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Best Dog Breeds for Older Adults

Dogs make great companions for people of all ages, but especially for older adults. Here’s what to know before bringing one home.

Whoever said you can’t buy happiness forgot about dogs.” -Gene Hill


The health benefits a canine friend can provide are numerous. In addition to being devoted confidants and companions, they encourage exercise and socialization. When a person welcomes a dog into their life, they usually become more motivated to take a few daily walks. That helps reduce stress, manage blood pressure, maintain a healthy weight, and improve overall well-being

Taking a dog for a stroll also makes it easier to socialize with neighbors along the way. You might even make new friends. There is also a sense of purpose that comes from having a pet who depends on you. Having someone to care for gives older adults the structure in life they might be missing if they are on their own. All of these benefits help lower the risks associated with isolation during the senior years.

, how do you go about finding the right pet for yourself or an older loved one?


In honor of National Dog Day on August 26th, we pulled together a few suggestions that might be helpful in finding a dog that is a good fit for your lifestyle.

What to Consider Before Adding a Dog to the Family

First, think about the budget. Can the pet owner afford the vet bills a dog will no doubt incur? The food expenses? A monthly trip to the groomer is also necessary for some breeds of dogs. All these expenses can add up and take a bite out of the budget if the older adult lives on a fixed income. And some breeds are known to be higher maintenance than others.

Next, instead of opting for a rambunctious puppy as many people do, think about adopting a senior dog. Shelters often have many older dogs who are looking for good homes. They are more likely to be housebroken and leash trained making them easier for a senior to manage.

Dog Breeds Best Suited to Seniors

A canine companion can be a great friend to a senior, especially if they live alone. Three factors that are important to consider are the dog’s size, temperament, and maintenance needs. If you or your loved one plan to move to a senior living community in the future, keep that in mind too. While many communities, including Sunrise, welcome dogs they may have pet policies which can include size restrictions

Here are some small- to mid-sized breeds that might be a good match for an older adult:

  • Poodle: Known for being smart and adaptable, there are many varieties of poodles. They range in size from teacup to large standard poodles. Most are easy to train. Their curly, dense coats do require frequent grooming. Poodles often live up to 18 years.

  • Yorkshire Terrier: Small in size but big in personality, Yorkies are another choice to consider. They like a lot of attention and exercise. Most weigh between 5 and 8 pounds and live between 11 and 15 years. One downside to this popular breed is they tend to be territorial which makes them barkers.

  • Maltese: These friendly little pups usually weigh between 5 to 10 pounds. Other than regular grooming, they don’t require a lot of upkeep. And the good news is they have a longer life expectancy than many breeds, usually 12 to 15 years.

  • West Highland Terrier: Also referred to as Westies, this breed of dog is slightly larger than the those mentioned already. They often weigh up to 20 pounds. Westies are smart, easy to train, and low maintenance.


We Love Dogs at Sunrise

From coast to coast, Sunrise Senior Living communities love pets. So much so, that we’ve even hosted adoption events. Read Sunrise Helps 24 Rescue Pets Find Homes at Adoption Events to see how we believe in the power of the paw! 

Article By: Sunrise Senior Living


Looking to learn more? 

We would love to help guide you on your senior living journey. Fill out the form and one of our senior living experts will be in touch within 24 hours to discuss any questions you have.

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