5 Best Dog Breeds for Those With Dementia

Dogs can help people living with dementia, both at home and in the community. From Schnauzers to Cocker Spaniels, certain therapy breeds can be a real source of support to those with dementia.

“Having a dog can be a real boost to anyone’s wellbeing, and it is a wonderful thing to add to your life,” Emma Herring, Senior Brand Manager at Webbox, says. “But having a therapy dog can be particularly excellent for those suffering from dementia. They provide an outlet of social interaction and support, and can bring some renewed confidence to people’s lives, allowing them to maintain their independence and social circles.”

According to the NHS, around an estimated 850,000 people in the UK have dementia, with around 540,000 carers of people with dementia in England alone. While it can be hard to see our loved ones suffer, therapy dogs will help to bring joy, smiles, confidence and emotional support.

Therapy dogs can help with those dementia by:

  • Increasing independence
  • Bringing companionship
  • Sensory stimulation
  • Improving physical health

    Take a look at the dog breeds that are great for those with dementia…

    1. Shih Tzu

    5 Best Dog Breeds for Those With Dementia

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    “Shih Tzus were bred to be companion dogs from the get-go, and they are happiest when living a comfortable indoor life that involves lots of down-time with their owner,” Julie Butcher, Head of Marketing at Webbox, adds

    “Their sociable natures and minimal exercise needs make them ideal for those suffering with dementia, who might be overwhelmed by the demands of a dog that requires lots of daily walks and constant mental stimulation.”

    2. Schnauzer


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    “Schnauzers are another ideal choice for people with dementia: they are small, friendly, and enjoy being held and petted for extended periods of time,” adds Julie. “They are also available in a miniature variety, which can be excellent for apartment living or those not used to large dogs. Although they will require some regular grooming as their coats grow long if untrimmed, they are generally fairly easy to care for.”

    3. Pugs


    IzaLysonArts / 500pxGetty Images

    Julie continues: “Another dog breed that enjoys lots of social contact is the Pug. These dogs are happy, small, and can be kept in a flat or less spacious house. They can be lively occasionally, so it’s worth considering this when pairing them with an owner. They will also need some grooming, and they do shed hair.”

    4. Chihuahua

    long haired cream and white chihuahua

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    “Sticking with the small dogs, Chihuahuas are also a potentially ideal fit for dementia sufferers. They are very small, making them easy to handle and keep in any living space, and they are also extremely loyal to their owners.

    “However, you should bear in mind that Chihuahuas can have a lot of energy for a small canine. They can happily get enough exercise from mostly playing indoors, but they might be too demanding for some people with dementia, depending on how much activity and stimulation they are comfortable being around.”

    5. Cocker Spaniel

    cocker spaniel

    sztyon87 / 500pxGetty Images

    “For those interested in acquiring a bigger dog, Cocker Spaniels are a good option. They are in fact a popular support dog for a variety of situations, because of their happy nature — these dogs are also extremely calm, and very affectionate,” Julie continues.

    “Anyone who owns a Cocker Spaniel does need to be aware they will need regular vet check-ups to ensure that they don’t develop the ear infections or eye diseases sometimes associated with the breed. But other than this consideration, these dogs make excellent, loving companions and can really excel as a choice for those with dementia who enjoy the company of bigger dogs, or who enjoy being more active.”

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