This Shepherd might be better off in the country. The fact is,
working dogs not only require constant exercise and space to
run, they also need a job to do (shepherds were bred to herd)
and can become restless and destructive without enough of
either. A bored Australian Shepherd can resort to destructive
chewing, running off, and chasing cars. Certainly the last is
bad news in the urban landscape. All this said, if you’re able
to get your Aussie to the dog park for hours of play, and can
supplement regular bathroom breaks with extra walks, it is
possible to keep a happy Australian Shepherd in the city.
Finally, although the Alaskan Malamute is very affectionate
with their owners, this dog tends to lose patience with smaller
animals, including other dogs. Bred to pull sleds in the
Arctic, the Malamute needs plenty of space to run off leash,
which can be tough to find in the city. Also, given their very
thick coat, the Malamute might find life in some cities a bit
too hot for their liking.
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? Well, before you ponder
breeds, it is important also to consider where the dog is in
their life cycle. An older dog may be more subdued and
relaxed than a younger dog, making them a better fit for an
older family. That said, with an older dog also comes some
other considerations, such as medication, like Rimadyl (or Carprofen) for their arthritis.
After weighing the pros and cons of adopting a mature dog,
now you can think about what breed would be the best fit.
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.
Also, dogs that don't
shed are always a plus when it comes to the elderly.
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
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
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
More on Caring for Your Dog