Dogs make good companions for people in all stages of life, as they provide numerous emotional and health benefits to their owners, regardless of age.
For older adults, caring for a dog can provide a sense of purpose and a source of joy. Whether you live on your own or in a 55+ community, your canine friend can keep you company throughout the day, helping you ward off loneliness, stress, and even depression. They also can motivate you to stay active and exercise frequently, which is beneficial for your physical and emotional well-being.
Best Dogs for Seniors
If you’re interested in getting a dog during retirement, it’s important to find a breed that best fits your lifestyle and abilities and that you also are capable of caring for. Certain dog breeds require extensive maintenance, exercise, or grooming. If you aren’t prepared for the workload, it could undermine your enjoyment while also being detrimental to your pet.
In general, low maintenance dogs – and not puppies – are a good way to go. Energy level and size are other characteristics to take into consideration. With that in mind, here are some examples of the best dog breeds for seniors and retirees that adapt well to their owner’s lifestyle:
1. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
Spaniels in general make a good pet for seniors because of their easy temperaments and adaptability. Cavaliers are a smaller breed of spaniel – typically about 12 to 18 pounds with a medium-length silky coat – that are well-suited for living in an apartment or small house within a West Seattle retirement community. They are snuggly, affectionate and easy to train.
With their curly, dense coats, poodles have a reputation for being a bit posh, but they are one of the most intelligent and versatile breeds of dogs. They come in a range of sizes, from tiny toy poodles that are about 5 to 9 pounds to larger standard poodles ranging from about 45 to 70 pounds. Although they need to be regularly groomed by a professional, they are also hypo-allergenic, according to A Place for Mom. Poodles are fast learners and easy to train, in addition to being loyal and affectionate.
3. Pembroke Welsh Corgis
You can identify Pembroke Welsh Corgis by their short legs, low-set body, and pointy ears. Weighing roughly 25 to 30 pounds, corgis are smart and easy to train, making them good companions for seniors. However, they are a herding dog by nature, which means you must ensure your corgi gets adequate exercise. That can be accomplished, however, by taking daily walks, which is healthy for both you and your pet.
4. Shih Tzus
With their short smooshed-looking faces and small bodies, Shih Tzus have an adorable appearance. They also are bred to be companions and often enjoy simply sitting with their owner. They can easily adapt to various senior living environments, although they do require routine exercise and grooming. The other challenge with Shih Tzus is they can be just as stubborn as their owner and are prone to barking. With the right training, though, your Shih Tzu will be a friendly, playful companion.
If a tiny dog is up your alley, the Pomeranian may the right fit for you. Weighing about 3 to 6 pounds, Pomeranians are affectionate and good-natured dogs that are easy to handle. They enjoy attention from their owner and playing with toys, and you can feed off their energy to keep yourself upbeat, as well. They do have a long, thick coat that requires regular brushing to avoid matting and they can sometimes be a bit yappy.
If you prefer larger dogs but are worried about finding one that is easy to handle, consider a greyhound. Although they weigh about 60 to 80 pounds, greyhounds do not tend to be high-energy dogs, according to an article on The Spruce Pets. Greyhounds are good for taking on occasional walks or jogs, as they are easy-going and responsive to training. If your lifestyle is less active, however, they also are fine lounging around with you.
7. Bichon Frise
Weighing an average of 7 to 12 pounds, fluffy white-haired bichons are your typical lapdog. Although they may have traces of cream or apricot in their coats, their appearance generally resembles that of a cotton ball – except one that is sweet and joyful. With moderate daily exercise and periodic grooming, bichons will make happy, healthy pets for seniors.
Learn more about 55+ living: 7 Best 55+ Communities in Washington State
Experiencing Life in Retirement
Even though living in a 55+ community provides you with numerous opportunities to socialize with your peers, it can be nice to have your own companion to come home to. With the right dog by your side, you will enjoy your retirement years more fully, from taking walks on campus and sightseeing near Seattle to watching television and relaxing at night. At Daystar Retirement Village, we understand the value of having a pet – no matter your age – which is why the campus, including our over-55 apartments, is completely dog-friendly!
“Best Dog Breeds for Senior Citizens.” The Spruce Pets. Accessed online at https://www.thesprucepets.com/best-dog-breeds-for-seniors-4138298
“Best Dogs for Assisted Living.” A Place for Mom, Senior Living Blog. Accessed online at https://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/best-dog-breeds-for-seniors/