When my Dad retired a few years ago we were a bit worried that he would be lonely or bored in retirement. My mom thought it would be a good idea for him to get a dog, and soon they adopted Cindel, a 2-year-old shepherd-husky mix.
Cindel, my Dad’s new retirement buddy.
Cindel and my Dad instantly bonded, and without work to focus on she quickly became the focus of my Dad’s attention. Between taking her on hikes, playing with her in the backyard, and teaching her new tricks, Cindel helps fill my Dad’s spare time, keeps him active and provides him with companionship.
A dog can make a great companion for your retirement years, but adding a dog to your life is a major decision, especially in your later years. Age alone shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the companionship of a dog, but there are some things that seniors and retirees should consider before they make the decision to get a dog. Read on to learn how to choose the best dog to share your golden years with.
The Benefits of Dog Ownership
Having a dog comes with many benefits, including increased physical activity.
Study after study has shown that having a dog leads to many positive benefits for dog owners. Retirees and seniors especially can appreciate these benefits in their lives.
Making sure your dog gets their daily exercise is a great way to stay active and keep your joints healthy. Dogs can boost our immunity, reduce stress and can even help lower blood pressure!
Dogs are not only good for your physical health, but they can boost your mental health too. Caring for a pet can boost self-esteem, and the companionship of a dog can help ward off loneliness, anxiety and depression.
Seniors and retirees especially can benefit from the companionship and health-boosting effects of dog ownership, as long as you take the time to choose the right dog for your lifestyle.
Dog Ownership in Retirement
Seniors and retirees considering adding a dog to their life should consider how their health and lifestyle will suit a canine companion.
Age alone shouldn’t stop you from adding a dog to your life, but there are some considerations that seniors and retirees need to take into account before bringing home a new dog.
The qualities that make for a good family dog may not be suitable for a retired person. For example, while a family with children may want a dog with lots of stamina, a senior might prefer a smaller dog with less energy.
It’s worth taking some time to think about how a dog fits in to your life and lifestyle, and how you’ll be able to care for your companion for years to come. A little planning can help you find the best dog to share your golden years with.
The True Cost of Dog Ownership
Dogs are expensive – often much more expensive than we expect! Not only do you need to be prepared for the up-front costs of getting a dog, but you’ll need to be sure you can afford the ongoing costs, too.
It can cost upwards of $2,000 a year to care for a dog, so seniors and retirees must be sure a dog fits in the budget.
The average dog owner spends around $2,000 a year on their dog, and most dog owners can expect to experience at least one $2,000 emergency during their pet’s life. Other costs, like dog-sitting or dog walking services, obedience training and dog gear, can quickly blow the budget.
Pet insurance can help spread out the costs, and a good pet emergency fund can cushion the blow of any major emergencies or unexpected expenses, but retirees need to be sure they have a plan for how they will cover these costs, especially if they are on a fixed pension or have significant medical costs of their own.
Best Dogs for Senior Lifestyles
As a senior or retiree looking to add a dog to your life, you’ll want to make sure that you choose a dog that suits your lifestyle and living situation, both now and in the years to come.
Seniors and retirees should choose a dog whose size and energy level suits their lifestyle and living situation.
Where you live will have a huge impact on the kind of dog you’ll choose. Even if you currently live in a large home with a big yard, consider your plans for the future. If you eventually plan to downsize to a smaller space, consider a dog that will be welcome in an apartment or senior community, many of which have rules about the size and breed of dogs allowed in the complex.
You’ll also want to consider how your dog will fit into your social life. Smaller dogs are easier to control in public, and certain breeds are more social with people, children and other dogs. Some dogs are more suited to an active, outdoorsy lifestyle, while others make better indoor dogs.
Think about the people your dog will interact with, like friends, neighbours, family, and grandkids, and what activities you want to do together, from relaxing to walks to travelling, so you can choose a dog that suits your lifestyle.
Health Considerations for Seniors with Dogs
Another important factor to consider as a senior looking to get a dog is how your health will impact your ability to care for your dog, both now and in future years. Although you may be in good health now, that may not always be the case, and you want to choose a dog that you can care for throughout their life.
It’s important to consider how your health will impact your ability to care for your dog, both now and in the future.
Smaller dogs are easier to control and handle, especially if you have any pain or mobility issues. You’ll also want to factor in your ability to provide your dog with the exercise they need, and make sure you choose a dog with lower energy levels if you have arthritis or mobility issues. A dog can be a great way to encourage you to be more active, so making sure you do a short daily walk together can benefit both your health and your dog’s.
You’ll want to have a backup plan for times when you might not be able to care for your dog due to your own health. Using a dog sitting or dog walking service can ensure your dog gets the attention and exercise they need if you are away for medical treatment or recovering at home.
6 Best Dogs for Seniors & Retirees
Small- to medium-sized dogs with moderate energy levels are generally a great fit for seniors and retirees looking to add a dog to their life. Read on to find out which breeds make the best canine companions for seniors and retirees.
1. French Bulldog
Adorable Frenchies are energetic, but don’t have a lot of endurance, so do well with moderate daily exercise. Their small size makes them great apartment dogs.
Although they have a reputation for speed, Greyhounds are actually quite lazy! These couch potatoes are a low maintenance medium-sized option for seniors and retirees.
Corgis make excellent companion dogs, as they are very affectionate and social. They are easy to train with minimal grooming needs, and a daily walk is plenty of exercise for their moderate energy levels.
4. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Affectionate Spaniels love to snuggle and make great companions. Their small size makes them ideal for apartments and easy to handle. Their coats do require some regular grooming.
5. Yorkshire Terrier
Yorkies make great lap dogs, due to their very small size. They can be hard to train and a bit overprotective.
6. Shih Tzu
Shih Tzus are a quiet, affectionate toy breed that requires minimal exercise and make great companions. They will require some grooming and the occasional trim.
BONUS: Adopt a Senior Dog!
Adopting a mixed breed dog is a great alternative to buying a pure-bred dog. You can adopt a dog that is a mix of any of the above breeds and reap all the benefits of having a dog, with the added bonus of saving the life of a shelter animal. There are even many senior dogs looking for a home and companion for their later years.
Best Dog Breeds for Seniors & Retirees
Seniors and retirees can benefit from the companionship of a dog.
Having a dog in your life provides many benefits, from improved health and increased self-esteem to a better social life. Seniors and retirees can benefit from the companionship of a dog and the joy of caring for a dog.
Although there are plenty of benefits to getting a dog, seniors and retirees need to consider their lifestyle, living situation and health, both now and in the future, before committing to a new dog.
Small- to medium-sized breeds with moderate energy levels generally make great dogs for seniors and retirees. Breeds like Corgis, Yorkies and Shih Tzus are popular with seniors and retirees, but adopting a mixed-breed dog can be a great way to add a companion to your life while saving the life of a shelter pet – many senior dogs need homes, too!
Jen Jones is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist with more than 25 years of experience. As the founder of ‘Your Dog Advisor’ and the ‘Canine Connection’ rehabilitation center, she applies a holistic, empathetic approach, aiming to address root causes rather than merely treating symptoms.
Well known for her intuitive and compassionate approach, Jen adopts scientifically-proven, reward-based methods, encouraging positive reinforcement over punishment. Jen specializes in obedience training, behavior modification, and puppy socialization. Her innovative methods, particularly in addressing anxiety and aggression issues, have been widely recognized. Jen has worked with many of the world’s leading dog behaviorists and in her free time volunteers with local animal shelters and rescue groups.