What Dog Breed Is Ideal for Old People?

­If you think about it, we’ll all age at different rates. Some folks may be lucky enough to see their 60th birthday while others will celebrate turning 100. No matter your age or when you plan on adopting a new furry friend, it pays to know a few things about canine physiology before bringing home the next cute pooch. Dogs can’t talk, but they make up for this deficiency by wagging their tails and jumping up in greeting.


Dogs also use body language to communicate with us how else would you explain the way your pup responds to “sit” or “stay?” Older dogs may look less agile than puppies, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to play. As humans, we tend to get complacent about our pets’ abilities, but even the most energetic young puppy can tire out after playing fetch 10 times. And then there’s the fact that senior dogs often need special care like more frequent vet visits, prescription medicine and possibly dietary changes.


In addition, many elderly dogs suffer from conditions like arthritis, hip dysplasia and cataracts that can become exacerbated as they grow older. They also sometimes experience health problems brought on by obesity, such as diabetes, heart disease and liver failure. In extreme cases, elderly dogs can develop dementia, which can lead to aggression.


Because of these factors, some veterinarians recommend against getting a dog until you reach middle age or later, especially if you already have children. But not everyone shares that opinion. The Humane Society recommends acquiring one’s first dog around age 3, because younger kids aren’t likely to understand why the animal needs training.


Regardless of your own personal views on the subject, it’s clear that owning a dog isn’t always easy no matter how old you are. On top of that, there are so many different types of pups to choose from, each with its own personality quirks and physical attributes. It makes sense, therefore, that knowing what kind of dog to pick might help you decide whether or not to add another member to your household.


This article looks at several popular dog breeds that appeal to seniors, including both big and small varieties. We’ll examine how certain traits affect the life span of each breed, and we’ll take into consideration some of the risks associated with growing older. Read on to learn about the perfect canine companion for someone approaching retirement.


Bull Terrier and Other Smallish D­og Breeds


Smaller dog breeds generally live longer than larger ones. This holds true for bull terriers. These dogs were originally bred to fight rats, hence their fierce appearance, but today they are gentle family pets. A typical adult weighs between 35 and 65 pounds (15 and 29 kilograms), stands 12 to 16 inches tall (30 to 41 centimeters) and has a lifespan of 15 years or more.


Although bull terriers are known for being good watchdogs, they can also be aggressive toward strangers, particularly those who come close without warning. That said, bull terriers rarely attack unless provoked. You should definitely avoid buying one if you plan to show it off in front of your neighbors. If you’d rather keep the dog indoors, consider a miniature version instead.


Miniature bull terriers weigh only 5 to 25 pounds (2 to 11 kilograms) and stand 4 to 6 feet high (1.2 to 1.8 meters). Their lifespans average 8 to 10 years. With so many options available, choosing the right type of dog for you requires some thought. Next, read about a breed that appeals to nearly every lifestyle.


Beagle, Bernese and Other Medium-Sized D­og Breeds


Medium-size dogs, such as beagles, chihuahuas and bernese mountain dogs, are typically friendly and docile. Like smaller dogs, they tend to live longer than bigger dogs. For example, a healthy male American Staffordshire terrier can expect to live 14 years or more, whereas a Great Dane can survive as little as five years. There are numerous medium-sized dog breeds, each with unique characteristics. Take a closer look at each breed below.


The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes 19 purebred dog categories, ranging from toy to giant. Among them are the beagle, Boston terrier, boxer, cocker spaniel, dachshund, golden retriever, Labrador Retriever, poodle, Portuguese water dog, setter, and Yorkshire Terrier. Each of these groups displays specific characteristics, such as size or coat coloration, that might interest a particular person. Although most of these breeds are great companions, it’s important to remember that not all dogs within a category share identical qualities.


Chihuahuas, for instance, are typically very tiny dogs with short fur coats and sharp teeth. They tend to be sweet natured, however, and usually love their owners. Chihuahuas weren’t developed to withstand cold weather, though. To keep your mini darling warm, try wrapping him in a heavy blanket or sweater. Also, never leave your chihuahua alone in the car for any length of time.


Labradors, Boxers and Other Large D­og Breeds


Large dogs, such as border collies, German shepherds and Newfoundland, are common sight in many parts of the world. They serve an array of purposes, from pulling carts to guarding property. Generally speaking, large dogs enjoy a lot of exercise and love to interact with humans. However, larger dogs require more space, food and affection.


Like medium-sized dogs, large dogs live longer than smaller dogs. An adult female border collie, for example, can expect to live up to 15 years, whereas a standard poodle only lasts three. Larger dogs also tend to eat more, meaning they must receive adequate nutrition. Fortunately, you can provide this through a varied diet made up of meat, vegetables and grains. When selecting a large dog, pay attention to his energy level. Is he active? Does he seem anxious or stressed? Look for signs of anxiety or depression, which could indicate underlying medical conditions. Finally, remember that large dogs are prone to overheating in hot weather.


Borzoi, Cocker Spaniel, Pugs and Other Long-Haired D­og Breeds


Long-haired dogs, such as Afghans, Irish wolfhounds and pugs, resemble their ancestors more closely. Originating in Russia, where they hunted wolves, long-haired dogs prefer to sleep close to their masters. Because of their shaggy appearance, long-haired dogs don’t shed much hair. In fact, they produce none at all.


But perhaps the greatest benefit of having long hair is the ability to curl up with the dog and snooze away the day. Most long-haired dogs are great sleeping partners, too. For example, a pug can stretch out horizontally across your entire bed while lying on his back. He even folds himself up into a ball for added warmth and comfort. Of course, long-haired dogs don’t fare well in colder climates. In addition, they are susceptible to flea infestations and ringworm infections.


Papillion, Schnauzer and Similar Herd/Guardian D­og Breeds


Short-haired dogs, such as papillons, schnauzers and West Highland white terriers, are notable for their distinctive curly coats. Often referred to as “powder hounds,” short-haired dogs originated in Scotland where they guarded flocks of sheep. Today, short-coated dogs still perform this task, but now they guard homes and families. Short-haired dogs generally weigh between 50 and 80 pounds (22.7 and 36.6 kilograms) and stand 9 to 13 feet tall (2.7 to 4 meters).


Unfortunately, short-haired dogs don’t last as long as their long-haired counterparts. For example, a papillon can live up to 12 years, whereas a schnauzer can only go up to eight years. Short-haired dogs are also prone to heat exhaustion during warmer months. To prevent this problem, make sure your short-haired dog gets plenty of fresh air and drink lots of cool water.


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