These Are the Best Dog Breeds for Seniors and Retirees

Dog ownership offers many health benefits and improves your life in many important ways. And retirement can be the ideal time to bring a new furry companion into your home, especially if you find the right dog breed. While you might have looked for one set of characteristics in a family dog — like a high energy level, which works well when you have kids — you probably want a different set of traits in a dog you’ll adopt in retirement.

Below, check out the dog breeds that are most often a great match for seniors and retirees looking for the perfect dog to keep them company, to give them someone to take care of, and even to motivate them to become a little more active.

1. French bulldog

Running French Bulldog Puppy
French bulldog |

VetStreet reports that size matters when you’re choosing a dog to keep you company through your golden years. Not everybody can handle a dog that weighs 50, 60, or 70 pounds. A smaller dog will prove much easier to keep under control at home, on walks, and at the vet. VetStreet recommends the French bulldog, a small breed that makes “a solid companion, especially if he can be with you all the time.” These dogs make great walking partners, which can help keep them (and you) fit.

2. Bichon frise

A small beautiful and adorable white bichon frise dog standing on the lawn and looking cheerful.
Bichon frise |

The Spruce recommends the Bichon frise as another small dog breed perfect for seniors and retirees. The publication explains that these dogs, which typically weigh between seven and 12 pounds, are easy for most people to handle. They are also relatively easy to train. Plus, they need just a moderate amount of daily exercise and only need to go to the groomer every month or two. 

3. Schipperke

Schipperke dog
Schipperke |

You should consider a dog’s energy level before you decide to take him home, according to VetStreet. A dog with a low or moderate energy level will be much more practical for retirees to exercise and entertain than dogs who need more strenuous exercise. VetStreet recommends that active seniors consider the Schipperke, a sturdy little breed that has the energy level to go anywhere with you. In fact, the publication characterizes the breed as “indefatigable,” perfect for people who want a dog to motivate them to exercise a little more. 

4. Pug

old boy pug puppy
Pug |

The AKC reports that another useful way for you to figure out the right dog breed is to think about your favorite activities. “If you are the outdoors type, a sporting or herding breed that thrives on outdoor work sounds like a good match. If you are the indoor type, a smaller, smooth-coated breed that enjoys the shelter of your home and constant companionship is the dog for you.” The pug is a perfect example of the latter. Rover recommends the breed because of their laid-back nature and social personality. 

5. Poodle

Brown poodle running with a toy
Poodle |

Another factor VetStreet recommends that retirees consider when choosing a dog? The breed’s grooming requirements. Poodles might seem high-maintenance in that regard. But VetStreet recommends this lively breed for seniors and promises that grooming is easy if you make regular appointments or learn to maintain a short “puppy clip” yourself. A miniature poodle will stay small, but makes a sturdy companion for long walks. Plus, poodles usually prove easy to train — that’s always a plus. 

6. Maltese

Maltese dog in winter outdoors
Maltese |

Some dogs have a notorious independent streak. Others live to spend time with their owners. VetStreet recommends the Maltese for retirees since these small dogs “are incredibly attentive and tuned in to their owners. As one of the smallest breeds on this list, the Maltese is also one of the most portable.” That’s a plus if you do a lot of traveling and want a dog who will happily go with you. Just bear in mind that Maltese are more fragile than other breeds. So you’ll need to be careful if you have young grandchildren over often. 

7. Cavalier King Charles spaniel

spaniel dog running in summer
Cavalier King Charles spaniel |

Another snuggly breed to consider if you want a true lapdog? The Spruce recommends the cavalier King Charles spaniel. The publication characterizes these little dogs as “affectionate and adaptable.” They love to cuddle with their owners. Plus, their small size makes them easy to handle, and also makes it possible to take them with you, whether you’re running errands around town or packing up for a vacation.

8. Pomeranian

A pretty pomeranian female dog on a blurry grass background
Pomeranian |

The Pomeranian is another dog that strikes the perfect balance with both a small size and an affectionate temperament. The Spruce reports that this breed makes a great companion for retirees. At three to seven pounds, this dog will easily make himself at home in your lap or even in your bag. He also makes “an affectionate and happy companion” who will enjoy sleeping in your lap, playing with toys, and just spending time with you. 

9. Chinese crested

Chinese Crested dog
Chinese crested dog |

The AKC recommends that you try to choose a dog breed whose needs match your living space. Apartment dwellers may rule out larger and more active breeds. But the Chinese crested, which Rover recommends for seniors and retirees, can be the perfect fit for someone with a small home. The AKC reports that this little dog loves human companionship. He’ll also entertain you with his cat-like tendencies, including a propensity for sitting in high places. Plus, the AKC promises that these dogs “adjust well to apartment living.”

10. Pembroke Welsh corgi

Dog breed Welsh Corgi Pembroke
Pembroke Welsh corgi |

Choosing a dog or dog breed with a clean bill of health can help you minimize predictable vet bills (though any dog can develop health issues that nobody foresaw). Mixed breed dogs are often prone to fewer genetic ailments than purebred dogs, but you can find a healthy corgi either at the shelter or through a reputable breeder. VetStreet recommends the Pembroke Welsh corgi for retirees, but they note that you’ll have to keep an eye on your dog to keep him from injuring his back. 

11. Shih Tzu

Shih tzu in nature, colorful springtime image
Shih tzu |

If you have grandkids and host them regularly, you’ll probably want to choose a dog breed that either has a reputation for getting along with children or at least has an easygoing temperament. Not only is the Shih Tzu a great kid-friendly breed, but The Spruce also recommends these dogs for seniors. Their small size makes them easy to handle and exercise. You should take your Shih Tzu on daily walks, so one of these dogs can do a great job motivating you to get more exercise.

12. Greyhound

Portrait of a female Italian Greyhound dog in a home setting.
Greyhound |

VetStreet recommends that regardless of which breed you choose, you consider getting an adult dog. “With an adult dog, you are more likely to have a good idea of health history and temperament, and you’re past the time and money involved in raising a puppy.” One breed that you can easily adopt as an adult is the greyhound. The Spruce recommends greyhounds for seniors and retirees, and the publication promises that even though these racing dogs enjoy “daily walks and the occasional chance to run, most tend to be ‘couch potatoes’ that enjoy loafing around with their owners.”

13. West highland white terrier

West Highland White Terrier
West highland white terrier |

If you want a dog that’s small, but sturdy enough to keep up with your active lifestyle, The Spruce recommends the west highland white terrier. These dogs weigh between 13 and 20 pounds when full-grown. So they aren’t as fragile as smaller dogs, but they’re still small enough for you to handle them easily. The Westie does need regular grooming, but he doesn’t need frequent haircuts like some other dog breeds. 

14. Scottish terrier

Multiple scottish terrier run in a park , on a beautiful autumn day
Scottish terriers |

Another terrier that you should consider? The Scottish terrier. According to the Rover, one of these dogs will make a “great family companion. They love children and are another low-shedding breed.” (That’s a plus if you don’t want to add lots of grooming and vacuuming to your weekly to-do list.) Scottish terriers have a moderate energy level.

15. Yorkshire terrier

Beautiful yorkshire terrier playing with a ball on a grass
Yorkshire terrier |

The AKC reports that when you compare dog breeds, you should also think about the size of your family. Do you live with other people who will need to bond with the dog? Or do you live alone, and want a dog who’s happy with one companion? Our final choice is the Yorkshire terrier, a breed that PetCareRx promises “can happily spend an afternoon snuggled up on their owner’s lap.” These dogs also tend to bond strongly with one person. Therefore, a retiree living on their own — and looking for a loyal companion — will find it in this breed.

Read More: 15 Secrets Your Veterinarian Wishes You Knew