In Spain, more than 2,300,000 people over the age of 65 live alone. The effects of loneliness for them are many: increased risk of depression, poor diet, cognitive impairment, worsening of cardiovascular and bone diseases...
For them, having a pet at home has multiple benefits: it combats loneliness and depression, keeps them active, boosts their self-esteem and exercises their memory.
Dogs love to be with their owners, and retired seniors can provide them with the company and care they need in the most loving way.
But it is important to choose the right breed or type of dog (by size or character) to live with an elderly person, taking into account their state of health or mobility and their lifestyle.
SOME OF THE MOST RECOMMENDED BREEDS FOR SENIORS
French Bulldog: this small breed dog, good-natured and affectionate, tends to feel separation anxiety, so an elderly person who has time to devote to him is ideal for him. As he has short hair, he does not require much care other than a weekly brushing and occasional baths. He is also not a great walker as he tires easily, so his exercise requirements are not very high. He rarely barks, is patient and calm and loves to be at home and receive cuddles, so he may be the right dog for senior owners.
Pomeranian: it is a real "toy" dog, measuring 20 to 30 cm and not more than 3 kg, perfect to adapt to small apartments. With its fox-like face with pointed ears and its tasty coat, it charms everyone with its character and its beauty. It is a very suitable animal for seniors because of its cheerful and friendly character. It is always alert, so it is great for people with hearing problems because it always warns them that there are strange noises at home.
Maltese/Bichon Friesian: There are not many differences between them, as they come from the same breed. Both are small, affectionate and calm. The main difference lies in their coat, which in the case of the Frisé is double-coated, shorter and curly and in the Maltese is thinner, straight and long. It adapts perfectly to small spaces, spends a lot of time resting and loves to be with its owner and receive cuddles and caresses.
Chihuahua: it is considered the smallest dog in the world. It measures between 15 and 20 cm and weighs between 2 and 3 kg. It will make its senior owner's life happy for sure, but it has to be well socialized from an early age, otherwise it can be overbearing, sullen, frightened and unsociable. Being territorial, it barks at strange noises, which can be beneficial for elderly people living alone.
Yorkshire Terrier: one of the most popular breeds in the world, it fits perfectly in the denomination of lap dog. Affectionate and unconditional to its owners, but distrustful of strangers, to whom it does not hesitate to bark. Being small, it does not require much activity, small and short walks can be enough for him, which is appreciated by some older dogs that cannot walk for a long time.
There are other breeds that are very suitable for living with the elderly. Among those of small size we find the Poodle, the Schnauzer, Teckle.... But also big dogs like the well-known Labrador or Golden Retriever, noble and friendly, or the Greyhound, silent, docile and calm (yes, in spite of being one of the fastest animals in the world, its main pastime is to lie down). Of course also any mongrel dog rescued from a shelter will offer all his unconditional love to his old owner.
The fact is that there is always a suitable dog for an elderly person, taking into account his or her state of health, way of life and preferences.
In our article"Benefits of having a dog or cat for the elderly" we continue discovering the benefits of living with a dog or cat.