5 days ago my grandfather suddenly passed away, leaving my grandmother widowed.

She loves dogs and is close with mine but they can't be with her 24/7. We would like to get a dog for her, what kind would be best suited?

She is 68 years old, in decent health. The entire family lives at most 10 minutes apart so my mother wil be there to help out every morning and other familie members wil be there a lot in the evenings as well.

We are looking for a dog that doesn't require much maintenance (like grooming) and is small (shih tzu size). What breeds would be best suited? (Doesn't have to be a pure bread)

(Concerning walks i can take em out together with mine)

  • 5
    Sorry for your loss! Not part of the question but relevant: Do not get a dog just now, let her mourn and come to terms with the new situation first. I am not saying “don’t get a dog”, but make sure she wants the dog and not because you think it’s a good idea.
    – Stephie
    Commented Jan 7, 2022 at 11:14
  • @Stephie yea, we will have some time go over it. For now i and some others are there daily but due to our family lives we won't be able to do this indefinitely but we don't want her to become lonely.
    – A.bakker
    Commented Jan 7, 2022 at 11:17
  • 3
    You might find useful information in this question. The breed alone doesn't define the character of a dog. Age, history (like training or bad experiences) and individual character should play a bigger role than the breed alone. Sure some breeds like Border Collie are usually so high energy that they are not suited at all, but a certain Shih Tzu can be overly anxious as well and a certain Bulldog can be the most cuddly and docile dog currently at a shelter.
    – Elmy
    Commented Jan 7, 2022 at 15:42

1 Answer 1


There are multiple factors that determine a dog’s temperament and breed is just one of them. Others are personality, age and experience.

Of course a one-year purebred Malinois will typically be a nervous bundle of energy and a seven-year old pug will be mostly calm and settled, but that’s just average. The former may be unusually laid-back and the latter snappy, e.g. due to bad experiences or socializing.

What I would recommend if you don’t insist on a puppy (and as cute as they are, puppies need a lot of time, energy and work), contact your local shelters and rescue organizations and tell them what you are looking for. Especially older dogs often have problems being adopted and an older dog can be a wonderful companion for someone who’s more in need of a pet that keeps loneliness at bay and encourages them to go out on little walks. (I would however be careful with these organizations that “ship” rescues across states, there are a few who are more interested in getting dogs into homes than finding a good match.)

As for breeds, note that many terriers and dachshunds were bred to hunt and act rather independently (which we perceive as pretty stubborn in our modern lives), so you need to look closely when picking small-to-medium sized dogs. On the other hand, historically some breeds were explicitly created and coveted as “companion dogs” (the kinds that you see on the lap of noble ladies in old paintings), and that is probably a good starting point in your research. Find a list of breeds in group 9 (“Companion and Toy Dogs”) of the fci’s breed list. Use that as starting point when talking to your shelter or looking for mixes.

Another thing - please note that some purebred dogs suffer from health-related issues, e.g. brachycephaly is quite common because the dogs are seen as “cuter” or more childish, so please don’t encourage this and choose either a breed that doesn’t have it or a breeder that has healthy dogs with a real snout.

In short, the best suited for your grandma would be a calm adult dog with a friendly attitude that likes to keep his or her human company. Breed is secondary, personality matters. Considering the current situation I would hesitate to choose a very old dog, but only because I would like to spare her another loss in a rather short time.

  • 2
    The idea of adopting a senior dog came to mind for me as well. One caveat about dogs: if they're small and clingy, people can trip over them. If they're too big (and young), they can knock people over. For the elderly, both are a concern. Commented Jan 9, 2022 at 17:36

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