Are there good dogs for old people?
We don’t mean just seniors here, we mean old people.
Yes, there are!
Our Mom had her little friend until she died. Mom was 82. Totally non athletic. She loved to read, watch TV, study the stock exchange… Anything cerebral.
Walk to the mail box? No, thank you. Not if she didn’t have to.
And, her little dog Lady was much the same. And, such a good girl she was.
Wherever our Mom went, so did lady. And, that was rarely far.
Time for breakfast? They went to the kitchen. Time to go back to the couch? Good! They went together.
Besides the wonderful feeling of love and companionship, are there other benefits for old people who have a dog.
Here are 4 Wonderful Benefits old people get from having and caring for a dog:
1) Eliminate loneliness
2) Reduce stress, anxiety, and depression
3) Encourage gentle daily exercise
4) Improve blood circulation and the feeling of well being
“Pets, especially dogs and cats, can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, ease loneliness, encourage exercise and playfulness, and even improve your cardiovascular health…. Most importantly, though, a pet can add real joy and unconditional love to your life.” reference: HelpGuide.org
How old are the “Old People” we are talking about?
Well if you’re immobile, in bed, and are a few days away from dying, no, you shouldn’t get a dog. But, borrowing a friend’s dog for a few hours each afternoon to lay on your bed with you can feel heavenly and the best part of your day.
Neither are we talking about young (65 - 70) seniors who are highly active. They can comfortably get any dog they want. Even the more hyper ones may still be good for them.
We’re talking about “old people” who still get around on their own (even if it’s a lot less than before) and are still enjoying life each day.
Did you know, only 70 years ago, the human life expectancy was only 67. Today it is 79. And, I’m sure you must know quite a few folks in their 80s and possibly their 90s.
Younger seniors today are no longer considered old. And, rightly so. Most of us are still quite active.
But people over 70, and 75, have usually slowed down a bit. And, if we’re getting a dog at this age (which is a most wonderful idea) we need to get one that fits our lifestyle and abilities.
OK. We now know who our “Old People” are as far as getting a dog goes.
So, let’s see which dogs are going to fit these lives the best.
For those who never had a dog and are thinking of getting their first one, or, of getting one for their parents, you need to know that not all dogs are suitable pets for old people.
Our friend Barbara was 78 and decided to get a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy because she thought they were so beautiful. She knew nothing about them.
Ridgebacks are hunting dogs. Specifically, they are bred to hunt….LIONS! And, they are strong!
Well, the puppy was highly energetic, and, at 3 months old he was pulling her down the block so hard on the leash that I thought he would tear her arm off. And, only 3 months old.
Obviously the puppy was not a good dog for her and she had to give him away. Sad for both the owner and the dog.
There are a number of other very hyperactive dogs that are totally wrong for old people. Dogs that are in need of a lot of activity, or a lot of bathing maintenance (long hairs) are not good for old people.
Remember the movie 101 Dalmatians?
After that movie came out, our local dog park was suddenly flooded with people and their Dalmatians. 6 months later there was just 1. Dalmatians are super active. As are jack Russels.
Second: Jack Russel Terriers
Jack Russel Terriers are little balls of unbounded energy. And, they are fearless. Cute, but, strong willed, they top the hyper active list, and are totally wrong for an older person simply because they need a HUGE amount of exercise, playtime, and always seem to be moving.
Now, let’s talk about puppies.
Another mistake for an old person.
Everyone loves a puppy. So, adorable. They can melt the heart of even the toughest person. Right? How could we not love them? Is there anything cuter in the world?
If you've never had a puppy, this is why they are not a good choice for old people:
They are just like babies. They need to poop 6 times a day. They are almost nonstop hyperactive for about 1 1/2 years. They take short naps during the day and then are off to the races again. They will chew anything you leave on the floor. Anything. Even my own puppies that I got long before I was 50 wore me out. I had to catch naps during the day when they slept just to keep up.
The ideal dog for old people is a dog that has past the puppy stage. Not an old dog. But, an older dog. Also, a dog that is relatively or definitely small. So that he/she can be picked up easily.
You’ll want a more passive breed.
And, another beautiful point is: Just like old people, old dogs get more and more mellow with time.
Older mature dogs love to just hang out. They follow you around the house and lay down wherever you decide to be.
Older dogs are the best companions for old people.
Now, we’re not talking about dogs that are so old they are about to die.
But, a dog who is 3 years or older can be the best companion in the world for and old person.
They listen when you talk. They snuggle. They are infinitely patient. Just walk to the door, open it, and they will go outside to pee and poop then come right back in.
Our mom was one of the physically laziest people we ever knew. So was her dog. They were a perfect match. And, even though our Dad died 10 years before our Mom, she never felt lonely with Lady there. She had her for 16 years (Lady passed at age 20).
These are all excellent smart dogs with good personalities. They are not only smart, they are loving and good with people. If you get trained ones, you'll be OK, because they are smart, loving, and loyal.
So, why are Guard Dogs not a good choice for seniors who want some home protection?
They are BIG. And, STRONG. That is the only issue.
Guard Dogs are big strong dogs. They need exercise. As an old person, you just can’t walk far enough or fast enough.
More Important: You also won’t be able to control one on a leash if you are out walking and they get a sudden interest in something and start to bolt. They can easily pull you over and cause serious injury.
These breeds include:
These wonderful dogs are too strong to control if you are out walking and they get a sudden interest in something.
Basically, as good as these dogs are, OK, as great as these dogs are, they are just too big and strong for old people to handle.
If you feel you need some extra protection at home, a high quality (NOT the $100 do it yourself brands) will do much more for keeping bad guys away and getting you immediate assistance if you need it. We highly recommend these systems for every elderly and old senior.
OK. Here’s our list (compiled from a LOT of personal experience, my history as a dog trainer, and recommendations from fellow senior citizens) of the 15 dogs that are the favorites and right fit for old people:
Rescue dogs (dogs you get at shelters and pounds) and not second rate dogs any more than people of mixed heritage are second rate people. The previous owners were just not people who cared enough for them. So, rather than find these wonderful dogs a new home, these people put them in a “shelter” to get rid of them.
One horrible fact is: Shelters are often so overcrowded (because of faulty owners) that many will kill any dog not adopted in 7 days. Horrible! Right?
These are wonderful loving dogs. Often timid from abuse, mistreatment, or neglect. But, ever so ready to love and be loved. Go see for yourself. You're going to fall in love!
First and foremost, Mutts (dogs with multi mixed breed ancestors) are known for being the best dogs for gentleness and generally great companionship.
There really is no better choice for old people.
Mutts almost always have a mild and gentle disposition.
You can get them in all sizes and colors. And, you can usually get a wonderful one from the local shelter very inexpensively (a great plus for old people on tight budgets). About 1/10 the cost of a pure breed. Shelter dogs that you adopt also usually come with all their shots and are already spayed or neutered. Another huge savings.
A great benefit of adopting from a shelter or rescue is you have time at the shelters to get to know and play with any dog you are attracted to. You can see if you really like each other. When you find the right one, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you both bond.
Many people don’t realize that shelter dogs know you rescued them from a horrible caged life and possible demise (so many are euthanized because of overpopulation). When you take yours home, they will adore you from minute one.
Mutts, 3 years and older, are our #1 ranked best dog for old people.
I have written the praises of Maltese before and I’m going to do it again.
One of the very best good dogs for old people.
Maltese are small. 7 - 9 inches tall. Weight, up to 7 pounds.
These dogs were bred to basically be lapdogs. If you’re not familiar with that term, it means dogs who like to sit/lay on your lap and lounge whenever possible.
Maltese like a little walk each day. Every dog needs some exercise each day. But, because they are so small you need not go far.
If you can not go walking, some play time together in the home will do just fine.
Personality? These guys are as sweet and playful as they come. They love most everyone who visits. And, they are just a little bundle of love to have with you all day long.
The Bichon is kind of like a little bit bigger Maltese.
About 10 inches high. Averaging 15 pounds.
Cute cute dogs that have sweet gentle personalities.
The only issue may be the need for daily brushing. But, if they are on your lap for a good part of the day, that’s easy too.
About 10 inches high and 8 pounds.
Papillons are one of the best companion dogs ever. Making them one of the very best dogs for people.
Papillons are also one of the easiest dogs to train, and, they are eager to please. And, this breed also is one of the most popular in obedience trials. of the best. Their fur is surprisingly easy to groom.
Sounding good so far?
But, being your companion is what they does best and what they enjoy most. Whether on your lap, joining you on errands, going for a ride in the car, watching you wash up in the bathroom,... they just want to be near you.
They also do not like to be alone. So, if you are out a lot,he needs a companion. Even a cat will do.
But, if you're mostly home, this little dog will be your constant loving companion. They are impossible not to love.
Cavaliers are very good dogs for old people also. These are sensitive gentle little creatures.
Average height is 12.5 inches. Weight, about 15 pounds.
They are quite energetic and athletic. At the same time, they are very calm. One of the easiest dispositions of all breeds.
Cavs will stay by your side whether you want to hang out on the couch, in bed, on a lawn chair, or in the dining room.
Cavs are smart and easy to train. They are also very low maintenance. They mostly just want to be near you and feel your love.
A Great choice for old people.
Cocker Spaniels are one of the most gentle loving breeds there are.
12 - 16 inches tall. They weight in at 20 - 30 pounds. So, they are not small dogs. But, neither are they big. They are as gentle as babes.
These guys have plenty of fur that needs a daily brushing. But, just a single combing or brushing each day will keep them looking their best. And, cute? You bet!
Pugs are funny looking (in my opinion) little balls of love.
10 - 13 inches high. They weigh in at just 14 - 18 pounds.
Pugs love virtually everyone. Have the friends over. Other dogs. Children…. Pugs are usually good with everyone.
One thing to remember with Pugs is they love to eat and they get fat real fast. Not healthy for them. So, feed them
healthy food, make snacks small, and watch their weight.
12.5 inches high. About 15 pounds.
Great little creatures! Obedient and outgoing. A playful little creature who can have as much fun in a small apartment as they can at a country home.
These guys love to please their humans. They don’t shed a lot. Their only downside is brushing. You’
ll need to do that almost daily and they have which fur.
One of the most playful!
Height 9 -11 inches. Weight 8 -14 pounds.
These beauties need brushing! Daily. So, be prepared.
But, if they is something you enjoy, the Coton are very playful with great personalities. They also love indoor playtime. A big plus for many old people.
Cotons love playing around the house as much as just cuddling with their owner.
Yes, these are the miniatures in the Greyhound family.
These little darlings just love being lazy. They like to cuddle and lounge and couch potatoes themselves the entire day at times.
Still, as a sight hound they need a little time to run outside each day (15 minutes usually does it). You’ll need a fenced yard.
And, since they are sight hounds, if they see potential prey, they can bolt like lightning. So, unless you are in a fenced yard, it’s very important to have them on a leash when you are outside.
At 10 pounds or less, however, they are quite easy to control.
Short haired. VERY low maintenance. Except for getting loved. If you don’t want to sit and cuddle, talk to your dog, and pet your dog, don’t get an IG (Italian Greyhound). They are very sensitive and you can break their heart easily. I’m not kidding.
They are also delicate. So, if they sleep in your bed, be careful not to roll over on them.
10 inches high. Only about 5 pounds.
Cute, tiny, and as adorable as can be. Right? They also love to please their owners. That’s why old people sometime choose them.
Surprisingly they make good watchdogs. At least as far as barking goes. They are bold and courageous.
A couple other plus points are they are one of the healthiest breeds AND, like other poodles, they don't shed!
BUT, we have found they are just too high energy for most old people. They need a lot of exercise and love to play. But, if a lot of play is something you enjoy too, you can easily fall in love here.
10 inches High. 12 pounds.
These are cuties. Rare. Uncommon.
They are confident and dedicated. Not the easiest to train.
They need some exercise each day as they were bred for work. So, they need some good exercise each day. And, a good brushing. This can make them a bit high maintenance for many old people.
About 7 inches high. 12 pounds.
Pekingese LOVE their owners. They are very loyal, and can spend the whole day just curled up in your lap. Once they bond to you, you’ll have a little love dog.
They have a LOAD of confidence. This often makes training a bit difficult.
7 inches high. 5 pounds.
People who want a very small dog, one they can put in their purse and walk around with like these these little tiny ones.
Poms owners always say how wonderful they are. And, apparently they love their owners.
They will do all right with just indoor exercise, which can be a real plus for an old person who spends most of their time indoors. Poms bond to their owners and love spending time with their owners and being lap dogs. This makes them ideal for seniors who are very sedentary and want a good friend to be with.
10 inches high. 12.5 pounds.
People that Love these little guys just seem to love them. Shih Tzus are very devoted to their owners. And, they are great lap dogs with gentle personalities when spending time with their owners.
I knew and briefly cared for an old one who was just as adorable and sweet as can be.
Make sure you trim or tie up the hair around their eyes so that they can see.
One caution is, because of poor breeding practices, these little ones suffer from a lot of diseases.
Yes. We love dogs. Most all dogs. But, there are some that no matter how great, loyal, and loving, are just not good dogs for old people. In fact, these can be a disaster!
Getting any of these is a BIG mistake that you will soon regret very much:
Terriers. Any kind of terrier. They are just too high energy, and not easy to train. They will wear you out the first day.
Pit Bulls. A MAJOR mistake. Yes I have known a couple of real sweethearts. But, they can be dangerous. These dogs were bred to fight and fight to the death. They can be docile one minute and turn on you almost instantly. They are also very strong. Not a dog for gentle old people.
Big Long Haired Dogs. Big dogs are not usually a good choice for old people. And, long haired ones pose a special problem. These babies need at least a weekly bath or they can smell to high heaven. As adorable as they are, they are high maintenance. However, if you are up to the challenge, or, are will to take a weekly trip to the groomer, then you should have no problem.
We hope this list of good dogs for old people helps you find the perfect new best friend!
Getting a dog when we’re old can be one of the best decisions we make. No more lonely days or nights. Someone who loves us unconditionally and whose main desire in life is to be with us. Cuddle and play.
There is nothing (and maybe no one) more comforting and soothing for our souls.
The 12 good dogs for old people we listed first are ALL great choices. Wonderful dogs. And, all are generally easy to care for.
After you find your new beauty, please write us and tell us your own story.
Warmest Wishes for You and Your New Best Friend! ~ William, Fiona, and Charlotte