Senior woman with her dog


Dogs are known as man’s best friend for good reason. They lift our spirits when we’re down, motivate us to get outside for regular walks, and help us meet other dog owners. Above all, they give us a sense of purpose and show us unconditional love in return for food and shelter.

Small dogs offer additional benefits. They are easier to manage in small living spaces, like apartments, and their compact size makes traveling with them more convenient. They also tend to live longer, providing more years of companionship. Their portability makes them excellent lap dogs, offering comfort and warmth with their close presence.

For seniors, small dogs are particularly advantageous. They are easier to handle and care for, especially for those with limited mobility or strength. Small dogs are less likely to pull on a leash or require intense physical activity, making walks and playtime more manageable. This helps older adults stay active without overexerting themselves.

Small breeds adapt well to smaller living spaces, which are common among elderly individuals. They don’t need large yards and can comfortably live in confined spaces. Their ease of transport is another significant benefit, allowing seniors to take their small dog along when traveling or visiting family.

Additionally, small dogs make good lap dogs for seniors, providing warmth and comfort. Their affectionate nature can help alleviate feelings of loneliness and depression, offering invaluable emotional support and companionship.

Overall, the companionship of a small dog can greatly enhance the quality of life for seniors, offering them a loving pet and a loyal friend who helps them stay active, social, and emotionally fulfilled. But what are the best small dog breeds for seniors? Let’s take a closer look at how to choose your next furry friend.

Which Dog Is the Right Dog for You?

You’re likely not residing on a farm or seeking to enroll in your local K-9 police squad. Instead, you’re in search of a small dog that isn’t excessively active or prone to excessive barking.

Good small dogs for the elderly include breeds that are low-maintenance and have a calm disposition. These dogs require less grooming and exercise, making them easier to care for. Their gentle temperaments make them perfect for providing emotional support and companionship without being too demanding.

Ideally, one that’s easy to handle, simple to train, and fits in your lap. To help you choose the right breed for your lifestyle, here are seven small dog breeds good for seniors.

1. French Bulldog

Known for their playful spirit, love of entertaining, and endearing snorts, this breed has earned the nickname “clown dog.” According to the American Kennel Club, they are affectionate with family and great with young children.

Their unique bat-like ears are sure to make you smile. These dogs are genuine people pleasers, happily trailing you from room to room and loving every moment as the center of attention.

While they have plenty of energy, Frenchies don’t have a lot of endurance, making short walks or playtime in the yard the perfect option for them. They are easy to groom and quiet, amiable companions that readily adapt to apartment living.

2. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavaliers are a petite spaniel breed, typically weighing between 12 to 18 pounds, with a medium-length, silky coat. Known for their sweet, gentle and playful nature, they’ve earned the nickname “love sponge” due to their fondness for snuggling up with their owners.

Their high intelligence makes them easy to train as they are eager to please. In summary, Cavaliers are excellent companion dogs perfectly suited for apartment living.

Corgi Puppy

3. Pembroke Welsh Corgi

This breed’s lineage dates back to Welsh King Hywel Dda in 920. Today, corgis are famously associated with Queen Elizabeth, who had more than 30 of these charming dogs. Naturally inclined to herd, corgis require regular exercise, but a combination of daily walks and visits to the dog park usually suffices to keep them happy and healthy.

Corgis are intelligent, low-maintenance, and enjoy occasional cuddles. Despite their small size, they’re protective and excel as guard dogs.

4. Shih Tzu

Pronounced SHEED-zoo and known as the “little lion,” the Shih Tzu descends from a mix of Tibetan Apsos and Chinese Pekingese. Renowned for their luxurious flowing locks, these dogs require regular grooming to keep them looking their best. Surprisingly low-maintenance in terms of exercise, a daily walk or even a few laps around the living room will suffice to keep Shih Tzus fit and happy.

Some of this breed’s qualities to consider are some stubbornness and barking. However, the right training will make your Shih Tzu a friendly, playful companion. They are an ideal lap dog for seniors and always look forward to cuddling with their owners.

5. Boston Terrier

Developed from the English Bulldog and the white English terrier, the Boston Terrier is a great breed for older adults. This is one of the best small dogs for seniors for these key reasons: they’re easy to groom and friendly, and are a manageable size.

Renowned for their endless energy level and playful spirit, these dogs can entertain endlessly with their amusing antics. Despite their occasional snoring, grunting and tooting, they are generally quiet and only bark when provoked or when someone is at the door. They’re perfect for apartment living.

6. Bichon Frise

Blink and you may mistake this dog for a small, fluffy cloud. While the bichon needs grooming on a regular basis, they’re easy to train. You’re likely familiar with the show dog style that fluffs out the bichon frise’s coat. But you don’t need to maintain the same look at the dogs competing in the Westminster Dog Show. If your bichon just wants to roll around and play fetch, a simple, close-cropped cut is the way to go.

The bichon will fit right in as a member of a multiple-pet household. Their affectionate and cheerful nature makes them a great companion for seniors.

7. Pomeranian

Pomeranians, with their adorable fox-like faces, pointy ears, and feathered tails that elegantly arch over their backs, embody a delightful combination of intelligence, curiosity, boldness, and boundless energy.

Descended from larger Arctic breeds like the Malamute, Husky, and Samoyed, these diminutive dogs retain a charming sense of their majestic ancestry despite their petite size. Compact enough to nestle comfortably in a handbag, Pomeranians exude a captivating blend of grace and vivacity that makes them irresistible companions for those seeking a spirited and inquisitive canine companion.

Poms have a yappy bark and can be tough to train. But they’re very playful and love spending time with their owners as the center of attention. They also have a history of having famous owners: Isaac Newton, Michelangelo, and Mozart.

Senior man with his two dogs

Dogs Are Part of the Family at Sagewood

We love our canine companions as much as you do, so if you already have a dog, you’ll feel right at home. There’s even a dog park on campus where you and your best friend can run around, sniff out what’s new, and meet other dog lovers.

Give us a call today at 480.573.8099 to learn what makes Sagewood the best doggone senior living community in Phoenix.