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Senior's Best Friend: What Are the Best Dog Breeds for Seniors?

women smilin and holding small black dog

There are a lot of perks to owning a pet when you're a senior, which is why 27% of Canadians over 65 have them (1). Most of those seniors are dog owners.

Getting a dog when you're a senior is a no-brainer in many ways. They keep you company when you're feeling lonely, and keep you active, so you stay healthy for longer. Dogs are joyous creatures that pick us up when we're down and have our backs through thick and thin.

“Dogs are not only great companions for seniors, but the right breed can also be beneficial to your physical and mental health.”

But what are the best dog breeds for seniors? In this post, we’ll go over the different types of dogs that you might consider taking on as a senior. There are no rules when it comes to dogs for seniors, but different breeds bring different biological traits to the table.

If you don't have your heart set on that one doggy in the window, this post is for you. Pets are as welcome as you are at our retirement homes, so keep reading and we'll help you choose the perfect companion.

a collage of dogs showing various breeds

Shih Tzu

What will come as no surprise with these recommendations is that small and mid-sized dog breeds are best for seniors. You don't want a Labrador or German Shepherd dragging you around the park. A smaller dog is more manageable on a purely practical level.

Enter the Shih Tzu, one of the most popular small dogs in the world. These cute little fur balls range between 9 and 16 pounds and, despite their stubborn nature, are quite easy to train. They need lots of grooming and walking, which is perfect for strolling around the grounds at our retirement residences.

French Bulldog

French Bulldogs are such a happy little breed that most of your days will be spent enjoying its uplifting company. Don't let the small stature fool you—French Bulldogs are active and need a lot of attention.

They've got a lot of energy, which might put off some seniors, but it's important to know that they tire easily. The energy comes in short bursts, which can be taken care of with a moderate amount of exercise each day.

Bichon Frise

Similar to the Shih Tzu, the Bichon Frise is a small, fluffy dog that doesn't require much in the way of maintenance or attention. In terms of temperament, you can't get much better because they're full of joy without too much energy—the perfect retirement resident dog.

They range between 7 and 12 pounds and are easy to train, so they're easy to take on walks and cart around when need be. Other than the regular grooming that your Bichon Frise will inevitably need, they qualify as one of the more low-maintenance dog breeds out there.


Similar to the Bichon is the Maltese, which is another popular white fluffy lap dog. Maltese are even smaller, however, and don't really need much activity to live a happy life. What they do need is companionship, so if you're keen to have your dog sitting on your lap while you watch TV, get a Maltese.


Pugs definitely rank up there among the cutest breeds. If you choose this little, short-haired pup as your companion, you'll get just that. Pugs tend to match their owner's energy level, so choose your lifestyle and your pug will be right there with you.

Of course, they're not exempt from bursts of energy. Short walks should keep any excess energy at bay. The only concerning thing to note about pugs is that they're perpetually at risk of brachycephalic syndrome, which can cause a number of health issues. They're also prone to being overweight, so you'll have to help them maintain their health.


Let's shift to a couple of larger breeds. The Cockapoo and Cavapoo are two extremely popular crossbreed options that give you the chance to have a larger dog, but one that has a great temperament. Both dogs inherit the Poodle and Spaniel's best genes.

Since poodles don't shed, they're hypoallergenic and perfect for those with pet allergies. They're also good-natured and easy to train. Spaniels are also intelligent and loving, giving these crossbreeds the perfect combination of traits.


Corgis make great pets for seniors. As a breed on the small side of mid-sized, they weigh between 24 and 30 pounds. Other than being extremely cute, they're very smart and easy to train.

They're a great option if you're looking to inject more exercise into your routine. A Corgi needs a good amount of exercise, but they'll help you get your daily walk in as well. With a short coat, you won't have to worry too much about shedding in your apartment.


Beagles are extremely loyal mid-sized pooches, but they can be quite the handful for some. Hounds live to follow their noses, so you'll have to take the time to train them to listen to your commands.

These are energetic dogs that love to socialize with other dogs. If you're someone that loves spending time outdoors and want a dog to match your enthusiasm, beagles are a great choice. As long as you've got enough strength to stop them from chasing squirrels and birds, you'll be happy with a beagle.

What Are the Best Dog Breeds for You?

These are a few of the best dog breeds for seniors considering living at a retirement home. As a pet-friendly retirement community, we encourage residents to experience all the physical, mental, and social health benefits of having a dog. 

From fine dining to health and wellness activities, you'll be able to live your best life as a retiree.

Contact us today to book a tour and find out how retirement is right for you, furry companion and all.


  1. Research Gate. “Pet Ownership, Other Domestic Relationships, and Satisfaction with Life among Seniors: Results from a Canadian National Survey”(Himsworth & Rock, 2013)

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