It’s heartwarming to see kids and dogs become kindred spirits. However, there’s something much deeper to this connection when the little hooman has special needs. The dog is no longer just a pet; he also becomes an emotional and physical support. However, not all doggos are fit for the job of being playmates with children with autism. There are specific service dog breeds for autism that have the right temperament and behavior.
Over the years, the diagnosis for autism is increasing. At this point, 1 in every 68 children is suffering from the condition. It’s deemed to be one of the “fastest growing developmental problems” in the U.S. Unfortunately, there’s still no cure and possibility of medical detection.
Service dog vs. therapy dog
The common concern of parents when it comes to getting a dog for their child with autism is whether it should be a service or a therapy canine. If the child needs assistance with mobility, medication, harmful behavior, and other tactile support, a service dog might be best for him or her.
On the other hand, therapy dogs are also beneficial. These doggos are trained to provide mental and emotional support for kids so they can open up and mingle with other people. Usually, therapy dogs help kids with autism to make friends or to imbibe the sense of sharing.
The definite answer to this should come from your child’s doctor. Each kid with autism will have varying behavioral, emotional, and mental profile. Tailoring the choice based on these will be very crucial in forming the bond between the child and the canine. Nevertheless, most canines assigned to children with autism are therapy dogs.
Autism and dogs
Dogs form deep connections to their families, much so with the kid they are assigned to. These canines are tasked to read emotional, physical, and verbal cues so they can provide comfort at the right moment.
Meanwhile, service dog breeds for autism can help guide a child outside of his or her home. Usually, the dog will be linked to the child using a special harness. So when the kiddo tries to run, the pooch will automatically sit and anchor. Such a thing prevents accidents and problems.
Aside from being good protectors, this type of dogs is also emotionally attuned to the needs of their hooman with autism. They become a welcoming friend, confidant, and playmate. As the child grows, his bond between the pooch becomes stronger too.
Top 10 dogs for autism
If you are a parent or a guardian looking for a dog breed to serve as either service or therapy dog for your child, here are 10 service dog breeds for autism to consider:
1. Golden Retriever
Dubbed as one of the gentle giants, the Golden Retriever is the leading choice for kids with autism. They have a consistently calm and tolerant behavior that suits the energetic behavior of children. And since they are large, Goldies can offer more sense of security.
The good thing about this breed is that they love making friends.
Goldies are also easy to train, not to mention their long-standing history as therapy dogs. A list of dogs for autism wouldn’t be complete without these gentle canines.
Goldies have been proven to get along with kids with special needs. Although they have the affinity for chewing like most dogs, this can be fixed through obedience training early on.
Based on bonding with kids, Golden Retrievers have a welcoming look. They also don’t mind endless hugging, tugging, and occasional nipping. However, you need to give Goldies enough room to grow and exercise.
2. German Shepherd
If you want to have a protector for your child, there’s no best option than the German Shepherd. This breed is regarded to be one of the smartest canines. Over the years, they have taken many jobs both for the military and private purposes.
German Shepherds are great guard dogs. Somehow, they are observed to be more protective with kids which can be put in moderation through proper training.
Although he’s cautious with strangers and the sound of the doorbell ringing, these pooches are gentle, loyal, and charming. They can keep up with a kid’s energetic nature and they can also tone down when needed.
The good thing about German Shepherds is they don’t get distracted easily. They will listen intently and can handle complicated tasks which are best for kids with autism. German Shepherds are noble and versatile dogs – perfect for families and kids.
3. Yorkshire Terrier
Yorkies might be smaller than the previous giants, but never underestimate the love they can give. These hairy doggos make a perfect match for kids with autism due to their eager-to-please attitude.
Yorkies also love playing fetch and guarding their human. They have big hearts for kids and they have an endless pursuit to make them laugh.
However, Yorkies can have some sense of stubbornness. They can become partners-in-crime with their child hooman. There might come a time that your child and the Yorkie will test your patience but there’s no doubt that it will form an unbreakable bond between them.
The good thing about Yorkies is they can thrive in small apartments and have a low tendency to wander. If you’re looking for one of the small and energetic service dog breeds for autism to perk up your child, a Yorkie would be excellent.
4. Saint Bernard
Saint Bernard dogs might be giants of the canine world, but they will surprise you with their gentleness. Don’t be fooled by their size since doggos are patient, sweet, and friendly to kids, even those with autism. However, they could be stubborn at times which is normal for many dogs.
These doggos are loyal and can do simple tasks. However, Saint Bernards are only best as therapy dogs and not full-time service dogs. Due to their large size, tactile support wouldn’t be possible without hurting the person.
Take note that this breed is large and would need a lot of room in your house. They also drool and shed hard which could be problematic for some households.
Still, many parents who can deal with this kind of mess pick Saint Bernards due to their calm nature. Besides, who wouldn’t want a giant teddy bear that can play and provide companionship?
Like the Retriever breeds, Poodles have an impressive history both as a therapy and service canine. Thanks to this breed’s intelligence, they can be taught to perform complex tasks when needed. They are smart and utterly obedient to their handlers. Also, Poodles are never aggressive given proper training.
Also, Poodles are hypoallergenic dogs. For families with members suffering from allergies, they are the common option. They also make good companions to kids with autism due to their playful yet gentle ways.
This proves that Poodles are more than just their accessory stereotype. Their natural obedient and empathetic nature makes them a perfect candidate as support and service dogs. Poodles are also attuned to their owners’ feelings and they can sense negative emotions as it arises.
If you want a support dog for your kid who reacts negatively to dander and drool, Poodles are the best suit.
Back to the giants, the Newfoundland breed is surprisingly a top option for children with autism. However, only consider Newfoundlands if you have a wide backyard and your kid is less energetic than other children. Why? First, this breed is large, and second, they aren’t hyperactive. If your child loves endless romping, he might get frustrated with a Newfoundland.
For kids with a more reserved attitude, this breed will be their perfect partner. Newfoundland dogs are the sweetest despite their giant and imposing look.
They are very friendly and easy to train. Although they aren’t the most physically active canine, Newfoundlands are incredibly intelligent.
This breed is usually used as therapy canines for children with mood disorders and autism. Their prior history with this kind of job is added assurance to parents.
Aside from being one of the service dog breeds for autism, Newfoundlands are also good guard dogs for your property due to their looks. Just make sure that you don’t spread the word that these pooches are cinnamon rolls than tough cookies.
Do you want a charming, beautiful, and friendly dog for your child? The Samoyed dog has captured many hearts around the world. They look like a cloud paired with a happy face.
Samoyeds are friendly to kids and their smiling faces make them welcoming even for the shyest one.
This breed can be clever and since they are bred as sled dogs, Samoyeds can be energetic at times. Always give them enough exercise and other mentally stimulating games. Your kid will actually enjoy this part. Samoyeds are energetic but you don’t have to worry because their intensity is very manageable.
The only problem with Samoyeds is their year-round shedding. And since they have thick coats, these pooches are intolerant of intense heat. They can also be strong-willed at times which is just a small issue compared to their incredible friendliness with kids, dogs, and even strangers.
Somehow similar-looking with sheepdogs, Collie is a known family pet due to their loyalty and intelligence. Their calm look transcends to their mild and laidback temperament.
Collies are tolerant of kids and can be attuned to their emotions. This makes them a quintessential pick as a dog for kids with autism.
Occasionally, Collies can be stubborn. But with regular physical exercise and play, they should maintain their well-mannered stance. Remember Lassie? The classic Collie from the eponymous show indeed possesses the qualities of a good support dog. Most Collies also share the undying loyalty Lassie has over their owners.
Collies are playful companions but they don’t have a strong tendency to wander. They are also good picks for newbie dog owners. So if you want an elegant dog and a canine that can help your child with autism, this breed might be the perfect match.
9. The Great Pyrenees
Someone who knows little about dogs would think that the Great Pyrenees is a Golden Retriever at first glance. They have the same look but the Great Pyrenees is more hairy, so to speak. They are originally bred to be guard dogs, thus their loyalty to their owners.
The Great Pyrenees is gentle but with the fiercest devotion to their humans. This makes them a great match for kids with autism who needs a guardian and a dependable companion.
If trained well, this doggo can be a full-time service canine. Nevertheless, Great Pyrenees dogs make excellent therapy dogs for children. Due to their intelligence, this breed can be taught to answer commands and perform some tasks.
Take note that the Great Pyrenees can be overly active at times. There’s a need to give this breed enough exercise each day and to train them continuously to instill discipline.
Here comes your little man! Beagles are lively dogs with an endless supply of energy and good vibes. They are friendly to kids and strangers which makes them an unbeatable companion. Beagles are friendly to everyone and their vibrant attitude will help a child with autism open up to the world.
Since Beagles are small, they are less intimidating for kids who aren’t used to having dogs around. But before you get this breed, make sure that the pup is properly trained and certified to be a therapy dog. Beagles have strong noses and they tend to follow scents religiously once they get hooked to it.
If trained well, a Beagle will bond with a child easily. They are very affectionate dogs and low-maintenance too since they shed less and rarely drools. If you’re looking for a playful yet non-aggressive pooch, a Beagle is the best pick.
These service dog breeds for autism are just some of the reliable and tested canines when it comes to helping children with special needs. It’s always imperative to match your child’s personality to the dog you’re going to bring home.