Are you looking for a new best friend that will keep you company through your golden years? There’s nothing better than visiting rescues and shelters when looking for a pup to bring home but the whole process will need dedicated research and assessment. While adopting a new pet can be a rewarding experience, you first need to consider your caring capabilities and your needs to ensure you come home with the right dog.
In this guide, we detail the best lap dogs for seniors, along with tips on what you need to think about when choosing the breed for you.
How You Can Choose the Ideal Companion
Whether you choose to adopt or purchase, getting any kind of dog is a big decision. Many older people will prefer small dog breeds since they can live between 13 to 15 years or more. Moreover, you need to consider that you’ll need to care for your new canine buddy and the right one will depend on your preferences and health. Some older adults will be more active so they may prefer larger dogs that need plenty of exercise while others might look for smaller dogs to cuddle with on the couch.
But apart from these considerations, you should also think about the type of dog that’s best suited for your lifestyle. Below are some considerations to think about when looking for great lap dogs.
Different dogs will come with different levels of energy and therefore, different exercise needs. If you live on a farm then you may be able to provide the needs of an Australian Shepherd by letting it run around the property. But if you have mobility issues or live in a small apartment, you may be better off with low-maintenance dogs or smaller breeds that won’t need much exercise.
The size of your dog is also an important factor to consider when choosing the best dogs for seniors. A large dog might be a great guard dog but they’re also big enough to knock you over by accident whenever they become excited. They will also come with bigger appetites, so you will need to spend more money to feed them compared to dogs of a smaller size.
Larger breeds also come with a higher risk for a few medical conditions such as hip dysplasia, so they may cost more in vet bills. On the other hand, smaller dogs are more prone to patellar luxation, so this is something to look out for. Lastly, smaller dog breeds are more low maintenance when it comes to their grooming and walking needs, so they’re more suitable for homebodies.
Some dogs will need more regular grooming for their skin and coat compared to others. There are dog breeds that will need trips to a professional groomer to maintain their coats, while others can simply be bathed once every few weeks or so. Before choosing a pup, be sure to consider how much upkeep you’ll need to do for it, and be realistic with the amount of energy and time you have for grooming your dog.
Much like humans, dogs will come with different personalities and some are known for their easy-going and sunny dispositions. However, some dogs can be stubborn, independent, or strong-willed, making it hard for seniors to take charge. Before making your final decision, be sure to meet the dog you wish to adopt and ask the breeder or shelter worker about the dog’s behavior.
The dog’s age should also be a consideration when looking for the best dog for you — some pups will live longer so think about whether or not it can outlive you. Moreover, puppies and younger dogs will have more energy — if you’re active, you might benefit from training and socializing your pooch during playtime. But if you want to focus on finding an excellent companion, then you might be better off with an older dog.
The Best Lap Dogs for Seniors
If you want to get the best dog for an older person, be sure to consider their abilities and needs. No matter what kind of dog you’re looking for, be sure to keep the criteria above in mind as you consider the breeds below.
Poodles are highly intelligent dogs that are easy to train and always happy to please their owners; miniature Poodles are easy to care for. These dogs won’t need too much exercise, so a long walk per day should be enough because they’ll be content to simply cuddle and lounge around with family all day. Because Poodles are nurturing and gentle, they’re a good choice for seniors, plus they only to be groomed once a month and they don’t shed much.
2. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
This small breed can be an excellent choice since they love cuddling their humans and are easily trainable thanks to their high intelligence. They’re also great with children and older adults — however, they come with a long coat that’s prone to matting, especially around their long ears. As a result, regular grooming and brushing are necessary for these dogs but are ideal for seniors who can provide them with a fenced yard.
3. Cocker Spaniel
This gorgeous dog has a silky coat and is consistently ranked as one of the best medium-sized dogs for seniors. They are people-pleasers who will work hard to understand what you want them to learn but their flowing locks will need to be brushed regularly to prevent tangles. While it isn’t a particularly energetic dog, they will still need a moderate amount of exercise to keep their muscles healthy.
4. French Bulldog
According to the American Kennel Club, the French Bulldog became the most popular breed in the United States as of 2022, and for good reason. Commonly known as Frenchies, they’re also one of the best small dogs for older people living in small apartments because of their compact size. They’ll happily climb onto your lap for some cuddles or they can also accompany you during your daily walks, but they aren’t the best choice for anyone living in hot climates because they can easily overheat.
5. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Queen Elizabeth II once owned a few of these dogs and are among the most energetic and lovable dogs in the world. They enjoy daily exercise such as walking to the dog park or going on a hike — Corgis were originally bred to be herding dogs, so have a lot of exercise needs. These high-energy dogs are also protective of their families, so they’re not just good companions but great guard dogs too.
6. Shih Tzu
These well-rounded dogs have the ability to thrive in both big homes and small apartments and are overall low-maintenance pups. They do, however, need to go on short walks daily to keep them healthy; alternatively, you may also give them playtime in the backyard to ensure their energy is spent. Shih Tzus are both playful and welcoming of their family and even strangers, while their gentle nature makes them a great choice for elderly people with grandchildren.
7. Bichon Frise
This loving and cheerful toy breed features a pretty white coat that won’t shed much, which makes it a good match for people who suffer from allergies. While they will need to visit their groomer regularly to maintain their beautiful coat, they only need moderate exercise in the form of short walks. They’ll get along well with other pets like cats and dogs and will also do well in a home with older children — these dogs don’t bark much so they’ll be suitable in living communities.
8. Boston Terrier
The Boston Terrier is among the easiest breeds for seniors to care for — because they don’t usually bark, they’re another great choice for older people living in assisted living communities. They’ll be happy to lay on your lap all day and have moderate energy levels; their short coat means that they won’t need frequent brushing and will be happy with an occasional bath. These goofy dogs are lovable and low-maintenance, making them great companions for seniors who don’t want too much hassle.
This dog is known for its small size and is also relatively low-maintenance, so you won’t need to worry about exercising or grooming them on a daily basis. Their thin and short coats are easy to care for and their short legs allow them to follow their owners around the home so they’ll never feel lonely. Unfortunately, these pups won’t do well in cold temperatures, so be sure to take them somewhere warm.
These charming and loving dogs are a great choice for seniors and will also show affection to all of your family members. Pugs are house dogs that won’t need much exercise, and they’ll do well with young kids and other dogs. While their distinct snouts will make them prone to snoring, they don’t bark much and will form a strong bond with their favorite human.
11. Yorkshire Terrier
Commonly referred to as Yorkies, this tiny pooch has a big personality and is known for its feistiness and tenacity. Because they don’t need too much exercise, they’re well suited for life in the city and in small apartments. They have stunning coats that will need regular brushing, but they won’t shed much and are known to be hypoallergenic, so they’ll be great for older adults with allergies.
12. Miniature Schnauzer
This low-shedding breed won’t need daily brushing and is small enough to come along with you even on frequent trips. The Miniature Schnauzer is a charming little dog that features a distinctive combo of bushy eyebrows and a beard that gives it such an endearing appearance. They’re lively dogs that will need plenty of exercise which includes chasing and running after toys like frisbees and balls — they’ll also be eager to cuddle and please their owners, making them good dogs for seniors.
13. Lhasa Apso
These stunning dogs come with floor-length coats that will need regular grooming but their coat can be cut short if preferred, but they will still need a bath once every two weeks to maintain their beauty. The Lhasa Apso is a gentle, smart, and affectionate dog that may be stubborn so it will require an owner who can give it gentle, yet firm training. Because they’re such good dogs, they’re often used as therapy dogs to help provide comfort and support for nursing homes and hospitals.
14. Labrador Retriever
This great dog is among the most popular in the country and is known for its gentle temperament, loyalty, and loving nature. Labrador Retrievers are intelligent and friendly but they come with plenty of energy and will demand plenty of time for you to take them out for exercise. Because of their versatility, they can be used as service dogs and will make great companions for active elderly people who love hiking, long walks, bike rides, and other kinds of adventures.
15. Italian Greyhound
Greyhounds are known for their immense speed and are the fastest dogs in the world, so it might not seem like they’ll be a good fit for seniors. However, the Italian Greyhound (a smaller version of the breed) has a sweet temperament and tends to be a happy couch potato that’s good for cuddling. To help them burn their energy, take them to a dog park where they can run at maximum speed while chasing their favorite ball or frisbee.
Once you’ve assessed your personal situation and looked through the candidates above, you should be able to find a dog that best fits your needs and preferences. Lap dogs can come in different sizes and will have varying personalities; the good news is that you can also choose senior dogs that will match your personality and home. While they might be prone to health problems due to their age, you’ll have a deeper understanding of each other’s condition and will be able to share your golden years together.