Q: I'm in my 60s and am thinking about getting a dog. What do I need to consider?

A: Studies show that having a pet can bring both emotional and health benefits. But the fear of not being able to provide proper care, training and exercise may keep some seniors from experiencing the joy of dog ownership. If you get the right breed for your lifestyle, you'll be off to a good start.

First, consider where you live. Small apartments are best suited to toy breeds or small members of other non-sporting dogs. Rural settings with lots of space are ideal for large breeds because they need room to exercise.

Active seniors will enjoy a breed from the working, hound and sporting groups. Herding breeds love the outdoors. Less active seniors and those who want to cuddle with their pup will enjoy a toy breed.

Be sure to get a breed known for its sociability if you live with several other people or have grandchildren or other frequent visitors. Many herding breeds make great family dogs, though with proper socialization and training, any dog can be an ideal family dog.

If you travel often or prefer to take your dog on errands with you, then a small breed is for you. Toy breeds are small enough to fit in travel carriers, so they are more apt to receive a friendly response from managers and employees at stores, hotels and other travel destinations.

American Kennel Club