from the tiny teacup to the rather large standard, so there's a size for everyone.
The Sad-Faced Basset Hound
Aww! The sweet and sad little face of the basset hound just makes you want to give it a big hug. Luckily, these dogs aren’t as melancholy as they look. Bassets are actually giant goofballs who love playtime with adults and kids alike. Outside of playtime, they're known for being laid back and aren't bothered by much at all.
The Snuggly Shih Tzu
Do you love the look of toy breeds but don’t love the typical yapping? The Shih Tzu is a tiny little guy who is generally less demanding and less vocal than many of the other small breeds. Famous for their long, straight coats, which are admittedly gorgeous, these dogs do shed a lot and require frequent brushing.
The Tiny Yorkshire Terrier
The Yorkshire terrier is almost as famous for being tiny as it is for its personality. These dogs are so small, in fact, you could easily tuck one into your purse and take it with you for a day of shopping — Paris Hilton style!
Greyhound: More Than a Racing Dog
You might think a dog bred for racing is going to be full of energy and always on the go. In reality, greyhounds are known for being surprisingly chill. While they do require a lot of exercise and outdoor time, they also love to lounge around the house and watch TV when the exercise is done.
The Spunky Cairn Terrier
Have you ever seen The Wizard of Oz? If you know who Toto is, then you've seen a Cairn terrier. Small, cheerful and full of energy, these dogs are very typical members of the terrier family.
The Playful Schnauzer
Like poodles, schnauzers come in a variety of sizes, from miniature (less than 20 pounds) to standard (up to 44 pounds). They are a sweet, playful breed that fits into many different households, from those with solitary occupants to those filled with visitors and children.
The Hairless Chinese Crested
Don't like pet hair all over your furniture? Then this is the dog for you! The hairless variety of the Chinese Crested breed is often thought of as an "ugly" dog, but in reality, it’s graceful, elegant and exotic-looking.
The Wrinkly Shar-Pei
If you want a large dog that doesn't require a ton of maintenance, the Shar-Pei makes an excellent choice. These wrinkly dogs with somber expressions are easy to train and housebreak, and they don't mind being left alone for extended periods of time.
Dachshund: The "Hot Dog"
Dachshunds are a lot of things, and silly is definitely one of them. This breed is known for being comical, charming and curious. The thing they're most curious about, of course, is whatever's on your plate. Leave your food unattended for one minute, and it will quickly disappear.
Bolognese: Not Just a Pasta Sauce
If the first thing that comes to mind when someone says the word "Bolognese" is pasta, you're not alone. Maybe you didn’t know it, but the Bolognese is also one of the smartest, easiest-to-train dogs out there.
The Spunky West Highland White Terrier
Also called a Westie, the West Highland white terrier is closely related to the Cairn terrier (of The Wizard of Oz fame). The two share all the typical terrier traits: sturdy, spunky and bold with a bit of an ego. It also goes without saying that the Westie has a ton of energy.
The Funny French Bulldog
French bulldogs may look dour and glum, but they're actually amiable, funny little companions who love to make you laugh. They're also known to shed and drool excessively, but they more than make up for those traits with cuteness.
Pembroke Welsh Corgi: Companion to a Queen
For decades, Queen Elizabeth II has been frequently photographed with one or more of her loyal Pembroke Welsh Corgis by her side. As an avid lover of the outdoors, the Queen wanted a dog that was bred to work on farms, and this short-legged cutie fit the bill.
The Animated Pomeranian
Holy cuteness, Batman! Maybe there’s a touch of bias in play, but Pomeranians are just the sweetest, cutest, fluffiest little dogs out there — and they make great pets, to boot. At less than 7 pounds fully grown, the Pomeranian is one of the smallest breeds on the list, but it has a gigantic personality.
The Ancient Maltese
Another tiny little pup, the Maltese has a long and noble history. This breed has been around for centuries and was originally developed somewhere in the Mediterranean for its small size. A bright and gentle soul, the Maltese is also very playful and affectionate, making this dog a rock star companion.
The Moody Cocker Spaniel
The cocker spaniel is a beautiful dog and tends to be very popular due to its medium-sized stature and even temperament. Unlike some other dogs in the spaniel family, these dogs only need moderate daily exercise and are happy to hang out inside the house.
The Plucky Dandie Dinmont Terrier
The Dandie Dinmont terrier is the cutest dog you've never heard of. Originally from the United Kingdom, it’s not very common in the U.S. — which is a complete shame! In the home, the Dandie is quiet, relaxed and unassuming.
The Comical Chihuahua
With a tiny little body and a giant head — proportionally speaking — Chihuahuas can look almost as funny as they act. These diminutive pups are widely regarded as comical, entertaining, expressive companions. Like all breeds, however, the exact personality depends on the individual dog.
The Sporty Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles spaniel offers the best of both the sporting dog world and the toy dog world. At less than 15 pounds, this doggie is rather small but often exhibits traits of much larger breeds. They love cuddling in laps but are also quite adept at chasing — and catching! — squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks and even birds.