Would you buy a certain car just because you turned 50, or wear only purple hats? Then why would you base your choice of a canine companion on age? Instead, consider your personality and lifestyle, and choose a dog that fits -- like to like, birds of a feather and so on.
There can be a great May-December relationship between a senior human and a young puppy, but there's more to it than puppy love. Will you have the time and energy to devote to a pup? If you're already retired, that's one thing ... but many over-50s are right at the peak of their careers and still spending all day in the office or on the job. Maybe you'd like to skip the teething and housebreaking by choosing an older dog through a rescue service or a shelter. It's more like making a new friend than raising another child.
On the Road Again
The best dog for any age is one that matches your physical abilities. If you're a senior marathon runner, by all means get a dog that enjoys roadwork, such as a vizsla or a dalmatian. If once around the block is enough for you, choose something smaller and more mellow, along the lines of a cavalier King Charles spaniel or a Chihuahua. If you crave a big dog, but one with low exercise needs, look to the saint Bernard or chow chow.
I Feel Pretty
If glamour is your goal and you have the resources (personal or financial) to maintain it, go for a groomer's delight -- a poodle, a shih tzu, a Yorkie in full coat. All of these can be kept in practical styles, but still require professional attention. If you're more into wash-and-wear, think low-maintenance and low-shedding short coat, found in the miniature pinscher (aka min pin), the beagle and -- surprise -- the retired and rescued racing greyhound.
Grandchildren can be hard on a dog, especially when they're at the puppy stage themselves. Not many dogs enjoy having their eyes poked and their ears pulled, so if you're a dedicated granny with child-care responsibilities, you need a tolerant, easy-going dog. Toy breeds aren't usually good with toddlers but can be fine with older kids. Pugs and bulldogs are on the small side and known to be mellow, Australian shepherds are playful and big enough to hold their own, and Newfoundlands are the original canine nanny. Golden retrievers, however, are a favorite on lists of child-friendly breeds.
Depressing as it may seem, at 50-plus you have to think that your dog might outlive you, or at least your ability to take care of him. Consult friends and family about a chain of custody should this prospect loom over both your declining years. You might even consider making financial provisions in your will to prevent your buddy from landing in less than comfortable circumstances.
- walking the dog image by jeancliclac from Fotolia.com