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Which dog breed is best in retirement?

30th August 2017

There has been much research showing that dogs are man’s best friend in retirement. From reducing loneliness to motivating people to keep mobile, a dog as a companion can often have an enormous positive effect. For those who do not wish to walk for hours a day or are concerned about their mobility limitations, there is a breed of dog for everyone. Whether you have acres of land or are reliant on stairlifts, there is the perfect dog for you. 

Grey hounds


Though this breed is known for speed, they are actually gentle giants with a deeply affectionate nature, making them perfect for older adults. Forever Hound Trust, a charity dedicated to rehoming greyhounds and lurchers, spoke about the suitability of greyhounds as pets:


“Many retired greyhounds are wonderful companion animals for older people. They can be calm, gentle and affectionate. They like to go out for a short walk once or twice a day but don’t require a huge amount of exercise but do like a comfy sofa to snooze on. It’s important to find the right dog for a family or individual’s lifestyle and home, and Forever Hounds Trust carefully match dogs with their new owners.”


Emma from the trust also mentions the opportunity adopting an older dog presents:


“Adopting a dog is so important because there are so many rescue dogs in desperate need of a home. There are dogs of all ages in rescue organisations, including Forever Hounds Trust, so adoption is possible whatever the age of dog you are looking for. There are some real benefits to adopting a dog. When you adopt a dog from Forever Hounds Trust you will be given as much information as the charity has on that dog. It will have had a full medical check, be vaccinated, neutered and come with a lead and harness. The charity will continue to offer help, information and support for the life of the dog.”


With any breed, people often already have perceptions of what to expect from that kind of dog, however Emma is quick to dispel incorrect notions about greyhounds:


“[People think] that they need a lot of exercise, which isn’t true. While they do need one or two short walks a day, most greyhounds are content to spend the rest of the day snoozing on the sofa. We affectionately refer to them as ‘the 40mph couch potato’ for this very reason!”


French bulldogs


This breed has seen a sharp rise in popularity in the last few years. As a small companion dog, they have a lot of character and many qualities that are highly prized, especially if you have limited mobility.


FrenchiEssentials is a company that makes accessories specifically for this breed and were thrilled to share their knowledge about these special dogs:


“In our opinions, Frenchies are a wonderful breed of dog for any age! Considering their general low energy, cuddle loving, clown-like personalities, they are perfect for seniors too. Although Frenchies can be high energy as puppies, as all breeds are, once they get older they generally only need a few short to medium walks per day.


“They love getting and giving attention and can always be found around the dinner table waiting for treats and also snuggled under the covers in the human bed. They make the day brighter and time pass quickly as they entertain with their antics of belly rubs, silly dances, snoring, and playing with toys. Frenchies are generally a friendly breed of dog so they make fast friends in the dog park.


“They are typically less than 35lbs (although some are bigger) which make them a great size for an apartment. They are highly intelligent and will learn your routines and adapt to them to please you. Frenchies love to cuddle their humans and therefore make great companion pets. Frenchies will always prefer to be with their human than away from them. Once someone owns a Frenchie, they join the club of other Frenchie owners who just 'get-it' because there is something special and unique to owning this silly loving breed that does not expand outside the breed.


“Older adults could also possibly be a great fit for the French Bulldog Rescue Network (FBRN) which is an organization that accepts surrendered french bulldogs only and tries to match them with a forever home based upon the Frenchie's needs and preferences. FBRN typically prefers households without young children and with people who are home more often than not.”

West Highland Terriers


West Highland Terriers are often seen as companion pets and rightly so, despite their small stature, they have big personalities. With expressive faces and a lot of quirky characteristics, they make wonderful partners.


Steve Owen, Chairman of the Southern West Highland White Terrier Club shared his own experience with the breed:


“West Highland White Terriers do not require a great deal of exercise. I would say that about 20 minutes twice a day would be enough provided they have a garden to play in. However, once full grown, they are perfectly able to walk for hours if the owner has the energy.


“I have seen many dogs that are quite happy to walk beside a mobility scooter but some training would be required. I have owned this breed for nearly 30 years and as I'm now 70 I suppose I come in the "older adult" category. However, the great thing about dog owning is that you have something to get out of bed for.”


Steve also offered an alternative if you are interested in a Westie:


“I have also owned Shih Tzu for many years and I would say that this delightful breed also makes an ideal pet for older people. Exercise much the same as Westies. Both breeds require regular clipping at a trimming parlour so this ongoing expense should be taken into account.”




Poodles are some of the oldest gun dogs, and though a working breed, they have adapted to other positions within a modern lifestyle. Majestic and fun loving, these dogs are perfect for those with a little more energy, though as they come in three sizes, toy, miniature and standard, they can be suitable for any size living space.


The Poodle Club in Victoria is an authoritative voice on this breed Linda Johnson and Jo Turnley were happy to share their insight:


“What makes Poodles special is poodles are non-shedding, non-allergenic, low odour, extremely easy to train and they love to be pampered. They come in three sizes so there is a size to match everyone’s living space and exercise routine. They make good watch dogs and will, when trained, alert the hard of hearing to the phone ringing or visitors approaching.


“Toys make good lap dogs but have lots of energy and are enjoy a walk. Minis and especially Standards need daily exercise. They motivate seniors to get out and about... Poodles having a non-threatening image can be a social magnet.... encouraging seniors to get out and about  to the local Obedience Dog Club or dog park creating new friendships with other dog owners/ walkers”  


“All I could really add is that the intelligence of the breed seems to understand especially the elderly. Mine for example knows not to jump on my mother who is now 87...I didn't train them this way, they just seem to know.  Even when my Mum was younger & walked one of mine from time to time, they would behave perfectly on a walk with her...not always for me...”


Image Credit: Adam J.W.CElioenaiRandy Son Of RobertBelinda Hankins Miller

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.