What You Should Consider When Getting a Dog for an Elderly Relative

As we get older, the bitter truth is that loneliness can often set in. As you lose friends and family and parts of your independence, it’s not always as easy to catch up with your nearest and dearest. With dogs described as ‘man’s best friend’, then, getting a fluffy friend for an elderly relative may not be such a bad idea. That said, dogs can be a lot of work, so there’s certainly a lot of things to consider, including a breed of dog that’s appropriate for the owner. Lucky for you, we’re here to give you the best possible advice.

What should you consider when getting a dog for the elderly?

Before we dive into specific breeds, it’s worth considering these key factors when looking at getting a dog and how they compare to different breeds and the elderly person you’re looking to buy for.


Generally dogs sit under three sizes – small, medium large, with chihuahuas being at the small end of the spectrum, and huskies and Bernese mountain dogs at the larger side. It goes without saying, for the elderly, it’s probably a good idea to avoid large dog breeds with smaller dogs being the ideal. In the case of the potential for needing to pick up or wash, you want a dog that is going to be manageable in terms of lifting. Of course, when it comes to walking your dog, larger dogs, even if older and slower, will give a stronger pull, which could prove difficult for someone older and more frail.

Energy Levels

All dogs have varying dispositions. Whilst you will find, for the most part, a lot of dogs in their younger years boast a lot of energy, there are certainly specific breeds that are more hyperactive throughout their life and therefore not exactly suitable for the elderly. Take Collies for example, who need lots of walks and playing to keep them occupied and happy.


As previously mentioned, dog’s energy levels can dip and change as they get older. When it comes to buying for an elderly person, then, it goes without saying a puppy probably isn’t the wisest idea. Buying for the elderly actually opens up a perfect opportunity to rescue a dog in need of a new home and here you’ll likely find dogs of all ages, including those who are getting on a bit. With dogs usually hitting their senior years at around seven years, it’s probably a good idea to try and find one at this bracket or at middle age.

When is buying a dog for an elderly relative not a good idea?

Sadly, when it comes to making this decision, you need to be realistic. Yes, there are dogs that can be more fittingly placed with an elderly owner, but sometimes there is no right fit. If your relative isn’t particularly mobile, they’re not going to be able to keep up with even the small demands of more low maintenance dogs. Dogs still need to be walked, as well as enjoying some outdoor space. They may also need grooming, whether professionally or at home

With all that in mind, which dog breeds are suitable for elderly relatives?

If you’re looking for a smaller pooch that can easily sit in your lap or be carted about if need be, Pomeranians and Maltese both weigh in between 3 to 7 pounds, making them very easy to lift and look after. Both also only require short walks and maybe a bit of play time if you can manage it.

Looking for something a bit bigger? You can choose anywhere from small to more medium sized breeds when it comes to the Poodle, with the choice of toy, small miniature and regular poodles. Poodles are also deemed incredibly smart and adaptable, making them an ideal addition to the household. Of course, they do require some grooming to keep them looking pretty.

For furry friends that like to nap, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is your ideal snoozing buddy. Easy to train and happiest having a sleep with their owner nearby, these are fairly low maintenance pooches.

Great for small living spaces, as well as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, the Shih Tzu are great if your relative doesn’t have a huge home or much – if any – outdoor space, with French Bulldogs also not requiring extensive amounts of exercise – short bursts ought to do.

Of course, every situation is different with a variety of requirements. Sometimes a dog simply won’t work in certain situations. However, if they can, it’s sure to be a lovely addition to your elderly relative’s life, giving them an always attentive companion.