All dogs are great, regardless of breed. However, it is important to pair a particular dog with the right household and dog parent or it will just be a recipe for disaster.
While there are exceptions to every rule, seniors typically suit more calm, relaxed dogs that are happy to cuddle. These dogs often have modest exercise needs and a gentle stroll around the block or a 30-minute easy walk should be enough to keep them happy.
More often than not, seniors don’t suit dogs that have high energy levels and require tons of high-intensity exercise a day to keep them happy.
In addition, some dogs are simply so big that even though they are gentle, accidents can happen and a senior could easily get dragged around during a walk or knocked over at home.
Other dogs can also have dominant personalities and will not suit mild-manner or weaker owners. If you are wondering what the worst breeds are for seniors, here’s a list for you!
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1. Border Collie
The ultimate canine athlete, the Border Collie is a breed of herding dog known for its intense focus and incredible intelligence. Their large, expressive eyes make them look alert and attentive at all times, while their lithe build and lively gait give them the perfect combination of speed and agility.
These sleek, athletic creatures require loads of exercise a day and will likely run a senior to the ground. Border Collies are a tricky breed to have and will only do well in super active households that can provide an hour or two of intense exercise a day.
Not only do they need plenty of mental stimulation and regular physical exercise, but they require diligent socialization while they grow up to ensure they remain well-mannered when fully grown.
Although the loyalty and bond between a Border Collie and his owner can be unrivaled, elderly individuals must consider their practical limitations before welcoming one of them into their home.
2. Australian Shepherd
Similar to the Border Collie, the Australian Shepherd is another herding breed that is likely to run an elderly person to the ground. Although Australian Shepherds are loving, loyal, and smart dogs, they require an inordinate amount of activity to stay happy and healthy.
These dogs were bred to herd livestock, meaning they have incredibly high energy levels and need lots of exercise. Seniors may not have the physical capability or time to give an Australian Shepherd all the playtime it needs which can lead to problems such as hyperactivity or destructive behavior.
Like the Border Collie, the Australian Shepherd requires about two hours of exercise a day with loads of playtime in between.
3. German Shepherd
German Shepherds can be an incredible companions for active, enthusiastic owners, but for senior owners, they may not be the top choice. These clever workaholic dogs are incredibly energetic and require intense physical and mental stimulation.
They need tons of exercise and attention throughout the day, which may be challenging for older individuals to keep up with. Plus, keeping German Shepherds well-trained may require more patience than some seniors possess.
In addition, they often have high prey drives, and a badly-trained German Shepherd could pull a senior around during a walk if a squirrel suddenly decides to dash past.
4. Siberian Husky
One of the top canine athletes, Siberian Huskies are beautiful and majestic dogs, but they simply aren’t suitable pets for senior owners. They were originally bred to run many miles a day pulling weight and their need for physical stimulation hasn’t faded much over the years.
The Husky’s high energy can be problematic when matched with an older person’s age and declining physical capabilities as they need to burn off incredible amounts of energy on a regular basis either through exercising, playing, or running.
This makes them inappropriate for less active people who may not be able to provide the exercise that would maintain both their physical and psychological health. In addition, they require more time, energy, money, and attention than most breeds which can be challenging for seniors.
5. Saint Bernard
Saint Bernards are loyal and undeniably sweet, but they’re probably not the best choice for senior dog owners. They require a lot of exercise, making it difficult for those who need to limit their physical activity.
They also are large dogs that can easily drag the owner around during a walk or knock a senior down at home.
Plus, these big dogs are known to drool, and seniors may not appreciate the mess! Not only that, Saint Bernards need guidance and firm leadership during training sessions to reach their full potential as family pets, which can be a challenge for older generations already busy handling their own life matters.
6. Great Dane
Great Danes, traditionally known to be a dignified breed of dog, are amazing animals with sweet personalities and loyalty to their special owners. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t make the best pet for senior owners.
Even though they’re incredibly smart, they need a lot of energy to keep them happy and healthy. They also grow to be one of the larger breeds at up to 180 pounds and can take up a considerable amount of space indoors.
They might be considered gentle giants, but because of their sheer size, they could still accidentally hurt a senior by knocking them over or misbehaving on a walk.
Lastly, their life expectancy is only seven to nine years which may not give senior owners enough time with their pups before saying goodbye.
Protective and fiercely loyal, Rottweilers are an amazing breed of dog, but they need large amounts of exercise and plenty of attention. They also need extensive training and socialization to reduce the chances of aggressive behavior.
The Rottweiler also tends to be a dominant breed and will require early socialization and extensive training. A badly-trained, unsocialized Rottweiler could pose a danger to its owners and those around.
While the Rottie is a lovely, goofy breed if well-trained, any mistake could result in disastrous consequences.
In addition, they are notoriously protective and may not be ideal in a home inhabited by elderly individuals who need peace and restful times. Ultimately, these hardworking pups would struggle to adapt to an environment that provides little movement and minimal stimulation.
8. Pitbull Terrier
Pitbulls have an undeserved reputation, as they have often been portrayed in a negative light. However, regardless of how friendly one particular Pitbull may be, the breed simply isn’t best suited for senior owners.
While the dog itself may not be dangerous or aggressive, Pitbulls require a lot of exercise and stimulation to stay healthy. These energetic pups need frequent runs, hikes, organized games, and other activities to expend all of their limitless energy.
Many seniors simply don’t have the physical capability or inclination to keep up with a dog of this particularly active breed, making them a less-than-desirable choice.
Dalmatians are a lively, spunky breed with endless amounts of energy. The breed was originally bred to run beside fire trucks and clear the way, and that physical capabilities haven’t diminished much over the years.
They need to be kept active and exercised regularly, making them unsuitable pets for elderly owners who may not have the energy or time to keep up with them.
Plus, Dalmatians can be stubborn and will need consistent training and socialization to help develop their character and behavior, something that senior owners may not be able to provide.
Dalmatians will suit active households that can provide loads of exercise and experienced handlers with patience and dedication to commit to their training.
What Dogs Should Seniors Look For?
When choosing the right dog for a senior, the most important thing is to look for a dog with the same energy levels as the owner so that their exercise needs will be met. Depending on the owner, this could range from a short 15-minute walk a day to an hour or two of exercise for active seniors.
In addition, size matters. Smaller breeds can be easier to manage as they require less exercise and grooming, and they take up less space in the home.
Some popular small dog breeds include Chihuahuas, Maltese, Poodles, Shih Tzus, Yorkies, and Bichon Frises. All of these breeds are intelligent and love human companionship which makes them great options for seniors.
It is also important to choose a dog with a friendly disposition that is easy to train and loves being around people. Finding a dog that loves snuggling and is happy to curl up on the couch would be ideal.
Lastly, dogs that can adapt well to different environments are ideal for seniors because they can easily adjust if there is a change in lifestyle or living situation.
There are plenty of dog-lovin’ seniors out there that have beautiful partnerships with their canines. The trick is to stay away from dogs with exceptionally high energy levels unless a senior owner can meet them.
In addition, although they are gentle, giant dogs like the Great Dane and Saint Bernard could accidentally knock over a senior and inadvertently hurt their owners. Lastly, it is best to stay away from breeds that need firm training and extensive socialization.