What Type of Dog Is Good With the Elderly?

The right breed for a senior citizen depends on their lifestyle.
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The most recommended breeds for senior citizens have many traits in common. They’re small in size; they have playful personalities, enjoy a good cuddle, do well in small living spaces and their exercise needs are average. However, each breed also has an inherited trait that may be inconvenient for a senior with a compromised lifestyle. These should be considered before choosing.

Nonshedding Breeds

Nonshedding breeds such as miniature schnauzers, Yorkshire terriers and miniature poodles have the perks of not leaving hair on clothes and are good for owners with allergies. Like most nonshedding breeds, however, they do require an owner who can make regular trips to the groomer to keep their hair from growing over their eyes and anus or getting matted over the body.

Pugs, Boston Terriers and the Frenchie

Pugs, Boston terriers and French bulldogs also rank among top choices for a senior citizen. Although they do shed, regular brushing can keep this to a minimum. Because of their protruding eyes, they tend to get cornea scratches or ulcerations more than the average. Also, due to their compressed faces and compromised airways, they are highly susceptible to overheating. Caution needs to be practiced when walking, or leaving them outside to do their backyard business during hot summer months.

Chihuahuas and Papillons

If a senior is looking for a lap dog, the papillon is perfectly content warming a lap, while being brushed all day. If one is looking for a watchdog, the Chihuahua has the heart of a Goliath. Healthwise, these breeds tend to be hardy, yet because of their extra small size, they may not be the best choice for someone with poor eyesight, or who uses an aid for walking.


The curly ears and long eyelashes of the cocker spaniel make them the glamour girls, or boys, of the dog world. However, they are highly prone to ear infections as well as eye issues, such as dry-eye. These problems require administering medications multiple times daily.

The English spaniel, also known as the King Charles, has one of the kindest, most loving hearts ever invented. Ironically, this breed is practically guaranteed to develop cardiomyopathy, or another form of heart disease, as early as middle age. Regular cardiac ultrasounds are required to monitor changes and adjust medications. These can be expensive, especially if someone is living on a budgeted income.

Rescue and The Humane Society

Until puppies learn to get away from feet, they’re often underfoot; there’s also the extra chore of housebreaking. Many rescue groups have older, already trained, dogs waiting to become part of a loving senior home. Also, a perfect pairing doesn’t require a pedigree. Local shelters are filled with potential. Talk to a shelter employee about a good dog for a senior person. Since these caregivers work with the dogs on a daily basis, they know their temperaments and personalities, and can often point you to that perfect match.