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Companionship is a human need that has been fulfilled by man’s best friend for ages. Dogs show affection to both the old and the young alike. They expect love and care in return. For young and middle aged people it’s easy to keep up with the grooming and exercise needs that each dogs demands. However when one reaches seniority, it may not be possible to keep up with some breeds. Seniors need dogs who require low maintenance to keep. They need to be around canines whose energy they can match and those who will fit in a senior’s lifestyle. Before we look at the best dogs for seniors, let’s look at how you go about choosing one.
Factors to Consider when Choosing Dogs for Seniors
The character traits of dogs depend largely on the breed. Some breeds have high energy requirements that could be undesirable for seniors. Breed also determines grooming needs that range from minimal to professional-grade care. Seniors will be comfortable with dogs that have minimal requirements for both breeding and grooming.
This does not however mean that they can’t go for cool tempered and affectionate pooches who require occasional professional care. Trainability is also a breed factor. Seniors will need dogs that are easy to train. The dog should be able to readily follow orders for cordial relations with the owner and other members in the house.
Puppies are adorable and make good pets and companion. They are however more demanding in terms of care and exercise needs. At that young age they need to be trained and this can be tasking especially to a senior person. Puppies also require frequent visits to the vets for immunizations and health check-ups.
A senior will do better with an adult or a senior dog. These are dogs who are less playful and more laid back. If the dog is already trained, then he will fit more in a senior’s life. You should also know that small dog breeds tend to live longer than the large ones. If you don’t mind a toy-sized pup, then go for one that is approaching adulthood; you are sure to enjoy some 10 years or more together.
Size of the dog can be a factor. Especially if you’re living in a home at an older age. Large breeds can be discouraged due to space limitations. In such cases, going for a small or medium sized dog will be more advisable. On the other hand, seniors who are still active and live in their own homes can do with large fur babies. Large dogs can be intimidating and their size alone can repel would-be attackers. It won’t hurt to have a calf sized dog by your side during those evening walks!
Temperament is a major factor when it comes to choosing a dog. Dogs are bred to meet specific needs. This ranges from sporting to hunting and companionship. Each breed has a temperament that suits its intended purpose. Breed notwithstanding, temperament varies between individual dogs. With proper training, a vicious puppy can grow to be cool-mannered and more accommodative. Seniors need dogs whose temperament they can tolerate. You also need to take into account how a dog’s temperaments compare to that of its owner; go for a complimentary or a perfect match.
Owners Lifestyle and Limitations
Consider your own lifestyle and how your dog will cope with you. If you are active and you still go for the usual morning run or jog, then go for a dog who requires the same kind of physical exercise. If on the other hand you are limited in terms of movement, go for a pup who enjoys lazing around and has no care for play or exercise. There are some medical conditions that would exclude some dogs. For example, seniors who suffer from allergic reactions should opt for hypoallergenic dogs..
10 Best Dogs for Seniors
The Maltese is a small dog breed which has been a human companion for over 2 millennia. It originated from Malta Island in the Mediterranean. It falls under the toy group or companion class of dogs. An adult grows to about 10 inches and weighs 8 – 9 pounds. Its life span ranges from about 12-15 years.
The dog’s small size is ideal for seniors who can carry them around. They are loving pets who enjoy being in the company of their owners. They are hypoallergenic and as such won’t pose any health danger to its owner whether they live alone or in a senior’s home. They also shed minimally and don’t require extensive grooming. The dog is also used for therapy which makes it an ideal pet for an old person.
#2 Bichon Frise
Bischon Frise arose from poodle-types dogs. They were bred as affectionate lap dogs. The breed is classified as non-sporting or companion dog. They are a small breed that weights from 7 to 12 pounds. An adult grows to a height of 9-11 inches and can live up to 16 years. They need professional grooming at least once in every 2 months.
The dog is cheerful and will bring much joy a senior’s life. They are excellent companions and will keep their owners active due to their playful nature. They enjoy social outings and the company of kids and other pets. The breed is hypoallergenic but they are themselves prone to allergies due to fleas, pollen, ticks etc.
A Chihuahua is known to bring happiness in a person’s life. The breed falls under small dogs and is identified as a toy or companion dog. They are the smallest of all dogs weighting 4-6 pounds at a height of 6-10 inches. With proper care, these toy-sized dogs can live up to 20 years.
They are intelligent and take easily to training compared to other small dog breeds. They like being in close proximity to their owners and will insist on accompanying you on every errand. Chihuahuas are very protective which makes them good guards. However they are not mindful of their small size and can be easily injured during confrontations with bigger dogs.
#4 French Bulldog
The French bulldog is considered to be among the most cheerful of all dogs. The dog is muscular and can weigh up to 28 pounds; at a height of 11-13 inches. Despite their stocky body, they are quite active. They however lack endurance and will do with short walks which is ideal for seniors. They are identified as non-sporting or companion dogs and can live for up to 14 years.
With a French bulldog as a companion your home will be peaceful and quiet. They don’t bark unless provoked. The dog needs to be kept warm during cold weather since they only have a single short coat. They are intelligent and take easily to training. In the company of children, they exhibit excellent maternal instincts by keeping watch over them.
#5 Yorkshire Terrier
The Yorkie as the breed is commonly known is a small dog breed. An adult stands at 8-9 inches and weighs 4-6 pounds. Their toy size makes them easy to carry around and take care of. They live to around 12-15 years. They are indoor pets but do require lots exercise in the open. Intelligence is one of their most recognizable trait; they require mental stimulation in terms of games and play.
They are excellent watchdogs and will bark to warn you of any intruders. When they are well taken care of, Yorkies tend to be cool and contented pets. They are hypoallergenic and shed much less compared to other small dog breeds. Their coat is silky and long, it requires constant brushing to avoid matting and to keep it dirt free.
Most seniors enjoy having lap dogs as pets. There are however bigger dog breeds that can provide the same companionship and that’s where the Shar-pie comes in. The dog stands out due to a deep wrinkled skin and a blue-black colored tongue. They are medium sized weighing 55 to 65 pounds at a height of 18-22 inches.
They are a non-sporting breed and can be very independent. They are loyal and devoted to their owners. Nevertheless they do not require a lot human companionship, making them excellent pets for the elderly who may not have energy or time to take care of them. As they age, the wrinkles even out into a short soft coat that requires minimal care.
When looking for pet with longevity and one whose playfulness will keep you fit, then you should try a Beagle. The breed is a small hound that grows to between 11 and 13 inches. An adult weighs 23-25 pounds. They have excellent sense of smell which has seen them being used as detection dogs. Beagles are intelligent and are not predisposed to illnesses.
These hounds are mild tempered and take easily to new environment. They are good guard dogs and will howl or bark if they sense danger. The breed was developed as a pack animal which makes them susceptible to anxiety if separated from their owners. They like to keep the company of children which will make granny’s place appealing to the little ones.
These hounds were bred for racing and hunting. They are a large dog breed which can reach 30 inches tall, weighing 65 to 88 pounds. They are among the fastest dogs and can reach maximums of 43.5 miles per hour. Their popularity rose after dog lovers started adopting retired racing hounds.
Why would a large racing hound be suitable for a senior? Well, their speed prowess has nothing to do with it; their cool demeanor wins the hearts of all. Greyhounds are docile, easy going and generally lazy. They are friendly to kids and other pets. They are not barkers which is ideal for seniors in assisted living or suburban neighborhoods. If you go for this hound be sure to keep it on a leash when outdoors: Sprinting is in their DNA and all it takes is a little excitement and they are off at lightning speed.
Pomeranian are small pooches that are easy to carry around. An adult stands at 5 – 11 inches and weighs 4 – 8 pounds. The breed is an excellent companion for seniors. This is due to its playful and friendly nature. They love attention and will keep close to their owners for treats and petting.
They will keep you entertained with funny antics. The breed has dominating tendencies which can lead to stand offs with other pets in the house. They are however good guards and will bark in the face of unfamiliar people or other animals. With proper diet and grooming, the pooch can live for up to16 years. The breed is energetic which will work in the interest of a fitness-conscious senior.
Poodles make the list due to their loyal and affectionate nature. They crave attention which makes them great companions for the aged. They are easy to train and take readily to new environment. The breed has the added advantage of coming in different sizes; toy, standard and medium. They are identified as toy or companion dogs.
The breed is famous for its snappy and vicious behavior. This works in a senior’s favor if one is interested in a guard dog. The dog is recommended for household with older children who can keep them entertained with play and mind games. Poodles are very intelligent and can handle specialized training; swimming, flyball, tracking, obstacle courses etc.
The Take Away
Every dog is unique and has something to offer. Seniors could definitely do with some companion from man’s oldest friend. However, not all dogs suit seniors; they require dogs that match the levels of their needs in terms of level of activity, handling, size, age and temperament among others. While there are numerous dogs that can match up, some certainly stand out. The above breeds give you somewhere to start.