You and Your Dog: The Perfect Partnership for an Active Lifestyle

best companion dogs for elderly

They exude unconditional love. They are always excellent company. They provide comfort without judgement. No, we’re not talking about your kids and grandkids. Yeah. Sure. They have their appeal. But seriously, when it comes to true blue companionship, our furry, four-legged friends win, paws down.

It’s a known fact that regular interaction with a dog can enhance our lives, particularly as we age. As creatures that live in the moment, dogs can’t dwell on the past or fear the future. Their calm, accepting attitude is contagious and should come with a warning label: Attention humans! Be prepared for reduced stress, lower blood pressure and an enriching emotional bond.

In fact, based on the results of a recent study, it appears that when it comes to dogs for seniors, the physical benefits are even more dramatic than we thought.  

The key finding: Dog owners walk more. And that’s a really great thing.  

 According to the research, the benefits of a canine workout buddy cannot be overstated. Participants in the study, all of whom were between the ages of 65 and 81, wound up walking an average of 23 minutes more per day than those who did not own a dog—enough to meet U.S. and international exercise recommendations for substantial health benefits.

And the even better news is they were not just lollygagging along. Motivated by their canine counterparts, these active adults marched briskly at a pace that raised their heart rates.

The conclusion was clear: Having a dog as a fitness friend is a great way to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle.

Before you choose your new workout buddy, take a moment to do a little research of your own to find a dog that is the right match for you and your circumstances. Whether you work with a breeder or contact a shelter, be sure to ask questions about age, temperament, energy level and health history. 

Word of caution: If somebody offers you a puppy, politely decline—unless you want to return to your days of raising an infant. Your best bet is a well-trained adult dog that will be an energizing addition to your life, not an exhausting responsibility that keeps you up at night.

Listed below are five popular companion dogs for seniors. Maybe one is the right choice for you!

French Bulldog

This is a stylish, small spark plug of a dog with a solid disposition. They develop strong attachments to their masters and are loving companions as well as wonderful walking partners. They come with one caveat, a predisposition for respiratory issues. Avoid health problems by seeking out a highly reputable breeder.   

Poodle

Who wouldn’t want a dog known for its sense of humor? Poodles are personable, easy to train and easy to maintain with regular grooming appointments. A standard size may be a handful and the toy a bit too tiny and fragile but the miniature may be just the ticket for a compact but reliable companion capable of a good, long walk.

Schipperke

With its easy-care coat and shoe button eyes, your Schipperke will be flexible and easy going no matter where you live. This dog was bred for onboard living, so if you are a fan of boating, this dog can be your buddy on the water as well as the land.  Your Skip will be small but equipped with boundless energy that will keep you moving.

Maltese

A Maltese will be a companion that is incredibly attentive and tuned in to its owner.  If you’re worried about that long hair shedding all over the place, just keep your pet clipped and you will have a furry friend that is not only loyal and true but also easy to maintain. 

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

If you are a fan of the Welsh Corgi you are in good company—royal company that is. Long the favorite dog of Queen Elizabeth, these energetic dogs are companions that will keep you active and fit. Their short legs make it tough for them to climb so ramps and steps to get into the car and onto the couch will be helpful.    

Just wait until that cute little face gets in your face in the morning and wants to go out. You won’t need scientific data to understand there is no choice but to get up and get moving.

Dog ownership as an active adult could be a great new adventure that will not only extend your life, but add a new dimension of fitness, fun and friendship to it.