Best dog breeds for assisted living communities

Pets in an assisted living community.


No matter the size – it is important to choose the right dog for pet ownership in an assisted living community. Moving into an assisted living community should not require one to give up the benefits of the companionship of a dog. With the increasing numbers of pet-friendly assisted living communities more seniors than ever are able to keep their longtime furbabies with them as they transition living arrangements. If you or a loved one is currently in or considering assisted living and you wants to take an existing dog or find a furry companion, there are numerous breeds that are especially well suited to seniors and fit the pet requirements of senior communities.

Benefits of seniors owning a dog

There are numerous research studies that have repeatedly shown that pet ownership has significant benefits for the mental, physical, and emotional health or seniors. Dogs are especially great for providing physical exercise, socialization, and overall day-to-day companionship. Daily walks and playing with dogs are enjoyable forms of activity. Seniors can choose a dog whose exercise demands are in line with their own needs and physical limitations. Dogs can also provide enhancements to a seniors’, or any persons’, quality of life. Dogs can be therapeutic, promoting the flow of feel-good hormones in the brain and body, and thereby lowering stress, heart rate, and blood pressure. Some studies have even correlated owning a dog to lower risks of heart disease, stroke, and depression.

Tips for owning a dog in an assisted living community

If you or a loved one are trying to decide on the perfect dog to bring into an assisted living community, there are various considerations that should be top of mind before making the choice.

Breed: As we age, a large dog or a very active one might not be the right choice for us, especially if the dog owner has physical limitations that could create safety concerns. Different breeds have different requirements for grooming, different levels of trainability, and different levels of noisiness. Additionally, some breeds are also more susceptible to health issues.

Age of the Dog: A senior dog often makes a great companion for a senior human since they are generally already trained and less active than younger dogs. Another age-related consideration is a dog’s life expectancy; small dogs generally live longer than large ones.

Temperament: The temperament of a dog is extremely individual, even within a certain breed. Whenever possible, a potential dog owner should interact and play with an animal before deciding if it’s a match.

Owner’s Medical Needs: Physical limitations should be considered carefully. Mobility issues may be a concern for a dog that requires daily walking. Oxygen or another tubing may be very tempting to a puppy that likes to chew.

Care Resources: Are there other resources available to help care for the dog, in the event the owner is not fully able to handle the responsibility? Are financial considerations an issue – there will be grooming, veterinary visits, supplies, or pet sitting. Does the assisted living community provide any resources? Do they have a Pet Care Coordinator?

Community Requirements: It is important to check the regulations of the assisted living community regarding pets. Many communities have size limitations to consider. You will likely need to get your dog pre-approved, provide proof of house-training, and provide a statement of veterinary health.

So what are the top 9 dog breeds for assisted living?

1. PugPug

Pugs are known as adaptable, charming, and eager to please. They are very affectionate and playful and do not require much exercise to maintain their health. Small in size, they generally meet the size requirements of assisted living communities. They can be a bit mischievous and do shed a fair amount.

Beagle2. Beagle

Beagles are cute, funny, loyal, and friendly. They enjoy the company of other dogs and humans. They love to play and are excellent family dogs. However, they can be independent, making training a challenge, and they do need plenty of exercise. This is a good fit for fitness-minded seniors, but maybe not so much for someone with mobility challenges. They do shed quite a bit but are fairly easy to care for with regular brushing.


3. Boston TerrierBoston Terrier

Boston Terriers often make the list of top dogs for seniors because of their manageable size, friendliness, ease of grooming, and love of spending time with their people. Boston Terriers are bred to be companion dogs. They are happy-go-lucky and playful, yet attentive to their owners’ needs.


Yorkie4. Yorkshire Terrier

Though a Yorkshire Terrier, often called Yorkie, has long hair that requires a lot of grooming, they are small and adaptable, making them a good option for assisted living. They’re intelligent, loyal, and lively, and usually get enough exercise with a daily walk.



5. SchnauzerSchnauzer

Schnauzers come in many sizes, including miniature, offering choices to a senior trying to meet a community’s pet size requirements. They are energetic, playful, trainable, and good with children, although they can have strong guarding instincts. They have a medium energy level, so playtime with your schnauzer can help keep you active as well.


Chihuahua6. Chihuahua

Chihuahuas have a ton of personality for their size, and love being showered with affection. However, they are so loyal and protective that they might need training before dealing with children. Additionally, some Chihuahuas bark a lot. They can be active, but being small, they can often get sufficient exercise by playing indoors.


7. Shih TzuShih Tzu

Shih Tzu dogs often have a tendency to bark, however, they are known for their friendly, playful, and alert nature. They are also small, which is ideal for apartment living; bred to be companions, with daily walks and indoor playtime, they tend to be healthy and long-lived. Their long coat does require a fair amount of time devoted to grooming.


Poodle8. Poodle

Coming in various sizes from large to tiny, there’s a poodle out there for everyone. Poodles are smart, proud, and active dogs. They are easily trained and enjoy a variety of activities, which makes them very adaptable to different-sized living situations. Their coats require regular grooming, but they are also hypo-allergenic.


9. PomeranianPomeranian

The Pomeranian is an intelligent little people-pleaser and one of the cutest dogs you’ll ever see. Being small and lightweight, they are easy to handle, and, though energetic, don’t require a lot of exercise as long as they get their allotment of attention. Besides regularly brushing their thick coat, their grooming needs are fairly straightforward. They can be a bit noisy, though.


As any dog lover knows, every dog is an individual. Basic breed descriptions can be a useful guideline, but nothing beats being able to observe and interact with a specific pet before making a decision that will bind you with your furry companion.


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