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13 Best Dogs for Seniors [2022]

Many seniors tend to feel lonely in their old age, especially if they have lost their partner or close friend. Dogs can be a great companion for seniors as they give unconditional love and support and they give them something to do. Here are some of the best dogs for seniors, and no, the Great Dane is not on the list.

best dogs for seniors

Dogs can be especially helpful for seniors with dementia. Studies have found that dogs slow the process by which seniors with dementia lose their memory because they keep them on a schedule and provide comfort when their owner is having a bad day or is distressed.

Canine companions are great for a number of reasons, one of the biggest being the amount of exercise seniors get when they own a dog. Not only do they play with them around the house, but dogs also need to be walked which is a great way for seniors to stay active.

Dogs can make great companions for people and boost emotional well-being because of their loving and exuberant personalities. These happy creatures can brighten anyone’s day and can help senior citizens stay active and get outside. Dogs are called man’s best friends because they love to shower people with adoration and receive human affection.

These are the 13 best dogs for seniors; they can serve as therapy dogs, playmates, or “children.”

1. Maltese

This dog has been a family dog for over 2000 years and their girlie looks are fun for owners to maintain. They have a lifespan of about twelve to fifteen years and are extremely cuddly for all the years of their lives.  Maltese will grow to be only 8 to 10 inches tall. They usually are under 10 pounds so they won’t be jumping up on people and pushing them over. They are not a hazard for older people who may have the risk of falling. This dog loves people and is often used for therapy. These pets are ideal because they are hypoallergenic and shed very little. They are extremely well-mannered and loving.

maltese for seniors

Although, they do have a high energy level so they also enjoy a good session of playtime. This dog breed is known for their affection level and they love to be spoiled, rating 5 out of 5 in the American Kennel Club profile. Thanks to their small size, this breed thrives in small homes which makes them great for a senior who has downsized to an apartment or townhome. They form an intense bond with their owner which makes them great companion dogs, but they are also known to suffer from separation anxiety.

2. Chihuahua

Chihuahuas have an incredibly long lifespan of anywhere from 12 to 20 years, and sometimes more. Chihuahuas are a very popular breed of dog due to their small size; they grow to be around four to six pounds and rarely grow to be a foot tall. On average they are 6 to 9 inches tall and only 3 to 6 pounds. This makes Chihuahuas excellent lap dogs.

chihuahua Best Dogs for Seniors

They make great companion dogs and they love to cuddle. This breed is unique in that it is an excellent watchdog and can be trained easier than other small dogs. They are usually very smart. They have big personalities and love to run and play. They are going to follow you around the house and make excellent companions on errands and traveling. They forget how small they are and it’s important that you be very careful with them around big dogs. It’s important that you check the health credentials of your breeder. You also must socialize your chihuahua with small children if there will be any around your house. It is possible that this breed comes from the ancient spiritual Toltec society and was revered as mystical healing creatures by the Aztecs.

Though they have a bad reputation of being vicious, their temperament depends on the way they are raised and the personality of their owner. They are easily provoked because they are aware of their size and are therefore always protecting themselves, but they are unbelievably loyal to just one person, which makes them a fantastic companion dog, and they are intensely protective over them. They will love curling up with you and even getting underneath your covers. As with many small, yappy breeds, they make an incredible watchdog and will be very dedicated to their owner and making their owner happy.

Depending on your preference you can get a short-haired chihuahua or a long-haired chihuahua.

3. Yorkshire Terrier

This little love grows to be about 4-6 pounds in weight and only 8 to 9 inches tall. Their average lifespan is anywhere from 12 to 15 years. Yorkies are undoubtedly the most famous of the very small dog breeds and they are good inside dogs.

yorkshire terrier Best Dogs for Seniors

They make take a while to adjust to new pets but they can be raised with other pets. You will want to crate train a Yorkie (as they are affectionately called) because it can be somewhat challenging to house train these little ones. They will be able to get along with your neighbor’s pets once they get to know them. These dogs do not shed much but do require daily brushing so their coat doesn’t get tangled. They are prone to digestive problems, barking, and dental problems. They can be trained not to bark with patience though.

Yorkies are a part of the toy breed class and they make a great companion dog. This breed is entirely aware of their adorable appearance, but they also return the affection that they receive. Yorkies are a very active breed and they tend to be quite curious, although they can become overprotective of their owner. This may not always be considered a bad thing, though. Thanks to their overprotective nature and notorious barking, they also make fantastic watchdogs which makes it one of the best dogs for seniors who are losing their hearing.

4. Pomeranian

This teacup dog usually only grows to be 3 to 7 pounds and they will usually be about 7 inches to 1 foot tall. This toy breed had an average lifespan of about 12 to 16 years. They love to take walks and make great indoor dogs for older people. They are independent and can be by themselves at times.

pomeranian Best Dogs for Seniors

They’re also very alert and can be a bit yappy which makes them an excellent watchdog as well. You can teach them not to bark if you train them consistently and they make excellent watchdogs. They are soft and cuddly and if brushed regularly, they are not too high maintenance. They are not likely to chew on furniture or destroy carpet like large dogs often do in their younger years.

They have a luxurious coat and love to receive affection. They are a decently active breed that loves to play when they are puppies, but they grow more calm and docile in their older age. Pomeranians are extremely friendly and social dogs who crave their owner’s presence. Poms are also an easy breed to train thanks to their people-pleasing attitude and intelligence. Pomeranians are the only small breed in the top 10 of the most intelligent dogs. This can make it one of the best dogs for seniors.

Pomeranians make a great breed for seniors because of their loving temperaments and the bond that they create with their owners makes them great therapy dogs as well.

5. Shih Tzu

This adorable pet breed hails from China and lives to be 10 to 16 years old. This breed is very friendly and loves to follow people around the house. They are very light, usually no heavier than 9 to 16 pounds. They are going to require some brushing every day and light exercise.

shih tzu

They are well-mannered and not aggressive. They can be house trained but it might be a somewhat challenging task. The challenge is worth it though because of the affection they give their owners which is invaluable and heartwarming.

As with all breeds, temperaments will vary based on each individual dog. Typically, a Shih Tzu will have a very sweet and ideal personality. They are known for being very loyal and affectionate as well as outgoing and extremely alert to their surroundings. Although, you must socialize a Shih Tzu from a young age and teach them basic commands in order to avoid them having a stubborn personality when they reach maturity. They make an excellent watchdog which is ideal for seniors and they also make a great companion dog due to their affectionate personalities. They love to receive affection and to be spoiled, but they can become very needy if ignored for too long. Shih Tzus love playtime, but will happily lay in your lap and watch a movie.

6. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

This breed is classified as a toy breed, although they are a bit bigger dogs than many others. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is one of the friendliest dog breeds and they grow to be about one foot tall. A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel can grow to be somewhere between thirteen and eighteen pounds. Also unlike other toy breeds, their life expectancy is a bit less than average with them usually living for around 9 to 14 years.

cavalier king charles spaniel

They do not need a ton of exercise and the more restful King Charles dogs are often used as therapy dogs. A cavalier will follow you around the house with adorable eyes and make sure you’re never lonely. They respond to positive reinforcement and are always very sweet. They are prone to gaining weight if they don’t get exercise so it will be motivation for their owner to get outside and walk with them. The only foreseeable challenge is housetraining but they respond well to structure and regularity which can, in turn, help structure their owner’s time as well by holding them accountable. This breed is not much of a guard dog and does shed seasonally although their consistently friendly personality makes up for it.

Cavaliers are known for their extremely affectionate personalities and people-pleasing attitudes. They aren’t shy at all and they love meeting new people, so long as they receive proper attention. They can easily adapt to any environment which makes them ideal for a senior who likes to travel and they make exceedingly good companion dogs. They are an active breed, but are also very obedient, so, they can be trained to be calmer.

7. French Bulldog

This dog grows to be an average of 11 to 12 inches tall and has an extremely friendly demeanor which makes for a great breed for senior citizens. French Bulldogs are always great conversation starters because of their beautiful looks.

french bulldog

They are not big shedders and have minimal grooming needs so they require little work. This dog is a ham for affection and makes for an excellent lap dog and companion. They are very human-centric and love to show love. This dog should be socialized with other dogs so it doesn’t get too protective. It can be trained if it’s done in a playful way. They are definitely indoor dogs who like to relax and can also enjoy playing.

8. West Highland White Terrier

These adorable dogs are usually about ten inches tall and their average weight is only 13-20 pounds. They don’t require an abundance of exercise and they are friendly. They will usually live from twelve to sixteen years which is quite long for a dog. These friendly creatures are easy to carry and aren’t big enough to knock someone over.

west highland white terrier

This breed is usually called ‘Westies’ and they were bred for hunting or for an old (now illegal) gambling game called ratting. They are self-entertaining and independent so you don’t have to worry about them barking from anxiety if you leave. He is smart enough to bark if he suspects danger so he is a good watchdog. He is quick to pick up on training and one of the best things about westies is that they are extremely low maintenance. He is not a big shedder and only requires one to two walks daily. Usually, westies have a calm demeanor in the house and they are definitely not meant to be outside dogs.

9. Havanese

This breed is extremely intelligent and loyal. A Havanese is especially easy to train due to their habitual nature, but they can be difficult to house train as puppies. A Havanese tends to form an intense bond with just one owner which makes them great for a senior who has lost their partner.

havanese for seniors

This breed doesn’t do well with being left alone for extended periods of time. Havanese don’t have an exceedingly high energy level, but they do enjoy a brisk walk with their favorite human and they are happy to be finished when you are. They are highly friendly, although they come off as shy when they first meet someone new. Havanese are famous for showing off in order to receive attention and will happily reciprocate the affection that they receive.

10. Toy Poodle

Poodles come in a variety of sizes, but the tiny Toy Poodle is a great small dog for seniors. Toy poodle has a fantastic personality and temperament as a dog breed for seniors, extremely smart, energetic dog, and incredibly social.

toy poodle 1

They need to be introduced to someone new before they will warm up to them, but they also create a strong bond with no more than two owners. Toy Poodles do terribly with being left alone and can get very anxious when they haven’t seen you for an extended period of time, although they are not known for being a nervous breed. Toy Poodles can be easily trained due to their intelligence and are hypoallergenic as well which makes them great for a senior with allergies. They are as active as you are and will happily curl up on your lap after a long day.

11. Papillon

Papillons are often confused for Pomeranians, although they are actually a member of the Spaniel family. They are toy spaniel that typically grows to be about seven to ten pounds and has a long lifespan of up to seventeen years. They are known for their adventurous personalities and their love of affection.


They don’t have many health concerns and this fact coupled with their long lifespan makes them ideal for someone who lost their partner; they won’t have to deal with the loss of another companion because they have such a long life expectancy. They don’t need a lot of exercise because their playtime will usually take care of that, but they are also happy to go on a daily walk if you so choose. They are very intelligent and easy to train; they also love to be given a job, like picking up their own toys and putting them away.

12. Cairn Terrier

A Cairn Terrier usually weighs around ten to sixteen pounds and will only grow to be about a foot tall. They have a shaggy outer coat with an incredibly soft undercoat and can come in a variety of colors. Their average lifespan is between twelve and seventeen years.

cairn terrier

Cairns are an active breed, but this can be satisfied with a daily walk as they will be mostly content with their playtime exercise. This breed is also known for being fearless which means they will make an excellent watchdog, but they may also get themselves into trouble with other dogs and they should be supervised. They love to be pet and given affection and will do just about anything to please you. Although, it should be noted that, as a member of the Terrier family, they have a primal hunting instinct, so their way of showing affection may be to bring you a captured mouse or small bird.

13. Lhasa Apso

Lhasas are a small breed that grows to be about thirteen to fifteen pounds and about a foot tall. Their average lifespan is somewhere between thirteen and fourteen years and they can be found in just about every color.

lhasa apso 1

They were bred in Tibetan monasteries, so you can be sure that your Lhasa Apso will have a very calm and docile nature. They are a bit cautious around strangers and may try to protect you from them if they aren’t properly socialized, but this is their way of displaying their love and loyalty. They are a very intelligent breed but are also known for clowning around when they want your attention.

Now you can find your best dogs for seniors

Of course, there are many suitable dogs for seniors. The right dog breed depends on a person’s activity level, home size, and other pets. If you are looking to be extremely active, you may want to get a larger breed that is more resilient and will benefit from longer hikes, runs, or outdoor camping excursions. If you live on a farm and the house doors are frequently open, an outdoor dog might be a better option. Small dogs are ideal for smaller homes and meant to be kept indoors unless they are being walked on a leash so they can be protected from predators. You can also check which breeds are not suited for seniors.

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