Next to grandkids, few things can brighten your golden years like the companionship of a beloved dog. It’s like having your best friend, favorite grandchild, and personal trainer all in one, always ready to walk, listen, cuddle, or even just snooze by the fireplace with you!
As you face retirement or the prospect of moving to a smaller residence or a senior home, you should think about what kind of dog is best to take along.
Will you be able to handle your dog when it gets boisterous? Is it likely to drag you down when you take a walk in the park? Will it interrupt your leisurely read of the newspaper or annoy the neighbors with its yapping? Is it safe to have around when the grandkids visit?
These are just some of the considerations you have to take in mind when deciding whether to take your current dog with you into retirement or when getting a new one.
In this article, we tell you which breeds of dogs are best for the elderly, which breeds are the worst, and which dogs are recommended but may have one or two deal-breakers depending on your new lifestyle.
Benefits of Having a Dog for Seniors
In February, 59-year old Brian Myers suddenly fell to the floor and couldn’t get up.
His left side had gone numb. His recently adopted dog Sadie woke him up by licking his face, then allowed him to hang onto her collar so she could drag him within reach of his phone.
Thanks to Sadie’s action, Myers was rushed to a hospital in time to survive a massive stroke.
This is just one of no few stories of dogs dramatically saving their owners’ lives. But really, there are even more though subtler cases of dogs prolonging our lives simply by helping us stay healthier.
Simply owning a dog has been shown to:
- Increase seniors’ happiness and satisfaction with life
- Ease seniors’ feelings of loneliness from living in an empty nest
- Gives seniors a sense of purpose in life
- Boosts seniors’ self-esteem
- Keeps seniors’ minds active and engaged
- Encourages seniors to maintain a healthy daily routine, including regular mealtimes
- Encourages socializing with neighbors and other people, which promotes mental health
- Encourages taking exercise, especially outdoor exercise
- Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Reduces overall risk of death from any cause by as much as 24% compared to non-dog owners
- Reduces risk of death by heart attack by as much as 65% compared to non-dog owners
- Reduces risk of death by cardiovascular issues by as much as 31% compared to non-dog owners
Many of these benefits come from a dog’s friendly and affectionate nature, and its need for attention, exercise, and care. Just like having a child, having a dog engages our parenting instincts, challenging us to stay alive and healthy because a loved one needs us.
How to Choose a Dog for a Senior
While dogs of any breed can make lovable pets, not all dog breeds are suitable for the changed lifestyle and capabilities of a senior.
For instance, I once had to help our landlady up from a fall after her very active dog dragged her off-balance.
The dog wasn’t large, it wouldn’t have topped twenty pounds, but it was excitable and our landlady’s balance was compromised by a medical condition.
She loved that dog but ended up wishing she’d gotten a smaller, calmer pooch.
When choosing a dog for a senior citizen, ask how large a dog they can handle, how capable they will be of meeting its needs for exercise and play, and what kind of dog might match the senior’s personality.
Also, consider your circumstances. Can you afford a dog that needs frequent visits to the vet?
The recommendations below are based mainly on energy levels and size.
In general, seniors should avoid owning dogs with high levels of energy and drive to hunt or chase things, as this can lead to exhaustion or accidents when exercising the dog, or a frustrated dog that may unleash its steam by chewing stuff, digging, escaping, or even aggression.
Hunting and herding breeds in particular tend to have high energy levels and drive.
Size is also a very important factor to consider, with a preference for smaller dogs that are unlikely to physically overwhelm their owners.
Remember that falls are the number one cause of injury-related death for the elderly. A few large breeds get recommended anyway if they have a very laid-back nature and low energy that lessens their physical challenge.
The next factor is temperament.
Dogs with an easygoing, friendly nature, and less likelihood to yap, are recommended over dogs that are overly protective or tend to be aggressive.
Dogs that can be trusted to play safely with small children ranked higher, as you can bet most of your grandkids will want to play with your dog.
Happiness is also a big deal-breaker if you prefer peace and quiet, or if you’re moving into a condominium where the noise could easily bother neighbors.
Also, consider whether you’ve had experience keeping dogs before or not. If this is going to be your first dog, make a list of what dog behaviors are likely to bother you, and what dog needs you may have difficulty meeting.
Our landlady for example is an avid gardener. When her dog turned out to be an incorrigible digger and plant-chewer, it drove her nuts.
To save you time and money from overly frequent trips to the vet or groomers, you also want to choose a breed with fewer health issues and less tendency to shed or get matted fur.
Avoid purebreds of breeds known to easily develop bone problems such as the dachshund and chow chow, respiratory problems like the pug, and multiple vulnerabilities such as the cocker spaniel.
You can also save yourself a lot of back-breaking sweeping and vacuuming by selecting a breed that sheds less.
Best Dog Age for Seniors
Whatever their breed, puppies will have much more energy than adult dogs along with higher maintenance needs overall. If you’re getting a new dog in your senior years, it’s better to get a dog that’s already mature, one between four to seven years old.
By this age, these dogs will have been housebroken and trained, and will be less active, and have a more stable temperament. It’s even better if the dog is neutered, as this also improves docility.
If you’re getting the dog straight from its original owners, you’ll also have the benefit of being able to ask about the dog’s personality in detail from a good source as they’ve had it for quite a while.
If you’re adopting from a shelter, try to find as much about the dog’s personality as you can before you adopt it, or do a trial adoption first. Unless you’re going to have company at home to help you, it’s better to leave the problem dogs to younger adopters.
On the other hand, if you’re still active but preparing for your retirement, you can consider getting a puppy of a breed you can grow old with. This lets you enjoy the dog’s puppyhood, and is less likely to give you problems than an adopted dog that has issues.
15 Best Dog Breeds for Seniors in General
The following breeds are recommended for their generally small size, moderate to low energy levels, even temperament, and relatively low maintenance requirements. They are suitable for seniors of any lifestyle and reasonable capability.
|Bichon Frise||Small||High||Separation anxiety-prone|
|Bolognese||Tiny||Medium||Fragile due to size|
|Cavalier King Charles Spaniel||Small||Medium||Separation anxiety-prone|
|French Bulldog||Medium||Low||Prone to obesity, Breathing problems|
|Griffon Bruxellois||Tiny||High||May fight other dogs|
|Japanese Chin||Tiny||Medium||Separation anxiety-prone|
|Lhasa Apso||Small||Medium-high||High prey drive, Noisy|
|Maltese||Tiny||Medium||High prey drive, Noisy|
|Poodle||Tiny-Medium||Medium-high||Destructive when bored, High grooming needs|
|Scottish Terrier||Small||Medium-high||Noisy, Wanderlust, Stubborn|
|Shih Tzu||Small||Low||Vulnerable to eye injuries|
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a toy dog that was once a favorite of European royalty.
Bred for placidity, it weighs only 13-28 pounds, has moderate energy levels, sweet, friendly nature, and is fine with children and other pets.
However, it requires constant companionship, and won’t be at ease if you leave it alone for long.
Believe it or not, the pompadoured poodle was originally bred to be a water dog, used to retrieve ducks and geese for hunters. The name comes from the German word for the puddle.
It comes in four size varieties: Standards range 44-71 lb, Mediums range 33-42 lb, Miniatures range 26-31 lb, and Toys range a mere 14-17 lb.
The poodle’s high intelligence and easy trainability, gentle nature, and moderate energy levels make it a good companion for seniors.
Active seniors will appreciate walking and playing with a Standard or Medium Poodle, while more sedentary retirees will find the Miniature and Toy to be good housemates.
Boston Terriers are small gentle dogs known for their friendly personalities, eagerness to please, and a sense of humor.
They can become very protective of their owners, which can make them aggressive to other dogs and strangers unless well-trained. Bosties range from 6-25 lb.
Boston Terriers have moderate energy levels and a low tendency to bark, making them suitable for life in apartments. They can get along well with children and other pets if properly socialized.
The fluffy Maltese is the lapdog’s lapdog: bright, gentle, playful, and weighing only 4-7 pounds.
Their attentiveness to human emotions makes them used often as therapy dogs. They have moderate energy levels, and despite their luxuriant coats don’t shed much. They’re also hypoallergenic.
The Bichon Frise is a cousin to the Maltese, with much the same personality: loving, gentle, playful, eager to please but always craving attention. They get along well with children and other pets and are easily trained if started young.
However, they’re prone to separation anxiety so don’t leave one alone for long.
Bichon Frises average 12-18 lb.
The fox-faced, ever-smiling Pomeranian is a friendly, playful, and intelligent toy breed. They tend to be highly alert and protective and are prone to barking at strangers and noises.
They can also become stubborn and domineering if not trained early and handled firmly. Poms average a mere 3-7 lb.
French Bulldogs are natural comedians, are happy to live a sedentary lifestyle with short walks followed by a cuddle, and highly affectionate. They get along with other people and pets.
Like other short-snouted breeds, however, Frenchies can develop breathing problems particularly those that are too inbred.
Get your Frenchie only from reputable breeders, and take care not to overfeed or under-exercise it so it doesn’t become overweight as obesity is a real strain for short-snouted dogs.
French Bulldogs average 20-28 lb.
Shih Tzus are a loyal, affectionate and easygoing breed, readily adapting to a sedentary lifestyle.
They are gentle and playful with children and get along well with other pets. However, it requires more frequent grooming than most, especially around the eyes as its eyes are vulnerable to irritation and infection.
Get your Shih Tzu only from reputable breeders, and make sure to clean around its eyes and its ears frequently.
Shih Tzus average 9-16 lb.
The Havanese is a bichon breed with similar origins to the Maltese and Bichon Frise and has a similar personality.
Like other bichons, it is very playful, affectionate, gentle, and bonds closely to its owner, becoming anxious if left alone too long. Havanese are good with children and have sturdier bodies than most toy breeds.
This breed averages only 7-14 lb.
Bolognese dogs are a bichon-type breed, with the type’s signature fluffy coat and affectionate nature.
They are playful, easygoing, intelligent and loyal, and moderate energy. Bolognese are typically more reserved than Bichon Frise. Like other bichons, they bond very closely with their owners.
These dogs however are so tiny, at 6-9 lb, that it’s best not to let very young children play with them lest the dog get injured.
The Lhasa Apso is a toy breed from Tibet with a calm, low-energy temperament and very low tendency to bark, making them ideal for apartment living.
They’re also surprisingly long-lived for their size, so if you get a puppy in your middle age you can still enjoy its company well after you retire.
Lhasa Apsos are also quite independent, and unlike the bichons don’t mind being alone for some time.
This breed averages 15-18 lb.
The lovable Yorkie is one of the tiniest of all dog breeds, averaging a mere 4-7 lb, but it’s a lot of dog in a small package.
Smart, loving, and feisty, this is a rather high-energy breed but is small enough that it can get sufficient exercise in an apartment. Their intelligence and drive make them easy to train.
Yorkies however have a reputation for being highly vocal dogs, especially if they’re bored or not getting enough exercise.
Select an individual with a calmer temperament as much as possible, and help your Yorkie let off steam with plenty of playtime to make it less likely to yap.
The Japanese Chin is a tiny dog that thinks it’s a cat.
Born with a yen for high places and a surprising ability to climb and jump, it also likes to wash itself like a cat. This sensitive, affectionate dog craves human company, adapts easily to apartment living, and needs minimal exercise.
The sensitive Chin will shape its personality to yours. If you’re the quiet type your Chin will also become placid and reserved, while if you’re more active it will match your liveliness.
However, the breed needs company so much that it becomes anxious when left alone for long. Its needs are perfectly met by a stay-at-home senior or one who takes it everywhere they go.
Chins average a mere 4-9 lb.
Scottish Terriers, also known as Aberdeen Terriers, are a sturdy, short-legged breed originally bred to hunt badgers.
They are confident, independent, playful, and highly intelligent, very loyal but also with a stubborn streak. Socialize them well and give them plenty of playtimes.
Scotties don’t yap like other small dog breeds, but have a surprisingly powerful big bark that sounds like it came from a much larger dog. This along with its territorial instincts and loyalty makes it a good watchdog.
How do you say no to the dog whose face inspired the Ewok?
Griffon Bruxellois are big-hearted, loving dogs that bond very strongly with their owners, and are alert, inquisitive, and playful. However, they don’t understand how small they are, and may try to dominate other dogs bigger than themselves.
Because of their personality, Griffons should be carefully socialized with your other pets while young or kept only with dogs of a similar size.
Griffons average 7-12 lb.
15 Best Dog Breeds for Active Seniors
The following breeds are recommended for their gentle temperament and relatively low maintenance requirements, but are of a size and energy level that require an active owner.
These are best for seniors who remain mobile and can walk or jog for an hour or more every day. Some of these breeds are also good for seniors who wish to keep a dog for personal security.
|Basset Hound||Medium||Low||Noisy, High prey drive, Stubborn|
|Beagle||Medium||Medium-high||Noisy, High prey drive, Wanderlust, Stubborn|
|English Bulldog||Medium||Low||Noisy, Prone to obesity, breathing problems, Drooling|
|German Shepherd||Large||High||Prone to separation anxiety, Destructive when bored, Noisy|
|Golden Retriever||Large||High||Shedding, Drooling|
|Greyhound||Large||High* Prefers to run in short spurts then laze most of the day||Very high prey drive|
|Keeshond||Large||Medium-high||Noisy especially when left alone|
|Miniature Schnauzer||Small||High||Somewhat noisy, High prey drive, Destructive when bored|
|Newfoundland||Huge||Medium||Shedding, Drooling, Noisy, High prey drive|
|Pembroke Welsh Corgi||Medium||Medium-high||Shedding, Noisy|
|Welsh Terrier||Medium||High||Noisy, High prey drive, Wanderlust|
|West Highlands Terrier||Small||Medium-high||Shedding, Noisy, High prey drive|
Labrador Retrievers consistently rank as America’s most popular dog breed, and it’s easy to see why.
Among the friendliest and most easygoing of all dogs, it’s equally good company whether you’re living alone or with your family, and it loves children. It’s one of the most commonly chosen breeds for therapy dogs.
The only reasons it’s not in the general seniors’ recommended list are its size and activity requirement. Labs average 55-80 lb, and while not hyperactive, do need plenty of exercise.
The inquisitiveness, intelligence, and intense focus of a Lab when combined with boredom can lead it to escaping and wandering for days.
Another incredibly smart, friendly, and even-tempered dog, the Golden Retriever is so amiable it will show burglars in and invite them to play!
While too trusting to be a guard dog, the Golden is an ideal retirement and family dog. It is highly intelligent and eager to please, making it easily trained, and is great with kids.
The only reasons it’s not in the general seniors’ recommended list are its size and energy level.
Averaging 55-75 lb, the Golden has the intense focus and energy of a typical hunting breed so it needs an owner it can play or take long walks with. Golden Retrievers do best with at least two hours of exercise a day.
Do you want a gentle companion who can also be a formidable protector when you need one?
The German Shepherd may be for you if you can keep up with its activity and stimulus requirements. These highly intelligent and obedient dogs are very loyal and protective, easily trained, and are often credited with saving lives.
Averaging a hefty 49-88 lb, German Shepherds have only moderately high energy levels but a high intelligence that requires plenty of stimulating play.
This is a breed that thrives on long exploratory walks and games of fetching and finding hidden objects, and their high drive levels make them want to have a purpose in life.
The sleek Greyhound is surprisingly not a hyperactive dog, and is in fact a couch potato for most of the day.
Easy-going, even-tempered, and easy to train, they only need occasional walks or jogs to release their energy. Greyhounds can be good with children that have been taught to treat them with respect.
It’s recommended to adopt greyhounds being retired from racing, as this not only gives the dogs a good home but also gives you a more stable, lower-energy hound.
Because they’re hunting dogs, however, greyhounds can have a high prey drive and a tendency to chase small animals. Greyhounds should always be walked on a leash, and yard fences should be 4-6 feet tall to keep them from jumping out after cats or squirrels.
Greyhounds average 55-88 lb.
Labradoodles are hybrids of Labrador Retrievers and Poodles, and vary widely in size depending on their Poodle parent.
They inherit most of both their parents’ good characteristics, such as intelligence, friendliness, and energy, and some have the hypoallergenic coats of poodles.
Labradoodles bred from Toy or Miniature Poodles can make good companions for sedentary seniors, but Labradoodles that take more after their Lab parent in size and energy are better for active seniors.
These bigger ‘Doodles thrive on long walks and often inherit their parents’ love of water and swimming.
Goldendoodles are hybrids of Golden Retrievers and Poodles. Like Labradoodles, they vary widely in size depending on their Poodle parent.
They typically inherit the loyalty, affectionateness, and playfulness of their Golden parent, and the intelligence, eagerness to please, and low-shed coat of their Poodle parent.
With average energy levels, Goldendoodles need only moderate exercise. However, ‘Doodles may take more after their Golden parent in size and energy, and these are best for more active seniors.
The mournful-looking Basset Hound is one of the few large dogs recommended for seniors, thanks to its very laid-back nature. It is friendly and playful, and gentle with children.
However, it is a hunting dog with a stubborn streak and can become very focused on following scent trails on walks.
Because of this instinct and its size, Basset Hounds are recommended only for active seniors who have had plenty of experience owning and handling dogs.
Bassett Hounds range from 45-75 lb.
The Keeshond looks like a big Pomeranian and is in fact a cousin.
Highly intuitive and empathetic, intelligent and fast to learn, they are often used as therapy dogs and guide dogs, and were used to comfort rescue workers after the 9/11 attack in New York. They prefer to be in human company at all times and love children.
However, Keeshonds can become ‘velcro dogs,’ always wanting to be with their owners, and tend to bark excessively if left alone in the yard.
They have a loud bark since this breed was originally developed as a watchdog for Dutch barges and houseboats. This breed averages 55-66 lb.
Playful and agile, the Keeshond thrives on plenty of playtime.
Newfoundland dogs are gentle giants, known for their calm, sweet and docile personalities paired with enormous strength and courage.
Many Newfoundlands are credited with daring rescues in rough water, and this is an ideal dog if you’re retiring near the sea, a river, or a lake.
Newfies are considered relatively low-energy dogs and need only about half an hour of moderate exercise a day. They love long walks and swimming.
The only potential problems with this dog are the amount of food you’ll have to buy for it, and its tendency to forget its own size. Make sure to train your Newfie not to knock you down!
While they are not very territorial, Newfoundlands by their sheer size and protective nature can also make good guard dogs.
The playful and charming Welsh Terrier is affectionate, loyal and spirited, friendly but spunky when challenged, and full of energy.
It’s a dog for seniors who can keep up with their need for play and have the patience and experience to live with an independent-minded dog.
If you enjoy training a dog, a Welsh Terrier can be an engaging challenge for you. Like many other terriers, Welsh Terriers love chasing things and will enjoy ball games in the park. They also enjoy swimming.
This breed averages 20-22 lb.
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Pembroke Welsh Corgis are a herding breed with a friendly, affectionate nature, high intelligence and eagerness to please their owners, and lots of energy. They are great with kids, and their loyal, watchful natures make them good watchdogs.
However, they require long walks and lots of playtime.
For active seniors, Corgis make great companions for nature hikes and park strolls, and their cuteness and amiable dispositions make great ice-breakers.
Corgis may develop a tendency to excessive barking when bored or neglected and may have to be trained out of a habit of nipping at ankles. The latter is herding behavior, as it’s how Corgis were bred to drive cattle.
This breed averages 24-31 lb.
Beagles are friendly, easygoing, and playful dogs, with few inherited health problems, but high energy and prey drive. They’ll make great playmates for active seniors, particularly if you’re living in a rural area.
However, you have to be sure you can handle a beagle straining at the leash, as these hunting dogs are determined chasers.
Beagles are bred to be pack animals and so can suffer separation anxiety, becoming destructive when neglected. They do best when in constant company with either their owner or with other pets.
Multiple beagles however may gang up on cats and other pets. This breed is also known for its loud barks and howls, making it better-suited to areas where houses are far apart.
The Miniature Schnauzer is a lively terrier-type dog that is intelligent, affectionate, and humorous.
They are territorial and alert, making them good watchdogs. They are considered more laid-back and obedient, and less aggressive to other dogs than the British terrier breeds. However, they’re very energetic.
Miniature Schnauzers can become destructive when bored, and their high energy means they can get bored easily. They also have a high prey drive and should be kept leashed on walks. This breed is good for moderately active seniors who enjoy playing with their dogs.
English Bulldogs are a medium-sized but heavyset breed, with a friendly, patient, but a stubborn and courageous nature that makes them good watchdogs.
Despite their tough-guy looks, they are gentle and easygoing and form strong bonds with children. They also have relatively low energy levels.
Bulldogs are on the best for active seniors list because of their size and strength. Also, despite their low energy these dogs do need an occasional long walk or run to save off obesity.
Bulldogs average 40-50 lb.
West Highlands Terrier
The West Highlands Terrier is a friendly, lively, low-maintenance dog, loyal and self-confident with a watchdog’s instincts.
It a high-energy dog, but is small enough that you can exercise it easily. Like most terriers, it loves to chase balls. They’re very friendly to other dogs and get along well with kids.
Like other terriers, though, their instinct to hunt for burrowing prey makes them very inquisitive and fond of digging. Keep them occupied with plenty of playtime, and put your favorite flower bushes up in elevated planters.
Westies average 15-20 lb.
15 Worst Dog Breeds for Seniors
The following breeds are not recommended for seniors due to high energy levels, size, aggressiveness, or tendency to health problems.
As a rule, hunting and herding breeds don’t make good retirement dogs as these tend to have a combination of larger size, high energy, and high prey or herding drive.
This knocks some otherwise fantastic dogs from the recommended lists, such as the super-fun collies. The Labrador and Golden Retrievers made it only by sheer sweetness of personality.
|Akita||Large||Medium-high||Shedding, Noisy, Aggressive|
|Australian Shepherd||Medium||High||High prey drive, Noisy, Wanderlust|
|Bloodhound||Medium||High||Shedding, Drooling, High prey drive, Stubborn, Wanderlust|
|Border Collie||Medium||High||Shedding, Destructive when bored|
|Chihuahua||Tiny||High||Noisy, Fearful, Aggressive, Hard to housebreak|
|Cocker Spaniel||Small||Medium-high||High prey drive, Noisy, Genetic diseases|
|Dachshund||Small||High||Noisy, Genetic diseases, Hard to housebreak|
|Dalmatian||Medium||High||Shedding, Wanderlust, Destructive when bored|
|Jack Russell||Small||High||Aggressive, Noisy|
|Pit Bull||Large||Medium-high||Aggressive when confined or bored, Stubborn, Domineering|
|Pug||Small||Low||Breathing problems, Genetic diseases, Gassy, Hard to housebreak|
|Rottweiler||Large||Medium-high||Shedding, Drooling, High prey drive, Aggressive|
|Samoyed||Medium||High||Shedding, High prey drive, Wanderlust|
|Siberian Husky||Medium||High||Shedding, Noisy, Wanderlust, High prey drive|
Jack Russell Terrier
Smart, lovable, lively, and full of tricks, the Jack Russell is a great family dog.
However, its sheer energy is likely to be too much for a senior to keep up with. Jack Russells also have a very high prey drive and can easily become aggressive to people and other pets. It’s just too hyper.
The comical, sedate Pug would have been recommended for its good temper and low energy levels, but it can have a lot of problems.
Pugs are very susceptible to respiratory and eye problems thanks to their squished muzzles, plus a raft of other medical issues, are hard to housebreak, and very gassy and slobbery.
Pug owners tend to spend way more time at the vet than you’d like, so as appealing as this breed can be it’s not an ideal retirement dog. If you really want a Pug, consider a Retropug or Puggle: these are crossbreeds of the Pug with Jack Russells or Beagles.
This crossing corrects the overly short muzzle, making eye and breathing problems less likely. Make sure though to choose one that takes after its Pug parent in personality.
The Chihuahua is a saucy, comical hot pepper of a dog, easily adaptable to apartment life, intelligent, and devoted to its owner.
However, Chihuahuas can be troublesome to keep for senior owners, as they’re natural escape artists, hard to housebreak, and their big attitudes often get them in trouble.
This attitude is likely to be the biggest issue for a senior owner. Many Chihuahuas either can’t seem to understand how small they are or just take their size too personally and overcompensate with aggression and yapping.
If you’re an experienced dog owner and get your Chihuahua while it’s young you may be able to socialize it well enough to overcome these problems. Otherwise, you’re better off with a less peppery dog.
The elegant Dalmatian on the surface looks like an ideal senior’s dog.
However, this breed just has too much energy for most seniors to keep up with, and Dalmatians that don’t get enough exercise easily turn destructive. This is exacerbated by the breed’s stubborn nature, which makes it harder to train.
Inbreeding has also introduced some undesirable personality traits in some Dalmatian bloodlines, such as fearfulness or aggressiveness.
Originally bred to hunt bear and boar in Japan’s northern mountains, this powerful, lion-hearted breed makes a fine guard dog.
Those very qualities however make Akitas too much for senior owners. This breed can be highly aggressive to strangers and other dogs, and combined with their stubbornness, they’re simply too much to handle.
Akitas are very protective of their food and may lash out at anyone who dares to approach their bowl at mealtime. Also, because they’re bred for life in snowy mountains they’re prone to heavy seasonal shedding.
The Border Collie is an excellent herding dog that also makes a great family pet.
However, the very energy, drive, and intelligence that make it such a good worker and family playmate can overwhelm a senior owner. Border Collies need a lot of exercise, more than most seniors can, or should, provide.
Border Collies that lack exercise and stimulation will find their own ways to have fun at home, and these activities can easily get destructive. Boredom can also lead these dogs to escaping. Lastly, a Border Collie sheds a lot, burdening you with more housework.
Bred to work hard in a harsh environment, the Siberian Husky is a lot of near-wolf dog.
Filled with tireless energy and with the prey drive of a wolf, Huskies demand a lot of outdoor exercises and romping, and are notorious animal chasers. If you can’t meet its needs, a Husky will turn its energies either to destructiveness or escape.
As with other snow dogs, Huskies also tend to shed a lot.
While this notorious breed isn’t that mean by nature, its aggression can come out easily when cooped up in an apartment or when lacking sufficient exercise.
Pit Bulls’ strong wills also require a dominant, firm-handed owner to handle them, making them unsuitable for the retiring retiree.
Like the Border Collie, the Australian Shepherd is a dog that simply doesn’t get the concept of retirement. If it can’t work all day, it will play all day.
This breed’s energy levels will easily wear out a senior owner, and like other intelligent, high-energy breeds, boredom can lead to destructiveness or escaping.
This lovable, sedate sausage on legs would make a good retirement companion save for three major issues.
First, Dachshunds are notoriously hard to housebreak.
Second, they tend to be fearful of strangers and will yap a lot at them.
Third and most serious, one in four Dachshunds will develop a degenerative spinal disease.
Because of their elongated spines, dachshunds are particularly vulnerable to intervertebral disc disease, or IVDD. This disease can lead to incontinence, eating problems, increased aggression from pain, and eventually paralysis.
Even worse, it usually doesn’t appear until your Dachshund is 6-8 years old, meaning you may have to put your beloved pet to sleep after a long attachment, which in turn may give you depression.
Bloodhounds are intelligent, affectionate dogs, with a surprising amount of energy despite their mournful air.
This breed is not recommended for seniors due to its stubbornness, high energy level, and very high prey drive. The tenacity with which they will follow a scent is great for the police but can be a big control issue for you.
Bloodhounds also tend to bay loudly, shed, and slobber a lot, and a tendency to become destructive when bored.
Like the Akita, the Rottweiler is a big dog originally bred for hunting bear and boar and is now used as a guard dog.
It has great courage, power, tenacity, and a strong urge to protect family and territory. Together, though, these can make it difficult for a senior owner to manage especially when strangers must visit.
Looking like a temple lion-dog come to life, the Chow Chow is a powerful guard dog with very strong protective instincts.
Chow Chows are naturally suspicious of strangers and tend to be aggressive to dogs of the same sex, which leads to loud barking and sometimes aggression. As it’s a heavyset dog, seniors will find this breed too much to control when it’s feeling overprotective.
Looking like an oversized Doge, the smiley Samoyed is another working snow dog from Siberia.
Affectionate, loyal, and fond of children, this breed makes a good family dog. However, its very high energy levels, prey drive, and heavy shedding will make it a burden for a senior owner.
The loving, gentle Cocker Spaniel has many traits that would make it a good retiree’s dog, sweet-tempered and easily adaptable to apartment life, but is loaded with health and maintenance issues.
Keeping a Cocker Spaniel healthy will take a lot of your time, and the breed is prone to many genetic diseases.
Thanks to unscrupulous breeders, many Cocker Spaniels carry genetic diseases. One of the most serious problems is Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM), which seriously weakens the heart.
You will also have to spend plenty of time cleaning your Cocker Spaniel’s floppy ears, which get infected easily. Cocker Spaniels are also prone to excessive barking.
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