Affectionate, loyal, nurturing: There are lots of reasons why dogs make great companions for seniors. Not only do dogs provide comfort and friendship, but they also help keep seniors healthy and encourage sociability. In fact, a 2019 study found that people who owned dogs were more likely to maintain better heart health and be more active, than those without pets. “Dogs give seniors a reason to get up and move – and walking a dog keeps them fit,” explains veterinarian Dr Anita Kinscher-Juran. Another plus: When you get out of the house for that walk, you have more chances to be social, too, from greeting neighbours on the street to impromptu conversations with fellow dog owners.
But adopting a dog is a big decision. Just like with a human companion, you need to understand what you’re looking for in a dog before committing to a long-term living arrangement.
Some important points to think about as you search for the best dogs for seniors are energy levels (vets often recommend calm dog breeds for older folks), the size of your home (these are the best apartment dogs) and the size of the dog, the breed’s socialness (some breeds, like Pomeranians, make the best emotional support dogs) and a dog’s age and temperament. Health and grooming needs and maintenance requirements (i.e. how often dogs need to be brushed, for instance) are also important considerations. Cocker spaniels, while super cute with their big, long ears, are also known for having frequent ear infections, for instance. And while Havanese, one of the cutest white dog breeds, are very portable, they also require a lot of grooming.
The decision to adopt a pet is not one that should be taken lightly. “Bringing a pet into the household is a lifelong decision for that animal,” says Dr Kinscher-Juran. But after thoroughly considering your situation and needs, it’s comforting to know, as Dr Kinscher-Juran says “that there is a dog for everyone and every age.”
Here are the top 15 best dogs for seniors.