The Best Dogs for People Over 50

By Betty Lewis

Congratulations if you've reached the point in life where the kids are out of the house and you have a bit more free time. The dog you had 10 years ago may have been a great companion, but he may not fit in as well now if your life has slowed down a bit. As your lifestyle changes over time, it's likely you'll be looking for different qualities in your canine companionship.

What Are You Up For?

Fifty isn't old, however, if you're 50 or beyond and looking to bring a new dog into the fold, you should consider how you're going to age with your dog. Peoples' activity levels vary widely as they age. If you're still taking your morning jog or hiking the trails with no end in sight, you don't have to worry so much about a dog's energy level. However, if you're more inclined to putter about in your garden or enjoy the paper and an iced tea on the deck, you may be less inclined to put up with a rambunctious young pup. Before you pick a pup, take time to make an honest assessment of how much energy you have to devote to your new dog and make your choice accordingly.

Matching Your Energy to Your Dog's Energy

If you're fairly active and enjoy a big dog, consider a Labrador retriever or golden retriever, both in the American Kennel Club's top five registered dogs. They're friendly, respond well to training and while energetic, aren't bouncing off the walls. If you're a little more low-key, the English bulldog or greyhound may be more your speed. Though the greyhound has a reputation for being a fast runner -- and he is -- when he's off, he's a true couch potato.

Size Matters

Size can be important, because you may be in the situation where you'll need to pick up your dog, whether it's to get him from harm's way or to take him to the vet. As well, a smaller dog is often more portable, easier to get in and out of the car. The French bulldog and pug are excellent choices for a low-key lifestyle. They're affectionate, yet frisky, and tend to get along with everyone they meet. Another benefit to these little dogs is they have low-maintenance coats. If you prefer a small dog to pamper, get out your grooming brush and spend time making over the Yorkshire terrier or Maltese. Both are lap dogs, but require daily grooming for their long coats.

Lap Dogs and More

If you want a dog who will snuggle on your lap or lay at your feet when it's time to curl up with a good book, the bichon frise, Havanese or Bolognese may be just the guy you're looking for. Perhaps you want the dog to entertain you more than the book; if so, consider the toy poodle, who will be happy to entertain you with any tricks you teach him. Other small people-pleasers include the miniature schnauzer and Cavalier King Charles spaniel.

The larger poodles -- miniature and standard -- are clean, low-shedding dogs who respond well to training and enjoy their human family members. The Boston terrier and American Eskimo are loyal, protective dogs who will alert you to any potential intruders.

Living Together

No matter what type of dog you choose, keep a few basic truths in mind. All dogs need some training; consider how much time or challenge you want when you choose your dog. If you decide to get a puppy, put in the time and effort to puppy-proof your home and be ready to train, train and train some more, as your dog learns the ins and outs of housebreaking as well as what to chew and what not to chew.