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How to Choose a Companion Dog as You Age

Need some company in the form of a furry friend? Adopting a dog has proven health benefits and can make great companions, but what breed is right for you?

By
Lindsay Engle,
July 6, 2018
senior couple with companion dog

Through selective breeding over the course of thousands of years, dog breeds have evolved to meet the needs of humans. Shepherds helped herd sheep, terriers kept the farm clear of mice, and Tibetan Mastiffs protected monks from threats at Monasteries. Centuries of thoughtful, selective breeding has led to a wide range of dogs with traits that can accomplish a countless number of tasks for humans.

Today, perhaps the most important task for dogs is keeping us humans company. There are loads of health benefits to adopting a dog, especially if you’re aging. Some of those benefits include:

  • Companionship
  • Keeps your heart healthy
  • Keeps you fit and active
  • Helps you lose or maintain a healthy weight
  • Keeps you social
  • Reduces stress
  • Helps with depression
  • Keeps you out of the doctor’s office

Studies show that owning a pet keeps your blood pressure low and allows you to be more active, which also helps you lose or maintain a healthy weight. Dogs can also improve your social life, because owners are likely to talk to one another when out on a walk. Studies also show that owning a pet reduces anxiety and stress, as well as making you less prone to depression. All these health benefits keep you out of the doctor’s office!

Why It’s Important to Choose the Right Pet

It’s important to do your research prior to adopting so that you can find the right dog for you. We’re all different, and some adoptees are looking for specific characteristics in their dog.

If you’re looking for a pet to hang out wth on the couch while you binge-watch Netflix, then you want to adopt a dog whose personality is calmer. Or maybe you'll want to adopt an older dog.

If you’re looking to adopt a dog as a walking buddy, then you’ll want to adopt a dog with more energy.

If you’re looking to adopt a dog for security and to keep you safe at home, then you might want to adopt a larger dog that’s naturally protective of their family.

You want to find a dog that complements your lifestyle and personality. They are going to be your longtime companion and best friend. As you age, you want them to age with you. So keeping them healthy, just like they are keeping you healthy, is key.

Dog Traits to Consider When Adopting

  • Health and Longevity
  • Size and Strength
  • Exercise Requirements
  • Trainability
  • Age

Let's explore each trait a little further.

Health and Longevity

When adopting a dog, nothing takes a higher priority than their health. Adopting a new dog or puppy requires knowing any potential genetic issues that could arise.

Fortunately, there are tests available for breeders that allow them to detect genetic abnormalities in adult dogs in order to avoid breeding dogs that risk passing on genetic illnesses. To obtain a list of recommended tests and to learn more about genetic disorders of the breed you wish to adopt, visit the Orthopedic Foundation.

Size and Strength

It is no surprise that large dogs are extremely strong. What can be surprising is how strong some of their smaller counterparts are. For example, breeds such as Jack Russel Terriers and Schipperkes weigh under 15 pounds, but both breeds were bred for power and extreme energy levels.

Choosing a dog while considering its size, strength, and energy level will ensure that you have a longtime companion who is your ideal pet.

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