Older people and dogs make perfect pairings. Here’s how to find the right dog for an older owner.

Hyg5 5_Petbarn_What type of dog is best for the elderly


A dog can be a wonderful companion for an older person. In fact, numerous studies have shown that having a dog reduces feelings of stress, loneliness and isolation for older people, and improves both their physical health and emotional wellbeing. Furthermore, research conducted by Petbarn* shows that older pet owners (aged 50+) are the most likely to claim their pets make them smile or laugh regularly, while 62% of pet parents say they are less lonely now that they have a pet. The benefits for older people are clear.

Often, the most suitable breeds for elderly people are those that are low maintenance: gentle dogs that enjoy a stroll, but won’t get bored and become destructive if they miss out on their daily exercise. A dog with an easy-care coat that doesn’t require hours of grooming can be a good option, too.

Here are our top five canine companions for seniors:


Many people are surprised to discover that retired greyhounds are just about the most placid breed ever. These docile dogs are devoted to their owners and love nothing more than snoozing next to them on the couch while they watch TV.


Unlike most dogs, which were bred to work in some capacity, pugs have always been companion animals, right from the earliest origins in 16th century China. Known for their clownish, entertaining antics, Pugs are also expert-level snugglers.


Don’t let their size fool you, Newfoundlands are as gentle, loving and low key as they come (in fact, this goes for most giant breeds, they’re all lounge lizards, really). They are big though, so perhaps best suited to an active senior.

Boston Terrier

Regarded as the gentlemen of the dog world, right down to the ‘tuxedo’ they wear – Boston Terriers are known to be lively, friendly and intelligent, and to have impeccable manners. They’re real ‘people pleasers’ and their compact size makes them a great choice for older owners.

Senior dogs

Elderly canines make wonderful companions for elderly owners, because they’re generally calm, quiet and enjoy life at a more placid pace. Plus, older dogs are among the most difficult for shelters to re-home and often spend months or even years waiting for a forever home, so they tend to be extra devoted to their adoptive ‘parents.’

Adopted dogs

Adopting a dog can also be a good idea for older potential pet parents. Petbarn offers adoption services at selected stores and, when adopting a pet, a dog’s new parents can be sure that their new pet has been desexed, vaccinated, microchipped, and is healthy and suitable for rehoming. Potential pet parents can also spend time with a pet before deciding whether they feel it’s a match. Visit the Petbarn website for more information on adopting pets through Petbarn.

* Petbarn’s For Better Humans research (August 2015)