12 Best Dogs for Seniors

older man hugging a dog and holding a jug of milk on a farm with goats in the background

We all know that dogs are a (wo)man’s best friend, but what kinds of dogs are the best for seniors? 

 

If you’re looking for a new furry friend, you’re in luck. There are a number of great dogs that make perfect companions for older adults. 

 

Some breeds are known to be gentle and easy to care for, while others are more active and playful. Choosing the right dog can make a big difference in the quality of both your and your dogs’ life, so it’s important to do your research before making a decision.

 

But first, here are some reasons why you should consider adopting a furry companion.

 

Why Seniors Should Consider Getting a Dog

A growing number of older adults are choosing to adopt a dog. And there are plenty of reasons why this can be a great decision:

 

  • Helps reduce stress – pets can provide comfort by actually producing a chemical reaction in your brain that lowers levels of cortisol and increase levels of serotonin
  • Increases social interaction – all those dog-related errands, like going to the vet, groomer, pet store and walks, will keep you engaged in the community and help you meet other friends and dog owners
  • Increases your physical activity – when you take your dog for a walk, you too will leverage the benefits of exercise
  • Lowers your blood pressure and reduced cardiovascular risks – the American Heart Association conducted studies that show pet owners have lower blood pressure and smaller increases in heart rate in response to stress
  • Reduces depression – your dog can actually give you a sense of meaning and purpose and fill your need to be needed
  • Offers security – this doesn’t go for all dogs, but some can scare off unwanted strangers 
  • Staves off loneliness – there’s no better feeling than being greeted at the door by a wagging tail and wet nose

 

So, if these benefits make you think you’re ready to bring a dog into your life, read on for our 12 picks of the best dogs for seniors.

 

What Are the Best Dogs for Seniors?

Small Dogs

#1 Bichon Frise

bichone frise dog breed information: personality, grooming, energy levels, and life span

Bichon frise is one of the best small dogs for seniors because of their wonderful personality — they’re known for being friendly, playful, and outgoing. 

 

Don’t let their wonderful, fluffy coat fool you, bichons are quite low maintenance. You can maintain their plush fur a visit to the groomers once a month.

 

Bichon frises are high-energy dogs that need moderate amounts of exercise, but a lot of time for play. They’re ideal for older adults that have time to devote to their needs.

 

#2 Shih Tzu

shih tzu dog breed information: personality, grooming, energy levels, and life span

Shih Tzus are best known for being affectionate charmers. They are loyal and loving companions who will stay by your side through thick and thin.

 

Shih Tzus don’t need much exercise and can live happily indoors as long as they get plenty of attention from their owners. And if you’re willing to brush them daily to prevent tangles and provide lots of cuddles, shih tzus are one of the best lap dogs you could wish for.

#3 Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

cavalier king spaniel dog breed information: personality, grooming, energy levels, and life span

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniels is a gentle and loving dog that is perfect for old adults. They are known for their friendly personality and are always happy to please their owner. 

 

They are also very easy to train, making them a perfect choice if you don’t have a lot of experience with dogs. Best of all, cavaliers adapt to your lifestyle. They can be real couch potatoes or active little athletes, depending on how you raise them.

 

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance best friend, cavaliers are a perfect fit. 

 

Medium-Sized Dogs

#4 Pembroke Welsh Corgi

pembroke welsh corgi dog breed information: personality, grooming, energy levels, and life span

Corgis are known for their adorable short legs and their wiggly bums. 

 

They are friendly, intelligent, and have a perky personality that will keep you active and entertained. Plus, they don’t require a lot of grooming so their coat is easy to maintain. But they are inquisitive and bright and need a job or an activity to be satisfied.

 

For those looking for a loyal new friend to keep you busy, consider adopting a corgi.

 

#5 Basset Hound

basset hound dog breed information: personality, grooming, energy levels, and life span

Basset hounds are very people-oriented. Maybe even to the point where they’re a bit clingy.

 

But if you’re willing to take your new furry friend along to ease their separation anxiety, you’re in for a treat. Bassets are extremely loyal and a little stubborn. They’re famous for their droopy eyes and long ears, and they’re as mellow as they look.

 

If you’ve already owned a dog, know how to train one with a stubborn attitude, and are prepared for a bit of drooling, a basset could be your steadfast companion.

#6 Cocker Spaniel

cocker dog breed information: personality, grooming, energy levels, and life span

Cocker spaniels are loyal, friendly, and always up for a good game of catch. Plus, their soft coat and long ears make them irresistably cute.

 

This sweet-natured puppy is very adaptable to your lifestyle and energy levels, but they’re very high-maintenance. If you don’t mind brushing and grooming it daily, adopting a cocker spaniel could be one of the best decisions you make.

 

Large Dogs

#7 Golden Retriever

golden retriever dog breed information: personality, grooming, energy levels, and life span

Golden retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds in America. And for a good reason.

 

They’re friendly, gentle, and good with kids – making them the perfect family pet. Golden retrievers are also relatively easy to train and groom, which is important if you’re a busy senior. 

 

Golden retrievers are one of the best dogs for seniors who enjoy lots of activity — so if you’re looking for a breed that will keep you busy, active, and entertained, goldies may be up your alley.

 

#8 Greyhound

greyhound dog breed information: personality, grooming, energy levels, and life span

Even though greyhounds are known for being racing dogs, they’re not as active as you might think.

 

These gentle giants are loving and friendly. The only caveat here is they have an independent spirit. As long as you’ve had experience with training larger dogs, a greyhound could be the perfect fit. They’re easy to train, especially if you adopt them as puppies. 

 

#9 Bernese Mountain Dog

bernese mountain dog

​​These gentle giants are calm, docile, and make great companions as emotional support dogs. Plus, they’re sturdy enough to handle any weather conditions, so they’re perfect for those who live in colder climates. 

 

Bernese mountain dogs harbor undying devotion to their owner and they’re a perfect fit if you’re an active, outdoorsy person.

 

If you’re ready for the challenge of owning a bigger, active dog, there is a bernese out there just waiting to shower you with their undivided love and attention.

 

Hypoallergenic Dogs 

#10 Schnauzer

schnauzer dog breed information: personality, grooming, energy levels, and life span

Even though schnauzers look grumpy, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Or a dog by its snout, in this case. 

 

While they’re known to have a bit of an attitude towards other dogs or strangers because of their history of being proud guard dogs, Schnauzers are friendly and loving to their owners. They’re very intelligent and easy to train, so don’t let their “tiny general” look put you off. 

 

#11 Yorkshire Terrier 

yorkshire terrier dog breed information: personality, grooming, energy levels, and life span

Yorkies are one of the best breeds for seniors because they’re small and easy to take care of, and they’re also playful and affectionate.

 

Be warned, they are quite vocal and lively. Yorkies are tenacious dogs that never back down from a challenge. Or from a cuddle session for that matter.

 

If you don’t mind their feisty attitude, this toy-sized puppy could be a great fit.

 

#12 Poodle

poodle dog breed information: personality, grooming, energy levels, and life span

Poodles are one of the smartest dog breeds and they’re extremely easy to train. 

 

They come in a variety of colors and sizes, so there’s sure to be one that will fit your lifestyle and personality. If you’re thinking about getting a dog, and don’t mind the grooming maintenance, consider a poodle – you won’t regret it. 

 

Getting a Dog Later in Life

When most people think of adopting a dog, they imagine taking home a bouncy puppy. But senior dogs can make just as excellent pets – and in some ways, they might even be better choices for older adults.

 

As someone who has adopted a senior dog, I would say that is the best option for older adults as well. Senior dogs are often overlooked in animal shelters, but they make the best companions. They’re already house-trained and know how to behave around people. 

 

Plus, they’re usually more mellow and relaxed than young puppies (which can be a lot of work). So why not give a homeless senior dog a loving home?

 

And of course, if you’re up for the initial puppy training, adopting a younger dog is a great way to bond with them from an earlier stage. 

 

Either way, finding the right dog as your companion can certainly help you live your ideal active, healthy, and engaged retirement lifestyle

 

And remember — adopt, don’t shop!

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portrait of Cyn Meyer, founder of Second Wind Movement and a certified retirement life coach
Cyn Meyer 

Retirement Life Coach

As a certified retirement life coach since 2018, Cyn has helped thousands of older adults turn their retirement years into remarkable years full of growth, purpose, and passion. Through her signature program Rewire My Retirement, she helps people achieve their best life across the 5 Rings of Retirement, which covers topics Growth, Community, Health, Giving Back, and Finance.


Cyn combines specific life coaching tools, neuroscience, and her extensive background in marketing (spanning 17 years) to make a powerful impact with Second Wind Movement – an organization dedicated to providing educational resources and coaching for seniors.

With meticulous research, insight, and passion, Cyn’s mission is to usher in a new wave of positive experiences for generations of retirees.

portrait of Cyn Meyer, founder of Second Wind Movement and a certified retirement life coach

Cyn Meyer 

Retirement Life Coach

As a certified retirement life coach since 2018, Cyn has helped thousands of older adults turn their retirement years into remarkable years full of growth, purpose, and passion (beyond the stereotypical financial planning side of retirement). 

She combines specific life coaching tools, neuroscience, and her extensive background in marketing (spanning 17 years) to make a powerful impact with Second Wind Movement – an organization dedicated to providing educational resources and coaching for seniors.

With meticulous research, insight, and passion, Cyn’s mission is to usher in a new wave of positive experiences for generations of retirees.