It is widely known that dogs can help to minimise feelings of stress, loneliness and isolation in the elderly, and are able to improve an individual’s physical and mental health. Dogs make wonderful, loyal companions, provide opportunities for exercise and physical activity and are capable of bringing joy and laughter to their owners.
So, what are the best dog breeds for seniors? Choosing the right dog is an important decision and there are many things that need to be considered, so it’s imperative to do your homework.
- Size – this will depend on your home environment, how much space you have available and whether you have a garden. Would a large dog be too strong for you to control on a leash? If you are living in aged care, establish if there are guidelines that determine if dogs are permitted and if so, is there a restriction on size.
- Energy levels/exercise needs – how active are you? If you are an active person who still walks or jogs every day, you may consider a dog that needs regular exercise. If you are mobility impaired or only exercise on occasion, you may be better suited to a dog who does not become bored or destructive easily, particularly if they are not exercised daily.
- Temperament – every breed and indeed every dog, has a very different temperament. Are you looking for a dog who enjoys constant companionship or would you prefer a dog who can tolerate being home alone for periods of time? Younger dogs can be boisterous and playful while older dogs are often calmer and lazier.
- Grooming– a dog’s coat has a major bearing on how much grooming and maintenance it requires. A dog with a long or curly coat may be prone to tangles and will need regular bathing, brushing and clipping. A dog with a short, smooth coat will rarely require grooming.
The breed of dog that suits one person may not suit the next. Like everyone, seniors have varied needs and preferences. Having said that, there are certain breeds that make great companion dogs on account of their unique traits.
Top Dog Breeds for the Elderly
- Poodle – intelligent and highly trainable nature. Doesn’t shed but needs to be groomed monthly.
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – small, quiet dog that loves to sit on your lap. Easy to train, loves to chase things.
- Boston Terrier – easy to train, friendly, requires minimal grooming, well suited to apartment life.
- Maltese Terrier – perfect lap dog, bright, gentle and playful, requires daily brushing and weekly bathing.
- Pembroke Welsh Corgi – high on energy, wants to please its owners, loves human attention.
- Beagle- energetic and sociable, loves to play, requires a secure garden as they are prone to escaping!
- Pomeranian – small and affectionate, brush twice weekly to keep coat healthy, requires firm, gentle leadership.
- Chihuahua – quirky and entertaining, good apartment animals, doesn’t like the cold weather.
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