It’s a fact: dogs are man’s (and woman’s) best friends. If you grew up with a family dog or ever owned one, you understand the joy it can bring playing fetch or just cuddling on the couch. Upping the ante, research has linked dog ownership to a whole host of health benefits, including a lower risk of heart disease.
But dogs can also be a handful. And if you’re over 65, you might not be looking for an energetic dog to keep the kids busy or go on a jog with. Instead, you might want a furry friend that’s a little easier to care for, but still provides the same level of comfort and affection. If that sounds like you, keep reading to find out which six breeds experts say are the lowest maintenance and how they might fit into your lifestyle.
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This sweet little breed was by far the most frequently recommended for Better life by specialists. Known for their loving and adaptable nature, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are the ideal companion for seniors, according to Jacques Kennedyfounder and CEO of PetDT.
“Their compact size and good genetics mean they are easy to handle and train, even if the owner is a novice dog,” says Kennedy. These puppies are also good in small spaces, like apartments or bungalows, she adds.
But this breed is not without its downsides, as it does require a bit of grooming. And like Linda Simon, MVB, MRCVS, veterinarian and veterinary consultant for FiveBarks, points out that they may also have certain health complications, namely heart disease and chronic dental disease. “Ideally, owners should buy from breeders who select their breeding stock and only mate the healthiest individuals,” says Simon.
Another low-maintenance breed, the Bichon Frize is a perfect option for seniors who don’t want to worry about cleaning up pet hair. Bichons do not shed and are hypoallergenic, Erin MastopietroCEO of Dope Dog, says.
And despite their cheerful nature, these dogs only need short walks, she adds, which makes the Bichon appealing to those who may not want to embark on longer walks.
“Their demeanor is friendly toward other pets, including dogs and cats, and they’re also good with children,” says Mastopietro. You’ll have no trouble bringing a Bichon around your grandkids, and just like Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, these dogs are good for small spaces. “They’re a great choice for seniors in apartments and living communities because they’re gentle, cuddly, and don’t bark often,” adds Mastropietro.
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The French Bulldog could be your ideal companion if you are looking for a clumsy, lovable and somewhat lazy puppy. “They’ll snuggle in your lap while you watch the evening news, or they’ll run around the backyard giggling,” says Mastropietro.
John Woodsdog trainer, author and founder of All Things Dogs, echoes that statement, adding that French Bulldogs only need about an hour of daily exercise and won’t rack up a big bill at groomers.
But if you’ve chosen to retreat to a warm, sunny location, the French Bulldog probably shouldn’t be on your list. According to Mastopietro, Frenchies don’t do well in hot climates and overheat easily.
Looking for a bigger breed? Experts recommend the Greyhound. Gentle and considered hypoallergenic, these dogs don’t cause allergy flare-ups and don’t need frequent grooming, according to Woods.
And if you’re wondering how a breed famous for its speed made this list, the experts have an answer to that, too. “With their reputation as sprinters, the Greyhounds may not seem like the obvious choice,” says Woods. “However, they only have short bursts of energy – they only need an hour of exercise a day, which can be split into two sessions – and like to spend most of their time doing the siesta.”
Simon advises examining a Greyhound that has retired from racing. Even though they were “top athletes” at one time, they don’t need extra exercise when they reach middle age, she says.
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The Boston Terrier is a medium-sized option for seniors, weighing only between 20 and 25 pounds, according to Shannon Bunnpet specialist and CEO of Waggy Pups.
This breed is once again known for its minimal movement requirements and love of being around the house, says Bunn, and Boston Terriers will be very happy to keep their owner company. One of the Boston Terrier’s unique advantages is its intelligence, which makes it easy for seniors to train, she says.
Another intelligent race might make you think of one of the most famous old people in the world…queen elizabeth. The British monarch is known for her love of Pembroke Welsh Corgis, which means you might like them too.
“They’re medium in size, but don’t require an unreasonable level of activity and are compact enough to handle easily,” says Kennedy. You can also train them quickly, thanks to their breed history as herding dogs, she explains.
You’ll need to walk this breed every day, but Kennedy confirms that these Corgis “are not overly excitable” and can be a loving companion.
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