Pets, and dogs in particular, are amazing companions to have around. They're loyal, adoring, and sometimes even a little rambunctious. Having a dog around has also been proven to help increase heart health and provide a couple of other health benefits, which makes them excellent companions for older people. But if you're a senior citizen looking for their next canine companion, or even if you just enjoy learning a bit more about man's best friend, what breed is right for you? Well, we've put together this list of some of the best breeds for you to have around and why.
When most people think of Arctic dogs, they tend to think of huskies, but there's another breed that's perfect for those looking for something a little more active. Yakutian Laika was bred to drive sleds, hunt, herd, and protect livestock, so in that regard, they are fairly similar to huskies. However, they tend to be a bit smaller than huskies. Still, both breeds need plenty of exercise and enjoy outdoor activities.
We'd also recommend only going for a Yakutian Laika if you live in a colder weather area, as their thick coats make them perfect for places that see a lot of snow and ice.
Whippets are another breed of dog that not eveyone has heard of. They sort of resemble greyhounds in appearance due to their sleek bodies, but they require less attention than you'd imagine from a fast-running dog. They were bred to hunt small game in Britain, so they can run incredibly fast, similar to their greyhound cousins. They're also known to be pretty intelligent and don't bark nearly as much as some other breeds.
According to the American Kennel Club, whippets are known to be affectionate, calm, and playful, and they're great with kids and family. They're a medium-sized dog, and they usually reach around 30 pounds in weight.
Labrador retrievers have long been one of the most popular dogs in the U.S. They were originally bred to hunt, so they're really intelligent, eager to please, and take well to training. However, they can require a bit of attention and exercise. They also tend to love the water, and their partially webbed feet make them great swimmers. Labs can range in size from 50 to 80 pounds, and there are three different colors: yellow, black, and brown.
Labs make a great choice if you're the type of person who likes to stay active and has the time to train an eager puppy who's willing to follow you anywhere.
Irish setters are one of the most beautiful breeds of dogs out there. They were originally bred to help flush out game birds in Ireland, so they have plenty of energy and are always eager to please their owners. They also get along well with people and other dogs. Their distinctive coloring and elegant fur coats make them a real conversation starter. However, like other working dogs on this list, they require a bit of training and energy.
Still, if you can handle it, they make sweet companions who are always up for a new hike or adventure. These dogs tend to be around 2 feet tall to the shoulders and around 55 to 65 pounds.
Rat Terriers are another dog breed that was bred for hunting, particularly rats, hence the name. These guys are on the smaller end, but they're pretty stout since they were bred to take on rodents living on farms. Rat terriers are intelligent, friendly towards adults and small children, and tend to be really playful. However, they do require a bit of attention and training due to their high energy levels.
They have a comparatively long lifespan compared to some other breeds and can grow to weigh up to 25 pounds. Fun fact: It's said that Teddy Roosevelt coined the breed's name, according to the American Kennel Club.
The Japanese spitz is a smaller breed that is said to have a really endearing personality. They're companion dogs, meaning they're incredibly friendly and always eager to please their owners and others alike. Their lush coat makes them something of a little furball, which does require a bit of grooming. However, it also makes them incredibly cozy. The American Kennel Club calls them "little comedians" who are always making their owners laugh.
The breed is on the smaller side, meaning they are good for those who live in an apartment, and they can grow in weight to about 20 to 25 pounds.
It's thought that basset hounds originated somewhere in France or Belgium and were bred to follow the scent of small game. However, they're recognizable just about everywhere. They're droopy ears and eyes make them look somber, which isn't helped by their low energy levels. However, they're affectionate towards their owners and great with kids. The breed is rumored to be a bit stubborn, (needed on those long tracks through the countryside) but also incredibly loyal.
According to the American Kennel Club, the basset hound's sense of smell is regarded as second only to the bloodhound. Bassets typically grow to around 40 to 65 pounds in weight and a little over 1 foot in height to the shoulders.
Papillons are a surprisingly old breed of dog that used to be a favorite among European noblewomen. According to the American Kennel Club, these dogs are energetic, smart, and actually pretty hardy for their size, especially compared to other "toy" dogs out there. They make for protective companions that tend to bark a bit more than some other breeds. However, their long, furry coat is surprisingly suitable for both warm and cold climates.
Papillon can range anywhere from 5 to 7 pounds in weight and typically grows 11 inches in height. Fun fact: Marie Antoinette's papillon is said to have waited outside Antoinette's prison while her owner awaited her own beheading.
Pugs are one of the oldest breeds of dogs on this list, and they've served as companions for around 2,000 years, first in China, then in Europe, and now all over the world. The small dog is said to be a well-behaved friend and a great addition to any family, whether it comes to adults or children. They're not quite as high energy as some of the smaller working dogs on this list, but they do tend to shed a bit.
Their calm but affectionate demeanor makes them a great choice for someone who isn't as active. Pugs tend to grow to around 15 pounds in weight and to around 12 or 13 inches in height.
Dandie Dinmont Terrier
Dandie Dinmont terriers are a great terrier breed that's smart, compact, and sturdy. Like other terriers, they were bred for hunting and guarding farms from rodents. However, while they possess the same qualities as other terriers, such as loyalty, intelligence, and alertness, they aren't as high-strung as some other small breeds. That said, they still require a bit of attention and training, though not as much as some other terrier breeds.
Dandie Dinmonts originated from southern Scotland and northern England. They can grow to about 24 pounds in weight and around 11 inches in height, making them great if you have a small space.
Pekingese are a small dog breed with a rather ancient and interesting history. These small dogs were originally bred in China, although nobody is quite sure when they came about (it was a really long time ago). They're said to be very "regal," according to the American Kennel Club, which is probably somewhat due to their main role as the companions of emperors. They're very affectionate towards their owners, but they don't always get along with other dogs and small children who might be used to playing rough with other pups.
Pekingese can grow to weigh around 10 pounds and only grow to a height of 9 inches. Usually, they have a long silky coat that some prefer to trim down.
Like many other dogs on this list, Bichon Frise has a pretty interesting history. This was once a breed that was mainly kept by nobility in European courts, but the French and other revolutions saw the dogs kicked out many palaces along with their owners. They were then often taken up by street performers due to their charismatic attitudes and intelligence. Today, their characters still endear them to owners around the world.
Not only that, but they're excellent when it comes to affection and dealing with children. However, don't adopt a Bichon Frise expecting to have a guard dog. These guys can grow to around 1 foot in height and some 15 pounds in weight.
The Cairn terrier just might be one of the most recognizable breeds in the world thanks to a little pup named Toto (think The Wizard of Oz). However, they actually started out as less glamorous hunting companions, working to rid farms and other areas of rodents and foxes in Scotland. These terriers are known for their intelligence and strength, despite their small size. Unlike other small dogs in this list, they do need a bit of space to roam.
They also require some energy and training. Cairn terriers typically weigh around 13 pounds and grow to a height of 10 inches. They tend to not fancy other dogs as much as some other breeds on this list.
They may not be as famous as other breeds on this list, but Schipperke makes excellent companions for anyone who has the time and energy to train them. These dogs were originally bred in Belgium to rat out rodents on small boats and ships. It's said that they're energetic and curious dogs who are also very affectionate towards family. They are also highly protective, making them really good guard dogs.
These small working dogs can grow to a weight of around 15 pounds and a height of 12 inches to the shoulder. They're also a bit more long-lived than other dog breeds.
Unlike some other breeds on this list, the Boston terrier is a newer breed. These small but sturdy dogs are great lap dogs for anyone living in a city (after all, they were mainly bred in Boston). They also said to pack a lot of character in their small frame, making them a great choice for anyone who needs a bit more laughter in their life. Really, don't we all?
They're probably one of the most recognizable American breeds out there and they can grow to around 10 inches in height and some 20 pounds in weight. They're also very affectionate and great with children.
Look at a Yorkshire terrier (or Yorkie as they're affectionately called), and you'd have no idea the dog was originally bred to be a worker, much less a mine worker hunting rodents. However, that's why, despite their silky long coats, they can still be tenacious and independent. These terriers are extremely loyal and quite affectionate towards family, but sometimes they don't get along with other dogs and need some training.
Still, if you're looking for a small, yet friendly and hardy companion that would guard you with their lives, Yorkies are a great choice. These terriers typically weigh around seven pounds and grow to a height of eight inches.
Unlike most other ancient dog breeds in the Americas, Chihuahuas managed to outlive the pre-Columbian civilizations that bred them, probably in part due to their toughness. Today, these small dogs are a national symbol of Mexico and great companions for anyone looking for a small dog with a big personality. That said, they aren't the best dogs to have around small children, and if not trained, they will walk all over their owners.
But if you can handle their big personalities, then they make excellent lapdogs. Chihuahuas usually grow to about five pounds in weight and around six to eight inches in height.
If you're looking for a small dog that doesn't require a ton of energy, then look no further than a Bolognese. These furry companions are about as low maintenance as small dogs come, yet they're reported to be very intelligent. That said, they do require their owner's attention and, according to the American Kennel Club, can be prone to separation anxiety. Their coats are usually long and fluffy, but it's not uncommon for owners to shave them down.
Even with the long hair, they don't typically shed a whole bunch. Bolognese can weigh as much as 10 pounds and grow to a height of 12 inches at the shoulders.
Like some other small dogs on this list, the pomeranian has a personality that's much larger than its size. These dogs are fluffy and loyal companions who are always alert, meaning they like to bark and make great watchdogs. This breed is known to be pretty intelligent and energetic, so they take well to training and need a bit of exercise. These dogs are also very affectionate towards their owners.
However, you will have to get them used to other dogs and small children. Pomeranians tend to grow to around seven inches in height and seven pounds in weight.
Beagles are a favorite of many pet owners out there for their mild temperaments and huggable faces. This breed was originally bred as a hunting dog and puppies usually exhibit all of the energetic qualities of other working-class breeds. However, once they get a bit older, they tend to really mellow out. They're very affectionate towards their owners and they're also great with small children and other dogs around the neighborhood.
Historically, beagles would be used to hunt by those who either couldn't afford a horse or preferred to hunt on foot, such as older hunters. Beagles can grow in height to around 15 inches and weigh as much as 20 to 30 pounds, depending on the variety.
It probably goes without saying, but you don't even have to pick a certain breed at all if you don't want to. Mixed breeds can be just as intelligent and unique in personality as their high-profile purebred counterparts. Not only that, but mixed breeds often dominate dog shelters, so they're incredibly accessible. Mixed breeds tend to live longer and have fewer health conditions than their purebred counterparts as well.
There are countless combinations of mixed breeds out there, so there's something for everyone. If you're having trouble deciding on the type of dog you want, then we recommend heading to your local shelter first and seeing if you can find your new best friend there.
Maltese are one of the oldest dog breeds on this list, and they have a proven track record of being companions. These little dogs were probably riding around in the luxury bags of ancient Greeks and Romans, much as they still do today. While they can be a bit independent and even stubborn, they respond well to training and don't require as much energy as some other small dog breeds.
Despite their long, luxurious coat, they actually don't shed all that much, although they do require regular grooming. Maltese can grow to weigh around seven pounds and grow as tall as nine inches to the shoulders.
Shih Tzus are one of America's favorite small dogs, and for good reason. They're extremely affectionate and good with small children and other dogs. They're also a bit more laid-back than other small breeds. This means they won't constantly be getting into trouble out in the yard or in your home. They were only exported from China in the early 20th century and spent hundreds of years lounging around palaces before that.
While this breed has a lot going for it, their long coats do require a bit of grooming and maintenance to keep them looking their best. They can grow to around 15 pounds and be as tall as 10 inches at the shoulders.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are really versatile. These adorable pups are excellent when it comes to children, other dogs, and showing affection. And they both enjoy playing and lounging about. Their differently colored coats are also a joy to look at. These spaniels have an interesting history since they were only brought back in the early 20th century, although they were very popular among the nobility during the 17th century.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels grow to around 14 inches in height and some 18 pounds in weight. They're also reportedly really easy to train and are pretty intelligent.
Miniature Schnauzers are very similar to their larger cousins. This breed, like terriers, was bred to hunt small game and clear rodents. It's maybe because of this that the small dogs have earned a reputation for being extremely brave. However, they're still great with kids and owners, lacking the aggression seen in some other small breeds. That said, they aren't the biggest fans of other dogs, so it may be wise to get them acclimated young.
Because of their wiry coat, they require a bit of grooming, and they shed moderately, according to the American Kennel Club. Most can grow in height to around 14 inches and weigh in at a sturdy 20 pounds.
Ah, poodles might just be one of the most iconic dog breeds out there. Their unique coats have won them admirers all over the world and it helps that they're known to be especially intelligent and pack a lot of character no matter what the variety. They have a hypoallergenic coat, so there's no need to worry about allergies. Despite their appearance, they're actually very active dogs and are equally at home while on a trek or in a purse.
Surprisingly, this breed actually originated in Germany, where it was used in duck hunting. Poodles are long-lived and come in many different varieties, from standard to miniature and in-between.
It's unknown exactly when this breed came about, but we do know that they are very old. There are two varieties: those with hair and those without. Both are known to be incredibly friendly towards their owners. Those without hair also have the benefit of not requiring much in the way of grooming (for obvious reasons). They usually don't need as much attention as other small dog breeds, either.
Chinese Crested tend to grow to about 13 inches in height and around 12 pounds in weight. Some have also been known to live as long as 18 years, which is also important to consider.
Jack Russell Terrier
These small, working dogs were developed to hunt small game. That explains, at least in part, their usually barkative nature. However, they're also extremely loyal dogs that are known to be very smart and have a lot of personality. It makes them great if you're the type of person who enjoys a lot of outdoor activities, such as hiking. Jack Russel terriers are also typically great with other dogs.
That said, they do require a bit of energy and training. Jack Russell terriers can grow to a height of around 12 inches at the shoulders and around 15 pounds in weight.
Don't let the dachshund's small and affectionate face fool you, this breed was originally created to hunt badgers in Germany. It doesn't get much more loyal and hardworking than that. Today, dachshunds are probably better known for their popularity and as the smallest breed of hound dog. They tend to get along well with other dogs and show a lot of affection towards their owners. They also have a lot of energy.
There are a couple of different coat types to choose from, as well as both standard and miniature. No matter what size, though, these dogs make for great companions.
Most people think of modern dog racing when they think of greyhounds, but the truth is these speedy canines have been chasing game since they were used for that same purpose 5,000 years ago by the ancient Egyptians. Today, it's not difficult to find retired greyhounds to adopt, which make for very affectionate and loyal companions. However, it is recommended that you walk this breed daily, but they require less energy than some other dog breeds.
Greyhounds, maybe unsurprisingly, are the fatest dog breed in the world. They can grow to around 30 inches in height and 70 pounds in weight, although they're much more sleek than other breeds.
Golden retrievers are always among the top three or five dog breeds in America. This breed is known for its sweet disposition and willingness to show affection. It also helps that they're considered to be pretty intelligent, as well. The only downsides to this breed are its size (they can weigh as much as 70 pounds) and the fact that they can shed quite a lot. However, for most owners, those are small prices to pay.
They're often used as service dogs and are equally at home while out on a hike or lying around lazily in a living room. This breed can grow to a height of around 24 inches to the shoulders.
Welsh terriers make great companions and combine all of the best aspects of a terrier without some of the same downsides. This breed is just as hardy as other terriers, but it's not quite as off-the-wall energetic as some of its cousins. Welsh terriers were originally bred to hunt foxes, badgers, and other small mammals, so they're extremely tough despite their more laid-back demeanor. They're also really good with children.
These terriers typically only grow to weigh around 20 pounds and reach a height of 15 inches. Their wiry coat does require a bit of grooming but not as much as some other breeds with similar coats.
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Don't let the Pembroke Welsh corgi's small size fool you. These were dogs bred for work, specifically, for herding cattle. That means that they're much stronger than their small stature would suggest. Pembokes are surprisingly quick and energetic, too. However, once they've received a bit of training, they tend to do really well in just about any role you put them in. They're great with families and make for good watchdogs.
Despite all of that energy, they adapt well to house life. The only downside is that they can shed a bit. Pembrokes tend to grow to weigh around 30 pounds and stand around 12 inches at the shoulders.
If this breed looks a bit familiar, then you've probably seen a collie before. This is the smaller member of the same family, called a Shetland sheepdog. They possess the same beautiful coat and big brain, but in a smaller package. Since they were bred to herd sheep, they do require a lot of exercise and play, but once trained, they make for one of the best companions you could possibly ask for.
Despite originating in the Shetland Islands, this breed wasn't really recorded by the U.K.'s national kennel club until rather late due to the islands' remoteness. Shetland sheepdogs usually weigh around 20 pounds and grow to 16 inches in height.
Labradoodles aren't considered "purebreds" by the American Kennel Club, and you can probably tell why from the name alone. A labradoodle is a mix between a poodle and a lab. They're highly intelligent, but they do have a bit of energy, so they're best for more active owners. That said, this breed loves to show affection towards people and is also really good around children. Labradoodles can weigh as much as 65 pounds and grow as tall as two feet.
If you have allergies, then a labradoodle might be the dog for you since they're hypoallergenic. They do need a bit more grooming than normal labrador retrievers, though.
Peekapoos are a toy dog breed that's a great choice for anyone wanting a smaller dog that's hypoallergenic. Peekapoos are a cross between a toy poodle and a Pekingese. Despite their small size, they are known to have a pretty big bark, making them great candidates if you're also looking for a watchdog. However, the bark might annoy some owners who want a quieter dog around. These small dogs are also thought of as a good family breed.
If you do decide to adopt a peekapoo, then try to get them acclimated to being around other dogs at a young age so that you don't run into any issues further down the road.
Shiba Inus are Japan's most popular breed and were originally bred to be hunters. Today, they're known to be very smart and loyal companions. Despite their background as working dogs, they don't need as much playtime and structure as some other dog breeds with similar histories. However, they do still need a little bit of outside time. They take to training very well and can be somewhat more independent than other breeds.
This breed can grow to weigh a stocky 23 pounds and some 15 inches in height. Potential owners should be aware that they are very vigilant and tend to bark a bit more than other dogs.
Havanese might just be one of the friendliest small dog breeds. They get along very well with families, children, and even other dogs. Their long coats also offer owners a lot of options when grooming, as they can be left long, clipped down short, or styled. They don't need a ton of exercise, and they're considered very intelligent and take well to training. Fun fact, American writer Earnest Hemingway had a Havanese.
These small dogs can weigh around 12 pounds and grow to a height of 11 inches. They're also rather long-lived, with a lifespan that can reach up to 16 years. They can reach 13 pounds in weight and 11 inches in height.
Ibizan hounds are an extremely old breed of dog that was originally bred to hunt small game. They're known as loyal and protective dogs that are extremely fast, which might be apparent from their sleek bodies. They're great with other dogs and easily warm up to their owners. Another plus is that they don't shed very much and don't require a lot of grooming. They're also happy both outdoors and in smaller homes.
Pups may require a bit of exercise, but they tend to mellow out with age. Ibizan hounds grow to a weight of around 45 pounds and can reach 27 inches in height.
Wire Fox Terrier
Wire fox terriers are energetic, intelligent, and loyal companions that were bred to hunt small game-like foxes back in the U.K. Their unique coats don't shed as much as you'd think, but this breed does require a bit of training to direct all of that energy. That said, owners love this breed and say that they can be extremely charming and great with children, as well as showing affection towards their owners.
These terriers also make really good watchdogs. Wire fox terriers can grow to around 18 pounds in weight and stand at about 15 inches at the shoulders. They are considered a long-lived breed of dog.