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.
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.
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?