Best Dogs for Seniors According to Size and Breed

The best dogs for seniors are the ones that enrich your life while still meeting your unique needs as you age. Bringing a canine companion into your world can offer a positive, nurturing, and deeply personal relationship to your life as a senior. Not only do dogs help many seniors feel more safe and secure, but they can also lower stress levels, encourage you to spend more time exercising or walking in your neighborhood, and even feel more confident and connected.

The physical, emotional, and psychological impact of owning a pet can be life-changing. According to several studies, having a pet can lower blood pressure, increase activity, and even ease anxiety and depression. Another study discovered that owning a dog improves “environmental mastery,” which is one’s ability to fit and cope with their surrounding environment. For some seniors, this included basic tasks related to daily living. By walking, feeding, and caring for their dogs, seniors reported a deeper connection with themselves and with their greater environment.

If you’re considering adding a dog to your family, it’s important to begin with some research on the best dogs for senior citizens, and the best size and breed for your unique needs. Some seniors prefer a small companion dog that’s easy to travel with and requires minimal exercise; others opt for a more adventurous breed that demands more attention. Whatever you’re looking for, keep reading to find the perfect dog.

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Considerations for the Best Dog Breeds for Seniors

Good dog breeds for seniors span far and wide. As you begin your search on companion dogs for seniors, keep an eye out for what level of care and attention you’re prepared to give your new canine—so you can be realistic about what the best breed for your situation would be.

Here are five important factors to consider when it comes to the best dog breeds for seniors and retirees:

    Size:The size of your dog is perhaps one of the most important factors when choosing the right dog breed for yourself. While large dog breeds are certainly well-suited to serve as watchdogs and confidence-boosters, they’re also quite a bit heavier—so there’s added potential for them to knock you over or roughhouse just a bit too hard if they get overly excited. Large dog breeds also typically face a higher risk of certain medical conditions, which can potentially lead to higher vet bills. Small to medium size dogs are often the most popular options for the best dog breeds for seniors because they tend to be easier to handle, require less exercise, and may even be specifically bred to serve as companion dogs. Because of this, many small dog breeds have docile, sweet, and loving personalities.
    Energy Level:Because of the unique history of each breed, different breeds require different forms and levels of exercise to expend their available energy. If you live in the country or on a farm, a shepherd or collie might be a good fit—they could easily get their excess energy out by running around in the open area. However, if you live in a condo or are less interested in spending time exercising your dog, a smaller, less energetic dog is a great fit instead. It’s important to think long and hard about what type of lifestyle you want to have with your dog, and then what energy level is going to best suit your preferences. A dog with too much energy in a cramped space or without enough exercise can quickly become bored, restless, and even destructive in your home. You can save yourself and your future companion a ton of stress by being clear in your expectations for your dog’s energy level and how that fits into your life, and then choosing the right breed accordingly.
    Temperament:Just like you, dogs come with unique and memorable personalities. Some dogs—such as the quintessential golden retriever, for instance—are beloved for their sunny, bright, and cheerful dispositions. Other breeds may be prone to being stubborn, strong-willed, or even aloof. These breeds can be a little bit more frustrating and even pose an added challenge when it comes to training and behavioral problems. Don’t forget that your dog’s history plays an enormous role in their temperament. Depending on their background and history of trauma or neglect, some dogs may have severe reactions to specific things—or they may just be generally on the skittish or nervous side. As you begin your search of the best dogs for seniors — and for you, ask your breeder or rescue about the dog’s natural behavioral tendencies and what they’ve noticed about their personality and temperament.
    Grooming Requirements:Consider the skin and coat maintenance of the breed you have in mind. Some dogs need regular brushing and cuts—others can just be bathed every few weeks. Be realistic about how much time and energy you can put into grooming your dog and factor that into your decision.
    Age: Finally, your dog’s age is a very important factor to consider. Some dogs are predisposed to living longer naturally—particularly smaller dogs. When picking a dog, consider how long the dog might live and who would care for your dog if they outlive you. Another note to keep in mind: Puppies and younger dogs usually have a lot more energy than older dogs. Plus, most aren’t house-trained or socialized, so there will certainly be additional work—but those puppy faces are totally worth it if you’re up to the challenge.
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Best Dogs for Older People Overall

The best companion dogs for seniors and older people are very unique to your individual needs and abilities. While some seniors prefer large, active, and energetic dogs, others might prefer a mellow companion to pass the time. Regardless of exactly what’s right for you, here’s a list of some of the most popular and dependable dogs for senior citizens—ranging from high-energy noble creatures, such as the Greyhound, to a hilarious and fluffy companion, like the Havanese.

Adopted Dogs

Instead of buying a young puppy, consider adopting an older dog. There’s no doubt that puppies require tons of extra work—from housebreaking to obedience training to endless hours of playtime. Older rescue dogs, however, are often overlooked at shelters and can often be some of the best dogs for seniors. Adopting an older rescue dog gives them a new, bright lease on life.

Adult dogs also tend to have balanced, calm temperaments and can be good dogs for seniors. If you decide to move forward with adopting a rescue dog, take your time: Meet with shelter staff members who can answer any questions you may have on a dog’s personality or unique traits and tendencies. Try to gain as much information as you can about each dog before making a decision.

To locate local rescue groups, we recommend spending some time perusing the dogs available on This website includes listings of all available rescue animals within a specific mile radius of your location. Plus, you can also sort by breed, age, size, gender, coat, color, and much more. There are also quite a few rescues that cater primarily to matching seniors with the perfect pet. Take a look at local rescue groups in your area and see if there’s an organization with a similar mission—even if you don’t find the perfect dog, these rescues can be a great resource in helping you find the right match.


Oh, the classic Poodle. This iconic breed comes in three sizes: standard, miniature, and toy, and is often touted as one of the best dog breeds for seniors. So whether you’re searching for a dog on the larger or the smaller side, the Poodle makes a great fit. Incredibly smart, Poodles love activity and attention. They are their happiest when exploring the local park and enjoying your undivided attention. The only downside? With their curly hair, Poodles can require quite a bit of grooming.  

Activity Level: Low to moderate

Care Level: Moderate

Size: Standard: 45–70lbs, Miniature: 15–18lbs, Toy: 5–9lbs

Bichon Frise

Smart, funny, and playful, the Bichon Frise is a joyful small dog that makes a loving and devoted companion. These fluffy dogs are the perfect size if you’re looking for a trusted companion on the smaller end of the best dog breeds for seniors. Bichons are also quite easy to train and eager to please. Many bichon owners opt to take their dogs to the groomer every few months to ensure their curls are kept in check. 

Activity Level: Low to moderate

Care Level: Low

Size: 12–18lbs

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Worst Dogs Breeds for Seniors

While all dog breeds are wonderful, not all of them are right for your specific situation. If you lead a particularly active lifestyle and have the availability and space to exercise a high-energy dog, then a high-energy, larger dog might be a good fit.

But if you worry about keeping up with an energetic, intense dog as you age, it may be best to choose a calmer or older dog. Additionally, if you suffer from any health conditions that would make it difficult to handle a stronger dog, take a look at some of the best small dog breeds for seniors.

Here are some breed traits that could be a bad match for most seniors:

  • Intense exercise requirements
  • Overly playful or hyperactive
  • Excessive barking or extremely vocal
  • Destructive or aggressive tendencies
  • Stubborn, hard to control, or unruly

As you review your options, remember that most dogs have a lifespan of over 10 years. The standard age for considering a dog “senior” is when they reach the age of 7—but a great many dogs still have the same amount of vim and vigor as they did in their middle-age years, so don’t count on them slowing down right away.

For young seniors choosing a dog, be realistic about what the future may hold. If you have hesitations about committing to a dog for a decade or longer, look into adopting an adult dog instead. In many cases, middle-aged or senior dogs are looked over at rescues—but they’re usually wonderful, sweet, and loving dogs looking for the perfect human.

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Best Small Dogs for Seniors

Small dogs for seniors are a popular choice. They’re easy to care for and carry—and easy to transport and travel with if you like to jet set or road trip frequently. One common concern with smaller dogs is the level of barking or yapping. Rest assured that the dogs included on this list are on the quiet side and less prone to overexuberance. Some of the best dogs for seniors that may perfectly fit in a lap include the Havanese, the Pomeranian, and the Maltese—these dogs are calm, sweet, and witty companions.

Benefits of having a small dog include:

    They’re easy to travel with.Small dogs are super easy to travel with since their size doesn’t restrict a road trip and they’ll fit comfortably under your airplane seat. Many seniors love traveling with a smaller dog—you’ll have a companion no matter where you go!
    Good lap dogs.One of the best benefits of having a small dog is being able to pick them up and sit with them on your lap. If you’re a little bit less active and enjoy staying indoors and reading or watching movies, a small dog breed could be the perfect cozy companion.
    Bills are cheaper.Veterinarian and grooming services often cost substantially less for smaller dogs—and although no one wants to imagine having to deal with medical procedures for their dog, having a smaller dog often means fewer expenses.
    Perfect for small spaces.Whether you live in a condo, assisted living facility, or in a stand-alone home, a small dog doesn’t take up much space. Even if you need a dog bed or a crate, it’ll be much smaller compared to a large breed—so if you’re trying to save space at home, a small dog is definitely the way to go.
    They’ll eat less.Perhaps obvious, feeding a small dog costs substantially less than feeding a large dog with a big appetite and excess energy. Whatever diet you choose for your dog, having a small pup will save money in the long run—and you’ll have to run to the grocery store less to stock up!


The Havanese is an outgoing, curious, and highly intelligent small dog breed. Originally the national dog of Cuba, the Havanese were once bred for their companionship — easily making them one of the best dog breeds for seniors. Today, they’re some of the most playful, affectionate, and vivacious dogs you can add to your family. If you choose to keep your Havanese’s coat long, be prepared for quite a bit of grooming—it can tangle quickly.

Activity Level: Low to moderate

Care Level: Low to moderate

Size: 7–13lbs


Beloved for their quirky expressions, the Pomeranian has been a long-time popular companion and considered one of the best dog breeds for seniors. With a glorious chestnut coat, the Pomeranian is one of the world’s most popular toy breeds. They tend to be alert, engaged, and intelligent—you’ll want to make time to play with your Pom, exercise them with short walks or obedience classes, and teach them tricks and games to keep their brains engaged.

Activity Level: Low to moderate

Care Level: Low

Size: 3–7lbs


The tiny Maltese, the smallest toy breed on our list, is a stunning, elegant, and adaptable dog to add to your family. Maltese are affectionate and loving dogs-–but on the flip side, they are also fearless, make good watchdogs, and can even be athletes on the obedience or agility course. This small dog seems to pack in all of the great qualities of the best dog breeds for seniors in a tiny but bright package.

Activity Level: Low to moderate

Care Level: Low to moderate

Size: Under 7lbs

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Best Medium-Sized Dogs for Seniors

If you’re not sold on a small dog breed, consider a medium-sized dog instead. Although the term is fluid and covers a wide range of sizes and weights, we’ve selected our favorite medium-sized dog breeds that range from 18–30lbs. Medium-sized dog breeds are often more active than small breeds—however, they’ll typically require much less exercise than the larger breeds and they’re usually more adaptable in terms of how much living space they’ll need.

    They’re great with children and seniors alike.Medium-sized dogs are some of the most easy-going and approachable dogs around. They make wonderful dogs to have around children of all ages—they’re not easily rattled or scared, like some dogs may be, and they tend to be very reliable and dependable breeds.
    Traveling is still possible.Although traveling with a medium-sized dog is a bit more of a challenge than having a small dog, it’s still possible! Traveling in the car with a medium-sized dog is easy-breezy; however, if flying via airplane, they’ll probably need to fly as baggage rather than in-cabin.

French Bulldog

The classic French bulldog—we all know and love the Frenchie’s playful, irresistible, and smiling face. Known for their goofy, personable temperament, Frenchies are deeply adaptable, flexible, and happy to settle into new routines. While they’re certainly playful, Frenchies also have a calm, content, and relaxed side — making them a great option for one of the best dog breeds for seniors. Don’t be surprised if they want to cuddle on the couch after a day spent in the yard. If you live in a hotter climate, a French Bulldog—or a Bulldog of any type—might not be the best option as they tend to overheat easily and can suffer from breathing difficulties.

Activity Level: Low to moderate

Care Level: Low

Size: Up to 22lbs


Corgis, the iconic favorite pet of Queen Elizabeth II, are one of the most popular and best dog breeds for seniors. Instantly recognizable by their long bodies and short legs, Corgis are high-energy, lively, and intelligent dogs. Originally bred for herding, corgis do require a bit of activity each day. They love hiking and being outside—so frequent walks and mental stimulation are great ideas. Corgis can also be protective of their people, so if you feel more confident by having a guard dog, they’re a good option.

Activity Level: Low to moderate

Care Level: Low

Size: 24–30lbs

Scottish Terrier

The Scottie is a playful, spirited, and confident breed that is easily recognizable by their pointy ears and fluffy black coat. Scottish Terriers are perfectly content in small homes or condos, however, they do have spurts of energy and they’ll need a daily walk and some dedicated playtime every day. Originally working dogs, Scotties are very independent and efficient—but sometimes, they can be prone to acting a little bit aloof. Because of their lineage as a working breed, some Scotties may want to chase cats or other pets in your household, so it’s best if they’re your sole companion. Thanks to their silky coat, Scotties require weekly brushing and monthly grooming visits for maintenance.

Activity Level: Low to moderate

Care Level: Low

Size: 18–22lbs

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Best Large Dogs for Seniors

Lastly, we have our gentle giants: Retrievers, Greyhounds, and Goldendoodles. These fantastic breeds are magnificent creatures—and although they’re certainly big, they’re still happy to hang out and chill. If you’re considering a large dog breed, make sure to consider how much space the dog will need—and if you’re prepared to stay active with them.

Because large breeds are powerful and might not realize their own strength, investing in a quality dog obedience class or personal dog trainer to help you train your new dog can be a worthwhile option. Making sure your large dog responds well and reliably to vocal cues can save you from stressful situations.

If you travel often and want to bring your dog with you, be aware that it can be a challenge: Large breeds take up a lot of space in the car, and if you choose to fly, they’ll have to travel in the cargo hold. No matter what you decide, the addition of a canine companion into your life has so many incredible benefits that outweigh the occasional challenge.


One of the most dedicated and loyal breeds, Golden and Labrador Retrievers are incredibly wonderful dogs that make our list of best dog breeds for seniors that will add joy and affection to your life. A living embodiment of “man’s best friends,” Retrievers are friendly, intelligent, and deeply committed to their owners. With their eager-to-please, highly-trainable personalities, Golden Retrievers enjoy long walks, frequent exercise, and plenty of attention—from you and strangers alike. If you choose a Retriever, be prepared for a daily hike or walk to keep your Retriever happy and healthy.

Activity Level: Moderate to high

Care Level: Low

Size: 55–75lbs


If you’re a senior who loves exercise or has a large backyard or property, the Greyhound may be the perfect fit for you. These powerful dogs are known as the fastest dog breed—so at first glance, they might not seem like the best fit for seniors. However, Greyhounds are deeply kind, graceful, and gentle dogs, making them one of the best dogs for seniors. Many people opt to rescue a retired racing Greyhound to give them a second chance at life—helping these dogs find a nurturing, safe place to call home can be a powerful bonding experience for both of you. Beware though: they’ll probably need to go on a sprint every day just to burn off that excess energy. If you have a nearby dog park or a large backyard, that’s perfect—grab a frisbee or ball and go have some fun.

Activity Level: Moderate to high

Care Level: Low to moderate

Size: 60–70lbs


Goldendoodles combine the best traits of poodles and golden retrievers, easily making them one of the best dogs for seniors. With a goldendoodle you know you’ll be getting a wonderful, affectionate, and loyal dog. Goldendoodles are also hypoallergenic, so you won’t have to vacuum your sofa every day to maintain the hair. They’re also very intelligent and very trainable.

Activity Level: Moderate

Care Level: Low

Size: 50–90lbs

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Finding the Best Canine Companion For You

We hope this best dog for seniors guide was helpful as you consider the best dog breed for you. Knowing the best dogs for seniors, and taking the time to be thoughtful and intentional about your decision will have such a positive impact on the future of love, walks, and cuddles that awaits with your new canine companion.

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