Best Dog Breeds For Seniors: Top 5 Pups For Your Golden Years, Per Canine Experts

Thinking about welcoming a furry friend into your golden years? Dogs offer companionship, exercise motivation, and unconditional love – all fantastic benefits for seniors. But with so many breeds to choose from, finding the perfect pup can feel “ruff.” Fear not! This article will guide you through the best dog breeds for seniors, considering factors like size, energy level, and grooming needs. We’ll help you find a canine companion that perfectly complements your active (or not-so-active) lifestyle so you can enjoy your golden years together.

Not only does he or she provide companionship, but a dog is also a good reason to leave the house and get some exercise. And even with minimal exercise requirements, dogs help older people live longer through daily walks. As for what kind of dog to look for, StudyFinds consulted dog experts across ten websites and created our list of the best dog breeds for seniors based on which breeds were most recommended. Do you have any feedback? We’d love to hear it. Please let us know your opinion in the comments.

Important note: A senior dog is a better companion for an older person than an energetic puppy. Please consider adopting a senior dog.

➡️ How Our “Best Of The Best” Lists Are Created

StudyFinds’ “Best of the Best” articles are put together with the idea of taking the work out of common consumer research. Ever find yourself searching for a product or service on Google and reading multiple reviews to find items listed across many of them? Our Best of the Best lists are created with that process in mind, with each item ranked by how frequently it appears on expert reviews or lists. With Best of the Best, you are getting consensus picks — making them truly the best of the best!

The List: Best Dogs for Seniors, According to Pet Experts

1. Shih Tzu

white and brown shih tzu
Shih Tzu (Photo by Dieny Portinanni on Unsplash)

The Shih Tzu is the most frequently recommended dog for seniors. Ten out of ten experts say this friendly lap dog makes a great companion when vigorous walks and large living accommodations are not an option anymore. Nylabone describes them as affectionate lap dogs who love nothing more than spending time with their humans, following you around the house and showering you with snuggles. They’re also known for getting along great with everyone, so family visits and meeting new people won’t be a problem.

California Mobility agrees, calling Shih Tzus “loving, loyal companions for older adults.” Their happy-go-lucky personalities make them a joy to have around, and their small size means they’re perfectly suited for apartment living. They’re not big barkers and tend to do well with children, making them a great fit for families too!

Daily Paws chimes in with a heads-up: while Shih Tzus are low-maintenance on the exercise front, they do require regular grooming to keep their long, flowing fur in tip-top shape. But all that brushing is worth it for their endless cuddles! Just keep in mind, like many flat-faced dog breeds, Shih Tzus can be prone to breathing problems and eye issues. So, be sure to factor in regular vet checkups to keep your furry friend healthy and happy.

2. Bichon Frise

medium-coated white dog on brown brick ground
Bichon Frise (Photo by Elisei Abiculesei on Unsplash)

Next up based on expert recommendations is the Bichon Frise. While they are one recommendation short of the Shih Tzu, they are the best overall breed for seniors according to Reader’s Digest. They say these adorable white puffs are known for their friendly personalities and easygoing nature, making them great company for both experienced dog owners and first-timers alike. Plus, they’re relatively easy to potty train and don’t shed much, which is a major win for keeping your home clean.

Like the Shih Tzu, Great Senior Living reminds us that “low-maintenance” applies more to their exercise needs than their grooming routine. While Bichons are happy to cuddle on the couch, a couple of short walks a day will keep them happy and healthy. They’re also intelligent and obedient, making training a breeze.

Once the little pup has visited the spa, they are ready and content to be “arm candy.” The Spruce adds that these playful and affectionate pups stay on the smaller side, typically weighing between seven and 12 pounds. This makes them easy to manage for seniors in their day-to-day.

3. Tie: Toy/Miniature Poodle AND Maltese

These breeds have the same number of recommendations, are of similar size, require about the same exercise and maintenance, and are equally suitable for senior living. About poodles, Top Dog Tips says: “They are one of the best dogs for seniors because Poodles are clean dogs and have minimal shedding. They come in 3 varieties: standard, miniature, and toy. You are sure to find one that fits your situation.”

curly long-coated brown dog at the fence
Miniature Poodle (Photo by Tra Tran on Unsplash)

Poodles might surprise you as a great senior companion! Great Senior Living says this breed is intelligent and easy to train, making them a joy to teach tricks and games. They also bond strongly with their families, offering love and companionship to everyone in the household. Plus, their sweet and gentle nature makes them perfect cuddle buddies. While they do need a daily walk for exercise, poodles are happy to relax indoors with you, content to play or just lounge on the couch. The only caveat? They don’t shed, but regular grooming is a must to keep their curly coats in tip-top shape.

a small white dog standing on top of a lush green field
Maltese (Photo by Tali Despins on Unsplash)

As for the Maltese, Reader’s Digest claims that it’s the best small dog breed for seniors. Reviewers say these adorable little white pups were practically designed for companionship. Loyal, sweet, and mellow, they’re incredibly adaptable and can quickly become your new shadow. While they love to be by your side, their exercise needs are pretty low-key – short, easy walks will keep them happy. Plus, their tiny size (usually around four to seven pounds) means they’re perfect for apartment living or smaller homes. Bonus: they’re not big fans of being left alone for long stretches, so they’ll be happy to tag along on your errands!

4. Greyhound

closeup photo of black dog
Greyhound (Photo by Jannik Selz on Unsplash)

Dogs for seniors don’t have to be small! For seniors who want a somewhat larger dog that still won’t knock them over or tire them out, eight out of ten experts recommend the Greyhound. Top Dog Tips explains that while these dogs may seem like high-energy athletes because of their racing background, retired Greyhounds are actually known for being mellow and low-key.

The Spruce agrees, saying most Greyhounds are actually couch potatoes who love to lounge around with their humans. They still enjoy daily walks and the occasional sprint (think of it as playtime!), but they’re surprisingly easygoing for their size (typically 60-80 pounds) and respond well to training. So, if you love the idea of a big dog but worry about handling them, a Greyhound might be your perfect match!

For those who prefer a pint-sized pal, there’s the Italian Greyhound! Daily Paws calls them their favorite (don’t tell the other breeds!). These tiny speedsters love company and can be a little more on the anxious side, so they thrive in homes with retirees or seniors who are around most of the time to shower them with love and attention. However, if your lifestyle keeps you out and about a lot, an Italian Greyhound might do better with a canine buddy to keep them company.

5. Tie: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel AND Pug

brown and white long coated small dog lying on white textile
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (Photo by Geoff Oliver on Unsplash)

Here are two more affectionate, small, low-maintenance dogs that are great for seniors. There is a drawback though: Both breeds are infamous for their health problems. Cavaliers are highly likely to develop heart conditions and pugs, like all flat-faced dogs, have breathing problems.

Looking for a furry friend who’s as affectionate as they are adorable? The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel might be your perfect match! Reader’s Digest includes them high on their list of best dogs for seniors, and it’s easy to see why. With their big, soulful eyes and floppy ears, they’re practically cuddle champions. Plus, their eagerness to please makes them a breeze to train.

Great Senior Living chimes in, saying these playful pups love to chase squirrels and butterflies! So, if you plan on spending time outdoors, a long leash or fenced yard will help keep them safe and happy. But back to the snuggles – Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are perfectly content with moderate exercise, making them a great fit for seniors who enjoy leisurely walks but aren’t looking for a high-energy running buddy.

a small pug dog sitting on a wooden floor
Pug (Photo by Mykyta Telenkov on Unsplash)

Pugs: they’re not just internet memes, they can be amazing companions for seniors too! The Spruce says these little guys are masters at matching their owner’s energy level. Feeling like a couch potato today? Your pug will happily cuddle up on your lap. Want to play a quick game? They’ll be excited to join in the fun! While they can be energetic in bursts, pugs typically only need short walks to stay happy and healthy.

Just a heads-up: pugs can be prone to breathing problems because of their short snouts. Keeping them at a healthy weight is important to avoid making these issues worse. But with a little love and a balanced diet, your pug can be your devoted snuggle buddy for years to come.


Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links in which we receive a commission if you make a purchase.


  1. I love shih-tuz’s lost mine a year ago. After having her for 12 years…..I’d love to get another one, but I’m 55 years old, and lonely but they are to expensive…but i miss my baby…

  2. I have an older English Bulldog and she has brought me great joy!!! We have been together 11 years. I must admit we are both a little stubborn and I wouldn’t have it any other way. LOL!!!

  3. I’ve had the top three dogs for seniors over the years – way before I was a senior which I am now.
    Dental problems with all three; that topic wasn’t covered and for seniors, that can be a huge issue financially. Please include this important point in your future postings.

    1. You are absolutely right and this should be a big concern for small dog owners. Teeth cleaning and grooming are major costs but very necessary. I have a Mi-Ki and even with all the expense, she is a wonderful and loving fur baby worth every dollar.

  4. There are always so many rescue dogs that need to find a home. I would suggest a senior rescue dog. Ask staff at the shelter their opinions about which ones might make a good choice for an older person. I would love to get one myself, I do sometimes feel lonely, but I live in an apartment and the property owners will not allow pets.

    1. Please consider volunteering at your local animal shelter. You can help walk and give loving attention to their smaller dogs until they find their forever home. It is sometimes hard to see them go home, but knowing you are helping the dogs during what is probably the hardest time of their lives is very rewarding.

  5. Pugs are wonderful companions and are loving and sweet but they shed more than most dogs. Daily brushing curtails some of it but be ready to vacuum daily and to change clothes to leave the house!

  6. I love my rescue chiweenie (dashound and chihuahua mix). She’s the perfect senior dog. Loving, sweet, loyal. Doesn’t need a lot of exercise, pretty low maintenance. Doesn’t shed very much.

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