If you love dogs, you know that they are more than just pets – they are like family members. Adopting a dog is one of the best things a person can do at any age. Dogs are often called man’s best friend, but it’s never been truer than with seniors and retirees. Dogs are perfect for any type of senior, whether you’re still active and want a companion to take walks with or you live alone and enjoy the thought of a puppy cuddled in your lap. Research into the health benefits of being a dog owner is now well established. Different research studies have proved that dog ownership has major benefits for seniors’ physical, mental and emotional well-being. Dogs can be downright therapeutic. In other words, dogs are good for your body and soul.
Who could resist a companion that gives us unconditional love and affection and in return, asks for nothing except a few caresses, a warm lap and a bowl of food, now and again? Dogs come in all breeds, shapes and sizes, which means there’s likely a dog for everyone, including seniors.
The benefits of being a dog owner are many and varied. Dog ownership can have a positive impact on a senior’s physical health and mental well-being. A dog will help decrease stress and depression by elevating the levels of serotonin and dopamine, improve heart health and help you stay active.
Whether it’s playing indoors or outdoor walks, owning a dog will ensure that there will be some form of physical exertion on your part, and this will, in turn, confer health benefits such as lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, and improving cardiovascular health.
Dogs can provide an incredible amount of love and joy, and are a proven way to overcome boredom and loneliness, something that seniors struggle with in their golden years. Senior citizens who have lost a spouse or otherwise feel isolated and unwanted have found that adopting a dog wards off those feelings
Choosing a dog can be a fun and enriching process. However, not all dog breeds are equal. When it comes to dogs, they come in an infinite amount of sizes and temperaments. The various breeds of dogs can sometimes make it challenging to decide the best dog for you. Owning a dog comes with its responsibilities, and you have to really think what type of breed is right for you. The best strategy is spending time with a dog and getting to know her before deciding whether or not to adopt her.
Below are some individual considerations to keep in mind before making your choice:
Size – larger dogs may be more sedentary, which is good news to seniors, but they may be more physically taxing to take care of. Restraining them or carrying them when the need arises may be difficult for most seniors with physical limitations that could cause safety concerns. Smaller dogs, on the other hand, are easier to take care of physically, but they are normally more energetic, noisy and have longer lifespans.
Breed – with breeds, you will have an easy job selecting the right dog for you. This is because particular breeds have well known and documented health concerns and temperaments. Different breeds have different levels of trainability, different requirements for grooming and different levels of noisiness. From the word go, you will know what you’re getting yourself into. You can even opt for mixed-breed dogs instead of purebred ones as the former have few health problems, making them easier and less expensive to care for.
Caring for the dog – some dogs are high maintenance, while others require less attention. Consider the resources available to help care for your dog. Factor in costs like supplies, grooming, veterinary visits and pet sitting when you’re out of town.
Age and lifespan – the average lifespan for most dogs is 10-15 years. You should consider this when planning to adopt or buy a dog. Adult dogs are recommended for seniors as they may already be trained, are less active than puppies and make wonderful companions. Puppies have more expenses to worry about (neutering, obedience training, vaccines). With an adult dog, you will have very few things to think about.
Big or small, noisy or quiet, we have compiled a list of 10 specific dog breeds we believe are ideal for seniors and the elderly.
Ask any Cavalier King Charles Spaniel owner what the best dog breed is, and they will give you several reasons why this breed is the best. Also known as Cavalier Terrier, this breed has been a favorite of royalty for centuries. Adaptable, playful and sociable are the 3 adjectives that best describe this breed. Their wonderful temperament makes them excellent lap dogs. When you look deep into their large dark eyes, you’ll understand why they are so popular and what makes them one of the best choices for the elderly. Besides being overly-affectionate, King Charles Spaniel can live in closed environments where you can spend lots of time together. They have their fair share of grooming needs. They have an average lifespan of 12 years.
There’s something so classic about the French Bulldog’s appearance that makes it an ideal companion dog and a favorite among celebrities. Maybe it’s their big ears or even bigger personality, who cares? So long as they make your golden years memorable. They may be stubborn to train, but their playful and loving nature makes them great around you and your grandkids. It’s almost impossible to be sad around them. They are prone to developing separation anxiety if left alone for long. It is advisable that you have experience with training if you’re planning on adopting a puppy. Known health risks include joint problems and brachycephaly. They have an average lifespan of 10-16 years.
This gentle, affectionate and playful white balls of fur are gaining popularity among seniors as the ultimate companions. They are outgoing and calm around kids and other dogs. They are also smart, easy to train and don’t need much exercise, just a moderate walk around the block every now and then is enough. Their coats may require regular brushing and grooming. They are hypoallergenic and will make wonderful companions for seniors with allergies. They have an average lifespan of 12-15 years.
Known as the “Lion Dog,” the pint-sized, low-energy Chinese breed hailing from Tibet is usually about 9-10 inches tall and weighs no more than 10-15 pounds. If you’re looking for a little snuggle pal, there’s no breed quite like this one This adorable breed features a silky coat, puffy face and short snout. You will love their loyal disposition, snuggly personality and mild temperament. They get along well with people, but not always with other dogs and large-sized pets. They may need short walks to keep them active, and this may be good for your health too. They also need to be brushed at least once a week. Known health problems include thyroid problems, joint problems and brachycephaly.
Known for their beautiful coats, these small-sized companions are playful up until their elder years, are very intelligent and require attention from their owners. They have a ton of personality for their size. They don’t shed much which makes them hypoallergenic. On the flip side, they may bark more than other breeds in this list, and may not relate well with kids and other dogs, unless they undergo socialization and obedience training. Known health risk includes tooth decay. They have an average lifespan of 12-15 years.
This spitz-type toy dog is intelligent and easy to train. Nicknamed “pom-poms” due to their looks, they might be an ideal choice for you if you don’t mind brushing and combing them regularly. Their gentle and sweet dispositions make them great lap dogs. It is worth mentioning that despite being playful and friendly with their owners, they may become territorial and bark excessively around other dogs. The Pomeranian lives well in apartments and other small spaces. Known health problems include tracheal collapse, ear infections, early deafness and hair loss. They have an average lifespan of 12-16 years.
Known for their intelligence, Poodles come in a variety of sizes from the very small “Toy” to the large “Standard.” Their coats are hypoallergenic, meaning if you have allergies you have nothing to worry about. They thrive on love and may need a moderate amount of exercise to keep them from feeling bored and frustrated. They also make excellent walking partners and excel at games. To prevent matting, their coats require regular grooming. Known health risks include stomach problems, hormone problems, ear infections and hip dysplasia. They have an average lifespan of 11-15 years.
Leaning towards a tiny dog? This is the smallest breed of dog, making them easy to carry, transport and travel with. They are very loyal to their owners and enjoy spending quality time indoors. As with most breeds, they require socialization and obedience training at a young age. Without training, they tend to become overprotective over their owners and territorial of their home. If left alone for long periods, they may suffer from separation anxiety. Because they are so small, they have very tiny bladders. It can be a good idea to have doggie pee pads or a litter box someplace in your home for them to be able to relieve themselves when the need arises. Known health risks include sensitive teeth, low blood sugar, hydrocephalus and collapsed trachea. Their average lifespan is 12-20 years.
Yorkshire Terriers are known for their affection and being overprotective over their owners. They have a silky coat that comes in a variety of colors. This low-shedding, small-sized breed is smart, hypoallergenic, clean, intelligent and easy to train. Mental stimulation and physical exercise should therefore not be a problem. They, however, tend to bark a lot and may not get along with kids. Known health problems include eye problems, breathing problems, low blood sugar and sensitive stomachs. They have an average lifespan of 13-20 years.
Commonly known as the Westie, this short-legged breed is exceptionally intelligent with a great personality. For a terrier breed, they are wonderfully calm making them ideal apartment dogs. They need a moderate amount of exercise and don’t like being left alone for extended periods. They’re easy travelers, whether on long vacations or short errands. Westies are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they’re prone to certain health conditions. Known health conditions include elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism and von Willebrand’s disease. They have an average lifespan of 12-16 years.
Everyone should have the opportunity to share their life with a dog. If you adopt a dog, they quickly become a loving and wonderful addition to any family. What’s better than a furry companion who is eager to please, always cheerful and thinks you are the best person in the entire world? The love, companionship, warmth and entertainment that dogs provide can make all the difference in the lives of senior citizens. We hope our list has given you plenty of ideas for finding dogs that are well-suited to seniors.
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