Best Dog For A Senior Citizen


A dog can be a companion and source of love, while keeping you company and giving you a sense of purpose when you’re lonely. The companionship of a dog can help a person age more gracefully and live longer, without having to deal with the isolation that often comes with advanced age. Dogs can also be excellent defense against intruders and a way to get out (and about) more. But which types of dogs are best for elderly owners?

Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus are well-rounded dogs that can thrive in both apartment and home environments. They require short daily walks or exercise in the backyard, but overall, they tend to be low-maintenance pooches. They’re playful and welcoming to both family and strangers, and their gentle temperament makes them a good choice for seniors with grandchildren and other pets.The elegant Shih Tzu prospers with plenty of love and attention. This outgoing breed is also great with kids, making them a perfect playtime buddy when the grandchildren visit! 

Temperament: The Shih Tzu is an affectionate dog who enjoys spending time with their pet parent—whether it’s cuddling or accompanying them throughout the house. Plus, this breed is amiable and welcoming to other people and pets. While most Shih Tzus are very quiet dogs, some do snore. 

Grooming: Shih Tzus are low shedding, but daily brushing and an occasional professional trim help them look their sweet, perky best.  

Exercise: The Shih Tzu is up for a daily walk if its pet parent is, and this lapdog is more than happy to enjoy down time for the rest of the day.   

Fun Fact: “Shih Tzu” translates to “little lion” in Mandarin (though this breed is far from ferocious!).  


The Havanese is an outgoing breed that can weigh 7-13 pounds and has a life expectancy of around 14 years. They’re cheerful dogs with vivacious personalities, and they’re extremely social. They love to be with humans and can suffer from separation anxiety when left alone for long periods of time. They’re ideal for seniors looking for a joyful and gentle companion.

Bichon Frise

The Bichon Frise is a cheerful and loving small breed featuring a curly white coat that doesn’t shed. They need regular visits to the groomer but only short walks for exercise. They get along well with other pets, including dogs and cats, and they play well with small children. They’re gentle, cuddly, and don’t bark often, making them a great choice for elderly people in apartments and living communities.

Boston Terrier

Boston terriers are among the easiest dog breeds for seniors. They don’t bark much, making them a good choice for elderly adults who live in assisted living communities. They love to lounge and sit on your lap, and they require minimal exercise. In addition, they have a short coat that doesn’t require much maintenance outside of the occasional bath. They’re low-maintenance, lovable, and goofy creatures that are perfect for seniors who want companionship with less hassle.

West Highland White Terrier

Best dogs for seniors: Retired senior woman sitting on her couch with her therapy dog

Affectionately known as Westies in the dog world, these lovable dogs have been owned by celebrities including Cary Grant, Alfred Hitchcock, and Duchess Kate Middleton. They are devoted to their owners. They weigh 15-20 pounds and typically live around 15 years.

These dogs are energetic and require daily exercise. Their hunting background makes them susceptible to chasing animals, and they do best on a leash or in a fenced area. They are confident, smart, and independent, so they may be slightly more difficult to train.


The Maltese is the epitome of elegant, bright, and loving small dogs. Their beautiful white coats don’t shed, so they’ll need daily brushing and regular grooming. Their dainty stature — they typically weigh between four and seven pounds — means they don’t need a lot of exercises. Plus, their intelligence makes them easy to train. Best of all, they love to cuddle and have playful dispositions.


The chihuahua is a tiny dog breed that can easily be exercised indoors. They don’t require much grooming thanks to their short, thin coats. They do best in warm environments, as they don’t tolerate cold temperatures well. Chihuahuas can easily be picked up, and their spunky personalities make them a joy to be around.


Described by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as “charming, mischievous, and loving,” pugs are excellent dogs for seniors. They are among the most loving dogs, and they are all about affection. They’re great house dogs that don’t require a lot of exercise. The pug features a distinct snout that makes them prone to snoring, though they don’t bark very often. They do well with other dogs and young children, and they love food, so it’s a good idea to monitor their diets and keep treats to a minimum.Pugs are the best dogs for seniors who prefer to curl up on the sofa with their beloved furry friend by their side. Most of this breed’s time consists of lounging and playing indoors. Because of their flat face and small nostrils, the Pug’s breathing can be affected by extremely hot or cold weather conditions.  

Temperament: Loving and loyal, Pugs are devoted to their pet parents and enjoy taking naps (they tend to snore while doing so!). Although they can occasionally feel jealous or agitated when ignored, they are often easygoing pets who are eager to please. Happy-go-lucky Pug mixes make excellent choices, too!  

Grooming: This breed sports a short coat that is easy to groom, requiring only occasional brushing. However, the Pug does shed quite heavily and has folds near its eyes that need regular cleaning.  

Exercise: Brief strolls and short indoor or outdoor play sessions are sufficient for the laidback Pug.  

Fun Fact: A group of Pugs is called a “grumble,” likely because of the snorting and nasal sounds they make, according to The Daily Wag!


All dog breeds are different and have their own personalities. It’s important that you find the right breed for you and take into account that not all dogs will fit in a smaller space due to their size. Therefore it is important to do your research on the web, read up on the breed, visit shelters and go through rescue groups. Get recommendations from the people you know and trust who have pets.

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