Source: Parade Pets (Extract)
Posted: September 9, 2023

As the golden years inch closer, many older adults find themselves seeking the perfect companionship to fill their days with joy, laughter and unwavering loyalty. And what could be better than man’s best friend? Dogs set themselves apart from other pets, as the bond between humans and dogs transcends age and time.

Adopting a dog can provide a source of comfort and support to individuals in their later stages of life. But, with countless dog breeds to choose from, finding the right four-legged companion can be a daunting task. To discover the best dog breeds for seniors, Parade spoke with four pet experts—two veterinarians and two dog trainers who possess a wealth of knowledge and experience.

Factors To Consider

Getting into a long-term relationship with a dog is no joke. It’s a huge decision that many people jump into quicker than you can say “dog.”

Sarah Kosar, a certified dog trainer, tells Parade, “Every dog is an individual, and whilst we separate them into breeds, that’s not the first thing I would recommend considering when getting a dog. Breed can tell us what they were originally bred for and can help us meet their needs and discover the games, play style and routine that will help them thrive, but it can’t tell us who our dog will be.”

In other words, a working dog—like a cocker spaniel—may love a job and you will need to keep them busy. But, that fact won’t tell you how they feel about living in a city versus a farm, or if they love other dogs or not. Who your dog will become is made up of a combination of genetics, breed, life experiences, habits and more.

“Instead of ‘how is a dog going to just adjust to my life,’ think about, ‘how can I offer a dog a good life?’ Working with a dog trainer or behaviorist could also be hugely impactful in helping you make the right choice for your new family member,” Kosar adds.

Overall, it’s important for older adults to consider how much time they have to give, their lifestyle and other factors that may have an impact on their future furry friend.

6 Best Dog Breeds for Seniors

1. Bichon Frise

The Bichon Frise is a small dog, averaging 7 to 12 pounds. With their affectionate nature and manageable grooming needs, they are a very manageable dog breed for older adults. Their intelligence and eagerness to please make them easy to train, while their moderate exercise requirements suit seniors’ lifestyles with ease. Their travel-friendly size allows them to accompany seniors on jet-setting adventures.

2. Mini Schnauzer

Miniature Schnauzers are lower maintenance, shedding very little and requiring minimal grooming. Their compact size makes them easy to take on walks or tote around town. With a longer lifespan, averaging upwards of 12 years, they provide enduring companionship. Mini Schnauzers can be more prone to gastrointestinal upset from pancreatitis, so it’s best to avoid giving this breed any fatty table scraps.

3. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Garrett Wing, founder and owner of American Standard Dog Training, says that Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are an excellent dog breed for older adults.

“They are small in size and dedicated companion breeds with medium energy levels. Playful, but not prone to running off chasing wildlife or livestock, when let off the lead,” Wing adds, “These gentle, sweet-tempered dogs adapt well to a slower pace of living, and do not require much exercise. They are eager to please their owners and, therefore, easy to train.”

4. Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Corgis take the cake for being one of the cutest dogs around. Corgis carry a charming demeanour and lively disposition that will make even the grumpiest person smile! They are sociable and protective, making them excellent watchdogs—especially for older adults who need an extra set of eyes.

Corgis do require regular grooming to manage their double coat, along with daily walks and mental stimulation for their well-being. For more active seniors who enjoy nature trails and outdoor walks, a Corgi may be the perfect match.

5. Greyhound

Greyhounds have quite the reputation as speedy race dogs. However, these calm and lovable dogs serve as a great dog breed for seniors—especially rescues and retired Greyhound racers.

“These dogs have great personalities and are good for a senior looking for a large breed dog,” says Dr. Rachel Courville, DVM. “They are surprisingly chill large dogs. And while they are known for speed, they also value their relaxation time. They have the nickname: ‘World’s fastest couch potatoes.'”

Courville warns that greyhounds can also be more sensitive to certain types of anesthesia. “Make sure to have a conversation about this with your vet prior to any anesthetic procedures, like a comprehensive dental cleaning,” she adds.

6. Pomeranian

Dr. Meghan Denney is a veterinarian who had great things to say about Pomeranians. Since they are on the smaller side, they are an easier dog breed to handle for older adults. With their fun personalities and spunky attitude, a Pomeranian can turn a bad day around. And if trained appropriately, they can also be very sweet, well-tempered pets.

“When Pomeranians are anthropomorphized, we can see behavioral issues and they become very difficult to manage so it is vitally important that they be treated as dogs,” Dr. Denney tells Parade. “This does not mean we love them less, but they need to not be treated like a child.”

Dr. Denney continues, “Pomeranians also are prone to a disease called collapsing trachea where their trachea collapses down and causes chronic coughing. This disease can be progressive and life-threatening. Being overweight can predispose these babies to the tracheal disease, so keeping them trim is important.”