Dogs can provide us with many physical, mental, and emotional benefits as we age. However, as we get older we may not be able to do all the things with dogs that we could do when we were younger. It can be harder to manage bigger dogs or exercise them, for example. It can be hard to groom dogs with long coats or which need lots of intensive grooming. But there are still lots of breeds that are good choices for people as they get older. Here are some things to consider if you are looking for a dog for your senior years and some popular dogs for seniors.
Consider your situation
If you are getting older and thinking of getting a dog, consider your situation before making a decision. For instance, what is your health like? How mobile are you? Will you be able to walk a dog or will the dog need to potty indoors? How much physical strength do you have? The answers to these questions will help you narrow down your choices about what kind of dog to get.
In many cases, even if you are mobile and strong, a small lap dog is a good choice as you are getting older. There are many breeds with great personalities that weigh less than 20 lbs. It is usually easier to care for a small dog of this size than a larger dog. In addition, a larger dog can sometimes be exuberant and jump on you or knock you down by accident.
Consider the dogs
The size of the dog you choose is important but so is the temperament of the dog. Dogs that are very active or which require lots of exercise are probably not a good choice as you get older unless you are looking for a dog who will give you a reason to get out of the house every day. It’s usually better to select a dog that has a quieter, gentler personality as you get older. Dogs vary in temperament between those who crave affection and those who prefer to be near their owners but who are more independent. It’s up to you what kind of temperament and personality you prefer in a dog.
Popular breeds for seniors
These gentle dogs are known as “The American Gentleman” and they are, indeed, an American breed developed in Boston following the Civil War. Boston Terriers are gentle and quiet dogs but they are also lively and very devoted to their owners. They are an ideal dog for seniors. They have a short, dense coat that sheds little and requires minimal grooming. They require just a moderate amount of exercise. They prefer to curl up next to their owner and be with you wherever you are. Bostons come in three sizes from about 15 to 25 pounds. Bostons are also good with children, especially older kids.
Toy or Miniature Poodle
Toy and Miniature Poodles can be good choices for seniors. They are highly intelligent dogs and they can adapt to living in almost any situation – apartments, houses, with or without yards. They do not shed, or shed very little and they are a good breed for people with allergies. You can keep their curly coats as short or long as you like. They are active dogs and they do require regular exercise. They are good with children. They make very good companions for seniors. You will never be bored with a Poodle in the house. Toy Poodles stand up to 10 inches tall at the shoulder; Miniature Poodles stand between 10 and 15 inches tall.
The Havanese is a small, sturdy dog that is native to Cuba. They have a profuse silky coat that is lightweight and does require some regular brushing. However, Havanese don’t shed so they are good for seniors with allergies and they don’t require a lot of grooming. They are intelligent, easy to train, and naturally affectionate little dogs. They love children, too, if you have grandchildren who visit. They make great pets for seniors. They stand between 8.5 and 11.5 inches tall at the shoulder.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The lovely Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is an energetic dog that stands up to 13 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs up to 18 pounds. They are happy to be couch potatoes or to take long walks with you. They can adapt to living in the city or the country. They are friendly dogs with a sweet, gentle personality. They have a slightly long coat but it only needs to be brushed weekly and it doesn’t need to be trimmed. Cavaliers love children.
If you are a senior looking for a breed that’s easy to live with but which needs more exercise, then the Whippet is an excellent choice. Whippets are sweet, gentle dogs and they make wonderful house pets. However, they are also one of the fastest of all dogs and they love to run. They are a quiet, friendly dog at home but they do require plenty of regular exercise to stay fit. A Whippet would be a good choice for a senior who wants to get out for regular exercise every day and who has a safe place to take their dog for runs, or who has a large yard for the dog to exercise. The Whippet has a short, dense coat and little grooming is required. They stand between 18 and 22 inches tall at the shoulder and should be lean and fit.
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