Seniors, and older people, often benefit from having a canine companion. These dogs not only give them a reason to get up in the morning, but also encourage them to be active, and can provide therapy in other ways. Even people who suffer from arthritis, will stop complaining about their pains when stroking a dog.
There are many concerns when selecting a pet dog for a senior. They may find they want a cute puppy, however it is important to note that a dog can be a 15, or more, year commitment. A senior is unlikely to be able to provide that kind of commitment, even if they live another 15 or more years, they may not be able to care for a pet for that time. Additionally puppies need to be house trained, obedience trained, and they tend to jump up on people, and may even nip. Seniors have fragile skin, so the two may not be a good mix.
So.. with that said one of the best dogs for seniors, is a senior dog. These dogs may have special needs, and can be prone to obesity (it may be good to have somebody else monitor that the dog is not getting over fed).
Big dogs can also be a problem. They are strong and can pull a senior over when going for walks, if they jump on an older person that person may be knocked to the ground. Many large breed dogs need far more exercise and mental stimulation than a senior can give. This is not to rule out all large dogs, but only to be a concern.
The terrier breeds, and spitz breeds might be worth avoiding. Terriers were bred to hunt and can be prone to biting, and nipping, spitz breeds can be unreliable with strangers, especially children (eg. grandchildren).
Non-Shedding dogs are often a good option, however it must be noted that the require regular brushing (which can be therapeutic) or may develop painful mats. As well these dogs should be taken to the groomer every 6-8 weeks for hair cuts.
These are probably the most popular dogs for seniors. They can tolerate short walks and do fine if not walked for a few days (as long as they have a yard to go out into). They are non-shedding dogs, and if socialized well, they are also good with grandchildren.
These are also smaller dogs, their short noses mean they cannot go for long runs or they become exhausted and stressed. It also means their eyes are vulnerable and they can have eye problems as a result. Their advantage is that they are not as frail as some small dogs such as Chihuahuas. As well these dogs that do shed.
These dogs were bred to be slow moving. Their legs are such that they cannot run fast. They are longhaired dogs that require regular grooming, and trips to the groomer. These dogs are well suited to being seniors pets, provided the senior can keep up with their maintenance requirements as per grooming. Even younger Pekingese dogs work well for seniors.
Labs come in three colors, yellow, chocolate, and black. They are larger dogs but if raised well the older dogs make great companions for seniors. If socialized well they will also be gentle with grandchildren, however such kids should never be allowed to ride these dogs (or any dog) even though it might be tempting. It must be noted that generally larger breeds of dogs have shorter lifespans, and may have more problems with arthritis.
Many people forget about what wonderful dogs mutts can be. Not all mutts are suitable as quiet dogs for seniors (as not all purebreds are suitable either), but still there are so many that they must be considered. A mutt is really any dog without proof of its breeding, in other words, any unregistered dog. They can be large, small, or in between. They can be shedding, or non-shedding. They can be active, or passive, and as such special care is required when selecting a mutt as a pet for a senior. An educated person might be able to make a guess at what breed combination a mutt is most likely to be, the link below may also help.
Never get a pet for a senior as a surprise. They may not really want one; and people tend to bond better with pets they have selected for themselves.
A senior who is not in their own home may need landlord permission to have a pet.
A dog is a lifetime commitment. Be sure it can be cared for from a financial state, as well as a physical one.
To find a dog that is suitable for a senior contact your local animal rescue, SPCA, or humane society. If they do not have a dog, they can take a pet request should an appropriate animal come into their care, or they may refer you to other canine rescues that deal primarily with older dogs (again since these dogs are often best for older people).
Dogs may take two weeks to adjust to their new home.
Never pay for a dog that is not vaccinated, and dewormed. A senior dog should also be checked by a vet for serious problems.