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Lifestyle

The top 9 dog breeds for older people

Prioritize personality and love over body size.

No matter the age of the pet parent, dogs make great best friends — and considering the sheer variety of breeds, personalities and sizes out there, rest assured that there’s a furry family member out there for you. 

The fact of the matter, though, is that not every dog breed is ideal for every age range, so older adults should be mindful of the kind of dog they’re looking to bring home.

“Dogs can be great companions for people of every age, but those with less active lifestyles or smaller living spaces should try to match their activity levels, space requirements and personalities with their pet's needs,” Dr. Elizabeth Devitt, DVM, general practice veterinarian and veterinary consultant for Fetch, says. 

What are the best dog breeds for seniors? 

The common assumption is that smaller dog breeds are better suited for older pet parents because they’re more manageable. But picking the right dog for your lifestyle isn't as black-and-white as it may seem. Other factors are just as, if not more, important to consider.

Smaller breeds require less food and space, but Dr. Devitt advises not to overlook personality in favor of sheer body weight. Some small dogs — like Jack Russell Terriers, Boston Terriers or Beagles — have high-energy levels that would need parents who can provide plenty of ways to burn it off. 

“Sometimes small dogs have over-the-top personalities that aren’t suited for quieter lifestyles,” Dr. Devitt notes.

Bichon Frises, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Havanese, Pomeranians and Yorkshire Terriers are popular because of their calm dispositions. “They don’t need endless exercise, and they like to curl up next to you on the couch,” Dr. Devitt says. “Keep in mind, though, that these dogs all need regular grooming appointments to keep their coats healthy.”

Because of these needs, Dr. Devitt recommends a smooth-coated Dachshund, Chihuahua or French Bulldog for less coat maintenance but in the same huggable size range.

Don't just go for size, though. “Take time to learn about the traits and characteristics of the breeds you are interested in. And don’t forget, an all-American mutt may be just what you are looking for,” Dr. Devitt adds.

Small doesn’t mean less when it comes to veterinary care, either. “While it’s always important to pay attention to your dog’s dental health, the smaller breed dogs often require extra care,” Dr. Devitt explains.

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What dog breeds should older adults avoid adopting? 

Matching the right breed to an older adult isn't a one-size-fits-all equation. Anyone who adopts a four-legged companion should consider whether they can meet that breed's physical, mental and emotional needs while also remember all dogs are different. 

The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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