20 Dog Breeds Seniors and Elderly Need to Avoid at All Costs

“angry dog” by spacecookypk is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Dogs can be the most lovable and loyal companion senior and elderly citizens can have, but there are some breeds that have too much energy, require expensive grooming, or just may not have the personality to be the best fit for you. Here are 20 dog breeds you should probably avoid if you are a senior.

Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherd Puppy On Dry Leaves
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Australian Shepherds are smart, intelligent, remarkable, and hyperactive dogs. This herding dog breed needs hours of daily exercise and mental work, which seniors probably won’t be able to provide. Their energy levels and constant need to be engaged in some activity make it a bad choice for seniors and the elderly.

Siberian Husky

Photo Of Siberian Husky Puppy
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Siberian Huskies possess beautiful looks and charming nature. They are also the most dramatic breed and can very well mimic humans in some ways. But these snow dogs are also expert escapers and need high fenced areas and lots of supervision. They have high exercise needs and tend to wander if they get the chance. This breed is definitely not for seniors who cannot keep the pace with this hyperactive dog.

Jack Russell Terrier

Playful purebred dog with smooth coat and small ball having fun on lawn while looking up in sunlight
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Jack Russell Terriers may look cute and tiny, but they are highly feisty, aggressive, and hyper. These aggressive terriers need a lot of exercise and mental work to keep them constantly busy and well trained. They have a strong prey drive and tend to bark a lot. Seniors living in apartments or with mobility issues should definitely avoid this breed.


Black Rust Rottweiler Showing Tongue Lying on Concrete Pathway
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Rottweilers are devoted, protective, and extremely strong dogs. They serve as excellent guard dogs, but their aggression and strength can be too much for seniors to handle. These majestic dogs need firm handling and proper training along with socialization to keep them always under control. Seniors, however, cannot put in this much effort consistently to keep this breed well-trained.

Border Collie

white and tan dog laying on floor
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Border Collies are considered the most intelligent dog breed in the world, and hence, you need to be extra careful when you own this breed. These workaholic dogs are always on the go and need constant mental and physical stimulation, or they could become destructive. Seniors and the elderly usually don’t have this much energy to keep up with this breed.


Dalmatian Dog during Day Time
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Dalmatians are definitely a sight to behold with their spotty ears and charming nature. But these carriage dogs of the past have high energy levels and need plenty of exercise daily. They also tend to shed copious amounts of hair, which can be an issue for seniors who are allergic or cannot put in the effort to groom this breed regularly.


High angle of adorable fluffy purebred dog with tongue out enjoying stroking from crop unrecognizable owner at home
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Akitas are gorgeous, loyal, and protective of their family. Although these traits are worth appreciating, they also make Akitas challenging to handle for seniors. Their stubborn nature and aggression towards other dogs and strangers need experienced handling and consistent training, which seniors probably cannot put in.


Black and White French Bulldog Puppy Stepping on Brown Wood Board Panel Close-up Photography
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Bulldogs look cute with their wrinkly faces and personality. But these brachycephalic breeds suffer from a ton of health issues like breathing problems, skin fold infections and joint issues. They also have unique health requirements which make Bulldog adoption a bad choice for seniors who are on a fixed income and cannot afford hefty vet bills.


Brown Boxer Dog With Orange Black Powerdog Vest
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Boxers are adorable dogs who love to live life to the fullest. But their bouncy and lively nature can be too much for older adults to handle. These breeds need a lot of exercise and playtime daily, which seniors with mobility or stamina issues cannot put in. Also, Boxers can get health issues like bad hips and heart problems. This means expensive vet bills and hard feelings for old owners.


Brown Short Coat Large Dog Sleeping on the Floor
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Weimaraners are called “velcro dogs” because of their strong attachment to their owners. Although this loyalty is a beautiful trait, when left alone, they suffer from separation anxiety and become destructive. Seniors who love their freedom and need to leave their dogs alone for hours should definitely avoid this breed.

Chow Chow

A Chow Chow Dog Peeing in a Park
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Chow Chows look like they have lion mane around their necks. They may be loyal to you, but around strangers, they’re typically distant and suspicious, making aggression a possibility if they aren’t properly socialized. Also, their dense coats need constant attention, and seniors with limited dexterity or strength may not be able to keep their Chow Chow’s coat in good condition.

Great Dane

Blue Merle Great Dane
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Known as “gentle giants,” Great Danes are sweet, friendly, and enormous. Therein lies the problem for older owners: their size. The last thing you need is a 100+ pound dog accidentally knocking you over or stepping on you. Great Danes also suffer from numerous health problems, such as bloat and hip and elbow problems, which will only increase your vet bills.


Photo of Poodle On Grass Field
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Poodles are intelligent, graceful, and low-shedding, three reasons why they’re a favorite among many dog lovers. However, their curly coats need to be professionally groomed every six to eight weeks to keep them looking their best and to prevent mats, which can be expensive and time-consuming. Taking them out for grooming every now and then could be difficult for seniors.

Australian Cattle Dog

White and Black Short Coated Dog
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Intelligent and loyal, Australian Cattle Dogs (aka Blue Heelers) are also highly energetic, relentless herders who need lots of exercise and mental work every day to keep them from getting destructive. Their strong herding instinct can also cause them to nip and chase, making them a poor choice for older people who have mobility problems or who entertain often.


Photo of Brown and White Short Coated Beagle Lying on a Pillow
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Happy, friendly, and cute, Beagles have a couple of faults. Their strong sense of smell often gets them into trouble because these scent-hounds can easily be lured off-lease to follow interesting smells, worrying older owners who may not be able to catch their youthful walker. They also bark and howl a lot, which can be a problem in closely-packed neighborhoods.


Brown Chihuahua Puppy Lying on Brown Textile
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Although they’re tiny, Chihuahuas are often big personalities packed into small frames. These itsy-bitsy hell-hounds can be pretty yappy, possessive, and even aggressive if they aren’t well-socialized and trained. Their small stature also makes them easy to injure, which can worry seniors who think they might accidentally step on or drop their Chihuahua.

Shar Pei

short-coated tan puppy
Photo by Tiago Vasconcelos on Unsplash

With wrinkled faces and ears, and a shaggy coat, Shar Peis are loyal dogs. But these independent dogs can be cautious around strangers and if they aren’t socialized properly, they can be aggressive. Their loose skin folds also need to be kept clean to avoid infections, a chore that many seniors with limited dexterity may find challenging.

Alaskan Malamute

adult gray and white Bernese mountain dog on green field
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Majestic, powerful, and cold-adaptable, Alaskan Malamutes are frigid explorers who love to go fast and roam around. These dogs need lots of exercise every day, as well as the freedom to run and play, which can be a problem for older owners who may not be able to give them the physical activity they need and who can’t contain these wanderers.

Basset Hound

brown and white short coated dog on green grass field during daytime
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Basset Hounds are adorable, laid-back dogs with signature droopy ears and forlorn eyes. But they are quite stubborn when training and often follow their nose, which can get them into a lot of trouble. Their long, low-statured bodies also cause them to easily suffer back issues and other health problems that can mean hefty vet bills. 

Saint Bernard

Saint Bernard Lying on a Grassy Field
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Saint Bernards are sweet, good-natured, and patient. But they’re also enormous and have dense, shedding coats that leave a terrific mess (not to mention smell) that many older people may not be able to clean up after. While they can be loving companions, their size can be difficult for seniors to manage, especially if they live in small homes or apartments.