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By Rebecca Fending
National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day is April 30, and there’s never been a better time to add on a new four-legged family member. Six to eight million pets are surrendered to shelters within the U.S. annually, creating the overwhelming need for adoptions.
With a majority of the dogs in shelters being a mix of several different kinds of breeds, here is a brief guide to which breeds are best for seniors. Keep in mind, too, that each dog is unique in personality, so it’s best to ask a shelter or humane society volunteer about the specific temperament of your potential pup.
For those looking for the quintessential little white lap dog, Maltese is a wonderful option. This breed is easy to train, loves to sit in their owner’s lap and are easy to take with you anywhere you wish to go.
As with most all breeds of smaller, long-haired pups, Maltese absolutely needs regular visits to a professional groomer. This ensures not only that their fur is trimmed and cleaned, but also that their skin and teeth are well taken care of.
Another great option for seniors looking to adopt small, Pomeranians are easy to handle and are able to be taken with you. This is a breed that meets at the intersection of small breed and a perfect companion. Pomeranians tend to hold a perfect balance between chill and snuggly, and energetic and playful.
Not surprisingly, these pups also need regular grooming visits and at-home brushing to keep their long, fluffy coat in check.
West Highland White Terrier
Only slightly larger than Maltese and Poms, Westies are great for seniors looking for a friendly little dog. This breed follows suit in terms of portable and a perfect blend of snuggly and active.
Although grooming is also needed for Westies, much of it can be done at home in terms of brushing, washing and the occasional trim of extended fringe.
Although all dogs make perfect companions, Bichon Frise is a breed that specializes in companionship. They are noted as having a “happy-go-lucky” attitude about them, and are extremely friendly. The AKC describes Bichons as “operating under the assumption that there are no strangers, just friends they haven’t met yet,” which is perfect for seniors who have frequent company or would enjoy taking their pup to places with new people.
Of course, grooming is a must for this breed due to their curly, fluffy white fur. Be sure to brush them daily in order to keep their delicate fur from matting.
Although this breed is larger than ones previously mentioned, retrievers are great companions to seniors due to their unconditional love and loyalty. This breed is very easy to train, making them great for those looking for a larger dog without the large-to-medium sized dog “spunk,” shall we say.
Goldens do need plenty of daily exercise, so they are best suited for an owner who is interested in being outdoors on walks, hikes or just some time at the park.
For those looking for a companion that will be attached to your hip, any dog with Havanese heritage is ideal. This breed tends to develop separation anxiety, so they love to be with you at all times. They are on the smaller side, so a Havanese companion is easy to take with you anywhere you go.
Havanese are also very social and friendly with new people, so if you plan on having guests, this breed makes an excellent co-host or hostess.
For seniors that suffer with intense allergies or respiratory issues, a poodles’ dander carries a low-risk of causing allergic reactions. Not only are they easy on the allergies, but they’re also known as one of the most intelligent breeds due to their instinctive intelligence. This makes them extremely easy to train, especially for retrieving something.
Poodles can come in a variety of sizes, from miniature (15 to 17 pounds) to standard size (40 to 70 pounds). As you might expect, regular grooming is needed to maintain their coat.
Scottish or Yorkshire Terrier
Scottish or Yorkshire Terriers make excellent pets for those in need of a hypoallergenic companion. Their shedding is minimal, but regular at-home grooming is necessary to keep their fur and skin healthy.
This breed also makes an excellent guard or alert dog. Known for their small size and big mouth, terriers will likely bark to let you know someone is entering your home, good or bad. Light weight, easy to train and devoted, a terrier or terrier-mix might be the perfect adoptive fit for you and your home.
With their short coat, this breed is perfect for a Florida senior. Not only does their short coat mean little to no allergens or maintenance, it also means that they enjoy warmer weather since their skin protection is minimal.
These pups are typically around 10 pounds, making them easy to handle for seniors. They are known as a “playful lapdog,” making them an ideal balance between snuggly and lively.
Pembroke Welsh Corgis
Corgis have become a popular choice for those looking to adopt a dog. Although short in stature, this breed clocks in at around 30 pounds, putting in the category of “medium-sized.” They are easy to train and quite manageable, but they are herding dogs by nature. In order to keep their herding tendencies at bay, be sure to take them for adequately long walks. These little cuties make excellent walking buddies.
Collies make great companions for those looking to be a bit more active with their pet. This breed is recommended to indulge in at least 45 minutes of active daily. From walks, to fetch, frisbee or even swimming, these pups love being outside and getting their wiggles out. Once inside, they tend to calm down and want to cuddle with their owner.
Just like Italian Greyhounds, full-sized greyhounds are everything a senior pet owner could ask for. Hypoallergenic, easily trainable and with a mild temperament and energy levels, this breed is great for seniors who are looking for a manageable larger breed. A daily walk and a bit of play time is all it takes to satisfy a greyhound.
If you have any questions about which shelter pet would be best for you and your lifestyle, be sure to ask one of the shelter volunteers. These are the people that have gotten to know your potential furever friend, so they’ll be able to tell you more about just who your new pet is.
Shelters and Humane Societies for Adoptions in Your Area
Tampa Bay area:
- Animal Welfare League of Charlotte County
- Playful Paws Animal Rescue
- Mystic Valley Ranch Animal Rescue and Sanctuary