Dogs Breeds for Special Needs Child

Dogs are not just excellent companions, but can also serve as service/therapy dogs. 

Most of the time, they intuitively understand you and your feelings, and their eyes will light up when they see you. 

Dogs are intelligent and smart, and they can usually sense if you’re depressed, need someone to talk to, or show other signs that you’re feeling unwell. They are some of the best animals who are always ready to listen and will never judge you. 

Both service and therapy dogs can offer comfort, companionship and support to schools, universities, hospitals, and especially to children with special needs. 

Here, we’ll share with you some of the best dog breeds for kids with special needs, but before that, let’s learn how dogs can help children with special needs.

Dogs Breeds for Special Needs Child

Dog Therapy Overview: 

Dogs are known to be loving and tender creatures, which makes them excellent for emotionally supporting people. 

For instance, children with neurological conditions can experience less depression, better mood, and many more benefits with a pet dog.

Research shows that children with special needs can be more emotionally stable with a dog in their life.

Dogs can be quiet, yet loud and comforting, help children communicate better, show affection towards them, and generally can help children with special needs in several different ways.

Dogs Breeds for Special Needs Child

Benefits of Dogs For Children with Special Needs 

Many children with special needs such as autism or other learning disabilities such as ADHD can benefit from having a dog. Many of these children have a much easier time connecting with animals than people, as they will usually find it easier to communicate with animals instead. Children with special needs don’t communicate in the same way that most people do. Dogs can actually show them how to interact with people in a way for them to more easily understand.


A special needs child with a dog or other pet may help improve their communication with people. Connecting with a pet has been shown to improve personality and emotion. Children with special needs can learn quite a bit from interacting with animals, and may even help them understand people in a way that makes more sense to them.

Empathy or Compassion:  

Children with ADHD can learn compassion or empathy through their pet and direct that towards different people and other animals. Science shows that growing up with pets can increase emotional depth later on in life. 


Pets can help children with learning disabilities or special needs better prepare them for handling stress from everyday life. Pets can help all kinds of people, even with no disabilities, experience less stress or turmoil.


A pet can be a great guide for children with ADHD or Autism to help learn patterns and can even help with planning. Pets follow a routine, just like people do. They eat, bathe, sleep, etc., just like everybody else. Once your children better understand a pet and their habits, they’ll have a much easier time with sticking to their own schedule, whether that be schoolwork or playtime. Pets can improve a child’s well-being through excitement and interaction, understanding them, and can even help strengthen learning through listening. Not only that, but it can also increase mindfulness in children with special needs.

Positive Mood:  

Playing and exercising with a pet, especially dogs can assist those with special needs to remain alert and mindful throughout parts of the day. It can also help distract your child from the day-to-day struggles that they face through their learning disabilities.

Heart Rate and Blood Pressure: 

Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) has been shown to lower heart rate and blood pressure in children. Not only can they get numerous health benefits that are mental, but having a dog will very likely help them physically as well. Dogs need walks, and perhaps your child will benefit from something as simple as walking their pet dog. Additionally, if your child or children are too energetic, pets can help create a balance that is beneficial for just about everyone in the family. 

Dogs Breeds for Special Needs Child

3 Ways How Dogs Can Help Child with Special Needs  

Helps Comfort Children  

Dogs can be extremely beneficial for children with Autism, Aspergers, ADHD, and other learning disabilities. For instance, many children with these conditions typically have a difficult time with people in general. However, when there with dogs, it’s almost as if they’re able to create a connection and better understand certain aspects more. Even children without special needs will typically be able to learn things from pets that they aren’t otherwise able to make a connection with. When children feel misunderstood, they are often sad or discouraged. However, dogs can understand emotion exceptionally well, and your child might be able to experience some relief by interacting with pets instead of people.


Children with special needs aren’t as safe as other children, as they can often misunderstand or completely disregard things that they shouldn’t. Dogs however, can help fill the gap by providing a sense of comfort and safety to your children. A benefit that dogs will always have is that in the event danger presents itself, your child will be much better off nearby your dog rather than having no pet. This can be extremely beneficial to children with special needs, as they might not react appropriately in a situation when danger presents itself. Dogs on the other hand, will typically react by instinct, and may have a better sense of situational awareness than your child in certain circumstances.

Prevent Wandering

In this ever-growing and seemingly crazy world, the opportunity to be met with danger is on the rise in some aspects. Children with special needs are more likely to get lost or otherwise stray from home and protection. Not only can dogs help keep your children on track, but they can prevent them from going places that they shouldn’t be. Dogs can even signal to the parents that the child has straight or otherwise may be potentially endangered. Dogs are much more likely to help keep your child with special needs “grounded”, when they otherwise get lost or go places that could potentially be dangerous. However, there are no guarantees, and even a well-trained dog may not be able to completely prevent your children from wandering.

Regardless of whether you’re looking for family pet for everyone to enjoy, or really just need a pet to help your unique and individualistic child, you should absolutely consider adding a dog to your lives. In many cases, dogs can improve our lives in ways that we would’ve never otherwise imagined. This can even include improving your child’s life.

Let’s take a look at some of the best dog breeds for your special child.

Dogs Breeds for Special Needs Child

7 Dogs Breeds for Special Needs Child 

Bernese Mountain Dog  

Dogs Breeds for Special Needs Child

Bernese Mountain Dogs are an excellent choice for any child, as their enormous size, delicate personality, and powerful insight makes them particularly accommodating for kids with special needs. These breeds are both anxious to please fairly easy to train. Plus, they’re entertaining and engaging, which makes it difficult to be upset with them once you see their adorable smile. They love to satisfy their owners, and they are very delicate as well, which is something you’ll appreciate for your child.

Although, this breed is known for drooling quite a bit, which might be off-putting to both children and parents alike. Additionally, these dogs are heavy shedders, so prepare to take some time out of your day with brushing and some vet visits to keep their coat in check. Other than that, these are still wonderful dogs.

Labrador Retriever  

Labs are exceptionally dedicated to their owners and are some of the best dogs out there. They’re extremely gentle, and most are easy to train and are intelligent. 

Labs do require a ton of exercise and interaction, so they’re most appropriate for families with large, fenced yards.  

Likewise, they are prone to depression and separation anxiety, so these dogs are ideal for families who invest a lot of time at home. These dogs might not be best for those who aren’t home too often.

Note: Labs vary in size depending on the breed and gender. If you’re set on getting a huge Lab, it’s usually best to choose a male rather than a female.

Golden Retriever 

Golden Retrievers are commended for their friendly, gentle, and lovely characteristics. They are an overall wonderful dog and are known to be fantastic with children, especially for those with with special needs. They’re a well-known breed for reducing anxiety and are one of the most preferred service dogs.

Generally, like Golden Retrievers are similar to Labs as far as temperament and personality. They’re very easy to train and respond very well to interaction.

Golden retrievers do have longer hair than Labs, but this isn’t really a significant downside. They’re soft, cuddly, and our great company. Though, they are certainly a dog who sheds much more than others. Regular brushing will always help with heavy shedding dogs, and your child with special needs might even enjoy brushing them a whole lot more than you might think!

Old English Sheepdog 

Old English Sheepdogs are another dog that are excellent for children with special needs. They are very accommodating pets, and they’re constantly ready to play and mess around. However, Old English Sheepdogs have a gentle and delicate side to them as well. They are usually savvy and easy to train. These are protective canines, who won’t spare a moment to put themselves on the line when it comes to protecting their family.

With all of the above said, Old English Sheepdogs are not ideal for all families. They slobber a lot and are very heavy shedders. They need regular brushing and require lots of time, dedication, and money to keep their coats in check. Although, if this doesn’t sound like an issue to you, these are incredible dogs who could potentially help you and your child create tons of positive memories.

Yorkshire Terrier  

Yorkshire Terriers can be a great dog choice, especially if you’re looking for a smaller dog for your child. You won’t have to worry about the issues that might arise when caring for a larger sized dog with these cute canines. Not only are they easy to carry around, but they’re very patient, yet energetic dogs. Not only that, but they do very well with other pets, including other dogs and cats.

Yorkshire Terriers, otherwise called Yorkies, are somewhat prone to having behavioral issues, similar to other small dogs. However, just about every dog is prone to behavioral issues when not trained properly or given enough time and effort.

Despite their little size, these dogs are fearless and love to explore around their environment. Their expressive and enthusiastic nature make them perfect therapy dogs. These dogs are even great with seniors too! 


Corgis are the one of the most loved dogs out there. They’ve even become more popular over the recent years. These dogs aren’t just cute to look at, but they can be a fantastic therapy dog. Corgis are typically calm, savvy, and a very friendly and welcoming breed. These short and strong pooches are known for both their playfulness and cute demeanor. Corgis can make fantastic dog companions for those struggling with medical issues or other disabilities.

They are known to be very aware of their environment and can even sense things before you do. As such, these are very compassionate dogs whose dedication and friendship can be extremely beneficial when their owner or family are showing signs of distress.

Although they are a wonderful family companion, they should still be watched and properly supervised, as they are full of energy.

Their small size makes them easy to lift, which is great for anyone who suffers from any type of physical disability. Because of their caring and fun-loving characteristics, these dogs can be excellent for individuals experiencing dealing with anxiety, mental issues, or even physical disabilities.   



Pugs regularly are seen as “big dogs in a small package”. These adorable, yet small dogs are not only cute to look at, but great for children. Pugs do very well with people and are surprisingly loyal. Pugs can even make you feel like you’re the important person on the planet because to them, you are. This is definitely a quality that your child with special needs will truly appreciate. 

Pugs are generally welcoming pets, that will probably greet you and your child every time you come home with colossal excitement. They love being around their owners. A Pug’s owner is their center point of the universe and they will never let that change.

They are energetic and charming, as well as devoted and very loving. Pugs are natural people pleasers and can get along well with both adults and kids.

Final Thoughts: 

Many different kinds of dog breeds can help children with special needs.  

Just because we didn’t include certain dogs doesn’t mean that they’d necessarily be a poor fit for your specific child.

Your decision for choosing the specific dog breed for your children with special needs should ideally be based on what both you and your child want.

We love to hear from you, so please do share your thoughts or feelings about what you might consider to be great dog breeds for children with special needs. We’d love to hear your experiences and any other success stories with dogs. Who knows, you might be able to help other parents by sharing your story about having a dog for your children with special needs! 

Interested in cats for your autistic child? Read here.