Having a dog provides many health benefits to their human counterparts: decreased blood pressure, increase in oxytocin – the feel-good brain chemical, lower stress levels, increased physical health, and more. But, what about dogs for seniors? Isn’t a dog too much work? Doesn’t the training and exercise and clean up outweigh these health benefits? Does it make sense for seniors to get a dog?
NO, in fact, multiple studies have shown that dog ownership increases lifespan. It increases “good” health markers, and provides loving companionship for older adults. Even in assisted living housing, dog ownership has been shown to have a myriad of positive effects.
Being smart about which breed to choose is key. And, adopting an adult or senior dog cuts out much of the problems associated with puppies. These can include high energy, house-breaking, behavior issues, destructiveness, etc. With older dogs, those problems are long gone. They need less physical activity – a good walk or two will bring great benefit the dog, and their human.
With that in mind, which breeds are best for seniors?
- French Bulldog
French Bulldogs are not overly athletic, and are rarely known to be high energy. A 20-minute walk per day is enough to keep them fit mentally and physically. They’re also affectionate dogs, and will happily keep you company while watching TV, reading the paper, or just sitting on the porch relaxing.
Maltese are on the small end of the size spectrum. Though they’re long-haired, if you keep their hair clipped, they’ll shed very little, so clean-up won’t be much of an issue.
The Maltese is not high-energy, and is bred to be extremely attentive to their human. This makes them a great companion dog because they really do become part of the family, and can be useful for seniors that live alone. Maltese are often used in assisted living facilities because they can be trained to bark in emergency situations, alerting medical staff that help is needed.
Young beagles can be a real handful. But, senior beagles make fantastic companions, love walks, make great watch dogs, and are perfect for the more fit-minded seniors.
Beagles are extremely food-motivated, so you may have to lock away the goodies. But, they’re also extremely loyal. And, like the Maltese, will sound the alarm when something goes wrong.
Beagles are best in houses, rather than assisted living. While older beagles don’t howl as much as their younger pack mates, they can still let the neighborhood know when something is amiss.
The poodle has remained one of the most popular dog breeds, consistently, since World War II. They are especially popular with seniors because of their even temperament, willingness to be trained, and loyalty. Miniature poodles are small in stature and make a great companion for apartments, assisted-living quarters, and any home.
Toy poodles have become more popular, but remember that they come with some health risks (they’re fragile and can be injured easily). Both the toy and miniature are ok with one walk a day and lots of affection.
Most of my day is spent playing with dogs. When they nap, I’m here working on my blog. You’re welcome to reach out and connect with me.