As we age, life changes. Children grow up and move away, and some seniors who were heavily invested in their careers may feel like they lack a purpose in retirement. Family members and medical professionals are often most concerned for their elderly loved one’s physical health, but feelings of loneliness and other emotional health problems are equally important to treat. Along with all these factors to consider, maintaining as independent a lifestyle as possible is critical to the priorities of many seniors.
One method to addressing this need for independence—as well as mitigate these physical and emotional concerns—is acquiring a canine companion. Dogs are fiercely loyal and can be invaluable company for senior citizens. But which dogs are most suited to the job? Some dog breeds are large and hyperactive; some small and placid. There are also dog breeds that are well-known for their affectionate qualities.
Even if a senior may be unable to fully provide for and handle a dog by themselves, this doesn’t necessarily mean the option is off the table. If you are a recipient of in-home care services, your care agency may even help look after the dog during their regular visits. Getting help for seniors living alone through options like dog ownership and in-home care allows you to age independently in your own home.
Dog Breeds for Seniors
Seniors can benefit from the companionship given by a variety of dog breeds, including some not appearing on the list below. Depending on what their specific needs are, there are dog breeds that don’t require a lot of exercise and dog breeds that don’t shed a lot. Our list reflects dogs which are either low maintenance, small-sized, or just those known to be affectionate and easily trusted around people and other dogs.
Beagles are very affectionate and friendly. They do, however, like a degree of independence. This makes them perfect for a senior as they can be left to their own devices on occasion. The fun thing about beagles is that they are very vocal: known for their distinctive howl. Beagles as a breed date back as early as the 1300s and originate from England.
Their original job was concerned with tracking. They love sniffing out a scent and following a trail. The build of a beagle is pretty small, so if you or your loved one is hesitant about larger dogs they’re the perfect size.
In general, beagles make a great companion. They don’t enjoy spending long hours alone, which is absolutely fine considering that during the golden years people are often retired and spend a lot of time at home.
The beagle is also known as a pretty healthy breed, making it a candidate for an ideal partner for a senior.
Relatively speaking, beagles are more low maintenance than other dog breeds. Siberian huskies, for example, are vulnerable to autoimmune disorders, while bulldogs often have respiratory problems. In comparison to this, the beagle is an excellent choice for a senior in terms of their overall good health and immunity to a host of diseases that plague other breeds.
A bichon frise can make an excellent pet for a senior for a few reasons, but the biggest is that it doesn’t shed! Usually having a dog means that you have to do a lot of vacuuming because of the dog shedding, but your house will be completely hair free with a bichon.
Not only this, but bichon frises are really small and lightweight. There is no danger of them jumping all over someone excitedly and hurting them accidentally. They have a friendly temperament and love to show off and entertain their owners. A senior will get endless hours of fun and entertainment from their little bichon frise running around the house.
The bichon frise dog breed is descended from the barbet, also known as the water spaniel. The name bichon started as a derivative of barbet (barbichon) which was later shortened to bichon. It first originated from the Mediterranean parts of the world.
Maltese make excellent companions, having actually been originally bred for this purpose. Maltese are very small dogs who are gentle and very loving. Their tiny size and the fact that their coat doesn’t shed makes them the perfect dog for a senior. They do require regular exercise (as most breeds do) but you won’t find them pulling on the lead the way larger, more boisterous dogs do. They make a great walking companion for leisurely strolls around the neighborhood.
Last but not least we have the golden retriever. This is one of the most affectionate and placid dog breeds. Retrievers are highly trainable, dependable, and can be made to perform helpful tasks around the house or even fetch the paper in the mornings. Now, this means they’re not the perfect guard dog because no doubt they’d want to lick a burglar, but in terms of companionship they are perfect. Golden retrievers are great with strangers and children, making them a good choice for anyone with grandchildren or in-home care aides.