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5 Best Dog Breeds for Seniors

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A senior woman smiling and walking her pet poodle in a park.

Dogs are truly some people’s best friends. Getting a dog can even be an option for many older adults living in a senior living community. 5 of the best dog breeds for seniors to consider include:

  • Bichon Frise
  • Poodle
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Greyhound

It’s often up to each senior living community to develop policies for what type of pets they allow. With that said, asking about a community’s rules on pets can be one of the key questions to ask during a community tour if owning a dog is something you or a loved one are interested in.

Why Do Dogs Make Good Companions for Seniors?

There are plenty of studies that show the potential benefits of spending time with animals through programs like pet therapy, but not everyone will have access to specially trained therapy dogs. Sometimes, having a pet is simply about safety or having a companion. 

A lack of access to a therapy dog shouldn’t deter an older adult from getting a furry friend—there are plenty of great reasons to do so. Some of the key benefits include companionship, support for physical and mental health, and potential extra safety—not to mention unconditional love.


Loneliness can be one of the biggest challenges for seniors, especially for those who live alone. Living with a dog can help combat loneliness by providing endless companionship. Dogs are always there, wagging their tails and providing non-judgmental love. Plus, taking care of a pet can be a great way to feel needed by taking on a fulfilling responsibility.

Support for Physical & Mental Health

Walking your dog daily helps maintain physical health and can provide a sense of purpose. Taking care of a pet can also reduce anxiety and stress levels. Additionally, interacting with a dog can stimulate social connections and may help ward off cognitive decline.


Some dogs are known for their ability to sense danger and protect their owners. Seniors living alone may feel more secure with a loyal dog who can alert them to any potential danger. Furthermore, a dog may be able to help alert others nearby when their owner is in need of help.

Unconditional Love

Many dogs love unconditionally. No matter what mood we are in or how our day is going, they greet us with affection and tail-wagging enthusiasm. Having a little furry friend who is always by your side can make the world feel like a better place.

Emotional Support

As we age, we may experience more grief and loss. Having a trusted, loving dog to lean on can help many adults cope with emotional struggles. Dogs can offer a sense of comfort and support during tough times and can help alleviate feelings of sadness and depression.

5 Best Dog Breeds for Seniors

There isn’t a single best dog breed for seniors because it ultimately comes down to a person’s preference, but there are some great options to consider. Some of the key questions to ask include:

  • Do you want a tiny dog or a bigger one? 
  • Do you want a playful, active pup or one that’s content to lounge around all day? 

Considering the type of companion you or your loved one want can help you make the right choice for your furry friend. 

Bichon Frise

The Bichon Frise is a small breed that can be perfect for seniors who live in apartments or small houses. These fluffy, white dogs are known for their affectionate and gentle nature, making them the ultimate lapdog. They’re low maintenance, don’t shed much, and have a relatively long lifespan, making them wonderful for retired adults who want a companion for years to come.


Poodles come in different sizes and are one of the most intelligent dog breeds, which can make them perfect for seniors who crave mental stimulation. They’re also hypoallergenic, which may be perfect for those with allergies. Poodles are also often easy to train and love to please their owners, making them great loyal companions.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

These adorable little dogs can be perfect for seniors who want a small and affectionate pet that isn’t too demanding. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels love to cuddle, are low-energy, and are extremely loyal. They’re also relatively healthy and have a longer lifespan than many other small dog breeds.

Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terriers, or Yorkies, may be small in size, but they are big in personality. They love to play and cuddle, and their small size can make them perfect for apartment or condo living. They’re also often low maintenance and easy to train, making them perfect for seniors who want a companion without added stress.


Although Greyhounds are often associated with racing, they can be perfect for seniors who have a lot of free time on their hands. These gentle giants make wonderful pets, are extremely affectionate, and love to snuggle. They may be large, but they’re generally low-energy, which makes them great for seniors who don’t want a dog that requires a lot of exercise.

A senior man and a senior woman playing with a small dog in a living room

Find a Pet-Friendly Community to Call Home

You shouldn’t have to give up your dreams about owning a dog when you decide to make the move to senior living. Call us at The Villages at the River Club to book a tour if you’re considering communities in Clarksville. Our team is happy to answer your question about sharing your home here with a furry friend.

Written by Lisa Klasen

“It gives me pleasure to help our residents live a life of independence, love, and joy here in our community.”

Lisa has lived in Clarksville for over 10 years and is originally from the Nashville area. She went to college at Central Michigan University, where she graduated with a liberal arts degree (psychology major).

Lisa has an eclectic work background and started her career in the human resources/training/development arena for several service-oriented companies such as Hyatt Hotels and The Forum Group (Senior Living Communities). Later in her career, she switched to real estate sales for local custom home builders for about 15 years in Indiana and Tennessee. Recently, Lisa has worked as a sales and marketing director for a local independent living community, a skilled nursing facility, and an assisted living/memory care facility.

She lives with her 4 “boys”: 2 dogs and 2 cats. She still holds her real estate license and also does professional photography during her time away from The Villages. She hopes to use her photography skills to market our beautiful building and wonderful family of residents and staff here. She looks forward to getting to know everyone!

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