best dog breed for seniors

What are the Best Dog Breeds for A Senior Citizen or Retiree

Dogs are known as man’s best friends because they’re loyal, compassionate, and intelligent creatures. They can be trained to do many useful tasks to fill the needs of their owners. Some breeds of domestic dogs are better suited to certain jobs than others.

Senior citizens require very particular qualities from their companions. These qualities are essential to folks who cannot handle certain sizes or attributes that are sought after by others. Here are some of the best dog breeds for seniors.


A bit of poking around the internet will show you that the general consensus is that smaller dogs are best for seniors. This top 10 list by Animaltube.TV shows the best breeds for seniors to be those weighing about 20 pounds tops.

While the dogs in that list are great, they’re not the only option for the elderly. The Poodle is the rare occasion in which one breed can supply a toy, miniature, and standard size.

No matter its size, the Poodle remains the same active and intelligent dog that brings elegant yet playful energy into your home.


The size, weight, and lifespan of this breed depend on its subclass. Toy Poodles only grow to about 10 inches while Miniatures range from 10 to 15 inches tall. The Standard sized Poodle is 15 inches or taller. Each breed of Poodle can live 1-2 decades.


Regardless of measurements, the Poodle is an active and proud, yet stubborn dog. Its intelligence is much like its fur and needs constant grooming. This dog is a non-sporting athlete that prefers to be physically and mentally engaged.

This type of dog could be a great fit for active seniors, especially those who visit the water on occasion. Poodles enjoy training and impressing their owners but need consistency. This goes for its welcoming personality as well since it prefers humans.


The life expectancy of a Poodle is anywhere from 10 to 18 years on average thanks to proper breeding and proper ownership. Though it sounds simple, the Poodle is a rather high-maintenance dog.

Its plush fur coat mats quickly and requires very thorough daily grooming. Clipping and brushing in a precise manner may challenge senior owners due to health concerns or other interferences, and monthly grooming appointments will be necessary.

The Poodle is known to be among the hypoallergenic dog breeds, meaning it doesn’t shed as much or collect the same amount of dander and other outside irritants that often trigger allergies in humans.

It’s important for seniors who are considering the adoption of a Poodle or similar dog based on this rumor to note that there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog.

In his article “The Myth of Hypoallergenic Dogs (and Cats)”, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Dr. Richard F. Lockey states that the findings show the Poodle and like-creatures collect and disperse allergens just the same as other breeds.

Though there have been persistent efforts to breed out illnesses that affect Poodles, they are still susceptible to developing breed-specific conditions. Standard Poodles may develop Sebaceous Adenitis of the skin as well as Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus.

Gastric Dilation leads to internal tears and is caused by excess gas. This is why a proper (and possibly expensive) diet is essential to maintain a Poodle’s quality of life.

The larger the Poodle, the more likely it is to develop hip and skin problems. The smaller it is, the larger its chances are of dislocating a knee. Regardless of size, the Poodle may need eye care eventually.

pug breed


Pugs are genuine friends whose socialite personalities will keep you entertained for years. They’re not rambunctious yet playful enough that they’ll entertain your dog-loving guests with their silly personalities.


Classified as a small dog, the pug grows to an average of 8 inches in height and 13 pounds in weight. Its small stature allows for the compact living; great for pet-friendly nursing homes, homes with small or no yards, or apartments.


This doggy is patient, sociable, tolerant, and attentive. Its friendly disposition makes it a great housemate for anyone who welcomes guests of all ages and species. Pugs are lifelong pals who remain rather docile throughout their lifespans.

Being a fan of laps, relaxation, and occasionally goofing around, the Pug is good for less mobile people who continue a balance between tranquil and lively in their days.


Having a short coat saves seniors from the hassle of frequent brushing or hair collecting. The Pug is a fairly low-maintenance dog in the hygiene department, but it has needs elsewhere.

Unfortunately, small breeds are not exempt from health concerns. Pugs are not bred to be highly active or fit animals which is why they adapt well to sedentary lifestyles. contains pages of healthcare must-haves for Pugs.

Their small stature and compacted limbs predispose them to conditions like Luxating Patella and Progressive Retinal Atrophy. Furthermore, the shorter snout of this adorable companion is actually the source of some respiratory illnesses.

Stenotic Nares and an Elongated Soft Palate are conditions that cause insufficient airflow and the audible mouth-breathing often mistaken for entertaining snorting. Some need surgery as they have a hard time breathing, especially when excited.

These aren’t the only concerns for Pug dog owners. Pug Dog Encephalitis is a life-threatening neurological condition that can develop any time during the first half of the dog’s life. It’s idiopathic, so there is no known cause.

Another known health problem with Pugs that could be a concern for seniors is the risk of Pyoderma. This is caused by the buildup of bacteria under the skin folds of wrinkly dogs. If a senior is unable to bathe the dog regularly, a groomer is necessary.

bolognese dog breed


Another furry dog that has been mislabeled as “hypoallergenic” is the Bolognese. This solid white companion pet makes a wonderful house pet as it wants nothing more than to love and be loved.


The Bolognese is a one-of-a-kind lapdog that measures from 10 to 12 inches and only weighs a maximum of 10 pounds.


Loving and quiet are two words that describe the Bolognese perfectly! It’s a sweet dog with good manners. In comparison to other small breeds, it isn’t known for yapping or barking loudly. It’s just an all-around lovely little friend.


This laid back breed thrives well in small homes or apartments. It’s wiry, medium-to-long fur is rather simple to maintain as it doesn’t shed much and only needs a light brushing as-needed. You can enjoy the company of this little cutie for nearly 15 years!

Overall, this dog breed is healthy as can be! Being that it’s a small breed, however, owners should keep a close eye on the knees as the Bolognese is liable to get the dreaded Luxating Patella.

This dog, nicknamed the Bolo, is fairly lazy like the Pug. It has a lower energy level but still displays a need for playtime. Fitness sessions for the Bolognese are easily fulfilled with short walks or play with toys both indoors and out.

The American Kennel Club praises the Bolognese as a perfect fit for an apartment or small home living and a great pet for senior citizens!

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Spaniel breeds are not known to be small, yet they’re just right for seniors who feel a medium to a large dog would require too much. This cute and cuddly ball of energy might be best for the young at heart.


Though it’s listed as a “toy” dog breed, it actually measures to the size of every other small breed at around 12-13 inches in height. The weight is no exception either, ranging between 13 and 18 pounds (about the same as a Miniature Poodle).


These fun-loving pups are spry, so they’re likely to fit right into the lives of active seniors who have places to be and things to do. Their adventurous and curious nature requires more get-up-and-go from the owner and will keep you busy at home.

This type of Spaniel has a great combination of personality traits, taking from its larger Spaniel relatives as well as its Toy Dog influences. Its energetic and athletic yet gentle conduct give it a highly celebrated ranking by pure breed registries.


The naturally beautiful and low-maintenance fur of the Cavalier adds to its appeal. There is no extra effort required to preserve the look of youthful and shining hair.

If there is one thing Spaniels are known for in the veterinary community, it’s ear infections. Though regular grooming isn’t going to be a chore, it’s important to be thorough during monthly clippings and bathing sessions. Improper upkeep on the ears of a Spaniel can lead to quickly bacterial infections.

Small dogs make good lap accessories, but when they descend from Spaniels, there remains a drive and a need to exercise. This breed will live a long, healthy life of up to 15 years with the right diet and exercise regime.

Aside from its ears, the hips, knees, and eyes of this small breed are at risk of contracting the usual selection of small dog conditions such as trick knees, hip dysplasia, and ocular degeneration.

Additionally, the Cavalier should be monitored for the occurrence of Syringomyelia (progressive muscular degeneration) and certain heart conditions.

Pomeranian breed


Poms are beautiful fur balls with long, temperamental locks and personalities to match. They formulate a connection with their families and remain at your side. This lapdog personality goes hand-in-hand with its small size.


Don’t let the big hair fool you; this toy breed only grows to about 7 inches tall, weighing in at 7 pounds max!


The Pomeranian’s looks do deceive as it is truly a big dog stuck in a tiny body. They’re actually said to make great watchdogs with the right training. Without, they’re just as happy as other toy dogs.

Being extra loyal to a fault also means being protective. It’s very important to socialize Pomeranians properly at a young age if you plan to have company often, especially grandkids.

Another word of caution to potential Pom owners is to do a once-over on any enclosure it will be allowed to play in off-leash.

Pomeranians have wizarded escape artists thanks to their size. Areas where birds of prey often snatch up small critters are bound to give you nightmares as well.

The attention span of a Pomeranian can be sharp and focused if it’s caught early and training remains consistent. These are rambunctious dogs who might need a strict owner to keep them in line.


Regular TLC to maintain that long hair should be no problem for seniors with the time to brush through it one good time each day. Like the Poodle, the thick locks and double-layered coat tends to become matted. the Pomeranian sheds quite a bit, however.

While it is a playful breed, the Pomeranian doesn’t usually need more than a ball or toy to fetch across the living room to get sufficient exercise. Its tiny frame makes it more likely to develop knee, eye, and heart problems.

Yorkshire Terrier breed

Yorkshire Terrier

A Yorkie is well-suited for different lifestyles, making it a beloved addition to a variety of families and households. Its small size and flexible personality make it fit for many seniors.


This pageant-winning pup is a classic toy breed that grows to a height of 8 inches and only gets to about 7 pounds.


This little love bug is content with a relaxed life of lounging and thrives just fine with having only a few close friends. It forms strong bonds with individuals of its family, which means this dog could be a great companion for a single senior.

Yorkies are brave, confident, and a bit feisty, so socialization and mental stimulation are important to avoid damaging curiosity or overprotectiveness.


Despite its long hair, the Yorkshire Terrier is moderately easy to maintain and groom with a light brushing and as-needed grooming. Treat it the same as human hair. That adorable bun isn’t just for looks. It also gathers hair from the eyes for optimal vision.

As with any purebred dog, the Yorkshire Terrier is prone to developing some genetic and size-specific illnesses such as Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), Legg-Perthes Disease (affects the hip joints), and vision impairments to name a few. has a full scoop on the many possible difficulties that Yorkshire Terriers may face as a small breed.

While there is no one dog for every senior, there is a collection of dogs that display the characteristics often preferred by seniors. This shortlist only shows a selection of breeds favored by senior citizens, but there are so many other dog personalities to look into.

Dogs aren’t only useful assistants, they’re also great emotional support systems that come in many shapes and sizes.

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