There has been a growing trend in helping autistic kids deal with stress. Getting pets – especially dogs – can provide a caring companion that loves your child unconditionally and support them in their daily activities. Any pet can be an adventure – but dogs have proven to be especially effective because of their protective and friendly “pack” dynamic.
A study found that of all the families with autistic children they examined, 67% had dogs, and 94% of parents reported their children forming a special bond with their animal friends. Thanks to that, children had an opportunity to learn about responsibility and companionship.
Top Dog Breeds for Children With Autism
However, not every dog breed will fit your family – for example, fragile ones, like Italian greyhound or Maltese, won’t be comfortable around children. Some, like chihuahua or Pekingese, are prone to biting and making loud, sudden noises.
Of course, there’s an exception to every rule, and there are always individuals who may act differently. But, to make it easier for you, we’ve created a list of the best dog breeds for a child with autism.
The critical thing to remember is to look for a gentle, intelligent, people-oriented, and large dog. Of course, you will have to take care of them as well – for example, look for the best large breed dog food, walk them and play with them, but large dogs are extremely fit for the task – huggable, robust to child’s pulling or pushing, and easy to train.
Want to learn about the ideal breeds to accompany your child? Read on!
1. Golden Retriever or Labrador Retriever
The first breed that comes into mind when you think “large, intelligent, and people-oriented” is a golden retriever. It’s a traditional choice for any family with children, but they’re great in the role of a therapy dog. They’re gentle, sweet, straightforward to train, and kind to everyone they meet. Also, they constantly need to help their owners and please them, making them an excellent choice for families with an autistic child.
Labradors are also very friendly, loyal, and easy to train. However, they have acute separation anxiety, so they’re best suited for families who spend a lot of time at home. They’re also great service dogs – so if you need one, have a labrador trained. A labrador puppy is nothing but a great call to make under such circumstances.
However, both these breeds have high exercise needs, so they’re not the best choice if your child is not very active or has mobility issues.
2. Bichon Frisé
This hypoallergenic breed will surely meet your needs if you’re looking for a smaller dog. They’re your first choice if you live in the apartment – small, sturdy, social, and don’t shed much.
Bichon frisés are fluffy (and comfortable to hug), energetic, and love children. And all they need is daily walks and a little playing! However, ensure you have time to train and walk him; otherwise, your dog will start barking or biting.
These gentle giants are brilliant, friendly, and easy to train. And even if they don’t seem like that – they’re one of the perfect choices for your child with autism. Not very active, they won’t scare your less energetic child, and they are so good to hug!
A Newfoundland will be a natural guardian and protector for your family, and the breed’s long history of serving children with special needs will reassure you to consider getting one. And, if your child likes swimming, you don’t have to worry anymore – Newfoundlands are excellent rescue animals.
4. Saint Bernard
It’s not because of the 1992 hit Beethoven that Saint Bernards have made our list (but did you watch the movie? They’re adorable!) Giant and highly huggable, they’re exceedingly gentle for their size. They’re also patient, gentle, and sweet with little children, which is why many families with autistic children adopt them.
They also don’t need much activity, so you won’t need to play with them very often. However, be prepared for some drooling and shedding – but when did it make you reject your best friend?
Active autistic children will enjoy spending their time with a collie. This royal breed is an excellent family dog – it’s famous for exceptional intelligence and eagerness to please its owners. Not only are collies gentle and good with kids, but they’re also susceptible to human emotions – a trait to seek in a dog for an autistic child.
They’re also excellent for newbie dog owners, as they’re playful but won’t wander off. However, make sure to spend time with your collie and train it – otherwise, it wouldn’t be delighted, and some unwanted behavior may occur.
Dog Breeds for Children with Autism
When you’re thinking about making your autistic kid’s life more comfortable and enjoyable, getting a dog may be the best decision you’ve ever made. Not only will your child have a great companion, but they will also naturally socialize and deal with emotions.
Make sure to choose the breed best for autistic children, as dogs of other breeds may bring you more problems than solutions. Whether you want a service dog or a therapy dog, don’t forget to have it trained.
But above all, when you’re getting a dog for an autistic child, remember – you’re getting them a best friend: loyal, loving, and able to comfort your kid when you aren’t.