The 8 best dogs for seniors

Best dogs for seniors: Man sitting on park bench cuddling small black dog
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Our choice of the best dogs for seniors is here to help if you are an older adult looking for a furry companion to share your life with. It's worth considering because owning a dog in your later years could genuinely change your life: Spending time with a beloved four-legged friend has been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, while increasing serotonin in the brain (the 'feel-good chemical'). Meanwhile, other studies have shown that owning a dog doesn't just add to your happiness but also encourages you to lead a healthier lifestyle. 

Obviously, choosing to own a dog is a big decision. When it comes to finding a companion dog for this next stage in your life, there are a variety of things to consider. Everyone's life and mobility are different, so you need to mull over how active a dog you want, how much living space you will have to share with them and which breeds can adapt well to your lifestyle – certain breeds are more willing to match the temperament of their owners than others.

Different breeds need differing amounts of exercise. You may want to use your dog as an excuse to get out and about, but if mobility is an issue, it may be best to find a breed that is content with a few short walks. Don't worry, smaller dogs can often get the exercise they need just by running around within the home and garden.

It's also worth thinking about the amount of grooming they require and how easy they will be to train. And, if you have a lot of visitors, you need a furry friend who won't get annoyed by strangers in the house.

So, without further ado, let's find the perfect companion for you to share your retirement with in our top 8 best dogs for seniors.

1. Pug

Pug, one of the best dogs for seniors

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Height: 10-14 inches
Weight: 14-18 pounds
Life expectancy: 14-15 years

Looking for a housedog that’s happy to snuggle up with you throughout the day rather than begging you to take them out for a long hike? Pugs are a great breed to consider. They don't require a lot of exercise and like to avoid hot and cold weather. 

Cuddly, loyal and affectionate, Pugs are happier having a nap next to (or on!) their human companion than braving warm weather or snow. They are also incredibly playful and entertaining, and love being the center of attention. Grab a couple of the best dog toys and they will entertain themselves – and you – for hours. Be warned though, they do love food, so you will need to resist those pleading eyes if you don't want them to get overweight.

2. Bichon Frise

Two Bichon Frise dogs, one of the best dogs for seniors, standing side by side outside

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Height: 9-12 inches
Weight: 8-12 pounds
Life expectancy: 14-15 years

This fluffy and adorable, white-coated dog is affectionate, intelligent and obedient. Happy to share their living space with other pets and children, the Bichon Frise's pleasant and cheerful view on life means they are perfectly happy to chill with their owners for most of the day. 

A couple of short walks will ensure this breed stays fit, and they are very easy to housebreak and train. Their calm temperament means you shouldn't have any issues with barking, but they do need grooming once a day to keep their gorgeous coat in perfect condition.

3. Greyhound

Best dogs for anxiety: Greyhound

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Height: 24-30 inches
Weight: 55-80 pounds
Life expectancy: 10-12 years

You may think of Greyhounds as whipping around a race track, and that the fastest dog in the world probably isn't a great fit for your retirement years, however, Greyhounds are some of the calmest, quietest and easiest breeds to manage. 

Greyhounds go for short bursts of speed rather than needing exercise all the time, so as long as you can give them a chance to sprint all-out in a fenced-off area for a short period of time each day, they'll be happy loafing around on the sofa for the rest of it. They also need very little grooming and are one of the easiest-going and trainable breeds. This is one larger dog that won't be too much to handle.

4. French Bulldog

French Bulldog, one of the best dogs for seniors

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Height: 11-13 inches
Weight: 18-30 pounds
Life expectancy: 10-12 years

The incredibly easy-to-please and cheerful 'Frenchie' is never happier than when giving out and receiving affection. Perfect for apartment life, the affable French Bulldog isn't too keen on a lot of exercise – a quick trot to the shops or a play out in the yard will do them for the day. They’re a spirited breed and love getting up to goofy antics, but they also love curling up on your lap or next to you on the sofa for a cuddle. They are prone to overheating though, so aren't suited to hot environments.

5. Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu bounding happily across a grassy field, one of the best dogs for seniors

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Height: 8-11 inches
Weight: 9-15 pounds
Life expectancy: 10-15 years

Shih Tzus are very friendly small dogs that are perfect as lap warmers and thrive in smaller apartments. They crave love and attention and will be happy to follow you wherever you go. Playful, but only needing low amounts of exercise – one walk a day will suit them - they are otherwise happy to spend the rest of their time snuggling up with their owners. 

Shih Tzus love people and other animals, so if you have grandchildren coming over you can be confident they will be very welcoming to them. They can be a bit stubborn, but they still respond to training without too much resistance.

6. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

One of the best dog breeds for seniors, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

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Height: 12-13 inches
Weight: 13-19 pounds
Life expectancy: 12-15 years

These patient, affectionate, gentle and attractive puppy-like spaniels are never happier than when snuggling up to their chosen human companion - in fact, they were bred to be lap dogs for royalty. 

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are laid-back companions and are very easy to train. They will need moderate exercise – two walks a day – but are otherwise content with apartment life. It's important to exercise them in enclosed spaces though or on an extendable leash as they do have a strong tendency to chase after anything that moves! 

Their playful nature means they get on well with other animals and children. Their long silky coats will also need regular grooming sessions, so factor this in when making your decision on whether to own one.

7. Poodle

One of the best dogs for seniors: Poodle outside giving a high five to owner

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Height: 12-15 inches
Weight: 45-70 pounds
Life expectancy: 10-18 years

Personable, smart and easy to train, Poodles, despite appearances, are low-maintenance dogs. Requiring only one long-ish walk a day, they otherwise spend their time lounging around cuddling up to their owners. Poodles are also gentle and loving and will form strong bonds with more than one person, so they’re perfect for senior couples. 

Poodles have a great sense of humor and love to be pampered. You do need to consider that their fur will need regular grooming, how often will depend on how much fun you want to have with their very shapable hair!

8. Maltese

One of the best dogs for seniors: Maltese puppy sat amongst autumn leaves

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Height: 8-10 inches
Weight: 5-7 pounds
Life expectancy: 12-15 years

The tiny and elegant Maltese is another placid breed that was bred to be alap dog, so they have no qualms with just moderate exercise and otherwise spending time indoors. They are even small enough to be carried around in a bag! 

Lively and with a gentle temperament, Malteses love attention and are very responsive to the mood of their owners – so much so they are often used as therapy dogs. You can also train them to do fun tricks relatively easily - perfect for entertaining visitors. Be aware though, they will need regular grooming sessions to keep their white fur in tip-top condition.

Jamie Middleton

Jamie Middleton is a freelance editor and writer who has been editing and creating content for magazines and websites for over 20 years. As well as writing about the pets he loves, he has helped create websites about tech and innovation like, Innovate UK and TechSPARK, written programmes for music festivals, books on inventions and architecture, TV listings magazines, and edited publications about cars such as Lexus, Toyota and Jaguar. In his spare time he writes fiction books and poetry - or at least he does when he is permitted to by his cat Pirate, who enjoys the warmth of laptops too much to allow being creative to get in the way.