Is Shih Tzu the Best Dog for an Elderly Widow?

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Dogs are wonderful companions for a person at any age. Especially for the elderly, if they have lost a partner or are single due to life circumstances. Studies show elderly people who aren’t married may suffer from more health-related issues as opposed to married couples – such as cardiovascular disease.

Shih Tzu sitting in the grass

Dogs provide affection, love, and companionship that are similar features in what marriage can bring! Better yet, they are furry friends that give you a serotonin and dopamine increase when you are around your pet.

Dogs are the perfect match to an elderly widow, who doesn’t dash out the door at 8:00 am and won’t come back home until 5 pm.

The elderly’s presence will in itself build a human-to-animal relationship long enough the dog will feel like a family member. Thus, providing enough social support to beat loneliness.

Many seniors prefer a smaller dog breed, who won’t wreck the furniture or run around the apartment as a larger dog may do.

However, as with everyone else, getting a dog breed depends on the elderly widows’ preferences including space, dog personality, and if their adult children are visiting.

In this article, it will highlight the benefits and why a Shih Tzu is an ideal dog for an elderly widow.

Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus are affectionate and loving dogs.

They have a height of eight to 11 inches and weigh 9 to 16 pounds (four to seven kg).

Shih Tzus, as with most toy breeds, quickly mature, and grow into adult size by about 10 months. They stay the same size once they hit their adult age, so it’s ideal for elders to have this size for many years.

A mother Shih-Tzu and her puppy

The Shih Tzu is often longer in width than height, with a durable body and proportionate head to body size. The nose is often short, with an underbite. The head is rounded, and the eyes are noticeably prominent. The gait is big and soft for a small dog that is.

The Shih Tzu is loaded with straight hair. This dual coat does need a good amount of upkeep, if left long on these dogs so that it sweeps the ground. Any color is nice for the coat, but dark color is preferred near the eyes and nose.

Shih Tzu tends to be resilient dogs and often live around 14 or 15 years of age.

You may also like Best Pet for Special Needs Child


Shih Tzus are very happy and friendly pets. They generally have an upbeat disposition, so they get along with people of all ages. It is especially important for the mental health of elderly people to have a furry companion.

In rare cases, there will be a grumpy Shih Tzu, however most are happy all the time. How is that for cheering you up if you are downcast?

The best trait about them is that they love to be with people. Whether it’s going on a walk around the block, or just sitting next to their caregiver while they pet them.

Living with a Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus need exercise like every other dog breed. However, they don’t require too much exercise where the elderly won’t be able to join them. Around twenty minutes per day is a good amount.

If need be, the adult children can take turns taking the small dog on a walk or a hired dog walker to keep up with the responsibility of getting their exercise needs met.

The Shih Tzu requires lots of attention every day. This is due to their desire to connect with humans, which is amazing quality! They are their best selves when they are around human company.

The elderly can train them and learn tricks, so the dog feels taken care of. Shih Tzu are not good guard dogs, as they are nice to everyone including intruders.

You may also like Best Guard Dog for Elderly

Benefits of a Shih Tzu

  • Easy to exercise. Shih Tzu’s are small enough to take on walks and won’t be too heavy to hold on a leash. As mentioned above, they are only 9 to 16 pounds. Can play with them indoors as they like to play with toys.
  • Easy to take care of. Besides bathing or teeth brushing, they are easy to take care of since they are smaller. Just need the right amount of necessities such as food and water per day.
  • Friendly companion. They are one of the longest-living breeds of dogs when taken care of. Their friendly energy will last as long as they live hence any health problems.
  • Cute look. The look of a pet can be admiring and will motivate any aged human to want to play with them, pet them and even show them off on Facebook.

Cute Shih Tzu with Leash

You may also like Best Wheelchairs For Dogs

Things to Consider Before Buying a Puppy for Elderly Widow

  • Old age. If the elderly widow is not functional in taking care of a puppy at their age, it is best to not buy one for them. Adult children can always bring their small dog to visit once in a while if pets are permitted in the living space.
  • Residential home restrictions. If they are living in a residential home, pets are usually not allowed in the facility. Always check with the rules and regulations of the living building first.
  • Pet preference. The elderly widow may not like small dogs. They could be a cat person and simply wouldn’t enjoy taking care of one. This is rare but it can happen.
  • Allergies. Make sure to rule out any allergy-related to dogs so the elderly person can take care of the pet safely.


Finances are important to consider as well. Must be able to take the Shih Tzu to the vet every 6 months with a costly fee.

The elderly owner must be able to pay attention to the dog’s weight, diet, and behavior to watch for any health problems that need medical attention. Must purchase all necessities a dog needs daily.

Barking or Biting

Shih Tzu may bark occasionally as a disclaimer to those who don’t want a loud dog. Or, they may bite if they are the aggressive type or are anxious and scared of people.

Ask the breeder what their personality type is, and how often they bark if the widow has a preferable demeanor. Biting is a consideration to be way of and should be discussed with the breeder to take precautions.

Health Benefits

The dog in particular is a good factor for the human healthspan. Dogs help decrease stress, anxiety, improve your heart health, and can even help regulate emotions by calming a person down.

Research has shown that human to animal relationships give the benefit of lowering cortisol and in return, it lowers blood pressure. The elderly that are stressed due to COVID, old age, or other health-related issues may benefit profoundly from a Shih Zu.

Since widows live alone, doesn’t mean they have to be lonely. Another study found that dogs can reduce loneliness by providing unconditional love and emotional support.

When a dog sees that you’re crying or upset, they have an instinct to console you. This can look like them jumping on you or giving you affection with kisses. Since Shih Tzu’s are human loving animals, they will provide the elderly widow just this.

Since Shih Tzu’s need to go on daily walks, this can motivate the elderly widow to get exercise in. Exercise has various mental health and physical health benefits, including stress reduction, increase of happiness through the release of endorphins.

If they go on a walk every day, they will reap these health benefits thus can improve their functional autonomy. Dogs can help people even live longer since stress can cut back on years – and is thought to be equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day if not managed.

You may also like The Best Dogs for Someone in a Wheelchair


The elderly widow may or may not be lonely. However as mentioned above, there are various health benefits a person of any age would benefit from, especially during the COVID crisis and live alone.

Shih Tzu’s are not only small and easy to take care of, they get the elderly widow out of the house and get in their daily exercise on top of their puppy’s.

Again, if the elderly are not functional enough to take care of the dog, or don’t have finances to cover health issues then it is advised not to buy one. However, if a dog walker can be affordable that may be a good option for a widow if they cannot meet the dog’s daily exercise goals.

Their personality is one of the major factors to take into consideration for having a furry companion of this breed. Happy, friendly, and generally sweet dogs are perfect for older seniors who need a companion and want to enjoy an animal’s company.

They are not great guard dog owners of their nice nature, but check out our other article on the best breed of dog to guard your home if you need a recommendation.

If you have a pet dog, you might also be interested in reading best pooper scooper for seniors with dogs.