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Choosing a Canine Companion by Breed for Seniors

Mar 4, 2015 8:00:00 AM

A dog can be a wonderful companion, particularly for seniors that live alone. Having a dog to pet and care for can help to lower blood pressure and can promote positive emotions and experiences. For seniors that have certain medical conditions, a therapy dog can provide assistance in some situations. When selecting a dog for a senior, it may be helpful to evaluate how a dog’s breed characteristics will match up to the senior’s lifestyle and needs. Caregivers and family members may help seniors with exercise and care needs for a dog, but these needs should be considered before making the decision to obtain a certain dog breed.


Labrador Retrievers

Labrador retrievers are intelligent and non-aggressive. The ability to easily retain new skills and a natural amicability towards people and other animals make Labrador retrievers excellent guide dogs for seniors that are visually impaired. Labrador retrievers do not spook easily and bite down softly instead of clamping, which are skills that can be useful in guiding. Retrievers are generally medium to large in size, so it is necessary for retrievers to get a fair amount of daily exercise and plenty of food.

Standard Poodles

Standard poodles are considered to be hypoallergenic, which may be best for seniors with allergies and respiratory problems. Poodles shed very little, so less grooming and cleanup is required than with most other breeds. Poodles typically like the water and may help motivate seniors that can benefit from hydrotherapy to engage in water exercises more often, where a pet-friendly pool or recreational water source is available.


Pomeranians are small dogs that require little exercise but a lot of attention. Elderly individuals with mobility issues that desire companionship make ideal Pomeranian owners. Pomeranians are very affectionate and loyal, but require a little training. The thick coat of a Pomeranian requires grooming and may create housework when the dog sheds.


Greyhounds are large, slender dogs that do not bark often. Greyhounds may be helpful for those that have trouble sleeping, as the dogs sleep restfully and silently. Greyhounds can run very fast, but may be considered lazy when kept primarily indoors. Greyhounds have short hair, so they do not require much grooming.


Whippets are medium-sized dogs that grow up to about 25 to 40 pounds. Whippets are generally quiet and calm indoors, but require daily walks and grooming. Whippets may make good companions for seniors that have heart conditions and require low-impact daily exercise, as they can help provide motivation to take daily walks.

Topics: Activities and Lifestyle

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