5 Best Small Short Haired Dog For Seniors

Dogs are wonderful companions for all ages and stages of life. Many dogs will live their best life when paired with an older owner. But what is the best small short haired dog for seniors?

Imagine how happy a dog is when their owner does not have to rush out the door to work or school in the morning! For senior’s companionship, a little fun, and an exercise partner are all positive outcomes.

best small short haired dog for seniors
What is the best short haired dog for seniors?

When a senior is picking a dog, their requirements are typically a little different than a family or full-time worker.

Did you know that dog ownership can actually significantly impact the risk of cardiovascular heart disease in seniors? A study from the American Heart Association Journal documents the fascinating correlation.

In this article, we chat about the most important factors when choosing a short-haired dog for seniors. Five dog breeds are recommended. We leave you with food for thought and an argument for including two longer haired dog breeds in the comparison when deciding on the best short-haired dog for seniors.

How to Pick a Dog To Live With Seniors

If you are a senior citizen looking to adopt a dog, here are the considerations that most people look at before picking the best breed for their situation.

Everyone is different, but most seniors have a busy schedule to maintain. Many seniors are quite active, and having a pet dog should add to the joy of their life without being a burden. Having a dog should not take from free time, social time, and leisure time.

To make the dog ownership experience as positive as possible for seniors, look for a low maintenance dog.

Low Maintenance Dogs for Seniors

A dog breed that is low maintenance will have the following characteristics.

  • Small size
    • Many seniors have downsized to a unit or apartment. Smaller dog breeds are typically the best match for this reason.
    • Further, the weight of the dog should be manageable. At some points in time, you will need to pick up your dog. Managing a smaller dog is simply more comfortable.
    • Don’t think about your strength level now and the puppy size, think years into the future and imagine that you need to pick up the dog.
  • General health
    • Some dog breeds have a higher prevalence of health problems
    • Some dog breeds also require active health maintenance to prevent issues from getting worse
    • Even some pure breeds have inherent health risks that can result in costly and time-consuming treatment 
    • Of course, if you are deadset on a particular breed and understand the risks, there is no worry
    • But for most senior dog owners, selecting a generally healthy dog is easiest
  • Low maintenance
    • Many older dog owners choose a short-haired dog because they are looking for a low maintenance dog
    • A dog that is easier to groom requires less brushing and grooming will save time and money
    • The dog can be happy as Larry with very little active maintenance
  • A kind pleasant and fun personality
    • The temperament of a dog is an important consideration when a senior is choosing a dog breed

Why Temperament Matters

A dog that is keen to please is easier to train. A well-trained dog will make life much easier for all families – and senior dog parents are no exception.

A dog that is prone to mild separation anxiety can actually be a perfect match for a senior. There are small dog breeds that are not suitable for families that become a possibility for a senior who may have more time to spare during the day.

Whether or not children will frequently visit is also an essential factor. Some dogs will do well with the incursion of youngsters, others will struggle with the upheaval to their schedule and routine.

A guard dog is not desired by most senior dog owners. Some might appreciate the “early warning system” of alert barking. Most seniors don’t want an aggressive protective dog (or the sharp defensive streak with matching sharp teeth).

Keeping your dog entertained inside is also important to consider. Some dogs will entertain themselves for hours with a simple DIY puzzle like a frozen Kong treat. Others will need other games and activities to keep their brain occupied. See our list of 35 indoor dog games and activities to mentally stimulate your dog.

5 Best Small Short Haired Dog for Seniors

shih tau puppy aged 8 months
A Shih Tzu puppy aged 8 months. Photo under license / Deposit Photos

Shih Tzu

A classic small dog with a healthy streak. The Shih Tzu is loyal, trainable, and tiny. They are gentle and affectionate. With correct exposure, they can be warm to strangers and children. Despite their small stature, a daily walk routine will be accepted and loved by a Shih-Tzu.

Appropriate for seniors, family-friendly, and a tremendous all-around short-haired dog.

(Interesting fact? The Shih-Tzu Poodle Mix is called… a Shih-poo!)

Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russell dogs continue to be a wildly popular pick as a short-haired dog for seniors. They are lively, independent, and bright. Short-haired and easy to maintain, Jack Russell’s are whip-smart and loyal.

There is a downside to this wonderful breed, they are notoriously a handful to train. Without experienced training early on, you can have a long term problem with excessive barking and problematic behavior.


Beagles have beautiful short hair coats and come in some fantastic markings and colors. They are affectionate family dogs and can be trained well. They are eager to please and can learn to play well with visitors and children.

One concern can be their acute sense of smell. Beagles are finely tuned to catch a scent from a distance. Excellent training can go out the window for some Beagles when they find an enticing odor. Some owners report their Beagles are correctly trained except for on walks where the allure of the mystery smell causes episodes of Beagle madness.

If senior owners go in with their eyes open, this wonderful breed can still be perfect.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Short-haired Corgi can be the perfect lap dog for a senior owner. A short-haired Corgi is loyal, cheeky, and loves to snuggle.

They are super smart and love to be around people.

Watch the feeding and size of the dog. Corgis will eat everything you set out for them (typically) and can end up overweight. Also, check the parents where possible to make sure the Corgi is small to medium, some end up quite large for such short dogs!

Despite loving a cuddle and chill, don’t expect low to no exercise. Plan for at least 30 minutes of exercise every day, some Corgi’s have exercise or active play for up to 45 minutes a day.

Italian Greyhound

These tiny dogs are a fantastic short hair companion dog for seniors. They are the smaller relative of a greyhound.

Both breeds have excellent temperaments and suit any family that has time to be home with them. They are low maintenance in terms of coat but need the regular Veterinary checks (like any dog) to ensure there are no skin problems.

When you think Greyhound, you might think excessive energy, the zoomies, and chaos

While Italian Greyhounds do enjoy a little zoom every now and then – many owners find that their Italian Greyhound is the most couch potato dog they have ever owned.

Consider These Non-Shedding Long Hair Dogs

A dog that has long hair or is non-shedding will require some brushing and grooming. That is the downside to their coat.

When a senior is looking for a small short-haired dog, I encourage them to consider two small long-haired breeds.

cavapoo puppy haircut
The haircut and grooming choice will define the appearance of the Cavapoo puppy. Photo Mia Anderson/Unsplash

The Cavapoo (Cavalier King Charles X Poodle)

This small pocket rocket has the temperament to be a fantastic dog for seniors. They are eager to please and easily trainable.

Light enough for most to pick up, but sturdy enough to enjoy a daily walk and visits from grandchildren.

See more about Cavapoos in our comparison guide, comparing them to the Cockapoo. Cavachon dogs are another small breed that is suitable for seniors that are commonly compared to the Cavapoo.

A Toy Poodle

A Poodle is not the show dog you might be thinking about when you first hear the name. Sure they can be groomed to look that fancy, but they are just a generally excellent dog breed.

There are reasons for their enduring popularity that extend well beyond their appearance.

The non-shedding coat is a plus, and it is no odor. Most Poodles just don’t smell. They have a reputation as a clean dog. Some will have smell troubles sometime, but typically grooming will overcome any issues.


When deciding the best short-haired dog for seniors, take into account the factors discussed above. Temperament and grooming are essential to consider.

Don’t overlook the importance of the general health of the dog breed. Some popular short-haired small dog breeds are simply less healthy on average and require more expensive and time-consuming care.

Choose a healthy, trainable dog with a great personality – and you can’t go wrong!

We made a guide to the best dog breeds for an autistic child. Check it out if you have a child with ASD in your life. We also made a review of the best dog breeds for small children. And don’t forget that Bernedoodles and Goldendoodles are great with kids!