The best companion dogs for over 50s

Owning a dog can add structure, purpose and companionship to our lives as we age – not to mention giving us some additional love and affection.

If you are thinking of getting a dog for yourself or an elderly parent, here are some of the best breeds to consider.


A popular breed of dog which is known for being friendly and fun, the Poodle makes a wonderful companion.

They are low-shedding dogs so their hair won’t need constant vacuuming, and appointments at a vet or grooming salon will help keep their curly mane under control.

Poodles are intelligent dogs, who love company, are easy to train, and are seldom badly behaved. There are a few varieties of poodle, like the toy, miniature or regular sized poodle, so a dog can be found for both a small flat or large house.

They need regular walks so are well suited to active people, but their good nature means that they don’t normally pull the lead or play rough.

Yorkshire Terrier

Small but perfectly formed, the Yorkshire Terrier is well suited to people in their golden years.

Their long, silky coats require brushing – or regular clipping if you want to keep them short haired – but they don’t shed much hair, and some people find them hypoallergenic so they are great for people with allergies.

Yorkshire Terriers are full of energy and curiosity. They love to bark and run around, and with a bit of firm training their temperament makes them extremely loyal pets.

As it’s a small dog the Yorkshire Terrier quickly tires after exercise, and it will be happy in a small house or retirement building.

Shih Tzu

If you think a lap dog would be a better companion, look no further than the pretty Shih Tzu.

Gentle, kind and happy to sit in peace and quiet on the sofa all day long, the Shih Tzu is perfect for people who want a furry friend to cuddle up with as they watch television or read.

Their coat needs regular brushing and grooming, and although they are small they need a couple of gentle walks outside every day.

Shih-Tzu are also very playful, friendly and alert dogs, which makes them great company.


Robust, intelligent, entertaining and happy, the Pug makes a lovely companion dog.

They’ve become an increasingly popular breed of companion dog for people of all ages lately, but their small size and affectionate nature make them particularly well suited to older people. They do need to be well trained, with an authoritative owner.

Pugs need to be walked regularly, but their short stature means they are happy to stroll on the lead by your side, and it doesn’t take much to tire them out.


Although at first you might think that a Greyhound needs constant exercise, they are actually quite docile dogs and can be a very good match for people wanting a canine companion.

Greyhounds are gentle, mild-mannered and sweet dogs which don’t need much exercise. In fact, they can be happy to stay indoors most of the day and snooze on the floor near their owners. making them good pets for people who spend a lot of time indoors. A walk every day and the occasional chance to run around will keep them happy.

Adopting a retired racing greyhound can be a lovely way of giving a dog a second chance at a quiet, companionable life.

Things to consider when choosing a companion dog

  • Think about whether or not you want to get a young dog or puppy, or adopt an older dog. Older dogs are more likely to have been trained and are generally quieter and less work than puppies, who can be very demanding.
  • Always take the size of the dog into account, as well as the size of your home. It’s no good having a large dog in a small flat, or getting a breed that would be hard to control.
  • If you stay with family or in a residential building, try not to get a breed prone to excessive barking or whining.
  • Avoid getting a breed with high energy levels which will need constant exercise, like a Border Collie or Dalmatian, if you have a small property or don’t already lead a very active lifestyle. Being cooped up indoors may leave both dog and owner feeling depressed if they don’t get the exercise they need.

What would be your perfect companion dog?

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Rachel - Silversurfers Assistant Editor

Hello there! I’m Rachel and I’m the Assistant Editor for Silversurfers. I work behind the scenes to bring interesting, informative and entertaining subject matter to the Silversurfers community. I hope you enjoy the features we have shared with you. Please feel free to comment below and share your thoughts with us, we love to hear from you!

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21st Aug 2020
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I'm amazed that nobody has mentioned the Cavalier King Charles - the original love sponge!
30th Aug 2020
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I've had 3 cavalier king charles, they are the most loving little dogs, the problem with mine was they all had heart murmurs that's a common problem with the breed, I got mine from 3 different breeders.
9th Apr 2020
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I have a retired greyhound and couldn’t be happier. I got her from the Greyhound Trust and we were matched perfectly. I used to have a Lurcher for 17 years but chose a greyhound this time, as I’m nearly 70, and thought I wouldn’t cope with another Lurcher’s energy. My beautiful greyhound is undemanding, fun, loves cuddles & sleep! We manage well in these constrained times by exercising together once a day and then a couple of walks round the garden. She is a perfect companion & happy to have home comforts.
8th Mar 2020
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Springer spaniel always! Not for everyone but always for my family. They are super intelligent, learn quickly, very obedient and loving, BUT need a lot of exercise and stimulation. Give so much back, they are delightful
6th Mar 2020
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Bichon Frise we have rehomed two,They are hypoallergenic, a good size and not too demanding on exercise. They are very loving and do like to be comfortable, usually on the sofa. They do need to be cut at the groomers around every 7 weeks.
6th Mar 2020
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Would you recommend a corgi?
6th Mar 2020
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Doberman , they are so loving and just want to be next to you, short coat so easy to look after, I adore my boy and he keeps me fit.
3rd Mar 2020
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Bedlington Terrier?
6th Mar 2020
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Bedlingtons are lovely gentle dogs - and don't moult. We had a bedlington cross and now a pedigree. Both lovely companions
1st Mar 2020
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Greyhound all the way! don't shed much, don't need a lot of exercise, good with children, not big barkers, just want love and affection which they will repay in spades.
1st Mar 2020
Thanks for voting!
My daughter and I have recently adopted a rescued Lurcher, ? 3years old.

I was a little unsure in the beginning as I have mobility problems. However he is happy to have one good walk with my daughter, the rest of the day he snoozes in various places with lots of cuddles with either of us, running around in the garden when he needs a stretch.
So pleased with all the help and advice from 3counties dog rescue in Bourne.
29th Feb 2020
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Great article and, as CEO of a rescue centre I would recommend adopting your next best friend; so many lovely dogs out there just waiting for their forever home. Our dog Barney gives so much love it’s humbling. #adoptdontshop ❤️
28th Jun 2018
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We’ve got two 7month old shih tzu the best thing we ever did gives us so much pleasure they give themselves lots of exercise playing and running around like little race horses happiness is shih tzu
7th Mar 2018
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The great big, gentle Bernese Mountain Dog, a wonderful companion.
7th Mar 2018
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Yorkshire terrier for me we have just got a 10 week old puppy 🙂
7th May 2017
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Looking for other small dog lovers to chat with
25th Jul 2016
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Shih tzu for me . Very loyal,friendly and so lovable.
8th Apr 2016
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Greyhounds every time,retired greyhounds need Love to
13th Jan 2016
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Another important part of this article is getting a rescue dog. There are many 'senior' dogs that do make ideal companions for older people. Give them a chance too. Our staffie girl is a 12 year old full of love and affection. Little dogs are not everyone's choice, if this is the case, please do consider a won't be disappointed .
29th Oct 2015
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Got to be a greyhound ,not keen on dogs that resemble rats ! Greyhounds are great pets so laid back and not needing much exercise !

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