Dogs are great additions to anyone’s life, however, they are especially great for seniors that are looking for companionship and something to keep them busy. Though any pet is beneficial for an aging adult, dogs are perhaps the most as they have so much to offer. With the various dog breeds available, seniors have many options when it comes to finding the dog that is right for them and their lifestyle.  

Things Seniors Need to Consider Before Adopting a Dog

If you are a senior and you’re thinking about adopting a dog, it’s important that you do some research on various dog breeds to find the kind of dog that is right for you. Certain dog breeds will be better for certain seniors depending on their lifestyle and capabilities. With that being said, there are a lot of things to think about before adopting a dog, such as:

Your Physical Capabilities

Are you active/ do you get around easily? Or are you limited to the amount of activity you can do, perhaps after a surgery or because of a physical ailment? Before getting a dog you will want to make sure that you can take care of it properly. You need to make sure that you are able to walk the dog as much it needs and that you are able to play with it. This is an important thing to consider not only for the dog’s happiness but for his or her wellbeing and health. Certain dogs require more attention and more activity, so if you are a senior that is limited to what you can do, take that into consideration as you research dog breeds. 

 Your Living Situation

Do you live in a single home or an apartment/condo? How many floors are in your home, do you have enough space for a dog? Or, are you living in an assisted living facility, and do they have breed restrictions? Do they even allow dogs at all? For example, an independent senior living in NJ allows for dogs to come with seniors when they relocate, however, not all retirement communities do, which could impact the dog’s life. It’s worth a senior’s while to really think about his or her current life situations before getting a dog. 

Your Financial Situation

Dogs are not cheap, and certain dog breeds are more expensive than others. Some dogs require more vet and groomer visits than others, and certain dogs may be more susceptible to certain illnesses than other breeds. If you are a senior that is on a very fixed income, and this is true for many seniors as they rely on social security and their savings, it’s likely in your best interest to find a dog breed that requires minimal vet and groomer visits and is typically a healthy breed.

Why German Shepherds Are the Ideal Pet for the Elderly

Certain dogs are more ideal for different situations, and it’s important for seniors to be aware of that. Considering the points listed above, a popular dog breed that often is ideal for seniors is the German Shepherd. This breed of dog is fun and friendly, making it a great option for seniors that live around other seniors, have big families, or have young grandchildren. 

German Shepherds are a great dog breed for anybody looking for years of joy and companionship. Below are the top 5 reasons that seniors should consider adopting a German Shepherd as their next pet.

They Are Typically Very Docile

German Shepherds are an outstanding breed choice for anyone, however, they are particularly great for seniors who are looking for a calm and docile dog. Like any dog, German Shepherds have their crazy moments, especially when they are puppies, however, German Shepherds typically calm down fast and will remain calm. German Shepherds are often docile and gentle creatures and are rarely aggressive; attractive qualities that make them sociable.

Docile dogs are great for seniors who may not have the physical capabilities to deal with a rambunctious dog. Or, if the senior lives in an assisted living community, it’s likely that he or she needs a dog that won’t make a lot of noise and disturb the other residents that are in very close proximity, making the docile German Shepherd a great breed choice.

German Shepherds are Protective and Alert

German Shepherds are perhaps one of the most protective and alert breeds of dogs, this is why they are used as police dogs, seeing-eye dogs, and service dogs. With that being said, seniors who are looking for a dog as a means of security should consider a German Shepherd. German Shepherds will protect their owners at all costs, and this may be particularly beneficial for seniors who are hard of hearing or weak. If an intruder were to try to break in or rob a senior, a German Shepherd’s alertness will keep the senior safe.

These dogs are also outstanding pets when it comes to keeping a senior safe if he or she lives alone. 

German Shepherd Puppies are Extremely Intelligent So Are Often Easy to Train

As stated above, German Shepherds are used for police and service dogs because of their alertness; however, they are also used as these kinds of dogs because of their intelligence and ability to be trained. It’s common for seniors to want a dog but may not possess the capability to train one, especially a puppy. Many dog breeds are challenging to train and can turn seniors off from wanting a dog; this is not the case when it comes to German Shepherds.

German Shepherds are easy to train and learn fast, making the lives of their senior owners easier and less stressful. Of course, German Shepherd puppies still have their “puppy moments,” but they are easier to break bad habits than other dogs.

German Shepherds Don’t Need to Visit a Groomer

German Shepherds are one of the dog breeds that hardly ever have to go to the groomer, if ever. German Shepherds don’t need to get their hair cut by a groomer, instead, their grooming routine is quite simple; they simply just need to be bathed and brushed. Seniors can bathe and brush their German Shepherd at home, the only supplies they need are:

  • Dog shampoo; ideally one that makes their coat shine
  • A de-shedding/de-matting tool
  • A pin and bristle brush
  • A nail clipper
  • A slicker brush

Seniors will be able to save money by not having to take their dog to the groomer often as they can groom their furry companion themselves. However, if bathing a dog is too much for a senior, perhaps the dog is large or fusses about getting baths, seniors can take it to the groomer to get bathed. Seniors will still save money as the dog will not need to get a haircut while there. 

German Shepherds Are Generally Healthy Dogs

Overall, German Shepherds are a healthy breed of dog. German Shepherds are not prone to illnesses or breathing issues like many other dog breeds; this will save the senior thousands in medical bills. One issue however that German Shepherds are prone to be hip deformity. Hip issues are fairly common in this breed of dog, but if addressed early on in the dog’s life, can likely be fixed before it gets worse.

When a senior first adopts a dog, he or she should take it to the vet to get x-rays to see if the hips are in-line and if they are not; to find out what can be done. If a German Shepard does, in fact, have hip issues, it can lead to arthritis; however, there are many ways to prevent arthritis, such as:

  • Making sure the dog is getting the right nutrients
  • Regular exercise, especially in the first half of the German Shepherd’s life
  • Making sure that the dog is at a healthy weight
  • Putting the dog on a supplement that is proven to slow down arthritis

Start Your German Shepherd Search Today

If you are seriously thinking about adopting a German Shepherd and you are an elderly person, look into various rescues, shelters, and breeders in your area to find the dog that is right for you. Decide if you want a puppy or an adult dog, and make sure you assess your lifestyle so that you can provide your new dog with the best life possible. It will also be worth your while to do further research on the breed to ensure that you are able to take care of it. If you have any further questions and are seeking a professional opinion, consider contacting a vet or a German Shepherd breeder. If you choose to adopt a German Shepherd, you won’t be disappointed. 


About the Author: Kelsey Simpson enjoys writing about things that can help others. She lives in South Jersey and is the proud companion to two German Shepherds and spends her free time volunteering in dog shelters.