What are the best dogs for elderly seniors?
Are there even any dogs that elderly seniors can manage?
Just because we become old, does not mean we love our our furry friends any less.
You may have already read our article on the best dogs for seniors. In this article we are going to concentrate more on dogs for our elderly seniors. Dogs that are the easiest to manage and handle. Dogs that are especially affectionate and easy to care for.
As elderly seniors, a large, or even a medium sized dog, may be just too strong for you. They can pull you too hard and make you fall.
The exception to that is a nice mellow older dog.
Very small dogs and older dogs are also the best dogs for elderly seniors because you don’t have to walk them far. For a small dog, each step you take will be about eight steps for them. For an older one, a short walk is plenty.
Small dogs also eat much less, and are very inexpensive to feed.
Why get a dog and not a cat?
Because we are dog people.
For those of us who are dog people this question needs no explaining. We know dogs are the best pets and friends in the world. Right? (All the cat people will argue with us on this point.)
For the dog lovers, a cat will just not do. A Cat is… a cat. Aloof, self absorbed, and not attentive like a dog.
In our dog person opinion, cats are just too aloof. They don’t respond well. They don’t respond at all if they’re not in the mood. That's a terrible trait. And, they know they own the house. You just happen to live there with them. They don’t run to greet you when you come home….. They scratch and bite when they are in the mood.....
Cat lovers, on the other hand, seem to find dogs too needy. Too overwhelming. That makes no sense at all to dog people.
So, cat people and dog people are different.
I am a dog person. My wife is a cat person. I grew up with cats. I came to hate them. They attacked me randomly just for fun. I never imagined there would ever under any circumstances be a cat living in my house. With me and my dog. Never. Ever. Ever.... There is one. He belongs to my wife. But, he’s a very good boy whom I have come to love. A rare exception for me and a cat.
So, which you get, cat or dog, is very much a matter of personailty. And, there is no denying that dog people only want a dog. No cats. No hamsters, ferrets, iguanas, white mice, etc…. A dog.
If you are an elderly senior looking for a dog…. you must be one of us!
So, today we're going to help you find the best dogs for elderly people.
Now that you know you want to get a dog, what are the best dogs for elderly seniors? And, why are they the best dogs for elderly seniors?
Obviously we are talking about getting a new friend. A new companion. Someone (yes, not “something”) to enjoy each day with.
But, what do we need to know and assess first?
What should we be concerned about?
What we need to be aware of is what is involved with dog ownership as elderly seniors and what can we handle.
Don’t worry though. There is a good match for everyone who has the love to give to one.
Besides adopting and enjoying one of the best and most loving creatures in the entire world, we have to be prepared for the maintenance that comes with them. Maintenance is one of the biggest factors in determining the best dogs for elderly seniors.
Choose the right dog, and maintenance will be easy. Almost effortless. Choose the wrong one (too big, bad disposition, puppy mill dog,...) and you will experience a true nightmare you never imagined possible.
Caring for our new best friend requires a few things. Not too many. But, a few.
As elderly seniors, we know, there are a number of physical limitations a lot of us have. So, let’s first take a look at all the things we will need to do to support the life of our new dog:
Let’s review these things one by one so that we are clear about what we are looking at. Some of these items will be easier than you think, and, some may not be possible for you.
When choosing the best dogs for elderly seniors, we will first consider feeding.
Of course we have to feed the new baby. Right? So, we have to figure out how much we can afford for food, as well as, how much food we are able to carry home for her. For some, it's no problem at all. For others this will be a consideration.
How much food we have to carry home from the store is another reason to get a small dog if our strength is very limited.
If we don’t have a lot of hand strength, we may have to hire a service to deliver bags of food to our homes. Or, have a friend or family member buy the food for us. Usually this is not a problem. But, it's a consideration for some.
There are small 5 pound bags of food available almost everywhere dog food is sold. So, this is normally not an issue.
Water: Dogs, like humans, need to have water to drink randomly at any time they want during the day. So, always leave a bowl of fresh water right next to their food bowl that they can reach easily whenever they are thirsty.
Remember: This is more important than some of us realize: ALWAYS feed you dog good quality food. No garbage or poor quality food. If you feed your dog poor quality food, you will regret it later. Good quality food costs very little more than the poor quality food. Good food will help keep your dog well and save you a lot in vet bills later on.
Basic Assessment: Exercise is critical to keep your dog in good shape. The bigger the dog, the further you are going to have to walk her. Or, you will need to hire a dog walker to take your baby out for exercise each day. This can run about $60 - $100 per week or more.
Very small dogs again become the best dogs for elderly seniors because the small ones can run around the house with you and need far less time and distance outside walking each day. So, with a small dog, you’re usually good as long as you can walk a even a small distance with them.
STILL: You must make sure your new little friend gets regular exercise. It’s an extremely important part of keeping them well. And, a little exercise is 1,000 times better than no exercise.
Dogs are very emotional creatures. They not only need companionship and exercise, they need play time and affection. They want to do things with you. They like to fetch, play tug of war, and learn basic commands like, sit, come, lay down. And, they need to have treats after playing. Just like a child.
All dogs require affection. As much as a small child does. Time to just lay down by you and cuddle in your lap.
They need to be talked to. They may not understand the words, but, they are totally aware of the feeling. It nourishes their spirit, and, they respond to it.
You can’t just get a dog to keep you company, guard your home, and not treat it like a member of the family.
Remember: Dogs are very sensitive. If you can’t treat a dog like a family member, you shouldn’t get one.
And, keep in mind, when choosing the best dogs for elderly, you should not get a hyper active breed like the Jack Russell Terrior or the Dalmatian. This is again where older dogs make the best choice. They enjoy just being with you. Even if you are doing nothing.
Bathing can be a big consideration when choosing the best dogs for elderly. Short haired dogs require very little in the way of bathing. They can go 3 - 6 months just fine without one.
Long haired dogs will smell if you don’t bathe them. And, with some long haired dogs (like Sheep Dogs) the smell can get real strong!
As a general rule: The more fur a dog has, the more often they will need to be bathed if you don’t want them to smell bad.
Little dogs are easy to bathe. Even the ones with lots of fur. And, if they fuss at a bath, they are not too hard to control.
You can bathe the very small ones in your bath tub or even in the kitchen sink.
Here's a short VIDEO where you can learn how to give a small dog a bath at home.
Remember: This is very important: After you bathe your dog, dry her very well with a soft fluffy towel. Then give her a couple of treats. This will help to keep her warm as she dries. A dog left wet, just like a person, can become quite ill.
big hairy dog, may bolt from the bath tub and run
around your house soaking wet and spraying everything with the bath
water and soap. If you opt for a larger dog, you may need to bring it to
the local pet store for regular bathing and grooming. The average cost
for this is $30 - $75. Figure on doing this about once a month.
If you have a long haired dog, you will also need to brush her at least once a week to keep her coat neat and clean. Short haired dogs do fine with just petting.
When choosing the best dogs for elderly we need to consider cleaning up after them. Even the best trained dog is going to poop in the wrong place sometimes.
Puppies are one of the cutest and most adorable things in the world. And, they are usually not a great idea for elderly seniors unless you have a live in maid.
Puppies poop about 5 or 6 times every day. A lot. And, pretty much everywhere. Wherever the may be standing at any given moment. They pee even more.
With a puppy, you are going to have some real clean up rituals for a good 6 months or so while they are house training. This can be a real physical challenge for most elderly seniors. As an elderly senior, you must consider if you can handle that.
If not, you may want to adopt a dog that is at least 1 year old and already house trained. If they are not completely house trained, a dog at least 1 year old can usually be taught this very easily and quickly. Often in just a couple of days.
STILL, there will be times when your new baby gets a tummy ache and just doesn’t make it outside. So, even with the best trained dog, be prepared for a little clean up on occasion.
When you go walking:
Carry some small plastic sandwich bags with you on your walks in the city. In the country, out in the woods it's OK to leave dog poop on the ground. In the city, or your neighborhood, picking up their droppings is must. And, your neighbors will really appreciate you for it.
All dogs need a nice warm comfortable place to sleep. Don’t make them sleep on bare floor.
She can sleep in your bed with you, or, in her own separate bed. That’s just a matter of your personal preference. And, the preference of your dog. Some people toss and turn a lot at night, and, dogs may prefer their own space if that is the situation.
On a funny note: If you like having your dog in bed with you, be prepared for her to curl up right in the center of the bed! And, no matter how smart your dog, or, how well trained, they will always try for the middle of the bed. Before you get there.
If you sleep with your spouse, they like to get in the space right between you. It's warm and cozy in there.
You will have to get used to moving them a little or giving them a little shove to get out of the way. Don’t be afraid to do that. They know they are being a bed hog.
So, be prepared to move them. It's OK.
If you live in the country, you’ll probably only need to get rabies shots. Usually once every 3 years.
If you are a city dweller, there are all kinds of ugly serious diseases like Parvo, Bordetella (Kennel Cough), Distemper, etc… that they can pick up from other dogs or simply from sniffing around in the grass.
So, get a veterinarian (that comes well recommended) and make sure your baby has all the things she needs each year.
You can also get these shots from a local clinic, or many larger pet stores such as Petco, at a very substantial discount.
OK. When choosing the best dogs for elderly seniors those were the basics. Easy enough? Are you OK with all of them? If you are, you’re ready to start looking for your new best friend.
Just as a recap, here are four main advantages of small dogs:
I have to tell you a bit about “Puppy Mills” at this point.
Puppy Mills are places where horrible unscrupulous breeders produce inbred dogs of poor quality. Their dogs have all the same problems as inbred people.
These dogs usually look good as puppies, then develop all kinds of very sad and expensive ailments. They often don’t last long because they are not very strong to begin with. They will break your heart. You will commonly find these puppies in pet shops that sell dogs. Even in many of the better malls. And, they are expensive to buy as well.
If you want a certain breed, check out the breeders and ask for references. You can do this on line. If you find any negative feedback on these breeders, move on to another. There are many good breeders all around the country.
And, once again, one of the best dogs you can get is an older one you adopt from a shelter or dog rescue. You can not only get a great dog there, you'll save a bundle. Adoption is usually about $70. Buying a pure bred puppy can cost hundreds, and often thousands of dollars.
From our 50+ years of being dog lovers, and knowing many elderly seniors who owned dogs, we have found a couple of breeds especially suited to elderly men and women. These are some of the best dogs for elderly seniors. They are the Maltese and the Bichon Frise.
There is probably no better companion for an elderly senior than a Maltese.
Adorable! Right? And, they are just as sweet as they look.
These little babies are:
There is no dog better suited to elderly seniors.
The Bichon Frise is also a little darling. Very much the same personality type. A little larger in size.
Other good choices are the:
There are quite a few small breeds that we just do not like at all. Although they are small, they just are not the best dogs for elderly seniors.
These little dogs are usually temperamental with bad personalities. These include the Chihuahua, Shih Tzu, Pomeranian, Pekingese, Lhasa Apso. These breeds can be a disaster. They are also prone to all kinds of physical problems.
If you think one is cute,.... run away as fast as you can! Seriously.
Yes, I know some of you have probably had these dogs and loved them dearly. And, now you’re going to hate me forever and send me an irate email telling me I am a terrible person. I apologize ahead of time. But, these are NOT the best dogs for elderly seniors.
Yes, these dogs can be affectionate to their owners. But, they usually hate strangers and all your friends.
They bark like crazy when a stranger comes to the house. They like to bite strangers and your friends. And, they are prone to getting all kinds of terrible ailments down the road, that will cost you a bundle to take care of.
One other cute small dog that is not one of the best dogs for elderly is the Jack Russell.
Hyper active dogs like the Jack Russell Terrier are a terrible choice for elderly seniors. Jacks are cute. And, small. BUT, they are like dogs on speed. They will drive you mad and exhaust you with the amount of activity they demand each day.
When talking about the best dogs for elderly seniors it is impossible not to talk about "Mutts". Sometimes called "All Americans" because they can have all kinds of unknown ancestry.
“Mutts” are some of the absolute best dogs in the world! And, small ones are some of the very best dogs for elderly seniors.
Mutts, as we mentioned, are dogs of unknown multiple mixed breeds. You can sometimes tell the mix, but, often you can only guess. They come in all shapes and sizes. And, all this mixed breeding creates some of the most gentle and sweet personalities you can imagine.
Just because they are so often orphans, it doesn't mean they are not some of the very best dogs in the world.
Mutts are one of the best choices of all for people of any age. Elderly, kids, families,… anyone. They are just smart, loving, playful creatures. And, if properly cared for, they seem to stay well most of their life.
Mutts are almost always:
You will usually get one at the local dog shelter. AND, they are almost
never puppies when you locate them. So, they are normally a breeze to house
You can also play with them at the shelter to see if you are compatible before you take them home.
Something You May Not Know: A dog rescued from the shelter knows you saved them. They definitely do. They know right away, even as you are driving home, that you are giving them a home. And, they never forget that. They will adore you forever.
I love large dogs! But, I mostly love ALL dogs.
However: Large Dogs are not the best dogs for elderly seniors.
If you really want problems, get yourself a nice large young dog. The bigger and younger the better. It will destroy your life quickly.
A case in point:
A neighbor and friend of ours who was 81, decided she wanted a Rhodesian Ridgeback. Because she liked the way they looked.
Ridgebacks are very handsome dogs. Great for young strong people…. We tried to talk her out of it to no avail.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is the dog used to hunt Lions. Seriously. They are used to hunt Lions.
They are super strong.
When our neighbor got her puppy it was very cute. Like all puppies. All wiggly and kissing her all the time. He cost her two thousand bucks. She was soooo happy on day one!
Three months later that dog was tearing up her house, couch, her shoes, and anything else that looked interesting and chewable. And, he would pull her on the leash, down the block, and into other neighbors’ yards, through rose bushes, flower beds, hedges, etc… She couldn’t stop him. It would have been quite the great comedy if it wasn’t such a disaster.
By month 3 1/2 she had given him away to a young family.
She then got a tea cup (3 pound) 2 year old poodle. A perfect fit!
If you are an elderly senior, unless you are very strong, very strong, DON’T get a BIG dog.
Dogs are the best companions (and friends) in the world. They will share all your joy and sit close if you are sad. The right dog will be a joy forever.
If you can handle the simple “maintenance” described above, the three most important things to remember when choosing one of the best dogs for elderly seniors are these:
1) Get a small sweet dog, or a much older gentle dog, that you can control and care for easily.
For elderly seniors, with limited strength, that usually means a small or even very small (“tea cup”) sized dog. And, just because these are small, does not mean they are any less affectionate or smart.
2) Don’t buy a dog from a pet store. They are expensive and too often they come from “puppy mills”. Usually puppy mill dogs are not physically sound. And, you only find this out after you buy them.
3) You can get a wonderful beautiful affectionate “Mutt” at most local dog shelters. And, you’ll save a bundle adopting one.
Your New Joy and New Best Friend is waiting for you!
~ William, Fiona, and Charlotte