5 of the Best Dog Breeds For Autistic Children

Labrador Retrievers, Border Collies and Miniature Schnauzers are among the best therapy dog breeds for children with autism, new research has found. Providing safety and companionship, these pups help promote positive changes in behaviour, reduce anxiety and offer a calming focus.

According to research conducted by the National Autistic Society and Mind, 94% of people with autism experience anxiety, with almost half falling into the severe anxiety category. While there is lots of help available, the constant presence of a specially trained dog offers the kind of unconditional companionship and friendship that can help a person with autism.

Some of the other ways dogs can help those with autism include:

  • Reducing stress for family members
  • Promoting positive changes in behaviour
  • Providing comfort for children with autism when upset
  • Reducing behavioural outbursts

    “Dogs are fantastic pets for so many people, but they’re especially good for people with autism,” Julie Butcher, Head of Marketing at Webbox, says.

    “As well as being companions and friends in themselves, they can even help people make friends too by giving them the confidence they need in anxiety-inducing situations. And when sensory processing issues become too much, spending time with your dog is a great way to both calm down and stim by petting them or playing a fun game.”

    Take a look at the best breeds below:

    1. Labrador Retrievers

    5 of the Best Dog Breeds For Autistic Children

    Jagoda Matejczuk / 500pxGetty Images

    “Gentle, loyal, friendly, and good natured, Labrador retrievers make fantastic family pets,” the experts at Webbox tell us. “They are often trained as therapy or assistance dogs, meaning they are likely to be a wonderful companion for a child with autism. However, they can be quite rambunctious and excitable during the puppy phase, which can be quite challenging, especially if you’ve already got your hands full with your little ones.”

    2. Collies

    happy border collie dog outdoors

    Purple Collar Pet PhotographyGetty Images

    “Energetic, intelligent, and loyal, collies are remarkably intuitive and sensitive to their owner’s feelings and needs, which means they are often a great match for individuals with autism.

    “They also love to be trained, and so may make a great companion for an older child, who may enjoy the structure and routine of training a pet. However, collies are very high-energy dogs and do need a lot of mental stimulation and exercise, so it’s important to make sure you can provide this.”

    3. St. Bernard

    saint bernard

    Tara Gregg / EyeEmGetty Images

    “These gentle giants are known to be loving, loyal, and calm, and have historically been trained to act as watchful ‘nanny dogs’ for children. However, they are a very large breed, often reaching up to 90cm tall when fully grown. So, they might not be the best option for smaller homes and gardens.”

    4. Poodle mixes


    John McKeenGetty Images

    Webbox say: “Poodle mixes, such as Labradoodles and Goldendoodles, can also make great pets for children with autism-spectrum disorders. They combine the loving, friendly and good-natured traits of a lab with the intelligence and allergy-friendly coat of poodle. Be warned that they can sometimes grow quite large in size.”

    5. Miniature Schnauzer

    miniature schnauzer

    Mark NicolGetty Images

    “Playful, intelligent, and full of character, mini Schnauzers can be great family pets, especially if raised alongside children. They can be stubborn, however, so you’ll need to have a firm hand and a bit of patience during training!”

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