If you’ve ever stoked a dog’s smooth coat or received a friendly lick, you understand the feelings of calm and companionship that a dog can offer. Even in your later years, a dog can be great company and is also good for your health. Think about it, a dog offers full-time unconditional love, loyal companionship, and hours of entertainment.
What’s more, your canine companion can benefit your overall well-being, by offering emotional support, reducing stress, and preventing you or your loved one from feeling isolated. Recent studies also show that owning a dog is also good for your physical health. Let’s take a look at how having a dog in your life can benefit you or an older adult who you are caring for, and which are the best dog breeds for older adults.
Health Benefits of Having a Dog
You may be surprised to know that owning a pet has numerous health benefits. These include:
- Exercise: Even if you only take your pup for a brief walk around the block, you’re still benefiting from the exercise. Not only that, but you’re also getting outside and have an opportunity to socialize. A visit to your local dog park can give you a chance to meet up with fellow pet lovers.
- Lowered blood pressure: Just ten minutes of petting your dog can lower your blood pressure. It does so by lowering your heart rate, slowing your breathing, and reducing your stress level.
- Longevity: Becoming a dog pet parent can actually help you to live longer. Lower blood pressure and reduced stress mean a healthier heart and less risk of a heart attack or stroke.
- Relieving depression: Depression is no match for a furry friend. Not only can owning a dog help to alleviate depression, but it can also help to prevent anxiety, aggression, and other mental health problems.
- Reducing disease and injury: Some dogs have been specially trained to help their pet parents move around their home, remember to take their medication, and ease panic attacks. Dogs can also soothe people who are suffering from dementia.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Dog
There are a number of factors that you should take into consideration when choosing a dog. These include:
- Energy level: Even with small dogs, different breeds have different energy levels. The higher the energy level a dog has, the more exercise it will need. If you’re not a very active person, you will be more suited to a breed of dog that has low-level energy.
- Size: A smaller dog is easier to manage and will generally also require less exercise. Small dogs also have smaller appetites are also less likely to knock you over should they get excited which is why our list of the best dog breeds for older adults are all on the smaller side.
- Grooming: Many small breeds have short to medium hair and are low-shedding. This means although they may require daily brushing, they will only need bathing every few weeks. Some breeds are also hypoallergenic.
- Temperament: Different breeds tend to have different dispositions. Many, such as the toy poodle, and French bulldog are renowned for their pleasant, loving personality. It’s a good idea to meet the dog before you make a final decision. Even if a dog is on our list of the best dog breeds for older adults, every dog has their own personality, so it’s best to get to know them first.
Best Dog Breeds for Older Adults
Before bringing a pet home, make sure it’s the right one for you. Here is a rundown on some of the most highly recommended dog breeds for older adults.
The Shih Tzu is an elegant dog that thrives on love and attention and makes a great companion. Typically they are quiet dogs. They are low shedding, and daily brushing will keep them looking their best. Shih Tzu’s enjoy a daily walk and are quite content to snuggle with their pet parent for the rest of the day. They are easily one of the best dog breeds for older adults.
This is a lapdog that loves getting plenty of attention. It has a lively personality that is tempered by its gentility. It is easy to train and quickly picks up adorable tricks. The Maltese is an alert dog that will keep your house safe. Its silky coat requires daily brushing to look its best. It’s easily satisfied with a short walk.
If you love to curl up on the sofa with a movie or a good book. A pug would be your perfect doggie companion. They are happiest when they are at their pet parent’s side. They prefer to be indoors, particularly during hot or cold weather. Pugs are loyal and affectionate and always eager to please, hence their inclusion on our list of the best dog breeds for older adults. They have a short coat that is easy to maintain. It will shed relatively heavily, and its eyes need regular cleaning. Indoor play and short strolls are enough for the pug.
This fine-looking dog offers excellent loyalty and companionship which is why it lands on our list of the best dog breeds for older adults. With their friendly personality and protective temperament, the miniature schnauzer is obedient and quick to learn. It will also protect your home. These are low-shedding dogs, and they are also hypoallergenic. Their double coat requires grooming two or three times each week. They enjoy daily exercise and outdoor playtime.
If you are an active senior, the corgi is a great companion on a longer walk. Their adorable eyes and cute faces win over every dog lover. The corgi has a pleasant personality and likes socializing with people and other dogs. They are very loyal and make great watchdogs. They don’t like to be left alone too long and if they feel neglected, they are prone to barking. They are easy to groom but will shed heavily. Corgis need several daily walks and playtime.
If you’re looking for an intelligent dog that’s easy to train, look no further than the toy poodle. Renowned for its smarts, this dog is a loyal companion who will form a strong bond with its pet parent. They have a playful temperament and love to be pampered. They require regular exercise and regular brushing. They are low-shedding dogs and are also hypo-allergenic which sends them way up on our list of the best dog breeds for older adults.
The French bulldog, affectionally known as “the Frenchie,” is another favorite small breed. They are super affectionate and love to be pampered. They have a playful personality and a loving temperament. They are easy to groom and are very low-shedding. Their face will need regular cleaning, particularly in the folds. Frenchies are devoted companions and love to accompany their pet parents on errands and short walks.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
This noble breed is one of the most popular small dogs. A cavalier will easily adapt to your lifestyle and will quickly become a constant and loyal companion. They are intelligent dogs with a very calm and patient temperament. They are also very easy to train. Their silky coats need brushing a few times each week. A cavalier will be happy to go along with your activity level whether it’s a daily walk in the park or a run around the back yard while you wait. They also like to spend time resting by your side.
The Bichon Frise is a playful pup with a curly coat that needs regular grooming but doesn’t shed. They only require short walks and are happy to snuggle in their companion’s lap and take a long snooze. They are mild-mannered and friendly around children and other pets. They are quiet dogs who seldom bark, making them good pets if you live in assisted living or an apartment.
This cute little pooch is affectionate and eager to please. They love spending lots of time with their pet owners and are smart and easy to train. Many pet therapy dogs are Havanese. A short walk or outside playtime will keep them happy. Their long coat needs daily grooming, but you can have them groomed and keep their coat shorter for easier maintenance.
A Lhasa apso is equally happy wandering around your garden or chilling by your side on the sofa. It could be consider a silly looking dog, but we love it for our list of the best dog breeds for older adults anyhow. This is a very calm breed that doesn’t bark often. They are friendly, playful, and affectionate. Their long coats need daily grooming. They are quite independent and can be left alone for short periods.
The Scottish Terrier, affectionately known at the Scottie, is a Presidential favorite. They also make great companions for seniors because of their pleasant temperament and loyalty. They are low-shedding and are also hypoallergenic. Their double coat does need weekly grooming. Though they are smart dogs, Scotties can be tricky to train, but they are happy to do just about anything for treats.
Pet Therapy as an Alternative to Dog Parenting
If you feel that you are not able to take care of a dog full time, but you would enjoy the benefits of spending time with a pet, pet therapy may be a good option. If you live at home, you could contact your local social services to find out if there are any pet visiting services in your neighborhood. If you live in an assisted living facility, your association may offer pet therapy sessions. The benefits of pet therapy are numerous and include:
- Petting can calm tension and anxiety
- Grooming can help to improve manual dexterity
- Playing can provide gentle exercise
- Animals can improve socialization
If you are considering sharing your home with a dog, make sure you think carefully about what type of dog is best for you or your loved one. If you have not had a dog before, it may help to talk to other dog owners, so that you can get an idea of the responsibilities involved in pet ownership. But most of all, remember that dog parenting is very rewarding and good for your well-being. Enjoy every minute you spend with your furry companion.