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Best Dogs for Old People: Boomers and Seniors

by Tina Boomerina (Christina Gregoire)

We have a 3-year-old yellow lab named Rocco and he’s adorable, but I knew my husband (65-years-old at the time) was off his rocker when he insisted on getting a retriever. I wanted a smaller dog, but my hubster prevailed, and we ended up with a large, 100-pound “lap dog.” Here’s a list of 5 dog breeds that you should consider if you are a Baby Boomer or a Senior.

best dogs for kids and grandchildrenThe dog breeds I talk about are from VetStreet.com in an article on MSN.com. (See Resources.) However, my article is much more fun and gives more insight into what breeds of dogs I think you should consider or avoid.

What You Should Look for in a Dog

All of the things you should want in a dog are based upon common sense. Unfortunately, my husband doesn’t have much of that when it comes to puppies. He’s very emotional about dogs. So, we ended up with a huge, loveable, high-energy pooch and NO BACK YARD! But, love conquers all… and, fortunately, we live near a huge dog park with a lazy river.

Size: When you’re older, you probably want a lap dog. That’s what I wanted. And, sometimes you have to lift your pooch into your car. So, my advice is to get a smaller dog.

Energy Level: Many smaller dogs are hyperactive. I’ve never had a small, hyper dog, but I’ve been around a few, and unless you know exactly what you’re doing, I would recommend you avoid a hyper breed. Examples of small or medium-sized hyper dogs include Jack Russells, Airedale Terriers, Border Collies, and Brittany Spaniels. (See Resources for more.) One of the large dogs on the list is the Irish Setter and I’ve had one. Not only are they high energy, but they are impossible to train… i.e. stupid.

Vet Bills: Older people are on fixed incomes or will be soon, so you should have any potential pet checked out by a vet to discern his or her health history. There’s no guarantee that this checkup will give a true indication of future expenses, though. We had Rocco checked out and he later needed both hind legs broken and reset (almost $8,000) due to a malady similar to hip dysplasia. It was impossible for the vet to have known in advance, and as soon as Rocco came home, we were bonded to him anyway, so it wouldn’t have mattered. However, in my (biased and nonprofessional) opinion, small dogs are usually cheaper all around and mixed breeds (mutts) have fewer problems than purebreds.

Kid-Friendly Personality: If you have grandchildren who visit regularly, you should check out the breed’s general temperament. Of course, each dog in a litter seems to have a different personality, so breed is just part of the equation. (One good thing about labs is that they are great with children.) Try to adopt a dog that the pound people recommend for kids, or go to a reputable breeder, because puppy-mill dogs can be shaky and ornery… and just like me, they might bite when cornered.

Adult Dogs: You might want to get an older dog. An adult dog has more of a history so you know what you are getting. And, you can bypass that hyper-puppy, chew-and-pee-on-everything stage. Tell the pound people to call you when a good dog that meets your needs comes in.

And, now for the fun part. Here are the dog breeds that VetStreet recommends.

best dog breeds for old ladies1. French Bulldog

Frenchies have great personalities and like to be with you all the time, but they also have health problems, so ask around to find the best breeders. Even then, you can have problems. My sister has a French Bulldog that was from a good breeder but her Frenchie must wear a designer sweater all the time because her pooch has allergies and will scratch all her hair off if she’s not properly attired.

On the other hand, I don’t want to turn you off from Frenchies. A small bulldog or a French Bulldog was what I wanted to buy because they have the right attributes. Frenchies like to walk, but they can’t go too far without getting overheated… good for low energy owners like me. (continue to page 2)

Please Continue to Page 2

Tina Boomerina (AKA Christina Gregoire) is a Baby Boomer born at the end of 1952. Her mission is to make the internet a kinder and gentler place for Baby Boomer women around the world. Tina's specialty is fashion for women over 50.

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  1. Terrie Scales

    Papillons were left off, but they are the best (have one)

  2. Maria Harris-James

    My maltipoo looks just like the little baby in the main photo, and he is the ultimate lap dog :) My yorkie who passed last year was just the best!

    • Tina


      Thanks for helping us out. I wasn't sure if the dog in the main photo was a maltese or a maltipoo. The original caption said maltese, but he/she does look like a maltipoo.

      Cheers, Tina

  3. Gini Barrett

    I have been a life-long serious "dog person," rescuer, hiker, horsewoman, etc. and am adapting changes in all of these things as I age and change. Mixed breeds not only need homes but are by far the healthiest option, saving me money and heartache. I have always liked adopting dogs at least a year old so I could get a good idea of their personality, size, athleticism, etc. Now that I am getting older I have also found that adopting even older dogs (7 or older) has really great rewards. While they still need exercise, our exercise pace and needs are more closely matched. The whole chewing and potty training thing is long behind. They are still smart and trainable and actually able to focus better on what I am asking them to do. Work with a reputable local rescue group that can take the time to understand your lifestyle and needs and make an excellent match.

  4. Amy Blitchok

    We always had golden retrievers growing up and now my dad wants to get another one, but I know that the dog won't get the exercise it needs or deserves. I am trying to steer him towards getting a rescue dog in order to avoid a lot of the problems you mentioned in your post. I have also found it to be true that mixed breeds tend to have fewer health problems, which translates into fewer vet bills.