Dogs bring love and joy to any household, and none more than the retiree. If you’ve left the workforce, and will be spending more time at home, it might be a great time to adopt a dog. Studies have shown that dogs lower the blood pressure of older adults, and increase lifespan. Dogs also provide companionship for older folks, who might be living on their own. Finally, dogs can give the retiree a sense of security, especially those breeds well known as watchdogs.
Which breeds are best for retirees? This will of course depend on your lifestyle and energy level. In general, small dogs with lower exercise and play needs are great for elderly owners. Breeds that love to sit in the lap for many hours a day can be an excellent choice if you’re fairly inactive. Smaller dogs are easier to walk -- even if they pull on their leash, they’re easy to handle because of their light weight.
The Yorkshire Terrier, or Yorkie, is a relatively low energy dog that can happily spend an afternoon snuggled up on their owner’s lap. Yorkshires tend to bond very strongly with one person, so the retiree living on his or her own will find an excellent companion in this breed.
The diminutive Shih Tzu is another lap dog that is ideal for the older person. These dogs are calm and affectionate, and love spending time with their owners. The long coat of the Shih Tzu will require frequent grooming, but given the dog’s patience and small stature, this can be a pleasant routine for the retiree.
The lively Scottie is a good dog for a retired person who can give this breed frequent walks around the neighborhood. Scottish Terriers are both affectionate and protective of their owners and will provide a sense of security.
Perhaps contrary to many people’s idea of this breed, the Greyhound is a dog that requires only moderate exercise. They also do not require a great deal of room to run around in and will be content living in a smaller home, apartment, or condominium. The somewhat smaller Whippet is another dog that is known, like the Greyhound, for their sweet, docile, and even couch-potato-like nature.
The Spaniels are lively, medium sized dogs that will require frequent walks and romps in the park or backyard. These dogs are favored by many retirees, however, for their easy going nature. Spaniels tend to like other people and other dogs, making them a nice addition to the family, although Cockers do need strong boundaries. They can get cranky, and at times exhibit dominant behavior, without a strong leader.
The Pomeranian is a lively little dog that can bring cheer and affection to an older person’s home. These dogs like to play but need only a small area in which to run. In fact, the space available in an apartment is usually enough to keep these dogs happy and healthy.
One other consideration that the retiree should take into account is the age of the dog he or she will adopt. Puppies are cute and playful but will need a lot more care and attention, especially during their first year. Puppies need frequent trips to the vet for shots and other medical needs and will require a great deal of training.
Older dogs are generally calmer and are sometimes already housetrained. If they were well cared for in their younger years, the middle-aged dog will need only yearly or bi-yearly trips to the vet. While purebreds are wonderful and can be predictable in nature and temperament, adopting an older dog can be the way to go.
More on Caring for Your Dog
20 Dog Commands You Need to Know
5 Steps to Dog Obedience Training
Transitioning Your Pet from a Shelter to a Happy Home
Training an Older Dog
Puppy Care Basics