Dog Breeds That Make Great Companions for Senior Citizens
Dogs of all types can make great companions, and can provide a boost to their owners’ emotional well-being with their loving and exuberant personalities.
However, some breeds, such as German shepherds, require more regular exercise and training than others, making them more suitable to owners who can commit time and effort to exercising and training their dogs. Other breeds, such as Yorkshire terriers, will only need a short daily walk and can adapt to living in smaller spaces.
What’s most important, say experts, is to make sure you have enough time to care for a dog and, since some breeds can live 12-15 years, a contingency plan if you are suddenly forced to move and can’t take your dog.
With that in mind, here are recommendations of good breeds for senior dog owners from an article written by Jon Bastian that appears on “Cesar’s Way,” the website of Cesar Milan, a best-selling author, star of “Cesar 911,” and the original, Emmy-nominated host of the “Dog Whisperer” program.
Physical strength can diminish with age, limiting the size and weight of the dog you’ll want to handle. Remember, you may need to occasionally restrain the dog when walking outside, or you may need to lift the dog should it become injured. Your physical condition could also be complicated by conditions such as arthritis or osteoporosis, so it’s a good idea for seniors to avoid large, strong dogs. That’s because these dogs could easily knock them down or pull them off-balance on a walk. “A breed like the Alaskan malamute, which can weigh close to a hundred pounds and was bred to pull, would not be a good choice,” notes Dog Breed Info Center.
Suggested breeds: Chihuahua, dachshund, Havanese, Italian greyhound, Maltese, and Pomeranian.
Less Likely to Shed
Dogs that shed can create two issues for seniors, says Bastian. They will increase the time you spend cleaning your home—wiping walls and baseboards, vacuuming, and cleaning furniture cushions if you let your dog jump on the couch. The other issue is the excess fur and dander in your home, which can trigger allergies and other health issues, such as asthma and emphysema. Breeds that shed the most include American Eskimos, Welsh corgis, and German shepherds, notes Heartdogs.com. Breeds that are good for people with allergies include schnauzers and Xoloitzcuintlis, also known as the Mexican hairless dog.
Suggested breeds: Tibetan terrier, Maltese terrier, shih tzu, Brussels griffon, and poodle.
Lower Energy Breeds
If you’re not up for a brisk 45-minute walk every day, dogs like dalmatians, border collies, or other high-energy dogs are not for you, says Pet360, which lists the “10 most energetic breeds.”
Suggested breeds: Basset hound, bulldog, Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Chow Chow, and French bulldog.
If you have a condition that requires extra assistance around the house, a trained assistance dog may be a good option. According to Paws With A Cause, there are several types:
- Service dogs can retrieve things for people, pull wheelchairs, open doors, and turn lights on and off. They can also help people get up if they fall down.
- Hearing dogs assist people who are deaf or with hearing loss, alerting them to important sounds, like doorbells, smoke alarms, telephones, and so on.
- Seizure response dogs assist people with epilepsy or other seizure disorders, summoning help if necessary and bringing food or medication.
Suggested breeds: Labrador retriever, golden retriever, and German shepherd.
A senior dog of any breed might be the perfect match for you — they’re often housebroken, trained, and past that awkward puppy chewing-and-nipping phase.
“These dogs are often overlooked in shelters, but they have the right energy level and have had plenty of time to become socialized, calm, and submissive,” notes Bastian. They also won’t live as long as a puppy of the same breed so your time commitment won’t be as lengthy.
Finally, don’t overlook mixed breeds, Bastian advises. “A mutt can bring the best or the most-challenging characteristics of each breed, so be selective. The upside is that a low energy mid-size mixed-breed dog can be the best companion, and the healthiest dog you can adopt. They are also unique,” he writes.
Source: “Senior citizen canines: Dog breeds for mature pack leaders” by Jon Bastian, published on “Cesar’s Way.”