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Best Dog Breeds for Seniors and Retirees

When a dog enters the room, there is a kind of magic that happens. Smiles break out, tails wag and the air becomes buoyant, filled with joy and laughter. 

It’s no secret that pets can bring companionship, health benefits and happiness to seniors and retirees. Studies suggest having a dog can lower stress, prevent loneliness, provide purpose and routine, and lead to a more active lifestyle for people in their golden years.

If you’re considering getting a dog, your first question may be, what breed? Of course, everyone’s taste in dogs varies, but it’s important to find one that suits your lifestyle and abilities.

Here are the top eight dog breeds for seniors based on research from the American Kennel Club (AKC) and The Spruce Pets.

French Bulldog

French bulldogs, also known as the “Frenchie,” are cheerful pups. Moderate daily exercise (a walk or two a day) is usually adequate for this breed. They do not require a lot of grooming, but there are some health concerns, such as skin issues and brachycephalic syndrome, to be aware of.

Group: Non-sporting
Height: 11 to 13 inches
Weight: 19 to 28 pounds
Coat/Color: Short, smooth coat in brindle, fawn, white or combination of brindle and white or fawn and white
Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years


Poms are tiny, affectionate, happy pups. This three-to seven-pound friend enjoys relaxing, playing with small toys and being your companion.

Group: Toy
Height: 6 to 7 inches
Weight: 3 to 7 pounds
Coat/Color: Long, double coat that comes in many colors, though the most common are red, orange, cream, sable, black, brown and blue
Life Expectancy: 12 to 16 years


Corgis are small, smart and make great companions. They are fairly easy to train, require routine exercise (daily walks) and have minimal grooming needs.

Group: Herding
Height: 10 to 12 inches
Weight: 24 to 30 pounds
Coat/Color: Medium length double coat in black and tan, red, sable or fawn (all colors are typically seen with white markings)
Life Expectancy: 12 to 13 years


As one of the most loyal, popular and smartest breeds, poodles come in three sizes: tiny toy, small miniature or larger standard. They require daily walks and professional grooming monthly.

Group: Non-sporting
Height: Toy: 10 inches and under; Miniature: 10 to 15 inches; Standard: 15 inches
Weight: Toy: 5 to 9 pounds; Miniature: 15 to 18 pounds; Standard: 45 to 70 pounds
Coat/Color: Curly, dense single-layer coats that may be one of many solid colors, including white, black, grey, brown and apricot
Life Expectancy: 10 to 18 years


This loving, low-key pup is a great companion and will match the energy level of its owner. A careful eye on its diet is necessary, as Pugs are prone to overeating and becoming overweight.

Group: Toy
Height: 10 to 13 inches
Weight: 14 to 18 pounds
Coat/Color: Smooth, short double coat in fawn or black
Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years


These cuddly pups love spending time on their owner’s lap. The Maltese breed enjoys short walks and are easy to train. They require monthly trips to the groomer and are small enough to carry around in a bag.

Group: Toy
Height: 8 to 10 inches
Weight: 4 to 7 pounds
Coat/Color: Dark, alert eyes are shrouded by white fur that is naturally long and silky; single-layer coat without an undercoat
Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

Shih Tzu

This small breed is another popular breed. Shih Tzus can be stubborn but are smart and trainable. They require regular grooming and daily walks.

Group: Toy
Height: 8 to 11 inches
Weight: 9 to 16 pounds
Coat/Color: Long double coat in nearly any color, most commonly in black, white, blue, gold, liver or combinations
Life Expectancy: 10 to 16 years

West Highland White Terrier

These low-maintenance pups are great companions who are easy to handle. They require some grooming and daily walks.

Group: Terrier
Height: 10 to 11 inches
Weight: 13 to 20 pounds
Coat/Color: White, with a rough, medium-length double coat, black eyes and nose
Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

American House is Pet Friendly

Cats and dogs are wonderful additions to your life and at American House, we understand and encourage that type of bond! Many of our communities offer pet-friendly senior apartments, so don’t worry about bringing your furry friends along when you move.

If you don’t already have a pet, perhaps you should consider getting one! Pets offer plenty of benefits, not the least of which is comfort and companionship. You’ll look forward to spending time with your newfound friend; petting and scratching your cat or dog behind the ears, and always having a buddy to relax with in your home.

If you’re going to make our House your home, consider bringing a pet along with you!

Read: Top 6 Benefits of Pet Ownership for Seniors

We all have a story. A story that taught us something, changed us and helped define who we are. At American House, your next chapter is waiting to be written. We’re here to help you write it. Your way.

Are you ready to start your next chapter? Contact us today.


Written By

American House Senior Living

American House Senior Living has been helping residents add to their life stories since 1979. Start your next chapter where new experiences happen daily, and new friends are ready to be made.

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