It’s a fact of life—dogs are man’s (and woman’s) best friend. If you grew up with a family dog or have ever owned one, you understand the joy they can bring by playing fetch or just cuddling on the couch. Upping the ante, research has linked dog ownership to a whole host of health benefits, including a lower risk of heart disease.
But dogs can also be a handful. And if you’re over the age of 65, you may not be looking for a high-energy dog to keep the kids occupied or accompany you on a jog. Instead, you might want a furry friend who is a bit easier to look after, but will still provide that same level of comfort and affection. If this sounds like you, keep reading to find out which six breeds experts say are the most low-maintenance, and how they might fit in with your lifestyle.
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This sweet small breed was by far the most frequently recommended to Best Life by experts. Known for their loving and adaptable nature, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels make the perfect companion for seniors, according to Jacquelyn Kennedy, founder and CEO of PetDT.
“Their compact size and good genetics mean that they are easy to handle and train, even if the owner is a dog novice,” Kennedy says. These pups are also good in small spaces, like apartments or bungalows, she adds.
But this breed is not without its drawbacks, as they do require some grooming. And as Linda Simon, MVB, MRCVS, veterinary surgeon and veterinary consultant for FiveBarks, points out, they can also have some health complications, namely heart disease and chronic dental disease. “Ideally, owners should purchase from breeders who screen their breeding stock and only mate the healthiest individuals,” Simon says.
Another low-maintenance breed, the Bichon Frise is a perfect option for senior citizens who don’t want to worry about cleaning up pet hair. Bichons don’t shed and are hypoallergenic, Erin Mastopietro, CEO of Dope Dog, says.
And despite their cheerful nature, these dogs only require short walks, she adds, making the Bichon appealing to those who may not want to embark on longer strolls.
“Their behavior is friendly towards other pets, including dogs and cats, and they are good with kids, too,” Mastopietro says. You won’t have trouble bringing a Bichon around your grandchildren, and much like Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, these dogs are good for smaller spaces. “It is a great choice for seniors in apartments and living communities because they are gentle, cuddly, and don’t bark often,” Mastopietro adds.
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The French Bulldog might be your perfect companion if you’re looking for a pup that is goofy, lovable, and somewhat lazy. “They’ll cuddle in your lap while you watch the nightly news, or they’ll run around the backyard giggling,” Mastopietro says.
John Woods, dog trainer, author, and founder of All Things Dogs, echoes this statement, adding that French Bulldogs only need about an hour of daily exercise and won’t rack up a big bill at the groomers.
But if you’ve chosen to retire somewhere warm and sunny, the French Bulldog probably shouldn’t be on your list. According to Mastopietro, Frenchies don’t fare well in hot climates and will easily overheat.
Looking for a bigger breed? Experts recommend the Greyhound. Gentle and considered to be hypoallergenic, these dogs won’t cause an allergy flare-up and don’t need to be groomed often, according to Woods.
And if you’re wondering how a breed famed for its speed made this list, experts have an answer for that, too. “With their reputation for sprinting, Greyhounds may not seem the obvious choice,” Woods says. “However, they only have short bursts of energy—only needing an hour a day of exercise, which can be split into two sessions—and like to spend most of their time napping.”
Simon advises looking into a Greyhound that has retired from racing. Even though they were “prime athletes” at one point, they don’t require extra exercise when they’ve reached middle age, she says.
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The Boston Terrier is a medium-sized option for senior citizens, only getting to be between 20 and 25 pounds, according to Shannon Bunn, pet expert and CEO at Waggy Pups.
This breed is again noted for its minimal movement requirements and love of being at home, Bunn explains, and Boston Terriers will be quite happy just to keep their owner company. One unique benefit to the Boston Terrier is their intelligence, which makes them easy for older adults to train, she says.
Another intelligent breed might make you think of one of the world’s most famous senior citizens—Queen Elizabeth. The British monarch is known for her love of Pembroke Welsh Corgis, meaning you might love them too.
“They are of medium size, but don’t require an unreasonable level of activity, and are compact enough to handle with ease,” Kennedy says. You can also train them quickly, thanks to their breed history as cattle herding dogs, she explains.
You’ll need to take this breed on a walk every day, but Kennedy confirms these Corgis “aren’t too excitable,” and can be a loving companion.
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