Did you know that seniors in the US are more likely to live alone than their counterparts in other parts of the world and more unlikely to own a dog than younger persons? That’s because aging comes with its challenges, and so does owning a dog. So, is any dog breed a good fit for older persons, and why are Labradors good for seniors?
Here are 17 reasons why Labradors are good for seniors:
- Labs are intelligent and highly trainable.
- Labradors are even-tempered.
- They are friendly and eager to please.
- Labradors are active yet adaptable.
- Labrador Retrievers are outgoing.
- These dogs are kind-natured.
- Labs are easy to handle despite their size.
- Labradors have average grooming needs.
- They are a healthy breed.
- Labradors are good with other pets.
- The Lab is good with children.
- Labradors have a playful nature.
- Labs are good service and guide dogs.
- They have a gentle bite.
- Labrador Retrievers aren’t picky eaters.
- These dogs are not a barky breed.
- Labs aren’t costly to adopt.
In this article, we’ll put the Labrador Retriever on the scale of the best dogs for seniors and see if they pass the test. Read on to find out if they do.
Are Labradors Good for Seniors?
There’s enough scientific evidence to prove that owning a dog benefits your health regardless of age because it can reduce loneliness, anxiety, and depression and enhance your social interaction while rendering you more physically active.
Labradors are good for seniors because they can be easily trained to fit a senior’s lifestyle. They’re even-tempered and have a friendly and eager-to-please temperament. Besides, the Lab’s outgoing nature can enhance a senior’s social life and provide moments of playful relaxation.
Let’s discuss how these Labrador traits make them good furry companions for the elderly.
1. Labradors Are Intelligent and Highly Trainable
In the list of the most intelligent dogs, Labrador Retrievers rank 7th and belong to the category of the brightest dogs. That primarily means two things:
- Your Lab won’t need you to keep repeating commands to understand them but will pick new commands before you even repeat them more than five times.
- Your Labrador will obey your commands the very first time you ask them to do something.
Being highly trainable dogs makes Labradors good for seniors because they can quickly pick routines that characterize a senior’s lifestyle and can easily be trained to meet their needs. For example, a Lab could be trained to become a guide dog for a senior with poor sight.
When starting training, I recommend following my training schedule for Labradors so that you know what to teach month by month.
2. Labradors Are Even-Tempered
A dog with an even temperament is self-controlled and doesn’t get easily angered or suddenly aggressive.
This description befits the Labrador Retriever. The Lab’s serenity and calmness explain this breed’s performance in the Temperament test by the American Temperament Test Society, as 92.2% of Labs have passed the temperament test.
The temperament test measures a dog’s performance in traits such as stability, aggressiveness, shyness, and friendliness.
It also assesses the dog’s instinctual protectiveness towards its owner in the face of danger.
Considering that seniors will do better with a stress-free life and may not always be able to protect themselves when faced with danger, a Labrador friend comes in as a perfect companion and protector.
3. Labradors Are Friendly and Eager To Please
It’s not without merit that the Labrador Retriever is described as America’s sweetheart and has maintained the top position on the list of the most popular dog breeds.
The breed is also the most popular in the UK.
Labradors have an even temperament. They’re extremely friendly, ready to please their owner and don’t show aggressive tendencies under normal circumstances. Their laid-back and patient personality perfectly matches a senior’s energy levels, even though the Lab is a high-energy dog, as we tell you next.
Learn More About The Labrador Retriever In Our YouTube Video…
4. Labradors Are Active yet Adaptable
An adult Labrador Retriever requires between one and two hours of exercise daily. That means a lot of responsibility for the owner. You would, therefore, be justified if you’re wondering:
Are Labradors good for the elderly? And the answer is a resounding yes!
High exercise needs don’t disqualify Labradors from being furry companions for seniors. According to the CDC, exercise is essential to healthy aging. As such, seniors of 65 years and above should do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity and 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity every week.
This amount of exercise is recommended as long as the senior isn’t limited by health conditions.
In this light, both seniors and Labradors need a good dose of regular exercise and can accompany each other during their daily walkies.
Also, even though a senior may not match the energy levels of a Lab, these dogs are highly adaptable and will be content with moving at your pace as you walk around the park.
5. Labradors Are Outgoing
Labrador Retrievers are socially outgoing and friendly even with strangers. While being too friendly with everyone may have its downsides, having a Labrador Retriever as a senior is advantageous to your social life.
Aging often comes with social isolation and reduced social interaction, which leads to loneliness. Owning a Labrador is already a first step in countering loneliness and isolation.
In fact, research has shown that pet ownership facilitates greater social interaction among the elderly.
In addition, seniors with dogs spend more time interacting with other people during walks than those without dogs, and that could even get better if you have a Lab that’s friendly with everyone.
6. Labradors Are Kind-Natured
The AKC breed standard for the Labrador Retriever describes the dog as one with “gentle ways.” That could sound exaggerated describing a dog, but, Labradors are kind-natured and relate with humans as though they were conscious of their feelings.
Because seniors are in the stage of life when their physical and cognitive functions are decreasing and often need a good heart to understand them, the Labrador’s attentive and kind nature makes them a good fit for the elderly.
7. Labradors Are Easy To Handle Despite Their Size
One of the primary factors to consider when owning a dog is its size. Labradors are medium to large-sized dogs, standing at 21.5” – 24.5” (54.61-62.23 cm) in height and weighing between 55 and 80 lbs (24.95 and 36.29 kg).
Especially if a Lab tends to be larger rather than the medium size, they could be hard to handle for a senior if they should decide to pull the leash or run after prey.
Nonetheless, seniors can bank on the Lab’s calm nature and high trainability to have them obey commands and stay composed amid distractions.
8. Labradors Have Average Grooming Needs
Labs have a short, double coat that sheds. Being heavy shedders could rightly make anyone disqualify Labs as a good match for seniors with allergy issues.
However, the Labrador’s short coat is easy to manage when it comes to grooming and will only need brushing once or twice weekly to remove dead fur, plus an occasional bath. Minimal grooming needs in a dog are good news for seniors who may lack the physical energy for daily dog coat brushing.
A relaxed walk or a drive to the groomer once in a while will fix the occasional bath and take care of the Lab’s nail trimming. However, you may want to consider a Labradoodle if you’re looking for a less shedding breed.
9. Labradors Are a Healthy Breed
Even though Labradors, like all other dogs, have breed-related health issues such as obesity, patellar luxation, and canine hip dysplasia, they’re generally considered a healthy breed. You’ll even find Labs listed among the healthiest dogs.
Also, health issues affecting Labradors are well documented and, thus, easily addressed by any vet.
A healthy dog like the Lab is a good choice for seniors. Having one saves them high vet costs and the physical and emotional strain that could come with caring for a sick furry companion.
10. Labradors Are Good With Other Pets
The Labrador Retrievers’ outgoing, calm, and friendly nature makes them good with other dogs and pets. In fact, Labs have a full mark for being good with other dogs on the AKC’s Labrador Retriever breed standard.
That implies they’re naturally more likely to get along with other dogs and pets, in public and at home.
For the elderly, having a dog who’s good with other pets means it’s easier to keep a cat, parrot, or other pets together with the Lab if you want to. It also means that you won’t have any dog-chase-cat issues when walking around with your Labrador companion.
11. Labradors Are Good With Children
The Labrador Retriever wins the top spot once more for the best family dogs. And well, you might be wondering why seniors would need a dog that’s good with children.
Although many seniors live alone, many of them enjoy visits from their children and grandchildren from time to time. A welcoming and friendly dog who befriends your grandkids instead of barking and getting aggressive is the best a senior could ask for.
And who knows, having a dog who your grandchildren love could be the reason your grandkids want to visit more often.
Read more: Are Labradors Good Family Dogs?
12. Labradors Have a Playful Nature
Labradors are known as one of the most playful dog breeds. A senior can simply sit on a rocking chair in the yard on a bright spring day and enjoy a game of fetch with their dog without needing to run all around the compound.
This playful nature is also the reason Labs will easily make new furry playmates when you and your dog make a trip to the park.
13. Labradors Are Good Service and Guide Dogs
Because of their high trainability, willingness to please, sociability, and protective nature, Labs are used as service and guide dogs in many guide dog programs globally.
For example, the UK Guide Dogs for the Blind Association indicates Labradors among the top 3 most common breeds in the Guide program, together with German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers.
This makes the Labrador a good fit for seniors who may have health issues such as poor sight or mobility, which are common conditions among aging.
14. Labradors Have a Gentle Bite
Labradors were bred to retrieve wild game for their hunting masters.
As a result, they were trained to have extreme control of their jaw muscles without biting down. This implies that seniors can have a good time playing with their Lab without the fear that their dog will suddenly nip into their arm’s skin and hurt them or hurt other pets in the home like cats.
15. Labrador Retrievers Aren’t Picky Eaters
Labs have a name for their good appetite, which is also why they’re prone to obesity. Nonetheless, Labs aren’t fussy eaters, and all they need is a healthy diet.
As such, a brand of dog food that your Labrador savors will save a senior Lab owner the headache of what to feed their dog. Besides, seniors can talk to their dogs’ vets for advice on the best food for their furry friends.
16. Labradors Are Not a Barky Breed
Labs are gentle and easily socialized. Their outgoing and friendly nature makes them open to everyone, which means they don’t bark at every person they see. They’ll only bark occasionally if they’re suspicious of someone and want to draw your attention.
For seniors, this is a good trait in a dog. You won’t need to deal with angry neighbors who feel disturbed by your dog’s barking.
17. Labradors Aren’t Costly To Adopt
As the most popular dog breed, you’ll expect to pay anywhere between $900 and $2,000 for a Labrador puppy on average. But not so with a mature Lab that needs a loving owner to adopt them from a shelter.
I quickly checked dog shelters where you can adopt a Labrador and found that the adoption fee ranges between $200 and $450. The prices go up for the adoption of Lab puppies and lower for the adoption of senior Labs.
But why the focus on adopting a Labrador? Because adopting a mature dog could be better for seniors for the following reasons:
- An adult Labrador has reduced energy and exercise needs compared to younger Labs, and seniors can cope better with their pace.
- Labs from reliable shelters are already neutered or spayed. They also have their full veterinary services, including a complete physical exam, recommended vaccinations, heartworm, tick-borne disease tests, and microchipping, among others. This takes off a few expenses from a senior’s budget for owning a dog.
- Though an aging Lab may begin to show age-related health issues, they have a reduced budget, even just from reduced daily food rations.
Let’s Wrap This Up!
There are many dog breeds ideal for seniors. However, the Labrador Retriever is considered one of the best. However, as you can see, there’s a lot to think about before adopting a puppy or even an older dog, such as your health and energy levels and the costs of ownership.
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