Skip to content

10 Best Dog Breeds to Own If You're Over 55, Veterinarian Says

From greyhounds to mastiffs, these are the best pets for seniors.

Having the companionship of a dog can enrich your golden years immeasurably, enhancing both your mental and physical health. In fact, AARP notes that dogs can reduce stress, loneliness, and depression, while increasing physical fitness, improving heart health, and boosting overall quality of life.

That's why Embrace Pet Insurance spoke with Jacqueline Brister, DVM, a registered veterinarian and pet expert, to find out which dog breeds are best as you get older. "Prospective senior owners should research a breed to ensure maintenance, exercise, and grooming needs match their lifestyle," Brister says. However, she notes that 10 breeds stand out as great pets for many people aged 55 and up.

RELATED: I'm a Vet and I'd Never Buy These 5 Things for My Dog.

English bulldog

Portrait of English Bulldog on white sofa looking quizzically into camera.
Philary / iStock

"Kind but courageous, friendly but dignified," Brister describes English bulldogs as a "docile and loyal breed." Taken together, these qualities make them an excellent match for seniors aged 55 and up.

However, it's important to note that English bulldogs are not particularly well suited for hot climates—meaning your location may determine whether this breed is a good fit for your home.

Basset hound

Basset Hound
Siberian spring / Shutterstock

With their big, droopy ears and cartoonish proportions, it's hard to resist the charm of basset hounds. Brister says their calm, warm demeanors make them ideal companions for seniors.

"Known for being laid-back with an affectionate nature, this breed loves nothing more than snuggling up with their human," says the vet.

RELATED: The 10 Best Dogs for Beginners, Vets Say.

Saint Bernard

Saint Bernard Asleep on Dock
Pavel Shlykov/Shutterstock

Saint Bernards have a reputation for being great family dogs because of their endless patience and ample affection. However, those same qualities also make them a great match for seniors interested in bigger dogs.

"This sweet, often shy, breed is the ultimate gentle giant," Brister notes.


greyhound resting on bed and looking up at owner
Elena Vasilchenko / Shutterstock

When you think of a greyhound, you likely think of a race dog moving a mile a minute. However, Brister notes that "despite their slender stature, this breed is known for their lazy personality" at home.

Though they enjoy concentrated bouts of physical activity, they're likely to spend the rest of the day sleeping, which makes them surprisingly easy to care for.

RELATED: 14 Hardest Dog Breeds to Own, Doggy Daycare Worker Says.


English Mastiff dog in green summer grass
Volodymyr Burdiak / Shutterstock

A mastiff is a large breed with a muscular frame, but their usually docile personalities make them great pets for seniors.

"As a powerful but characteristically gentle breed, they are patient, lovable companions who take best to gentle training," explains Brister.


dachshund resting on owner's knees
Leka Sergeeva / Shutterstock

Moving on to smaller breed dogs, Brister recommends considering a Dachshund if you're 55 or older. "This small but fierce breed loves human company and socializing with others," she says.

Though they're full of pep and personality, their small frame and short legs preclude them from doing extended physical activity. This makes them a good match for seniors who may be up for taking several shorter walks throughout the day.

RELATED: 9 Low-Maintenance Dogs You Barely Need to Walk.

Yorkshire terrier

yorkie on a log outside
McCann Michelle / Shutterstock

While some seniors may prefer laid-back breeds, others like a dog with a big personality that they can shower with attention. Yorkshire terriers fall into the latter camp, being bold, energetic, and typically very connected to their caretakers.

"Described as tenacious, feisty and bossy, this breed makes great companions for those living alone," says Brister.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

king charles spaniel puppy on couch
Shutterstock / Fotyma

With regal looks and an easygoing demeanor, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel is another great small breed option for people over 55.

"With their sweet, melting expression, this breed is an enchantingly affectionate and intelligent companion," Brister says.

RELATED: The 10 Most Unique Dog Breeds, According to Pet Experts.


A beagle sleeping on his back on the couch.
Przemek Iciak / Shutterstock

Next, the veterinarian suggests considering a beagle, which she describes as an "adaptable, versatile breed." She says their loving and curious nature—not to mention their even temper—make them an ideal pet for seniors.


cute red-haired pekingese dog with big eyes
Anna Stadnik / Shutterstock

Last but not least, Brister recommends Pekingese as a great option for people over the age of 55. This is a "sophisticated breed, known for their undying loyalty and love of cuddling," she notes. A toy-sized breed, they're easy to bring anywhere you go for round-the-clock companionship.

However, the veterinarian also notes that adopting a senior mixed breed dog from a shelter can offer a great alternative to a purebred pet. Many rescues provide discounts for "seniors adopting seniors" and are often a great match, she notes.

For more pet advice sent directly to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
Filed Under