“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole,” said Roger Caras, writer and photographer. Many of our residents at Discovery Villages retirement communities have discovered that this is an accurate sentiment. Will Rogers also knew the value of a dog. He said, “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” A dog can be one of the greatest sources of joy for owners of any age, including the oldest among us.
Importance of Choosing the Right Dog
The most important thing to do is to choose a dog that you will enjoy and that will have their needs met, being part of your lifestyle. When a dog doesn’t get adequate exercise, for example, the result can be less than satisfying for the dog and owner. The following are more helpful guidelines for choosing the right dog:
Love Large Breeds? Larger dog breeds are more expensive to feed, and supplies such as the pet crate and medications will cost more. Overall, if the space you have is well-suited to a particular breed of large dog, the size of your dog may not really matter. What makes a difference is that if you are an elderly person who likes large dogs, it’s best that you are confident in your dog training skills and your ability to keep your dog under control, no matter the size.
Space Matters. Some large dog breeds, such as Saint Bernards, sleep up to 18 hours a day and can live in apartments, as long as they get a daily walk or run. Many small dog breeds do well in small homes, as well. Be sure to adopt a pet known for adapting well to the type of environment you live in. It’s best not to adopt a dog that needs a big yard to play in, if you live in an apartment.
Grooming Needed? Another consideration when choosing a dog is whether you are willing and able to provide the level of grooming needed. Many dogs require minimal grooming but others need frequent and special grooming, which can be expensive.
Age. Puppies are irresistibly cute, but they also require a great deal of patience and training. Adopting an older dog can be very convenient, if the dog has already been trained well. For seniors looking to adopt, it’s important to consider longevity. Because dogs are very loyal and loving, they sometimes have a difficult time of letting go and adjusting to new owners. Consider whether there is a friend or someone in your family who would be willing to adopt your dog if necessary.
Cost. It’s sometimes possible to adopt a dog at no cost from an owner who can no longer keep their pet for one reason or another. Buying a purebred dog can be anywhere from under $100 to thousands of dollars, depending on the breed. Dogs of a wide range of breeds and mixes are often available to purchase from animal shelters for very reasonable costs.
Top 6 Dogs for Seniors
Many experts suggest that seniors should adopt an adult dog with a history of good health and good temperament. Keep in mind that mixed breeds often have fewer health problems than purebreds. The following are six of the top dog breeds recommended for seniors.
1 – Poodle. For decades, poodles have ranked as best picks for the elderly. Poodles are easy to train, friendly, and are full of lively fun. Poodles are low-shedding and easy to maintain if they are groomed regularly or if the owner keeps up with do-it-yourself short clips.
2 – French Bulldog. For a stylish dog that is a popular celebrity pick, adopt a French bulldog. These dogs are mischievous and loving companions. The tricky part is that French bulldogs from puppy mills are more likely to have respiratory problems that ultimately require surgery for a dog to survive. When the French bulldog is healthy, he is generally problem-free. It’s important, however, that you don’t mind snoring.
3 – Pug. Pugs are adorable, energetic, and humorous at every age. These low-maintenance little canines easily adapt to any lifestyle. Whether you are laid back or like to take long brisk walks every day, your pug will be perfectly content to be right there with you.
4 – Shih Tzu. If you would like an adorable small dog that doesn’t tend to be a yapper, a Shih-Tzu may be the perfect companion for you. The breed requires daily brushing and regular grooming but sheds very little. These are smart little dogs that do well with low to moderate exercise. Note that Shih-Tzus are typically quiet dogs, but sometimes they bark as strangers.
5 – Chihuahua. If you want a tiny dog, a Chihuahua may be the right breed for you. Chihuahuas are agile, fearless, cheerful, cute, loyal, fun-loving, and intelligent. There are two coat types: Long without an undercoat and short-haired or smooth.
6 – Boston Terrier. For a friendly and happy-go-lucky dog that is attentive to your needs, compact, requires minimal grooming, and is an all-around excellent companion, you can’t go wrong adopting a Boston terrier. There are three weight categories, ranging from under 15 pounds up to about 25 pounds. Regular exercise is important because this is an energetic breed.
These are just six of many dog breeds that are recommended for seniors. The selection is actually very broad. Josh Billings said, “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” If you are a resident at one of our Discovery Villages retirement communities, you can talk to your neighbors who own pets about what they love about their dog or cat. The most important step to enjoying a pet is doing lots of research before adopting one, so that you are fully informed about what you’re getting into.
Discovery Village at Southlake offers a variety of senior living programs to keep seniors healthy and active. Learn about our senior living options and amenities today when you contact us at 682.253.8966.