For the elderly, life can sometimes be lonely. However, studies show that having a pet to share their love and time can help alleviate anxiety and boredom, and even improve health. When selecting a dog for an elderly person, you should consider some basic characteristics, such as size and temperament.
Typically, smaller dogs do better. If the dog becomes ill, a small dog is easier to carry and transport to the veterinarian. He or she should also be a dog that enjoys a life of being petted and cared for. In other words, your basic "lap dog." Dogs that require a lot of exercise or are rambunctious are not good choices.
Always remember: There are good dogs and bad dogs in every breed. It's important to remember that individual dogs within breeds can demonstrate their own, unique personality traits. Some breeds that generally work well with the elderly include:
Pug. For such a small dog, there's a lot of love stuffed into the pug's body. A clown by nature, the pug demands attention and adoration, but returns both in greater measure. They love to play, but the pug also enjoys a good lap session as much as the next dog.
Schnauzer. The standard and miniature schnauzer are wonderful pets for seniors. Eager to please and to keep his family safe, this breed usually requires regular grooming and daily exercise. They thrive on human companionship.
Scottish terrier. This working dog from the Scottish Highlands weighs around 15 to 20 pounds. Most often black, the Scottie is highly intelligent and needs daily exercise. Tough and compact, the Scottie is a loyal and protective family member.
Shih tzu. Proud and intelligent, the shih tzu is from Tibet and China, where the name means "lion dog" because of the breed's appearance. The breed is alert, curious and gentle and thrives on human companionship.
Yorkshire terrier. The Yorkie is a tiny dog with lots of spunk. This breed is happy to spend his days lounging on the sofa, but this calm dog requires regular grooming.
Cocker spaniel. The popular cocker with his curly hair and sad eyes is a good choice for seniors. Needing basic exercise, the cocker usually spends his days lounging and waiting for his owner's return.
Welsh corgi. At about 25 pounds, the Pembroke Welsh corgi is a popular pet. This stocky short tailed breed needs daily exercise but does not require a large living space.
American Eskimo. Descended from the German "Spitz" line of dogs, the American Eskimo was bred from ancient times to watch over people and property. The Eskimo is a small- to medium-sized dog that bonds closely with his family and tends to distrust strangers.
Boston terrier. Small, muscular and compact, the Boston terrier is one of the few truly American breeds. They are gentle, friendly dogs that are protective of family and home. This natural guardian instinct helps keep his senior owner feeling safe.
Chihuahua. The Chihuahua is a small dog with a big bark. He will bark vigorously, as if they are trying to make up for being just 6 to 9 inches tall and weighing under 5 pounds. They are excellent pets for senior and you will know when someone's approaching the house.
Pekingese. The Pekingese is a bold, regal toy dog that has an enthusiastic bark rivaling the Chihuahua's. A natural guardian and lap dog, the Peke needs regular grooming.
Toy poodle. The poodle loves to be in the company of people. Actually, he prefers to be with people instead of other dogs. The breed also hates to be ignored and does not like being thought of or treated as "just a dog." This breed is wonderful for seniors who want someone to pamper.
Maltese. As the name suggests, the small Maltese originated on the island of Malta, in the Mediterranean. This diminutive breed looks fragile but is quite resilient. The long flowing white coat needs daily care. These dogs are smart, extremely affectionate and love people.
Pomeranian. If you are looking for a spunky, perky little dog, look no further. Believed to originate in Pomerania, Germany, the Pomeranian is an alert, docile but lively companion. This compact little breed has quite a fuzzy hair coat and resembles a cuddly teddy bear.
English toy spaniel. The toy spaniel has a look similar to the Cavalier King Charles spaniel but with a more pushed-in nose. This breed is pleasant and jovial but is wary of strangers, which may help some seniors feel at ease.