Best dog breeds for older people
There’s no doubt that dogs, with their companionship and exercise needs, help to keep us feeling young. But when we reach our later years we need to consider how to match the needs of a particular breed of dog with our own needs.
Luckily, dogs come in all shapes and sizes, and all different energy levels too! If you want a boisterous young puppy to take on long walks to keep you in shape, then there are plenty of breeds to choose from. Similarly, if you find you’re starting to slow down, there are smaller, more sedate breeds that will fit seamlessly into your life.
Probably the first choice you need to make is to decide whether to get a puppy, or to adopt an older dog. Puppies, of course, are bundles of joy and energy – but they need more care and attention, and more exercise too! Older dogs tend to be calmer and don’t need to be trained so much – they will fit more seamlessly into your existing lifestyle. A further consideration is that a puppy could live for another twelve to fifteen years, and will they be able to adapt to lifestyle changes that you may encounter as time goes on?
The ‘Westie’ is a popular dog in the UK – and it’s easy to see why. They are very striking to look at, with their snow-white coats, dark eyes and small, compact bodies. They also have strong, outgoing personalities and form very strong relationships with their owners. While this makes them excellent companions, it also means that they don’t cope too well with being on their own for extended periods of time. In terms of exercise, Westies benefit from a couple of walks a day, of around an hour in total.
A word of warning – Westies can be stubborn and strong-willed, and they need to be well-trained from an early age or they can become challenging! Time invested in early training will be paid back many times over later in life.
Corgis are incredibly charming characters, full of fun and keen to involve themselves in whatever’s going on. They are quite energetic dogs, however, and love to be outside and off the lead as much as possible. Because of this, they are perhaps more suited to the countryside than the city, although if there are parks nearby for long walks, then they will love this too. Corgis also require plenty of mental stimulation, and get bored easily, which can lead to stress and destructive behaviours around the house.
If you have plenty of time for walks and companionship, then a Corgi could be a great choice for you.
Weighing in at less than 4kg, the Maltese is a tiny dog – with a big personality. Maltese are naturally very good-natured and love to please, which makes them very easy dogs to live with. They are also lively and playful, retaining a puppy-like quality throughout their lives. While Maltese don’t need a lot of exercise to stay healthy, they do need some every day, and are prone to putting on weight if their life is too sedentary.
It is important to train your Maltese well when it’s young – particularly to curb its natural tendency to bark at even the smallest stimulus. Maltese also hate to be alone and suffer terribly from separation anxiety – so if you’re not going to be at home most of the time, then they may not be the best companion for you.
Pomeranians are tiny, tiny dogs – with big, big personalities. Although they weight less than 2.5kg, Pomeranians do not seem to be aware of just how tiny they are, and can be very feisty indeed! They are very loyal and affectionate dogs, with sweet natures and bags of intelligence. While they will get on well with the whole family, they have a tendency to form a particularly strong bond with just one person, so can be well-suited to people who live alone.
On the downside, Pomeranians can be a bit yappy, and care must be taken to train them well when they are puppies. They can also suffer separation anxiety if left alone for long periods. Pomeranians also have very thick, fluffy coats, which require a lot of grooming – although their exercise needs are quite low, and a 30 minute walk every day should be enough for them.
Yorkshire Terriers are loyal, affectionate and highly intelligent – which makes them easy to train. Although very small – they weigh just 3 – 3.5kgs – they appear to believe that they are, in fact, at least as big as anyone else, and are not easily intimidated. This makes them great watchdogs, as naturally it falls to them alone to protect the family and household!
Although Yorkshire Terriers don’t require much exercise – 30 minutes a day should be enough – their long, silky coats do need a lot of maintenance, including a good, daily brush and regular visits to a professional groomer. They are also prone to dental problems, and their teeth should be checked and cleaned daily.
Boston Terriers are playful, easy-going dogs. At up to 11kgs they are small in stature and adapt easily to their owners’ lifestyle and living situation. They make happy, affectionate companions and love to play interactive games. Because they are short-haired they are easy on the grooming front, and a weekly brush down should be enough to keep their coat and skin healthy. Similarly, they are not too demanding when it comes to exercise, and a 40-minute daily walk should be enough.
A word of warning – a lot of the easy-going nature of the Boston Terrier depends on their training when they are young. They need to be well-socialised and trained from an early age, or they can become stubborn and wilful, with a misguided fondness for the sound of their own voice!
With their distinctive facial features and wiry coats, Schnauzers are very striking looking dogs. They’re also total charmers – kind, affectionate, loyal and intelligent. However, they can be high maintenance in a number of different ways. Firstly, they require a lot of training as puppies to overcome a stubborn streak, and to make them fully aware of their ‘place’ in the household hierarchy. They also need a lot of grooming and trimming to keep their coats looking great – not least because they are high energy dogs that require a long walk every day with plenty of time off the lead.
If Schnauzer’s sound like hard work – there is an alternative…the Miniature Schnauzer! Miniature Schnauzers weigh in at up to 9kg – less than half that of a standard Schnauzer (up to 23kg). However, while requiring less food, space and exercise, and being generally easier to handle, Miniature Schnauzers still need a lot of training as puppies as they can display similar stubborn streaks to their larger cousins.
Poodles are highly intelligent dogs, and very adept at learning new tricks and commands. They are also playful, loyal and loving, which makes them brilliant companions. The downside is that they need an awful lot of stimulation, most obviously in the form of walks – at least two a day – but also through play and attention. Without this stimulation, poodles become bored and unhappy, something they might take out on your shoes or furniture! Poodle’s coats also need a lot of care to prevent matting, and daily brushing is a must, along with a trip to a professional groomer 3-4 times a year.
Standard Poodles are quite large – up to 35kgs – but you can also get Miniature (7-8kgs) and Toy (3-6kgs) Poodles. However, while the smaller dogs may be easier to handle, they tend to have similarly high maintenance requirements to the Standard Poodle.