Having a dog is both a big responsibility and a great joy. If you have had dogs all your life, once you reach your senior years, having a canine companion may be something you cannot imagine foregoing. While an energetic, large dog may be more than you feel you can handle, there are plenty of breeds of dog that are quiet, well-behaved and more suited for someone in their later years of life. The following list of the 10 best dogs for senior citizens will help you realize that having a dog is still not only feasible but recommended, whether you are still ambulatory or require the use of a mobility scooter.
TYPES OF DOGS
1. Chihuahua – Predominantly a house dog, the Chihuahua can be high energy at times but given a choice will often curl up in its owner’s lap and sleep most of the day away. This trait alone makes them a firm favorite of senior citizens, particularly those who like constant companionship. They are extremely affectionate and love being petted.
Unlike large breeds the Chihuahua does not require walking long distances in order to keep fit and healthy, although they do enjoy a short walk on occasion. They are lightweight, averaging 6 to 8 pounds, so picking them up can be easily managed by most older people. The lifespan of a Chihuahua is around 18 years, and provided kept in good health, fed well and given affection, is an easy breed to take care of. They do tend to be barkers though, but with patience this can be curbed.
2. Pug – Very affectionate, the Pug is typically a very gentle dog and compared to many dog breeds is relatively low-maintenance. Pugs like to eat and will do so regardless of hunger, making them susceptible to becoming overweight. Controlling diet and walking regularly will ensure they enjoy living a longer life, with the typical lifespan of a Pug being 13 to 15 years.
Pugs are known to suffer eye and breathing problems, the latter due to their snubbed noses, but this should not deter a person in their senior years from offering a home to one of these lovable and affectionate little dogs. Their average weight of 14 to 18 may make them difficult for some to pick up, but Pugs are a great little dog to have snuggled up beside you.
3. Maltese – Often chosen for their hypoallergenic coat the Maltese is similar to the Chihuahua in that it is very lightweight, averaging 4 to 7 pounds and having a lifespan of 15 to 18 years. The Maltese is a great companion dog, loving attention and being allowed to curl up on its owner’s lap. They are also one of the more intelligent of the small dog breeds so can be trained.
As with any dog there is a degree of care required to keep this breed healthy and fit. Regular walks and good food, along with grooming to keep their coat at a comfortable length, will ensure they remain healthy. That being said, the Maltese is prone to liver disease and glaucoma.
4. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – A great watchdog eager to alert you to possible visitors, wanted or not, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is nevertheless a gentle and loving companion to its owner. This breed is particularly suitable to apartment living provided it is taken out for a walk regularly. Weighing between 13 and 18 pounds the King Charles typically lives anywhere between 9 and 14 years.
This breed does require constant grooming to ensure the coat does not become “matted” and is prone to a number of health issues including eye and skin problems and heart problems. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel loves to play and is friendly to both other dogs and to people. A great companion to a senior citizen whom is still fairly active and enjoys getting outside regularly.
5. Miniature Poodle – Known for their loyalty, the miniature Poodle (just one of many sizes of Poodle) can be a high energy dog and somewhat prone to nervousness. With an maximum lifespan of 15 years, and weighing between 15 and 17 pounds. this breed has very few health issues. On top of that their fur is hypoallergenic, however the coat of a Poodle does require clipping regularly to keep it at a comfortable length.
Miniature Poodles are great swimmers so for senior citizens who have a pool at their disposal, exercising their faithful companion can be as simple as throwing a toy into the pool and having the dog fetch. Poodles in general are one of the more intelligent breeds so with some patience can be trained quite well. They do, however, prefer their owners company to that of other dogs and people.
6. Welsh Corgi – If the Corgi is good enough for the Queen of England then it is likely that it is a good companion for many seniors. This breed is very intelligent and possesses great socialization skills. They are on the smaller size of what is considered a medium sized breed, and are prone to becoming overweight if diet is not carefully monitored, and exercise taken regularly. This is critical as the Welsh Corgi has a short legs that don’t hold up well under too much weight.
This breed is friendly and playful but needs to be monitored around small children as they tend to nip during boisterous play. Being an intelligent breed the Corgi can be trained to prevent this. They are a heavier dog than those aforementioned, weighing as much as 30 pounds, and being a larger breed their lifespan is shorter, ranging between 11 and 13 years.
7. Boston Terrier – Another medium size dog typically weighing anywhere between 10 and 25 pounds. The typical lifespan is approximately 12 years, and this breed is generally very healthy, although due to their flattish head they can be prone to breathing difficulties and snoring. Their coats are short and they don’t shed much, so with proper care, feeding and exercise can be relatively low maintenance.
One of the major attractions to owning a Boston Terrier is that it is just as happy to be out on a walk as it is to be curled up next to its owner, snoozing. This breed is very affectionate and typically friendly to other dogs and people. They like to play and are quite intelligent, making them a fun dog for an older person to have as a companion.
8. Beagle – Though the Beagle is an intelligent breed it can also be difficult to train due to a tendency to be stubborn. They are friendly both to other dogs and people, and love to be the center of attention. This breed does require considerable exercise to keep it entertained and happy, but if unable to take it for long walks playing fetch in the backyard may be enough to satisfy the energetic, playful Beagle.
Owners can expect their Beagle to live around 14 years and should ensure weight doesn’t go over around 25 pounds. The Beagle will eat without needing to be hungry so requires diet to be kept in check to prevent becoming overweight. Energetic and capable of walking long distances this breed is better suited to an owner who is willing and able to take walks regularly.
9. Schipperke – Provided this small breed dog has plenty of space to run around in it will be a loving companion to a senior who is still fit and in good health. Too high energy for some, the Schipperke is a very fast runner and loves to chase squirrels and the like. Owners must keep this breed on a leash when outside of their property to ensure the little dog doesn’t run after whatever catches its eye. Reasonably intelligent this breed does tend to be prone to barking a lot.
Schipperke dogs love attention, and lots of it, but require a firm hand and voice to prevent them taking over the home and yard. Good fencing and preventative measures to stop this breed from digging under and escaping are essential. Weighing in at between 10 and 16 pounds the Schipperke typically lives 13 to 15 years. This breed is not for seniors looking for a sedate dog but for someone who loves to play, walk, explore the outdoors and even jog the Schipperke makes a great companion.
10. Scottish Terrier – Another of the hypoallergenic breeds of dogs, the Scottish Terrier has a low shed rate but does require at the very least weekly grooming. Another of the small breeds of dogs, the Scotty as it is often referred to typically weighs 18 to 22 pounds and enjoys a lifespan of 11 to 13 years. They can be quite energetic but are not known for running, preferring to enjoy a sedately paced walk which is ideal for seniors who enjoy a daily walk but don’t want to deal with a dog that keeps trying to pull them along.
Despite the Scottish Terrier having a fascination for water they are terrible swimmers and should be kept away from temptation at all costs. Provided they get daily exercise this breed adapts well to apartment living, and for seniors with grandchildren visiting often the Scottish Terrier is a great choice as they are very gentle and sociable. Very few health issues bother the Scottish Terrier, however they are prone to what is called Scotty Cramp which may present itself after exercise. For the most part this will pass and is not of concern, but if it causes extreme distress it will require veterinarian attention.
Whichever breed a senior citizen considers, the affection and companionship of a dog can have many health benefits, both physical and mental, and emotional wellbeing can be improved by the company of a loving pet. Any one of these 10 best dogs for senior citizens will be a joy and a delight to share their life with.
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