The Absolute Best Dogs For Senior Citizens To Adopt

Animals | 8/23/19

Dogs fulfill our lives in more ways than we can imagine. They are a constant source of love and companionship which does wonders for our physical and emotional health. Dogs ultimately improve your heart health by helping you stay active, while decreasing stress, depression, and loneliness.

These are reasons dogs make great pets for senior citizens, especially those that live by themselves. The dog breeds on this list are the perfect complement to those golden years, so if you see one you like, it’s worth visiting your local shelter to find a furry friend for yourself or a loved one!

Maltese Dogs Were Bred To Be Your Companion

Steve Pitre / Barcroft USA / Barcroft Media via Getty Image
Steve Pitre / Barcroft USA / Barcroft Media via Getty Image

Maltese dogs are perfect for snuggling and cuddling with—after all, they were bred specifically to be companions. The biggest factor in this is their small size. They often don’t grow to be more than eight pounds. This is why they’re perfect for seniors who live in apartments or assisted living facilities.

You’ll find that a Maltese is loyal, affectionate, and loving. Because they’re so small, they don’t require much exercise but it does serve them well to be walked around the block once in a while.

Chihuahuas Are Easy To Handle

Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images
Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images

Chihuahuas are distinctively one of the tiniest dog breeds in the entire canine family, making them ideal for prospective dog owners who live in an apartment or condominium complex. They hardly grow heavier than five pounds, which makes them easy to handle.

Additionally, their short fur means they generally don’t require a lot of grooming. These little guys also make great watchdogs because they are prone to barking, especially when they spot a stranger nearby.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Adapt To Their Owners

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Auscape/UIG via Getty Images

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a gentle, graceful breed. They originated in England, where their sweet faces accentuated by their large, round eyes have captured hearts for centuries.

A member of the toy dog variety, they grow no taller than a foot high and will hardly surpass 15 pounds. These dogs love attention and have a temperament that will adapt to that of their owners, meaning they could be active and playful, or they’d be happy to lounge on the couch with you.

Yorkshire Terriers Have Hypoallergenic Fur

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Yorkshire Terriers are a favorite among those who love tiny dogs. Originally bred to catch rats in factories during the Industrial Revolution, these dogs have since become adored lapdogs for a variety of reasons.

They are hypoallergenic, clean, and small, which means they don’t require a ton of grooming (although they look adorable dressed up!). Considering their original purpose, Yorkshire Terriers are some of the smartest lap dogs around, proving themselves to be curious pups who will follow their humans around.

Miniature Schnauzers Are Generally Independent

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Jill Brady/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

The Miniature Schnauzer is perhaps the most ideal dog for seniors who have an active social life. These dogs don’t mind being left at home for short periods of time and adapt well to various living conditions, such as apartment living or cold weather.

Because they are intelligent and affectionate, they are also good with kids and other dogs, which is great news for seniors whose grandbabies are always visiting or those who’d like to have play dates with other dog owners.

Pomeranians Are The Cuddliest Lapdogs Around

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Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images

Pomeranians are often referred to as “pom-poms” due to their amazing fluffiness! That, combined with their sweet and gentle dispositions, makes them the perfect lapdogs who will chill with you on the sofa when it’s time to relax.

These little guys are also playful and smart, which is why they can be trained to do some awesome tricks! They have a tendency to bark frequently, however, which makes them great guard dogs but terrible for seniors who can’t handle the noise.

Boston Terriers Want Nothing More Than To Please Their Owners

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SSPL/Getty Images

“Boston Terriers are bred to be companion dogs. They like nothing more than to be with their owner, on the sofa watching TV, or curled up next to their owner in bed. The breed is happy-go-lucky and playful, yet attentive to their owners’ needs,” explains Dane LaJoye, the president of the Boston Terrier Club of America.

Indeed, that is why they make the perfect companion for someone living in an assisted living facility or who lives alone.

Bolognese Will Never Leave Your Side

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Pinterest/@hollandgirl1950

Like the Maltese, the Bolognese breed is naturally small and has a luxuriously soft coat of fur. They are also affectionate and cuddly, like a stuffed animal brought to life. These little guys are inherently serene and generally inactive, which makes them a low-maintenance dog perfect for seniors.

These dogs are extremely loyal, sometimes to the point that they are prone to separation anxiety, so you can bet that they will never leave your side.

Shih Tzus Will Make You Feel Like Royalty

Matthew Eisman / Contributor
Matthew Eisman / Contributor

Shih Tzus are actually one of the most ancient dog breeds around, tracing their origins as far back as 1,000 years ago in Tibet. These dogs were bred to be the companions of emperors, so their loyalty will make anyone feel like royalty.

Their fur can grow into a long, silky coat that is distinct to the breed, so they do require a bit of maintenance. Aside from that, they remain quite small and don’t need a lot of exercise.

Beagles Are A Loving, Low-Maintenance Breed

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Beagles are popular thanks to the Peanuts character Snoopy. In real life, beagles are affectionate dogs with a mild temperament, which makes them great around kids. They’re perfect for seniors who live in an apartment or a condo since they stay relatively small, don’t shed excessively, and are generally low-maintenance.

Of course, younger beagle pups are filled with a lot more energy, which is why older beagles would be better suited to seniors who are unable to live a very active lifestyle. But no matter how old your beagle is, you can bet it’ll be the cutest pal around!

Poodles Have Very Long Lifespans

Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images
Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images

Poodles are another popular breed among senior citizens. Not only are they intelligent and easy to train, but they also can live for a long time. Toy and miniature poodles live up to 15 years, while larger varieties will be at your side for up to 12.

They are also a great option for those who want a furry dog but have allergies. But although they are hypoallergenic, they require quite a bit of grooming.

Schipperkes Are Small But Sturdy

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Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Schipperke dogs are perfect for senior citizens who would like to feel protected. Originally pred in Belgium as far back as the 1600s, Schipperkes are small but sturdy, growing up to 12 inches tall with an average weight between seven to 20 pounds.

They love to play and are pretty intelligent. They make excellent watch and guard dogs that will loyally protect their humans for as long as 16 years depending on their health.

Chinese Cresteds Don’t Require Any Grooming

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Arterra/UIG via Getty Images

The Chinese Crested dog has the unfortunate reputation of being the most unattractive dogs on the planet. The entire breed always dominates at the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest every year. But some people may be able to find the beauty in these guys.

They are a hairless breed, which is perfect for seniors who have allergies and want to keep their house clean. In addition to not having to groom them, these dogs aren’t as high-energy as others, making the Chinese Crested a generally low-maintenance dog.

Cairn Terriers Are Social Butterflies

Monica Schipper/FilmMagic
Monica Schipper/FilmMagic

You may be able to recognize this dog. It’s Toto from The Wizard of Oz! Toto was a Cairn Terrier and there’s a reason he was always at Dorothy’s side. These guys are super loyal to their humans and make excellent companion dogs. They also love to meet new people as their friendly nature makes them quite sociable.

On the other hand, they do have a tendency to be strong-minded which is why those who own Cairn Terriers need to be firm with them.

Jack Russell Terriers Love An Active Lifestyle

Andia/UIG via Getty Images
Andia/UIG via Getty Images

Jack Russell Terriers are the perfect pets for seniors who live an active lifestyle. These playful pups enjoy exercise, so they would love to go on as many walks, or even runs, as possible! The more you play with a Jack Russell Terrier, the more you two will grow attached to one another.

These dogs are also full of personality and have a tendency to be “barkative,” which makes them great watchdogs also!

Golden Retrievers Can Help The Disabled

best dogs for seniors golden retriever
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Golden Retrievers are often thought of as the ultimate dog breed. Many goldens are often trained as service dogs, which makes them awesome companions that can provide assistance to the disabled.

These lovable creatures are naturally friendly, gentle, and intelligent. They do run a little larger than most of the dogs we’ve seen so far. Some can grow up to 75 pounds but they’re never considered in the way no matter where they go.

A Bichon Frise Will Require Regular Grooming

Brad Barket/Getty Images
Brad Barket/Getty Images

There’s a reason a Bichon Frise is constantly ranked among the best dog breeds for seniors. These fluff balls weigh an average of seven to 12 pounds, making them easy to handle, and they’re also easily trainable. They don’t even require a ton of exercise!

The only downside to owning a Bichon Frise is having to groom them regularly because if their fur is unmanaged, it can become a messy, mangled mess.

Dachshunds Make Fiercely Loyal Companions

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Flickr/@hills-alive

Dachsunds are the smallest members of the hound variety and because of that, they are the perfect size for apartment living and smaller homes. Popularly known as wiener dogs, these little guys are as fun to be around as they are to look at, with their short legs and long bodies.

They are friendly, intelligent, and intensely loyal to their owners. They do have a reputation for barking, which makes them great if you want a dog to protect the home.

Pekingese Are Happy To Lounge With You

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Auscape/UIG via Getty Images

Pekingese dogs aren’t necessarily privy to physical activity. They are perfectly fine to just lounge around with you and, in fact, they’d rather sit around and be admired by you! After all, that was their original purpose when they were bred in ancient China.

In those days, these dogs were considered a luxury that nobles liked to carry in their sleeves. The Pekingese of today is slightly larger than the early ones, growing up to 12 pounds.

Greyhounds Are Great For Keeping Seniors Active

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Kathryn Scott Osler/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Greyhounds are known as the fastest dog breed around. At their peak, they can run as fast as 40 miles per hour! But don’t let their intense speed intimidate you. A Greyhound has a loving and gentle quality towards its owner. They also have short hair that doesn’t shed much, so they’re low-maintenance when it comes to grooming.

But because they’re naturally active, experts recommend walking them for at least 20 minutes each day, which makes them great motivation for seniors who need to be more active.

Dandie Dinmont Terriers Are Helper Dogs

Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage
Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage

The Dandie Dinmont Terrier is the perfect helper dog for seniors. They can be easily trained to do specific tasks, as their intelligence stems from their original purpose as tracking, hunting, and guarding dogs in the United Kingdom.

Outside of performing tasks for their owners, they are generally calm and relaxed, requiring a moderate amount of exercise. This means that combined with their small size, they can easily adapt to a variety of homes.

Pugs Can Live Anywhere

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Barry Lewis/In Pictures via Getty Images

Pugs are small dogs that can live pretty much anywhere but they’d prefer to live in your lap. They don’t need a ton of exercise and are happy to curl up next to you doing periods of relaxation. They are affectionate, loyal, friendly, and they love to play.

Despite the fact that they have short hair, they do tend to shed a lot. This is something to consider if a pug was the kind of dog you’re considering.

Welsh Terriers Can Calm Down When They Need To

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David Jones – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

Welsh Terriers are allegedly one of the oldest dog breeds in the United Kingdom. King Edward VIII was said to be a huge fan of this breed and even President John F. Kennedy owned one named Charlie.

Welsh terriers are great for senior citizens because they are small and have a generally calm demeanor. These loyal pups do love to play, however, so some moderate exercise is the least you could do to help them thrive.

Papillions Are A Quieter Breed

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TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Papillons are a toy-breed that are intelligent and obedient, which makes teaching them tricks and tasks part of the fun of owning them. They stand at less than a foot tall and usually grow no heavier than ten pounds.

Contrary to many small dogs, Papillons are generally on the quieter side which makes them great guard dogs. If you hear them barking, then you know that something is up because they’re typically friendly with people anyway.

Pembroke Welsh Corgis Are Fit For A Queen

Tim Graham/Getty Images
Tim Graham/Getty Images

No other dog breed out there will make you feel like royalty than the Pembroke Welsh Corgi. This breed is infamous for being a favorite of Queen Elizabeth II, who is often seen with her lovable pups which are the ones pictured here.

They are small in size, which makes them great for apartment living, but they do require moderate exercise because they have a tendency to become overweight. Other than that, their coats are generally low maintenance.

Basset Hounds Aren’t Always Sad

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David Woo/Corbis via Getty Images

Basset Hounds may look like the saddest dogs around but remember, looks can be deceiving. Beneath those droopy eyes is a dog that is easygoing and relaxed.

These dogs generally have low energy, which makes them ideal for seniors who aren’t able to live an active lifestyle. But because Basset Hounds are more sedentary, one has to be wary of overfeeding them. These guys love to eat but gaining too much weight can be harmful to their long spines.

Shetland Sheepdogs Require Mental Stimulation

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Frank Rumpenhorst/picture alliance via Getty Images

Shetland Sheepdogs are commonly known as Shelties. These dogs are natural-born herders, which means they’re intelligent and require constant mental stimulation. It would also serve them well to have an owner who is able to walk them frequently.

They tend to be on the smaller side which is always a plus for seniors living in smaller homes. They are also friendly and love people as well as other animals. They can get a little nervous around rambunctious children, however.

Japanese Spitzes Need To Be Brushed Frequently

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Brian Lawless/PA Images via Getty Images

The Japanese Spitz is a great small dog for those who are confined to apartment homes or assisted living facilities. Though they do need to be brushed at least twice a week, this can be pretty therapeutic to some dog owners.

“In general, I think Japanese Spitz are great pets, they’re adaptable, sociable (less stand-offish than some Spitz breeds) and full of energy. Obviously they’re stunning too, and everywhere we go with our dog we get attention! I’ve definitely fallen in love with the Spitz personality, and if I got a second dog it’d be from the same breed family I think,” shares Reddit user pullonyourfeet.

Rat Terriers Stay Healthy For A Long Time

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Flickr/@8047705@N02/

Rat Terriers were obviously bred for a specific reason. These are natural hunting dogs that are inclined towards rodents as their prey. This type of dog would be an excellent option if your home is suffering from a vermin problem.

Aside from their natural purpose, they’ve proven to be friendly and affectionate dogs who stay healthy enough to live for many years. They love to play and can be quite clever to many owners’ surprise.

Labradoodles Are Hypoallergenic And Friendly

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Education Images/UIG via Getty Image

Labradoodles are a hybrid of Poodles and Labrador Retrievers. They were meant to be guide dogs, which many labradors are, but also hypoallergenic, which many poodles are. But their popularity has gone beyond the service-dog realm as they also make perfect pets!

They are typically larger dogs that average between 50 and 65 pounds, growing up to two feet tall. However, they are very adaptable to small living conditions and are quite friendly. They do require regular physical activity, however.

Peekapoos Are A Truly Unique Breed

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Flickr/@brambleberriesphotography

Peekapoos aren’t a common dog breed. These “designer” dogs were bred as a mix between a Pekingese and a Poodle, which makes them the ultimate hypoallergenic dog. They may be small but they love to run around, which is why seniors should consider this if they want a truly unique breed.

They thrive in homes that have yards but can tire easily because of their unique pedigree, so they do require a bit of supervision.

Irish Setters Have A Lot Of Energy To Burn

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Flickr/@anastaciar

Irish Setters are awesome companion dogs who love to do anything with their owners. These dogs are revered for their distinct red coats and are easy to spot whenever they’re outside. They are considered fun dogs but need to be taken out often on walks or bike rides to burn off their excess energy.

They weigh an average of 55 to 75 pounds, so this is something to consider if you’re not very strong or don’t have a lot of space.

Shiba Inus Will Bring Peace To Your Home

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XIAOLIN XU/Corbis via Getty Images

Shiba Inus are native to Japan, where they were originally bred as companion dogs for hunters. Because of this, they are intelligent, loyal, and quite confident. Another plus of having a Shiba Inu is the fact that they don’t bark much, so you can expect a lot of peace around them.

They can weigh up to 20 pounds on average but are usually small to medium-sized dogs. They do require moderate exercise, so if they are going to live in an apartment they should be walked often.

Labrador Retrievers Are Friendly Dogs That Love Walks

Bryn Colton/Getty Images
Bryn Colton/Getty Images

Labrador Retrievers are another widely popular dog breed. They are intelligent, therefore they are easy to train. Their friendly nature makes them great around people, especially children. Depending on if the dog is male or female, labs tend to weigh around 55 to 75 pounds.

To keep their weight in check, moderate exercise is helpful and also keeps them mentally stimulated. A black, yellow, or chocolate lab would be ideal for a senior who is able to walk at least half an hour every day.

Havanese Thrive Off Human Companionship

havanese
JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images
JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images

Havanese dogs are small lapdogs with luxurious long hair. Even though they have a lot of fur, it’s not enough to keep them warm in cold environments, which is why many Havanese owners buy adorable sweaters for their pups.

These dogs require little exercise and can thrive in nearly any environment. The only catch is that they need quite a bit of attention and need plenty of human companionship since they love being around people.

Wire Fox Terriers Are Becoming Quite Popular

wire-fox-terrier
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The Wire Fox Terrier is a breed that has been gaining quite a lot of popularity after winning Best in Show at the 2019 Westminster Kennel Club. A lucky Wire Fox Terrier named King has wowed everyone in attendance, showing them just how great the breed can be.

These dogs do require a bit of maintenance, so seniors who don’t mind a regular grooming and walking schedule might take an interest in them. They also need to stay active due to their curious, playful nature.

Whippets Aren’t As Active As They Seem

whippet
Carl Court/Getty Images
Carl Court/Getty Images

Whippets are slim dogs that seem as though they need as much exercise as their larger cousin, the Greyhound. However, due to their smaller size, this isn’t necessarily true. At least an hour a day of outside play is sufficient for these dogs, who average between 15 to 31 pounds.

They are fast dogs but have a good temperament for seniors since they are intelligent and adaptable to most environments.

Ibizan Hounds Are Family-Oriented Dogs

ibizan-hound
Brent N. Clarke/Getty Images
Brent N. Clarke/Getty Images

An Ibizan Hound is another solid option for a senior citizen in need of a pet. Ibizan Hounds are “family-oriented, even-tempered, and polite,” according to the American Kennel Club. At their largest, Ibizan Hounds can weigh 45 to 50 pounds.

Their sleek, smooth coats are easy to care for and don’t require a whole lot of grooming. The Ibizan Hound is generally laidback, smart, can be easily trained, and serve as excellent guard dogs.

Yakutian Laikas Have A Thick Coat

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Twitter/yakutia
Twitter/yakutia

A Yakutian Laika is a dog native to the Arctic regions of the world, where they serve as herders, guard dogs, and companions. They have an extremely thick coat, which is great for chilly climates but prone to shedding and therefore requires a bit of maintenance when it comes to grooming.

The Yakutian Laika is a medium-sized dog that will weigh up to 66 pounds in adulthood. These companion dogs are a great option for seniors who love going on daily walks.

Mixed Breeds Are The Best Ones To Rescue

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Pinterest/@linnpooh

Clearly, there are dozens of dog breeds out there. So many, in fact, that it can all get overwhelming trying to pick just one. Positive and negative traits are important to consider. On top of that, finding a purebred (especially at a shelter) isn’t the easiest thing to do. That’s why mixed breeds are just as lovable as all the other ones!

Mixed breeds tend to have fewer health problems due to lack of in-breeding and you truly get a one-of-a-kind dog.