Everyday around my neighborhood, I notice the same few elderly people walking their dogs around. There is one man that has a little tiny Chihuahua, another man that has a larger sized Chihuahua, and then an elderly woman with a really small Chihuahua. As you can see, it seems like these senior citizens have a liking towards smaller breed dogs…or maybe just Chihuahuas? I also used to live next to a huge convalescent home where many of the occupants would walk their dogs around the block. The breeds I most commonly saw were Yorkies, Maltese, and of course, Chihuahuas. As a matter fact, many inquiring customers of our Yorkies are looking for a pet for their elderly parents. Either way, it led me think why all these senior citizens decided to get smaller breed dogs. It didn’t take me long to realize all the benefits that these smaller breed dogs could offer senior citizens.
1. Saving living space. I’m sure this is the number reason why smaller breed dogs are sought after by senior citizens. Their small size makes many things a lot easier to handle for senior citizens. For one, most elderly people I know tend to live in smaller sized living quarters, especially if they live in convalescent homes. Having a Chihuahua in the house obviously saves a lot of room compared to larger breeds such as a Great Dane!
2. Ease of walking. I think its great that senior citizens are proud dog owners. Having a dog in the first place will encourage the elderly to get out and get exercise. However, walking a dog such as a Doberman Pincher may be a little challenging for most 80 year old men and women. I’m 6′ 0″ tall and weigh about 190 lbs, and some of these larger breed dogs definitely have some tugging power that give even myself a tough time. It can be very dangerous for both the dog and the owner if the owner is not able to physically keep their dog under control at all times. A toy breed dog on the other hand is much more manageable for senior citizens when it comes to walking and playing with their dog.
3. Companionship. I believe this is the most important aspect of any type of dog regardless of size. Dogs give us unconditional love and unmatched companionship. Sometimes, senior citizens may live far away from any sort of immediate family and its not so easy for them to just get up and hop the soonest flight across the country to visit relatives. Quite simply, I imagine it could get quite lonely sometimes for senior citizens if they live alone. However, dogs offer the perfect solution to this problem. I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone’s health actually improve from the mental pleasures of having a loving a dog.
4. Bathing. Simply put, I’m pretty sure its quite a bit easier to bathe a little Yorkie than it is to bathe a golden retriever. This facet makes these small breed dogs perfect for senior citizens to manage on their own. I know it must take some sort of physical strength to keep a larger breed dog in one place when giving them a bath, which would not be ideal for the elderly.
5. Food. Obviously, toy breed dogs eat a whole lot less food than larger breed dogs. I think I can count the actual number of kibbles I give my little yorkies on my hands and toes. You can throw that out the window with larger breed dogs. So why is this so important for senior citizens? Well, if you’ve ever gone to the store and picked up a 50 pound bag of dog food…its not light! Having a toy breed dog that eats less requires smaller bags of food. I usually pick up those 10 to 15 pound bags of food for my little ones. This bag would be gone in a week if I owned a Labrador…maybe quicker!
Well, there you have it. If you are a senior citizen looking for a pet, I think I’ve given the solution right here. Toy breed or small breed dogs are easy to care for, encourage exercise, and offer excellent companionship. They make great pets and I am personally happy with all the little ones I have running around!