These Are the Best Dogs For Seniors

Senior Black Couple with their Dogs


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Dogs in the forest

Friends for Life

Ask any dog owner and they’ll likely be happy to share with you just how much joy owning one can bring. Dogs can provide numerous mental and physical health benefits, no matter what your age. For lonely seniors, dogs can also be wonderful companions. But there are some things to think about before becoming a later-in-life dog owner. 

“It is good to keep in mind several factors when choosing a dog for senior citizens. Factors such as energy level, size and temperament are all important things to consider,” says Lucy Saxton of Bark & Birch, a dog training company. “Some breeds require more exercise than others, which will work well if you are still fairly active, but if you don’t have as much stamina, then a breed that needs less exercise and has less of a desire to play may be a better option.” Read on for some suggestions for which type to make your next best friend.

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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Dog

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

These small dogs (generally under 20 pounds) are known as a loveable lap dog that doesn't require too much exercise. “These dogs are cuddly, typically slow paced, and love nothing more than being a … companion,” says Ali Smith, a dog trainer for

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bichon frise

Bichon Frise

This mini-sized breed is generally sweet and sociable, and as a bonus, it also doesn’t shed. Bichons are considered to be somewhat active, and enjoy brief bursts of running through a house or around a fenced-in yard, according to the American Kennel Club. Bichons love being with their family and are not keen to spend hours and hours alone, which may be ideal for a senior who is spending more time at home. 

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beautiful funny galgo is running in a yellow rape seed field


For those who enjoy owning a larger dog, a retired rescue greyhound can be a surprising option. “After their racing life, these dogs are wonderful gentle giants with exceptionally kind temperaments,” says Smith. “They  don't need a large amount of physical energy spent during the day.” However, that doesn’t mean a greyhound should live solely on your sofa. “These dogs are sprinters, so if you are able to let them loose in a dog park nearby, they will be happy to let off their steam within a few minutes and be ready for home. They are friendly, gentle, calm and quiet companions,” says Victoria Long of the website Central Park Paws.

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Yorkshire terrier

Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkies, as they’re often called, are easy to tote around. “Yorkies pack a lot of personality into a very tiny package — most Yorkies weigh between 4-7 lbs.,” says Daniel Caughill, co-founder of the Dog Tale, a canine resource site. “This small size means they don’t require a ton of exercise, and they can burn a lot of their energy playing tug-of-war or fetch indoors, which is important on rainy or snowy days when a senior can’t get outside,” Caughill adds.

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shih tzu

Shih Tzu

This breed makes an ideal lap dog. “They do well in smaller apartment living, enjoy smaller walks, are friendly and welcoming (even to strangers in general), and not overly active,” says Long.

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Weighing in at under 7 pounds and reaching up to 9 inches tall, a Maltese is perfectly portable. The breed needs only occasional exercise, such as a stroll with their owner or playtime in the house, to stay content. 

small pug running on a walkway in public park


Pugs generally are friendly amongst the young and the old, making them a great dog to have around when the grandkids visit. “They’re known as an indoor dog as they do not handle temperature extremes very well; a pug is content on the couch for a lot of the day,” says Long.

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Dog parading on the catwalk

French Bulldog

These cuties are one of the most popular small dogs, according to American Kennel Club.  They’re adaptable and calm, and can stay healthy with just a short walk daily. In hot or humid weather, this flat-faced breed needs to stay inside in the AC, relaxing with its owner. 

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two pomeranian dogs by the ocean


Pomeranians are usually between 6 to 7 inches tall, and weigh in at about 3 to 7 pounds, making them pocket-sized pups. “They are very smart and easy to train. Plus, they don't need that much exercise,” says Jessica Clark, CEO of  



“A poodle is very friendly and playful, but more importantly, it is one of the most intelligent dog breeds out there and thus easy to train,” says Clark. Poodles come in sizes ranging from little to large to suit preferences. Keep in mind that this breed generally requires more daily exercise than other dogs on this list, especially if you choose a larger poodle, and is best suited for more active seniors.

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