Which are The Best Dog Breeds for Seniors?

Which are The Best Dog Breeds for Seniors?

Dogs, like most other species, come in all different shapes, sizes and natures. There are probably breeds that suit some people better than others, but it’s difficult to know which ones may suit you best. Never fear, HowPooch are here to help!

In this article we will focus on dog breeds specifically for our senior citizens, and attempt to answer the question; which are the best dog breeds for seniors. More specifically, we will cover:

  • Just who qualifies a “senior”?
  • We will then delve in to which dog breed will suit you and your lifestyle best
  • Browse the Dog Breeds Guide to find your match
  • Some additional things you need to consider

By you being here, I’m assuming that you are either a senior yourself and looking to buy a dog, or someone wanting to buy a furry friend for a senior close one. Throughout the article, I will refer to you as the senior wishing to buy a dog, but obviously the advice applies to both.

Who is Eligible for the Title “Senior Citizen”?

The first thing to understand is that there are lots of different types of seniors, so which type are you/your close one? Generally, a “senior” is referred to as someone who is retired and over the age of 60 hence, a senior could be anywhere between 60 and 100 (or more)! That is a big difference.

Companion Dogs VS Working Dogs

We all know the dog is man’s best friend! Getting a dog could be an excellent idea if you are feeling lonely. A dog will show you utter live and devotion, and in our humble opinion here at HowPooch, they will keep you young for longer!

Any working dogs can also be companion dogs – that said, certain dog breeds are just bred for specific tasks, and if they don’t get to action these, they will not thrive. Most of these can be dealt with through proper exercising, but remember that dogs (intelligent dogs particularly) need mental stimulation as well as physical stimulation.

Also read: DIY Obstacles for Dog Agility Training

Which Dog Breeds Suit My Lifestyle?

We’ve established there is a big difference in one senior and another senior in terms of age – so what other factors apply when trying to find a perfect pooch match? Well, we could spend days digging into the psychology of dogs and people, but we are going to keep it real basic and focus on 2 main points: the dogs activity level and size.

Which are The Best Dog Breeds for Seniors?

Activity Levels

Though all dogs require some form of physical and mental stimuli (just like you and I), some certainly need it more than others. For the purposes of this article, we have separated the dogs in the Dog Breeds Guide below into 4 main categories:

  • Very Active
  • Active with Backyard/Acreage
  • Regular
  • Sedentary

Very Active

We have defined this as being dogs that need at least 2 hours of active outdoor stimuli every day. If you don’t have a large backyard or live on acreage, you can still make it works as long as you are diligent about the minimum exercise requirements.

This does not mean a 1 hour walk everyday on a leash, but running free in a dog park or similar. Time in the backyard does not count – dogs need mental stimulation as well as physical, and this is achieved by new locations, new smells, new people/dogs, new games etc…

You Might Be Interested: Dog Agility Training Tips

Active With a Large Backyard or on Acreage

We have defined this as dogs needing between 1 – 2hrs of active outdoor stimuli every day, in addition to having a backyard or somewhere for your dog to roam when you are not out on a walk.

Regular Exercise

This refers to dogs needing the same exercise as the category noted above (about 1hr daily) but that do not necessarily need their own backyard.


These are dogs that are calm in nature and do not need as much stimulation as some of the other breeds. We have taken this category to mean a minimum of 3 hours of active outdoor stimulation every week.

If you feel like this is unachievable, then you should consider whether a different animal may be a better companion.

Your Physical Condition

It’s not just your activity level that plays a part in choosing a dog – another big factor to consider is size. Are you strong enough to control a large and heavy dog, that may pull on the lead, or spot a cat across the road? For everyone’s safety, it’s best to choose a dog that you can easily control.

In the Dog Breeds Guide below, we have divided dogs into 3 main categories (signified by a S, M or L in brackets after the dog breed name). Obviously some dogs will differ, so this is a rough guide only:

  • Small: 2-10kg
  • Medium: 10-25kg
  • Large: 25+ kg

Dog Breeds Guide

Very Active:

  • Appenzeller (L)
  • Australian Cattle Dog (M)
  • Border Collie (M)
  • Brittany (M)
  • Doberman Pinscher (L)
  • Giant Schnauzer (L)
  • Golden Retriever (L)
  • Husky (L)
  • Labradors (L)
  • Russell Terrier (S)
  • Setters (M)

Active With Backyard/Acreage:

  • Afghan Hound (L)
  • Akita (L)
  • Alaskan Malamute (L)
  • American Foxhound (L)
  • Australian Kelpie (M)
  • Basenji (S)
  • Beagle (S)
  • Bernese Mountain Dog (L)
  • Boxer (L)
  • Bull Terrier (M)
  • Bull Mastiff (L)
  • Dalmatian (M)
  • German Shepherd Dog (L)
  • Great Dane (L)
  • Greyhound (L)
  • Hokkaido (M)
  • Poodle (M)
  • Welsh Corgi (S)

Regular Exercise:

  • Most types of Terriers and Spaniels (S-M)
  • Affenpinscher (S)
  • Bearded Collie (M)
  • Bichon Frise (S)
  • Bloodhound (L)
  • Bulldog (M)
  • Chihuahua (S)
  • Chow Chow (M)
  • Collie (M)
  • Dachshund (S)
  • Miniature Schnauzer (S)
  • Pug (S)
  • Papillon (S)
  • Pomeranian (S)
  • Rottweiler (L)
  • Saint Bernard (L)
  • Schnauzer (M)
  • Shih tzu (S)


  • Basset Hound (M)
  • Biewer Terrier (S)
  • Bolognese (S)
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (S)
  • French Bulldog (S)
  • Pekingese (S)
  • Tibetan Spaniel (S)
  • Tornjak (L)
  • Tosa (L)

Bear in mind, though, that all dogs need exercise occasionally, and if you’re looking for a companion that can stay indoors for weeks on end, maybe a cat is a better option?

If you are struggling to find a good match in this guide, head to the American Kennel Clubs website – they have a very comprehensive tool which includes more dog breeds and more search criteria than our list above.

Which are The Best Dog Breeds for Seniors?

Some Other Things to Consider

We have listed a couple of additional things to consider when getting a dog. These items are not limited to senior dog owners, but applies to all owners:

Rescue Dogs

Once you have found your match (or a couple of options) we would highly recommend visiting your local dog shelter or researching rescue dogs nearby. Being elderly and taking in a “difficult” or aggressive dog is obviously not ideal, but most of these dogs are neither, many have simply been abandoned by their previous owners, and will love you even more for providing them a safe and loving home.

Who will take care of your dog?

Who will look after your dog when you are not around or able to?

This is a sad but important thing to consider – is there someone who is able (and willing!) to take care of your dog if you pass, or become unable to care for them yourself? Is there an alternative? Make sure you have a plan B if things don’t work out – the last thing you want to do is create another homeless dog.

Feeding your dog

Make sure the amount you are feeding your dog is relative to the exercise they are getting.

It’s very easy to look into those pleading puppy eyes and give in, but you mustn’t! You are not doing them any favours at all by feeding them junk, sugar or too much, no matter how much they make it seem like you are.

Human food is NOT dog food, and be careful of you give them scraps off your plate – not only are some foods downright poisonous to dogs, but dogs do not digest the same foods that humans do.

Also, if you are not able (or willing) to exercise your dog enough, you need to feed them less. This applies to when the dog gets older as well – when the dog no longer runs around the same way they used to, they also don’t need as much fuel as they once did.

Match the dog to your activity levels

Which are The Best Dog Breeds for Seniors?

We already touched on this previously, but it’s so important we want to mention it again. Your dream dog may be a Border Collie, but if you are house-ridden and unable to get out enough, or stimulate a dog enough both physically and mentally, then a Border Collie is not for you.

Active dogs that do not get exercised enough not only become sad, anxious, and sometimes depressed, but they often also behave very badly and act up (i.e. tearing your house down when you are away, excessive barking, chewing things to pieces etc) simply because they have too much pent-up energy.

Final Words

We hope you have gotten something out of this article, and that you managed to find a couple of matches that you are ready to look into further. Now contact your nearest dog shelter and go find your furry companion!

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