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Seniors for Seniors Dog Adoption

by Daniela Lopez, | May 13, 2024

Seniors for Seniors Dog Adoption

Samantha Gehrmann / Stocksy

Seniors-for-seniors dog adoption pairs older dogs with elderly adopters, fostering companionship and mutual support. These programs offer older pets a loving home, while providing seniors with companionship and joy. It’s an innovative idea that builds meaningful relationships between two groups — seniors and senior dogs — in need of connections.

For senior citizens, a pet’s devotion and affection can contribute to increased happiness and even better health. Researchers have long recognized the benefits that a pet can bring to the lives of elderly individuals. Read up on the advantages of adopting a pet through seniors-for-seniors rescue programs, and learn how to select the right dog.

What is a seniors-for-seniors dog adoption?

Seniors-for-seniors dog adoption programs are designed to encourage older adults, typically aged 60 and older, to adopt senior pets, aged seven years and older. These adoption campaigns create a mutually beneficial relationship for both seniors and senior pets. While the specifics of each program vary depending on the rescue or shelter running it, some offer reduced or waived adoption fees to make senior-dog adoption more accessible to seniors. Pairing a senior dog with a senior citizen makes picking a dog more straightforward. Pet parents can better assess their temperament and energy levels, and often, they’re already trained.

Benefits of dog adoption for senior citizens

  • Provides independence: A dog offers a sense of well-being and independence, helping to prevent stress, depression, and loneliness through the routine needed to care for them.

  • Gives people a purpose: Being responsible for another living creature can add new meaning and purpose to a senior’s life.

  • Improves mental health: Caring for a dog with activities such as feeding, grooming, and walking helps a person stay active mentally, and thus enhances their quality of life.

  • Improves physical health: Numerous clinical studies verify that having a pet can benefit a person’s physical health. For senior people, that results in lower blood pressure, decreased stress, reduction in bone loss, lower cholesterol levels, and improved blood circulation.

Benefits for senior dogs

  • Increased adoption rates: Senior dogs are less likely to be adopted, so these dedicated programs give them a second chance at life.

  • Love and companionship: Senior rescue dogs are eternally thankful for a loving home and will be forever devoted.

  • Improved lifestyle: Senior dogs don’t require as much exercise. They’re happy to just hang out at home with someone who loves them or to take a leisurely stroll around the block.

  • Longer lifespan: When stuck in a shelter with hard floors and little attention, senior dogs languish. But with a loving companion to bond with, senior dogs can thrive.

How the program works

These special programs aren’t all that different from typical pet adoptions. But depending on the rescue, there may be a few considerations.

1. Finding rescue dogs for seniors

A helpful resource for finding your new pet is Adopt a Pet. You can easily locate shelters and rescues in your area, and filter through adoptable pets by age, color, and even breed. Alternatively, you can also perform a web search with keywords such as “senior dogs for seniors” to see available local adoption programs.

2. Adoption requirements for senior adults

Seniors-for-seniors prerequisites vary, though some things the program might consider for eligibility include providing proof of senior status, ownership or rental permission for housing, proof of a pet-care directive in a will, and in some cases, a pet trust. You’ll need to check with each specific group to determine their requirements for adoption.

3. Adoption matching

Once your eligibility has been determined, the rescue group can help you determine what to look for when adopting a senior dog. After learning about your needs and preferences, they can match you with a dog who meets your specific lifestyle needs. Not all senior dogs are alike. For example, an eight-year-old Golden Retriever might still be too rambunctious for a more sedentary senior citizen.

Why are senior dogs a good match for older adults?

Many senior citizens are looking for companionship and social interaction. And senior dogs, with their calmer and more relaxed natures, can be excellent fits. Senior dogs tend to have lower energy levels and exercise requirements, which can be a good match for older adults. While senior dogs still enjoy playing (which can help a person be more active), they are generally less demanding in their needs. Senior dogs can also provide an overall calming presence, which can boost their person’s emotional well-being.

How long do senior dogs live?

Unlike a puppy who needs a lot of care, training, and attention for 15 to 25 years, a senior dog may live for only half as long. Depending on their age at adoption, a senior dog may live three to 15 more years.

Financial needs of senior dogs

Many shelters and rescues offer discounted services such as training, vet care, vaccinations, and even food. Meals on Wheels for pet programs are also available in some areas of the country. Before acquiring a new pet, have a financial plan in place that will assure the care of your dog if you are temporarily or permanently unable to provide full or partial care for them.

What are the best dogs for senior adults?

Adopting the right kind of dog can improve a senior person’s life. For the best dogs for seniors to adopt, consider the tips below.

  • Less energetic dogs: Calmer dog breeds and mixes who are satisfied with soaking up the sun, rather than bounding around the park, are a good match for senior adults.

  • Dogs smaller in size: Small dogs (under 35 pounds) are perfect for seniors because their smaller size makes them easier to handle.

  • Low-maintenance dogs: Dogs with low-maintenance grooming needs will make pet parenthood a lot easier and help avoid expensive trips to the groomer.

  • Biddable dogs: Affectionate dogs who are eager to please are a great choice because they are easy to train.

Best dog breeds for senior adoption

When it comes to the best dog breeds for seniors, the companion dog group is where it’s at. Unlike working dogs, companion dogs were bred for companionship over a job such as herding or hunting. Some of these pups, such as the Havanese, Shih Tzu, Bichon Frise, and Cockapoo, have longer locks, which will require more grooming maintenance.

Low-maintenance dog breeds ideal for senior citizens include the Pug, Brussels Griffon, Dachshund, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. An individual dog’s personality and temperament are more important factors to consider than breed. But if you have your heart set on a specific breed, consider adopting from a breed rescue.

What rescues offer seniors-for-seniors dog adoption programs?

Many rescues across the country offer seniors-for-seniors dog adoptions. Here are four rescues where you can start your search.

  • Muttville / CA: Muttville is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to improving the lives of senior dogs.

  • PAWS / WA: PAWS is a champion for animals, adopting homeless cats and dogs, and educating people to make a better world for both animals and people.

  • North Shore Animal League / NY: North Shore Animal League America is the world’s largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization.

  • Furry Friends Rescue / CA: Furry Friends is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to rescuing, fostering, and finding homes for companion animals.


The Challenges and Benefits of Pet Ownership for Seniors

The Friend Who Keeps You Young

Grow Old Along with Me: The Meaning of Dogs in Seniors’ Lives

Having a Dog Can Help Your Heart — Literally

Old Friends Make the Best Friends

Pet Ownership and Cardiovascular Risk Reduction

The Quality of Life of Pet Dogs Owned by Elderly People Depends on the Living Context, Not on the Owner's Age

Daniela Lopez

Daniela Lopez

Daniela Lopez is the content manager at Adopt a Pet. As a content strategist, she has previously contributed to The Bark, The Wildest, and more. She has volunteered for several non-profits, including the Alameda Animal Shelter and Lost Our Home Pet Rescue, and is currently a foster for her local SPCA. In her free time, she has two mixed-breed rescue dogs keeping her on her toes.

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