Maybe you’re newly single and want a little comfort. Or you just retired and finally have the time. Or maybe your kids are grown and your nest is empty and you’ve been thinking how nice it would be to have a companion in the house, one you could coddle, who would adore your every move, miss you when you’re gone and do a dance of joy whenever you came home.
You’re ready to get a dog. Or, to put it more accurately, you’re ready to become a dog’s human.
But what kind of dog?
Experts say the key is matching the dog to your lifestyle and being honest about how active you are, and how much time you can be with the dog.
“A dog will probably increase the amount of exercise you get,” says Christie Keith, a journalist who specializes in animal welfare.
But, she warns, don’t get a dog that will push you so far past your baseline that you will not be able to realistically meet that dog’s needs.
“Because then both of you will potentially be unhappy,” she says.
The American Kennel Club recognizes and registers more than 190 breeds and is a great online resource, whether you are looking for reputable breeders or breed-specific rescue organizations.
Be ready: Any good rescue outfit or breeder will have lots of questions for you.
“They want to know your activity level, your dog experience, the condition under which the dog will be kept, if you have a fenced yard, things like that,” says Kim Cochran, a former Australian Shepherd breeder based near Port Huron, Mich.
With all that in mind, it’s still tricky to know which breed is right for you. Canine partisans eagerly sang the praises of just about every breed I met at the 2019 Michigan Winter Dog Classic in suburban Detroit last month. It’s one of many feeder events around the world leading up to the Westminster Kennel Club Show, which starts this weekend in New York.
Okay, not every single one. The guy with the Bouvier who told me the 100-pound beast loves to back up into people and, thus, “will knock you down and break your hip if you’re not careful.”
So this is a subjective list, but one based on conversations with more than a dozen trainers, breeders, and other assorted experts. It’s also an attempt to offer something for everyone, given that the needs, lifestyles and temperaments of people 50 and older are as varied as the dog world.
Here are our rankings, which took in consideration these factors: health, longevity of the dog, cuteness, potential to be trained, friendliness and ease of care.
You and your basset hound might disagree with our findings.