Expert Q&A

I want to adopt a dog for my older parents. What are some of the best breeds for the elderly?

I want to adopt a dog for my older parents. What are some of the best breeds for the elderly?


A dog can be the perfect companion for older people -- if you pick the right one. “A dog can give [elderly people] of feeling of self worth,” said Jacqueline Geary, LVT. “It will allow them to satisfy the need to take care of something.”

When choosing a dog, Geary recommends a dog that is older than 4 years old. “An older dog in general is a calmer one,” she said. “They have already gone through their ‘crazy’ puppy phase of chewing and teething, and most are already spayed or neutered.”

As an added bonus, if you decide to adopt from a rescue organization or shelter, you’ll likely to get an older animal that has been through a behavior screening. Most of these animals have a basic understanding of living with people, and they may even know some commands.

Find out more about adopting an adult dog here.

The type of breed that would work best for someone who’s older depends on their level of activity. For example, if the couple likes to travel, they may want a small breed dog, such as a Yorkshire Terrier or miniature Poodle, that’s easy to tote around. For people who are less active, Geary suggests rescuing a mixed breed from a shelter. You might want to consider sticking with a dog that’s under 50 pounds, as well, since a bigger dog may pull too hard on a lead and could be too much for an elderly person to handle. Some pure bred breeds that make good choices are Beagles, soft-coated Wheatons and Golden Doodles.

You might also consider adopting a dog through your local veterinary hospital. Most places receive calls from people who are looking for homes for older dogs after their owners have passed away or relocated. 

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