Service Dogs: Top 5 Service Dog Breeds for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder – Animal Facts
Top 5 Service Dog Breeds for Children with
Autism Spectrum Disorder
A 2013 study suggests that 1 in 45 children
aged 3-17 have been diagnosed with autism
spectrum disorder and in 2014 the US Center
for Disease Control estimated that 3.5 million
Americans live with an ASD.
Most likely due to better diagnosis techniques,
the prevalence of ASD in US children increased
nearly 120 percent over the 10-year span from
2000 to 2010.
And, as always, man has turned to his best
friend for assistance and the dog has unique
qualities that make him great for new his
Hi, I’m Leroy and I’m Rosie and this is
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According to Project Chance, “autism assistance
dogs are unique to the world of dogs helping
Unlike the guide dog who helps with physical
tasks, the autism assistance dog is there
more for emotional support.”
We’re going to list the top 5 candidates
for autism service dogs in just a moment,
but let’s look at some of the ways a service
dog can help a child with ASD.
A service dog can work wonders for a child
with autism, helping to soothe an autistic
child who is having an emotional outburst
due to environmental stimuli or feeling overwhelmed.
The therapy dog can reduce some of the repetitive
behaviors seen in autistic children, such
as rocking back and forth for hours.
He can calm a child helping him fall asleep
at night and give a child the self-confidence
needed to interact socially.
Some therapy dogs can even be trained to prevent
an autistic child from wandering off by circling
the child and barking to alert caregivers
or can be harnessed to the child.
So what are we looking for in a dog for an
According to Danielle Foster, Executive Director
of National Service Dogs, “When you’re
dealing with autism, you need dogs that are
very, very calm, very quiet, very laid back.“
Dogs who are loyal, friendly, forgiving of
a child’s mistakes, understanding and in tune
with the child’s needs are ideal.
While almost any dog, with proper training,
can become a service dog, we’ve chosen to
exclude breeds with traits that may make them
less adept at being autism service dogs.
For example, herding dogs, although highly
intelligent and make great companions have
a tendency to nip as part of their herding
Extra large breeds may intimidate a child
and the smaller breeds may not be robust enough
for the child or the child may disagree with
But you may find a few surprises on this list.
Now we present the Top 5 service dog breeds
for children with autism.
Yes, we’re starting this list with number
one, because well, it was just way too obvious.
Over the past several decades, the Labrador
Retriever has proven himself among the highest
qualified breeds as a service dog companion.
As a breed, he’s a natural companion and
meets all the requirements for the task.
Among the many benefits he can bring to the
life of an autistic child is the way he builds
the child’s confidence, helps the child to
reduce anxiety attacks, stimulates his imagination
and desire to communicate, encourages his
self-control and – as he is a very sociable
and loving dog- he is great at integrating
a child into his environment.
Like his cousin the Labrador, the Golden Retriever
is the quintessential family dog.
He is the first breed that most parents think
of when choosing a family dog for their child.
This is because he has all the right characteristics
to be a fantastic companion.
He is also one of the special breeds that
can become an amazing assistance dog owing
to his docile, safe and adaptable personality.
He is very affectionate with children and
is great at reading emotions.
For example, if one day the child is more
active and happy, the dog will encourage him
to play and have lots of fun together.
If on the other hand, the child feels a bit
subdued, the Golden Retriever will stay by
his side and maintain a very quiet position,
almost saying “I’m here when you need me”
while at the same time transmitting all his
love to the child.
“I think all of us who have dogs know that our dogs innately understand our feelings.”
It might be noted that many service dog organizations
often use a Golden Retriever / Labrador Retriever
Mix as their preferred service dog.
This hybrid breed does have a name, it’s called
a Goldador and combines the sensitivity of
the Golden with the tolerance of the Lab.
Labradoodle or Goldendoodle
The Labradoodle or Goldendoodle take the qualities
of either breed above and mix that with the
intelligence and hypoallergenic nature of
You get a breed that makes the perfect service
dog for the autistic child that suffers from
Yes, we’re combining two different breeds,
but the similarities are so close that we
are including them as one.
Like their pure-bred counterparts, the Labradoodle
and the Goldendoodle exhibit all the friendly,
nurturing behaviors needed for an autism service
dog, without all the sneezing and watery eyes.
You may also find a Golden Retriever Labrador
Retriever-Poodle mix in use, but you’re
on your own on what to call the breed.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Yes, he is a Pit Bull (not to be confused
with the also awesome American Pit Bull Terrier
and American Staffordshire Terrier both of
which are excellent family dogs).
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a dog that
makes an impression because of his muscular
and robust frame.
However, behind its strong physical appearance
lies a very docile dog that is considered
one of the best breeds to accompany an autistic
In fact, he is known to be excellent with
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is loyal, trustworthy
and has a phenomenal character.
And, he loves to be together with his family.
You’ll see him accompany the child to wherever
the child wants to go, even when it’s time
to go to bed.
He is truly affectionate and obedient, and
if trained properly, this dog will provide
the best care for the child.
Another plus is that he has absolutely no
problem chilling on the couch all day if that’s
what the child wants to do.
Yes, a mutt.
And while we can’t specifically call him
a breed, on average, your standard run of
the mill mongrel has very stable mental and
physical attributes and is not “bred”
for extremes like many purebred dogs.
These characteristics, or lack thereof, can
make a mix breed a competent family pet as
well as a service dog.
While we highly recommend professional counseling
on the selection of a dog for an autistic
child, for a high functioning autistic child,
a trip to a local animal rescue organization
may be beneficial.
Keep in mind that most animal shelters also
house many purebred dogs as well.
Many shelters also have foster programs that
aim at socializing the dog before adopting
him to a permanent home or “forever home”.
There’s a high likelihood that he has been
fostered with children, but it never hurts
to ask a lot of questions before adopting
a pet for any child.
This video is for edutainment purposes only
and I am not qualified as a child psychologist
or a professional dog trainer.
When making a choice for your child, we encourage
you to seek professional advice and will provide
links to professional assistance dog organizations
in the description below.
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