305 West End Assisted Living Blog

7 Best Companion Dogs for NYC Seniors

Happy senior couple sitting on a bench in the park surrounded by trees covered in autumn leaves with their companion dog.

Dogs make exceptional companions for people of every age and in every environment. They also come in every shape and size, which means that even city-loving seniors in New York City can find a companion dog breed that’s just right for their lifestyle.

City life does present some unique challenges for dog owners, but if you pick the right breed, you and your pup can thrive. In fact, the benefits of dog ownership go beyond mere companionship. Caring for a dog has been shown to help reduce feelings of loneliness, stress, and depression. Those who own dogs also tend to be more active, as even those who employ dog walkers are more likely to pop outside more often than non-dog owners. After all, every pooch needs a bathroom break.
So, if you’re an older adult searching for the perfect companion, here are some of the dog breeds that are best suited for the hustle-and-bustle of city life.

Boston Terrier

Black and white Boston Terrier sitting on the living room floor behind a wicker basket with an end table that has plants on it and patio doors in the background.

The Boston Terrier is a compact, people-loving breed with an inquisitive nature. Nicknamed the “American Gentleman” for its dapper personality and tuxedo-like coloring, this breed was accepted into the American Kennel Club as a non-sporting breed in 1893.

Why Boston Terriers are perfect for city-living seniors:

According to The American Kennel Club, the Boston Terrier makes a great urban pet, as they are a friendly, personable breed, and will weigh no more than 25 pounds upon maturity. Due to their short coats, they do not require much in the way of grooming. Compact and easy-going, they make a perfect companion, whether you’re taking one on a brisk walk to the park or enjoying an evening snuggling on the couch.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Brown and white Cavalier King Charles Spaniel sleeping on senior woman's lap while the senior woman is reading on a red sofa.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is the ideal lap dog, with an adult weight of just 13 to 18 pounds and a soft, silky coat that’s perfect for petting. Known for their graceful, royal appearance, they are a wonderful combination of beauty and agreeability. Their average lifespan is 9-14 years.

Why the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is perfect for city-living seniors:

These are friendly, low energy dogs that thrive when doted on by their human companions. They have a reputation for doing well with children and other animals, and are content with relaxing at home or playing outside with their owners.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Red and white Pembroke Welsh Corgi laying on a blanket that is on a grey sofa chair in the living room.

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is a smart, affectionate little dog, with an adult weight of about 30 pounds. Originally bred to herd cattle, they are sturdy and independent animals, and also make good watchdogs. They are also the favored breed of Queen Elizabeth II, who has had at least one of these delightful little dogs in her household since 1933.

Why Corgis are perfect for city-living seniors:

This intelligent breed is easy to train and eager to please. Due to their athletic nature, they require regular walks, which makes them perfect for seniors looking to get a little extra exercise. Corgis are social by nature, so walks to the local coffee shop, park, or playground provide plenty of opportunities to meet new friends.

French Bulldog

Brown black and white French Bulldog sitting with a senior man on a tan sofa with it’s head laying in the senior man’s lap.

Descended from toy-sized Bulldogs, the French Bulldog was a favorite among lace-makers in England. As the cottage industries collapsed in England, many lace-makers relocated to France – bringing their smart, adaptable little dogs with them. There, the toy Bulldogs were cross bred with other breeds, resulting in the French Bulldog we are familiar with today. The most noticeable difference between French Bulldogs, or “Frenchies,” and the standard Bulldog is their prominent “bat ears.”

Why French Bulldogs are perfect for city-living seniors:

This is a popular breed among city-dwellers, and for good reason! Weighing just under 28 pounds, they are easy to care for and require little grooming. While they are intelligent and alert, they do not bark much, and don’t require much exercise in order to thrive.


White maltese sitting on a luxurious sofa with an elegant fireplace in the background.

The Maltese is a petite, affectionate dog weighing no more than 7 pounds in adulthood. They are prized for their long, silky coats, bright eyes, and aristocratic bearing. This breed has few health issues, and can live for up to 15 years.

Why Maltese are perfect for city-living seniors:

Best known for their beautiful white coats, these tiny dogs require daily brushing, as well as regular baths to keep their coats conditioned. While they may sometimes have a stubborn streak, they are easily trainable and respond well to humans of all ages. The Maltese does not require much exercise, so a quick walk around the block or even a few minutes of play indoors will keep them content.


Red Pomeranian laying on the floor in-front of the door.

The Pomeranian, like the Maltese, is another very small, long-lived breed, weighing only 3 to 7 pounds in adulthood and living up to 16 years. Surprisingly, this miniature breed is a relation of the large, spitz-type sled dog breeds. This is another dog beloved by royalty. Queen Victoria developed a love for the breed when visiting Florence, Italy, and returned to Britain with these little dogs by her side.

Why Pomeranians are perfect for city-living seniors:

While Pomeranians enjoy being lazy lap dogs, occasional exercise – like walks or play time in the backyard – is beneficial. Their double coat does make regular grooming a necessity every four to six weeks, so if you choose this breed, be sure to make allowances for this. These are alert, highly intelligent dogs, with few inherited health issues.

West Highland White Terrier

A West Highland  White Terrier laying on a senior woman who is laying on white sofa in-front of a window.

The West Highland Terrier we know today became popular in the 1700s in Scotland, where they were bred as vermin exterminators. This does make them prone to chase just about anything, from pigeons and mice to large insects. Over time, this happy, hardy little breed developed a reputation as a popular companion animal.

Why West Highland Terriers are perfect for city-living seniors:

They are quite self-reliant, and do not require too much doting. Regular visits to the groomer, as well as daily brushing, are needed to keep their coats shiny and healthy. Their intelligence does make them easy to train. In general, this is a very healthy breed, with an adult weight of 20 pounds or less. Their tendency to give chase does mean they should be kept on a leash when not in an enclosed area.

Other Considerations

As you begin your search for the perfect pet, you may want to consider adopting a middle-aged or senior dog as opposed to a puppy. Puppies require more attention, socialization, and training. As the average lifespan of a dog is 12-15 years, “middle age” starts about 5-7 years, depending on the breed. Older dogs tend to have more relaxed temperaments, and many will already be used to living inside of a home environment. If you have your heart set on a puppy, keep in mind they require a significant amount of energy and attention.

Also, take the time to assess how your living situation may change over the course of the dog’s lifespan. If you anticipate moving to a senior living community in the next few years, ensure that you include a pet-friendly community in your search.

More to Explore in the City

If you enjoyed this article, you may also be interested in how to create an easy indoor garden space or this roundup of fascinating Upper West Side monuments and memorials.

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