People who love dogs know that the animals are much more than pets – they’re just like members of the family! The benefits of caring for a dog are huge; dog ownership can improve heart health, decrease stress, depression, and loneliness, and even help you stay active.
The breeds on this list were all selected because they make great pets for seniors, especially those who live by themselves and could use the companionship. If you read about a breed you like here, it’s worth checking out local rescue groups to see what dogs they have available. Good luck finding yourself a new best friend!
Beagles are one of the most well-known dog breeds, thanks in large part to Snoopy. The beloved cartoon character is pretty famous! Beagles are extremely affectionate, making them excellent companions for seniors. They’re also pretty small in size which means they can be ideal for apartment or condo living.
Other perks of living with a beagle: they don’t shed excessively, they’re low-maintenance, and they have great temperaments. They’re even good with kids. And you just can’t beat their cuteness. Younger beagles tend to have a lot of energy, so older dogs might be better suited to seniors who aren’t very active.
These small, adorable pups are nicknamed “Pom-poms” because of their appearance. Most Pomeranians have sweet and gentle dispositions and make excellent lap dogs. They’re also playful and very smart, meaning that it’s easy to train them to do fun tricks.
They also tend to bark a lot, which is terrific if you’re looking for a guard dog. But if you prefer peace and quiet, a Pomeranian might not be the perfect match for you.
The Shih Tzu breed has been entertaining dog lovers for almost 1,000 years now, and their popularity doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Originally bred in Tibet, Shih Tzus are easily recognizable by their long and silky “fancy” coats. They weigh in around 10-15 pounds and are usually about 9-10 inches tall.
They are friendly, affectionate, and very loyal. Additionally, these dogs do not require much exercise, so they are a great choice for someone who is not physically active.
Chihuahuas are one of the smallest dog breeds, making them a great choice for apartment or condo living. They only weigh around five pounds so they can be trained or handled by just about anyone.
They are also good watchdogs (who hasn’t heard the “ferocious” bark of a chihuahua at some point?) and they don’t require much in the way of exercise or grooming. Chihuahuas are the ideal companion for many seniors.
Ask any Yorkshire Terrier owner what the best dog breed is, and they will give you a dozen reasons why “Yorkies” are the best. They are tiny, hypoallergenic, clean, intelligent, and don’t need a ton of exercise.
As far as personality, don’t let their small bodies fool you! Yorkshire terriers inquisitive and like following their human companions around. They might just be the ideal dog for a senior who is looking for a pet.
Miniature schnauzers pack a lot of dog into a small package! They’re very intelligent and affectionate, are good with children and other dogs, and don’t mind being left at home for short periods – perfect for a senior with an active social life.
This dog also adapts well to apartment living and can tolerate the cold pretty well, unlike some other small breeds. A miniature schnauzer is a great option for seniors.
The president of the Boston Terrier Club of America, Dane LaJoye, has high praise for this popular breed. “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.”
The Boston Terrier’s agreeable personality and small size make it an excellent choice for a senior or someone in an assisted living facility.
Because Poodles come in just about any size or color you can imagine, they’re another top breed for seniors. They’re very intelligent dogs, which means they are easy to train. People with allergies can rest easy living with a Poodle, as their coats are hypoallergenic — although they do require grooming.
Poodles tend to have relatively long lifespans, another important consideration when selecting a pet. Toy and miniature versions have lifespans of up to 15 years, while standard (large) Poodles live for an average of 12 years.
Seniors who are looking for a low-maintenance canine companion might be pleased with a Bolognese. It’s one of the most low-maintenance dogs around. On top of that, they are just as affectionate and cuddly as they are cute; they look just like stuffed animals.
The breed doesn’t shed a lot and doesn’t need much in the way of grooming. Their small size and quiet nature make them great for apartment living, too. These might just be the perfect pets for seniors.
This breed originated in Belgium in the 1600s. Schipperke are small but sturdy dogs, making them an excellent selection for senior citizens. They tend to be 10 to 12 inches tall, with an average weight of 7-20 pounds.
They’re highly intelligent and playful, and are known to be loyal to their human companions. A tendency to bark means that they can make terrific guard dogs. A schipperke’s average lifespan is 13 to 16 years.
The Chinese Crested breed has earned a reputation as being unattractive, thanks to their dominance at the annual World’s Ugliest Dog Contest. But they’re not ugly at all, and their unique appearance is part of what makes them such great companions for seniors.
You see, because they’re hairless, a Chinese Crested doesn’t need any grooming at all. Also, they are not as high-energy as some other small breeds and are usually happy to sit quietly on their human companion’s lap.
One of the most famous movie dogs of all times was a Cairn Terrier – Toto from The Wizard of Oz. But it turns out that these dogs aren’t just great actors, they’re also excellent companions. They are friendly and cheerful, and just love to socialize.
Cairn Terriers tend to have a streak of strong-mindedness so they usually do well with a human companion who is firm with them. They are also very loyal to their owners.
Jack Russell Terrier
Jack Russell terriers are very popular pets, for good reason. These small dogs are full of personality, with some people even saying they can be mischievous at times! They are a “barkative” breed so they make excellent watchdogs.
A Jack Russell terrier would do best with a physically active senior, as they definitely enjoy exercise. If you adopt a Jack Russell, be prepared to have a loyal friend for life! They grow very attached to their human companions.
Fluffy little Bichon Frises are consistently ranked among the top dog breeds for seniors. They typically weigh in between 7 and 12 pounds, making them easy to handle for just about anyone. They’re also smart, easy to train, and don’t require a ton of exercise.
Although the breed needs to be groomed regularly, there are lots of services available to perform this task for a reasonable price. If you’re looking for a new furrever friend, you should definitely check out the Bichon Frise!
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is known as affectionate, gentle, and graceful. The breed, which originated in England, is a member of the toy group. A typical dog stands about a foot tall and weighs around 15 pounds. Their gentle ways and small size make them the perfect companion to seniors.
Additionally, they enjoy receiving attention, so anyone who’s looking for a sweet-natured lap dog will do very well with a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
Dachshunds may fall into the hound group, but they are the smallest hounds around! Their petite size makes them an excellent choice for an apartment or smaller home.
People are devoted fans of dachshunds because of their distinctive short-legged bodies (some even call them Weiner Dogs!) as well as their friendly character, intelligence, and loyalty to their human companions. Additionally, dachshunds have lower exercise and grooming needs than many other small breeds.
The Pekingese is a dog that was initially bred in ancient China, where they were kept as pets of luxury. Some nobles even carried them around in their sleeves! Modern Pekingese are slightly larger than those early “sleeve dogs” but are only 7 to 12 pounds and less than 8 inches tall.
This is an exceptionally easy-to-care-for breed, with minimal exercise requirements. In fact, one of their favorite activities is being admired as lapdogs. They seem to know that they came from royalty!
Yes, greyhounds are fast but don’t let their speed scare you off! These dogs can run up to 40 miles an hour at their peak, and some are even raced professionally. But what many people don’t know is that they make great pets because of their gentle and loving nature. They also shed very little, so they’re low maintenance in the grooming department.
Experts recommend that you take a greyhound for a 20-minute walk each day, so if you’ve been looking to increase your physical fitness this could be a win-win situation. A greyhound rescue group can help you find a dog that’s been retired from racing and is ready to settle down to quiet home life.
Dandie Dinmont Terrier
The Dandie Dinmont Terrier was first bred as a hunting dog in the United Kingdom. It’s an intelligent breed with many skills such as tracking, hunting, and guarding. They’re also quite easy to train at tasks, making them a good option for seniors who might need a little extra help every now and then.
This breed tends to have a calm and relaxed demeanor, while its small size means that it can easily adapt to a variety of homes. Dandie Dinmont Terriers only need moderate amounts of exercise.
Some people might be surprised to learn that large dogs can be terrific companion animals for the elderly. But it’s true, and no list of friendly dog breeds would be complete without the Golden Retriever. This breed has a sweet disposition, is friendly, gentle, and intelligent.
Goldens can range in size from 50 to 75 pounds or more, so you can select one that’s right for your living space. One of the most helpful traits of Goldens is that they’re easy to train and can provide assistance for the disabled.
Maltese dogs were bred specifically to be companions, and the breed is prized for their small size. They typically weigh less than eight pounds, making them ideal as traveling companions or as residents of small apartments and assisted living facilities!
These dogs are loyal, affectionate, and very loving. They don’t require a bunch of vigorous exercise, just a moderate walk around the block every now and then.
Pugs are naturally well-behaved dogs, which makes them ideal for someone who doesn’t want to be cleaning up messes all the time (except their hair, which they do shed a lot of). They’re also friendly, affectionate, loyal, and playful. Pugs love being lap dogs!
One of the breed’s best assets is its size. Pugs are so small that they can live about anywhere, even in assisted living communities. They also don’t need a whole lot of exercise.
Fans of this dog say that the Welsh Terrier is the oldest existing dog breed in the United Kingdom. Whether that claim is true or not, the breed’s popularity hasn’t waned over the years. Welsh Terriers are excellent companions for seniors due to their small statures and calm demeanors. They are also playful and loyal.
Interesting fact: President John F. Kennedy had a Welsh Terrier named Charlie, and the breed was also a favorite of King Edward VIII.
Any senior who wants to find a canine companion who is quiet, friendly, and sociable should look into the Papillion breed. These adorable toy-sized dogs are also intelligent and obedient, able to learn a variety of tricks and tasks.
Papillons typically weigh between seven and ten pounds and stand less than a foot tall. Since they’re naturally quiet, they can be good guard dogs despite their small size. If your Papillon barks, you can be pretty sure something is amiss!
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
If you really want to live like royalty in your retirement, look no further than the Pembroke Welsh Corgi. The dogs are famously the favorite breed of Queen Elizabeth II, who is frequently seen with her brood. Corgis are smart and strong-willed, and do require moderate exercise. But their small size makes them ideal for apartment living, and their coats are relatively low maintenance.
Additionally, Corgis are friendly to family and guests. Some people even say the breed seems to have a sense of humor! The Corgis pictured here are the Queen’s.
Oh, the Basset Hound — has any breed ever looked sadder? Despite their sometimes-somber appearance, Bassets are known for their easygoing and relaxed nature.
Basset Hounds are considered low energy dogs, so they’re an ideal companion for a senior who’s not able to exercise much. Because of this, one thing to watch out for is overfeeding. Bassets love to eat and it’s not good for their long spines to carry excess weight they might gain from overeating.
The Shetland Sheepdog, or Sheltie, is another breed that falls on the small side. They are natural herding dogs, meaning that they’re highly intelligent and like to get a lot of mental stimulation. Shelties would do best in the home of a senior who is active and has the time to go on lots of walks.
These lovely dogs are also very personable and enjoy being around people and other animals, although they might get a bit nervous around rambunctious children.
Entire online discussions have been dedicated to this popular breed, with Reddit user pullonyourfeet sharing this: “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.”
The dogs are relatively small, making them a suitable pet for apartments. They should be brushed at least twice a week, but most people find the act of grooming their pets enjoyable.
Labradoodles were initially bred to be hypoallergenic guide dogs, but their popularity as household pets has skyrocketed. They are a mix between Poodles and Labrador Retrievers, and are extremely intelligent dogs.
With an average weight of 50-65 pounds and a height of one to two feet, Labradoodles can adjust well to apartment life. They’re friendly to people, children, and other animals. They do have high energy levels so an active human companion would be ideal.
These dogs might not have the cutest names, but they are absolutely adorable to look at! The breed is excellent at hunting, specifically at catching rodents. If you’re looking to keep your home free of vermin, a Rat Terrier might be a perfect roommate.
These dogs are friendly, playful, clever, and affectionate. Additionally, Rat Terriers are typically a healthy and long-lived breed. So you’ll get to have your best friend by your side for many years.
If you haven’t heard of this pet, you’re not alone. Peekapoos are designer dogs that are a mix of a Pekingese and a Poodle. If you’re looking for a unique dog breed, then a Peekapoo might be the right choice for you!
Peekapoos are excellent for people with allergies, as their coats are hypoallergenic. They do well in homes with backyards where they can run and get their exercise. Peekapoos do tend to become exerted quickly because of their pedigree, so it’s essential that you supervise any exercise time.
Distinctive-looking with their dark red coats, Irish Setters usually weigh in between 55-75 pounds. They are boisterous and fun-loving dogs who enjoy spending lots of quality time with their human companions.
A large backyard is a plus for a household with an Irish Setter. They also enjoy going on walks or bike rides when possible, as this will help them burn off any excess energy. Irish Setters also enjoy the mental stimulation of being trained to do tasks.
The Shiba Inu dog breed, native to Japan, was originally bred as companions to hunters. They are known for being confident, highly intelligent, and loyal. They are also quiet, and tend not to bark a great deal.
Shiba Inus weigh around 20 pounds on average. They are highly adaptable to apartment living and relatively low-maintenance. They have moderate exercise needs, so a walk a day would be perfect to keep your Shiba Inu happy and healthy.
Labrador Retrievers, or Labs, have many positive characteristics. They’re highly intelligent, easy to train, and love being around people. Labs come in black, yellow, and chocolate colors and don’t require much grooming.
Labs typically weigh between 55-75 pounds depending on whether they’re male or female. They do require moderate exercise to keep them mentally stimulated, so an active senior who can manage a 30-minute walk a day would be the ideal companion for a Lab.
The Havanese is a small breed that’s easy to take care of. They’re playful, intelligent lapdogs that enjoy being around people, including visitors. Weighing in at 9-16 pounds, Havanese need minimal exercise. They can thrive in almost any environment as long as they get enough human companionship.
Although their long, silky hair looks warm, it isn’t enough to keep the dogs comfortable in extremely cold weather. People who enjoy putting their pups in sweaters might especially like this breed!
The Whippet’s sleek appearance might give the impression that this breed needs a ton of exercise, but that’s not necessarily true (especially as they age). They enjoy spending an hour or two playing in the yard each day.
Reaching a top weight between 15-31 pounds, the Whippet is speedy but makes a great senior companion. They’re very intelligent and adapt well to a variety of living situations. Their coats only need grooming about one or twice a week.
The American Kennel Club describes the elegant Ibizan Hound as “family-oriented, even-tempered, and polite,” making them yet another suitable choice for seniors. Weighing in at 45-50 pounds at their largest, these dogs are gentle and laid back once they reach adulthood. Many people call their appearance “deerlike.”
Ibizan Hounds require minimal grooming and their sleek coats are quite easy to care for. They’re smart, easily trained, and make wonderful guard dogs.
Now, this isn’t a breed that a lot of people are very familiar with. Yakutian Laikas originated in the Arctic region, so their coats will protect it in extremely cold climates. These dogs are excellent herders, family companions, and guard dogs.
It’s a medium-sized breed that will grow to weigh between 50 to 66 pounds in adulthood. They make a good pet for seniors who are active and can take them on daily walks. Bonus: this breed is a real conversation starter!
Wire Fox Terrier
A Wire Fox Terrier named King won the Westminster Kennel Club’s Best in Show Award for 2019, if that’s any indication of the breed’s growing popularity. They are excellent pets for active seniors and need daily exercise, as well as a brushing two to three times a week.
They are curious and playful, and love to chase balls (which is great exercise!). Wire Fox Terriers are said to have good senses of humor. They’re usually between 13-20 pounds.
If you’re overwhelmed by all the different dog breeds, each with a set of positive and sometimes negative traits, then why not look for a mixed breed? Shelters around the world are full of adorable mixed-breed pups who are just waiting for their furrever homes.
One huge benefit of rescuing a mixed breed is that they tend to have fewer health problems since there’s no in-breeding. And you get a one-of-a-kind dog, with its very own personality traits and unique appearance.