Best Dog Breeds for Senior Citizens

Senior Dog

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If you're an older adult interested in getting a dog, age alone should not be a factor that should prevent you from dog ownership. However, factors related to your health and lifestyle can affect your ability to properly care for a dog. The key is to find the type of dog that best fits your lifestyle and abilities, regardless of your age. It's also important to make sure you can meet your dog's needs, like exercise, grooming, and health care.


Dog ownership has many health and emotional benefits. The companionship of dogs has been known to reduce stress and lower blood pressure. Having a dog may even improve or prevent depression and anxiety. Plus, exercising with your dog is a great way to stay active. 

Of course, because purebred dogs tend to have somewhat predictable traits, you might find that certain dog breeds are ideal for a more relaxed lifestyle. The following are just a few examples of great dog breeds for seniors. These dog breeds tend to have moderate energy levels and many are smaller in size. Most of all, the following breed are great companions that adapt well to the lifestyles of their owners. Here are some of the best dogs to spend your golden years with.

illustration of the best dog breeds for seniors
The Spruce, 2018
  • 01 of 10

    Bichon Frise

    A Bichon Frise

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris 

    The fluffy little bichon frise is a joyful and affectionate dog that makes an excellent companion. With an average weight of about 7 to 12 pounds, this small breed is extremely easy to handle for most people. Bichons are also relatively simple to train. The bichon will need to be groomed periodically but is otherwise fairly low-maintenance. Many bichon owners choose to take their dogs to a professional groomer every month or two. Moderate daily exercise is usually enough to keep the bichon healthy and happy as long as it has your companionship.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 9 to 12 inches

    Weight: 7 to 12 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Fluffy and curly white hair (may have traces of apricot, buff, or cream), resembling a cotton ball or powder puff

  • 02 of 10

    Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

    King Charles Spaniel looking up, close-up

    Martin Rogers/Getty Images

    The Cavalier is a beloved puppy-like spaniel that is affectionate and adaptable. This is a small dog that is often happiest when snuggled up beside its owner. This breed typically weighs about 11 to 18 pounds and is easy to handle and train. The Cavalier has some grooming needs, such as regular hair brushing, ear cleaning, and possibly the occasional trip to a groomer. Overall, Cavaliers are favored among those who love small, snuggle companions and are well-suited for apartment living.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 12 to 13 inches

    Weight: 13 to 18 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Medium-length silky, wavy coat; adults have feathering on their ears, chest, legs, feet, and tail

  • 03 of 10

    French Bulldog

    A French Bulldog

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

    It's almost impossible to be sad around the happy Frenchie. French bulldogs are among the most cheerful of all dog breeds. They are compact, muscular, and active dogs. However, at about 19 to 28 pounds, they are still very manageable. Although they have a good deal of energy, they tend to lack endurance. Therefore, moderate daily exercise is usually just right for this breed. Their grooming needs are fairly ​minimal, but be aware of health concerns like brachycephalic syndrome and various skin issues.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 11 to 13 inches

    Weight: 19 to 28 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Sturdy, compact dog breed with a large head, short snout, and bat-like ears

  • 04 of 10


    A Greyhound

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

    How can a racing dog be good for older adults? You may be surprised to learn that greyhounds are not the high-energy dogs many think they are. Although greyhounds will enjoy daily walks and the occasional chance to run, most tend to be couch potatoes that enjoy loafing around with their owners. They are usually very responsive to training and therefore easy to handle, even though most weight about 60 to 80 pounds. If you like larger dogs but worry about being able to handle one, the greyhound is a breed to consider.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 25 to 30 inches

    Weight: 60 to 80 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Long legs and narrow, streamlined bodies; its head is long, narrow, and its muzzle tapers to a point at its nose

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10


    Maltese dog

    John Mazzei/EyeEm/Getty Images

    Much like the bichon, the Maltese ​is the quintessential little white lap dog. This breed enjoys spending time in its owner's lap and going on short, easy walks. Grooming needs are also like the bichon: Trips to a professional groomer will keep the breed maintained. The Maltese is also fairly easy to train. At a weight of only 4 to 7 pounds, this dog is very easy to handle. You can even carry it around in your bag.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 8 to 10 inches

    Weight: 4 to 7 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Dark, alert eyes are shrouded by white fur that is naturally long and silky; single-layer coat without an undercoat

  • 06 of 10

    Pembroke Welsh Corgi

    A Pembroke Welsh Corgi

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

    If you want a small to medium dog that makes a great companion, the corgi might be for you. Weighing 24 to 30 pounds, this breed is still small enough for most people to handle. Corgis are smart and fairly easy to train. They are also quite adorable with those short little legs. A herding dog by nature, your corgi will need routine exercise, but daily walks will often be enough. The corgi has minimal grooming needs, which can be very convenient. 

    Breed Overview

    Height: 10 to 12 inches

    Weight: 24 to 30 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Short stature and sturdy build with a low-set body, large erect, pointy ears, and a stubby tail

  • 07 of 10



    Andrew Fladeboe/Getty Images

    Leaning towards a tiny dog? At a weight of 3 to 7 pounds, the Pom is another easy-to-handle pooch that can be carried in your bag. This breed is an affectionate and happy companion. Your Pom will like snoozing in your lap and playing with toys. Most of all, this breed will enjoy your companionship.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 6 to 7 inches

    Weight: 3 to 7 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Double-coated, long-haired miniature spitz breed with pointy, erect ears and curled tail

  • 08 of 10


    Poodles by a mirror

    Birgid Allig/Getty Images

    The poodle is one of the smartest dogs and also among the most popular of all dog breeds. Best of all, you can choose your size. Whether you want the tiny toy poodle, the small miniature poodle, or the larger standard poodle, this dog will be a loyal, affectionate companion. Poodles learn fast and adapt well to all kinds of households. Basic daily walks are enough for most poodles. They do need to be professionally groomed every month or two but are otherwise fairly easy to care for.

    Breed Overview

    Height: Standard: 15 inches; Miniature: 10 to 15 inches; Toy: 10 inches and under

    Weight: Standard: 45 to 70 pounds; Miniature: 15 to 18 pounds; Toy: 5 to 9 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Curly, dense single-layer coats that may be one of many solid colors, including white, black, grey, brown, and apricot

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Shih Tzu

    A Shih Tzu puppy

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

    The Shih Tzu is another popular small dog. Ranging in weight from 9 to 16 pounds, the breed is easy to handle. Though the Shih Tzu has a bit of a stubborn streak, most can be trained without too much trouble. Daily walks and periodic grooming are both important for this breed. The Shih Tzu is somewhat prone to skin issues and brachycephalic syndrome, but to a lesser degree than that of the French bulldog.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 8 to 11 inches

    Weight: 9 to 16 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Small but sturdy dog with a lush, long, double hair coat and short "smooshed" face appearance

  • 10 of 10

    West Highland White Terrier

    West Highland white terrier

    Celso Mollo Photography/Getty Images

    Westies make excellent companions and are very easy to handle. At 13 to 20 pounds, the breed is still small, but not as fragile as the Pomeranian or Maltese. The Westie does require some grooming but does not need to be trimmed the way many of the other dogs on this list do. Overall, the Westie is friendly and fairly low-maintenance. 

    Breed Overview

    Height: 10 to 11 inches

    Weight: 13 to 20 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Quite compact, although not dainty or nor overly muscular; completely white, long rough coat, black eyes and nose

Types of Dogs to Avoid

If you lead an especially active lifestyle and can provide plenty of exercise for a dog, then you might be OK with a high-energy dog. If you are concerned about being able to keep up with an energetic dog as time goes by, you may want to choose a dog with a calmer breed. If you have health concerns that make it difficult to handle a very large dog, then you may be better off with a small dog

Also, think about the 12- to 15-year lifespan (or more) of the dog you are getting. Most dogs are considered seniors when they reach age 7, but not all of them slow down. Do you think you will be able to care for a very active dog for the next decade? You might want to consider a middle-aged or senior dog if you want to avoid the extra needs of a puppy or adolescent dog.