5 Best Small Dog Breeds for Seniors

March 7, 2022 | Senior Living
Senior couple sitting with Pomeranian dog

Dogs provide companionship, love and a sense of purpose. So it’s no wonder 10% of all people between the ages of 50 and 80 got a new pet between March 2020 and January 2021. If you’re thinking of joining them or already have a dog, choosing a pet-friendly senior living community — like Astral at Franklin — can allow your bond with your pet to flourish. 

This blog post will look at the benefits of pet ownership, suggest some things to consider before getting a dog, and list the five best small dogs for senior citizens.

Perks of Dog Ownership

  • Feeling Loved: A dog’s unconditional love can help lift your spirits and lighten your mood.
  • Socialization: Other people love dogs too — especially other dog owners — making it easy to meet people and make new friends.
  • Companionship: Dogs are nice to have around to go on walks, car rides and to visit friends. 
  • Therapy: Dogs are great listeners and are often used to help people open up about problems, deal with depression, or simply have someone to talk to. 
  • Purpose: The daily activities of caring for a dog — feeding, watering, exercising and grooming — can give you a sense of purpose.
  • Less Stress: The brains of dog owners have been shown to release a hormone known as oxytocin, which can help lower stress levels.
  • Get Moving: Going on daily walks and having playdates at a dog park means more activity for the both of you.

What You Should Consider Before Getting a Dog

Here are some factors to consider before getting a dog: 

  • Cost: Having a dog is a fairly significant long-term commitment;  so is the cost of their care. Be sure to consider your finances before choosing a pet. 
  • Size: Carefully consider the size of a dog in case they’re prone to jumping or chasing. You don’t want your dog to knock you down or pull you over when they’re on a leash.
  • Activity Level: Not all small breeds are the best dog breeds for seniors, because you also have to consider the level of exercise and stimulation the dog requires. Make sure you find a breed that fits your lifestyle.
  • Care Required: How often will your pet need to be bathed, groomed or taken to the vet?  Look for a breed that doesn’t need much maintenance and isn’t prone to health problems. 
  • Age: Almost everyone loves puppies, but you may want to consider an older or even a senior dog. They usually don’t have the energy levels or training needs of a puppy and are typically housebroken.

The Best Small Dogs for Senior Citizens

Bichon Frise: This cheerful and loving small breed dog has a curly white coat that doesn’t shed. They need regular visits to the groomer but only short walks for exercise. Plus, they’re gentle, cuddly and don’t bark often.

  • Height: 9 to 12 inches
  • Weight: 7 to 12 pounds
  • Coat and Color: Fluffy and curly white hair (may have traces of apricot, buff, or cream), resembling a cotton ball or powder puff
  • Life Expectancy: 14 to 15 years

Boston Terrier: This breed doesn’t bark much and they love to lounge and sit on your lap. They require minimal exercise and have a short coat that doesn’t need much maintenance outside of the occasional bath. 

  • Height: 10 inches
  • Weight: 10 to 15 pounds
  • Coat and Color: Short, smooth and slick coat with brindle, seal or black with white markings
  • Life Expectancy: 11 to 13 years

French Bulldog: Commonly called Frenchies, this bulldog breed is spirited and goofy by nature and loves to be around people. They make great lap dogs and love to cuddle. However, they aren’t suited for hot environments, as they can easily overheat.

  • Height: 11 to 13 inches
  • Weight: 19 to 28 pounds
  • Coat and Color: Short, smooth coat in brindle, fawn, white, or combination of brindle and white or fawn and white
  • Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

Pomeranian: Their lovable nature and small stature make them perfect lap dogs, and they tend to bark to announce the arrival of guests. Because of their barking, they may be better suited for seniors who have a house instead of an apartment. Their fur also requires moderate upkeep, including regular brushing a few times per week.

  • Height: 6 to 7 inches
  • Weight: 3 to 7 pounds
  • Coat and Color: Long, double coat that comes in many colors, though the most common are red, orange, cream, sable, black, brown and blue
  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 16 years

Shih Tzu: This well-rounded dog can thrive in both apartment and home environments. They require short daily walks or exercise in the backyard, but overall, they tend to be low-maintenance. Their gentle temperament makes them a good choice for seniors with grandchildren and other pets.

  • Height: 8 to 11 inches
  • Weight: 9 to 16 pounds
  • Coat and Color: Long double coat in nearly any color, most commonly in black, white, blue, gold, liver, or combinations
  • Life Expectancy: 10 to 16 years

One Paw-some Place to Live

To learn more about our senior living community or to schedule a visit with your four-legged friend, contact us here.


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