Choosing a Dog for Autism: The Best Dog Breeds

Discover the best dog breeds for autism support! From loyal Golden Retrievers to intelligent German Shepherds, find your perfect companion.

By Arms Wide Open ABA

June 20, 2024

Canine Companions for Autism Support

Dogs play a vital role in providing support and companionship to individuals with autism. Their unique abilities and characteristics make them well-suited to assist and enhance the lives of those on the autism spectrum. When considering a dog for autism support, it is important to understand the role these dogs play and the factors to consider when choosing a specific breed.

The Role of Dogs in Autism Support

Dogs can serve as faithful companions and emotional support for individuals with autism. They offer unconditional love and can provide a sense of security and comfort, helping to alleviate anxiety and stress. Dogs can also help individuals with autism develop social skills by encouraging interaction and reducing feelings of isolation.

In addition to emotional support, trained autism support dogs can be trained to perform specific tasks that cater to the unique needs of individuals with autism. These tasks may include alerting others in case of emergencies, interrupting repetitive behaviors, or providing deep pressure therapy to help with sensory regulation.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Dog Breed

When choosing a dog breed for autism support, it is essential to consider various factors to ensure a successful partnership. Some of the key factors to consider include:

  1. Temperament: A dog's temperament is crucial when it comes to autism support. Dogs with calm and gentle temperaments are often preferred as they can provide a soothing presence and be less likely to cause additional stress or anxiety.
  2. Size: The size of the dog should be considered based on the individual's preferences and needs. Some individuals may benefit from a larger dog for deep pressure therapy, while others may prefer a smaller dog for ease of handling.
  3. Energy Level: The energy level of the dog should align with the individual's lifestyle and activity level. Dogs with lower energy levels may be more suitable for individuals who prefer a calmer environment, while higher energy dogs may be better for those who enjoy more active interactions.
  4. Allergies: It is important to consider any potential allergies or sensitivities to dog dander that the individual may have. Some dog breeds are known to be hypoallergenic or have low-shedding coats, making them a better choice for individuals with allergies.
  5. Training Requirements: Different dog breeds have varying training needs. It is crucial to consider the amount of time and effort required to train and maintain the dog's skills. Some breeds may be more naturally inclined towards the tasks required for autism support, while others may require more extensive training.

Considering these factors and consulting with professionals, such as service dog organizations or therapists, can help guide the selection process and ensure that the chosen dog breed is well-suited to meet the specific needs of the individual with autism.

Best Dog Breeds for Autism Support

When it comes to choosing a dog breed for autism support, certain breeds have shown exceptional qualities in providing companionship, emotional support, and assistance to individuals with autism. Here are three of the best dog breeds for autism support:

Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are renowned for their friendly and gentle nature, making them excellent companions for individuals with autism. They possess a natural instinct to please and are highly trainable, which is crucial for assisting individuals with specific needs.

Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retrievers are known for their intelligence, loyalty, and patience, making them well-suited for autism support. They have a strong desire to work and please their owners, making them highly trainable for tasks that can benefit individuals with autism.


Poodles are not only known for their elegant appearance but also for their intelligence and hypoallergenic coat, making them a great choice for individuals with autism who may have allergies. Poodles are highly trainable and adaptable, making them suitable for a variety of tasks and environments.

These dog breeds have consistently demonstrated their ability to provide emotional support, socialization assistance, and a sense of safety and security to individuals with autism. However, it's important to remember that each dog is unique, and individual temperaments may vary within a breed. When considering a dog for autism support, it's essential to assess the specific needs and compatibility of both the individual with autism and the dog.

By understanding the characteristics and qualities of these dog breeds, individuals and families can make an informed decision when selecting a dog for autism support. Proper training and socialization are vital to ensure a successful partnership between the dog and the individual with autism, ultimately leading to a positive and enriching experience for both.

Best Dog Breeds for Autism Support (cont.)

Continuing our exploration of the best dog breeds for autism support, let's take a closer look at three additional breeds that have shown great potential in assisting individuals with autism: German Shepherds, Collies, and Standard Schnauzers.

German Shepherd

German Shepherds are known for their intelligence, loyalty, and versatility, making them an excellent choice for autism support. These dogs are highly trainable and have a strong desire to please their owners, which can be beneficial for individuals with autism who require consistent routines and structure.

German Shepherds have a calm and patient temperament, making them well-suited for providing emotional support. Their protective nature can also help create a sense of security for individuals with autism. These dogs are often used as service animals, as they possess the ability to learn a wide range of tasks and commands.

German Shepherd

Intelligence: High

Trainability: High

Temperament: Calm, Patient, Protective


Collies are gentle, affectionate, and highly attuned to their owners' emotions, making them an ideal choice for autism support. They are known for their exceptional sensitivity and empathy, which can be particularly beneficial for individuals on the autism spectrum.

Collies are quick learners and highly responsive to training, making them adaptable to various situations and environments. Their gentle nature and patience make them excellent companions for individuals with autism, providing emotional support and promoting a sense of calm.


Intelligence: High

Trainability: High

Temperament: Gentle, Affectionate, Sensitive

Standard Schnauzer

Standard Schnauzers are intelligent, alert, and highly trainable, making them a valuable choice for autism support. They have a friendly and outgoing personality, which can help individuals with autism develop social skills and facilitate interaction with others.

These dogs are known for their adaptability and versatility, making them well-suited for various environments and activities. Standard Schnauzers are also known for their loyalty and devotion to their owners, providing a strong bond and emotional support.

Standard Schnauzer

Intelligence: High

Trainability: High

Temperament: Friendly, Outgoing, Devoted

When considering a dog breed for autism support, it's important to evaluate individual traits, temperaments, and compatibility with the specific needs of the individual with autism. The breeds mentioned in this article are just a starting point, and it's essential to consult with professionals and experienced trainers to find the best match for each unique situation.

Characteristics of Autism Support Dogs

When considering a dog breed for autism support, it's important to understand the key characteristics that make them suitable for this role. Autism support dogs possess specific temperament traits, require certain training, and demonstrate adaptability to autism symptoms.


Autism support dogs are known for their calm and patient temperament. These dogs are typically gentle, tolerant, and have a natural inclination to bond with their owners. Their calm demeanor helps create a soothing environment for individuals with autism and allows for better emotional regulation.

Moreover, autism support dogs should exhibit a high level of obedience and attentiveness. This ensures that they can follow commands consistently and respond to the needs of their owners promptly. A well-trained dog with a stable temperament can provide a sense of security and comfort to individuals with autism.

Training Requirements

To fulfill their role effectively, autism support dogs require specialized training. They undergo extensive obedience training to learn basic commands such as sit, stay, and heel. Additionally, they receive specific training to address the unique needs of individuals with autism.

Training focuses on teaching the dog to respond appropriately to sensory issues, repetitive behaviors, and emotional distress. Dogs are trained to provide deep pressure therapy, interrupt self-harming behaviors, and provide tactile stimulation when needed. This specialized training equips them with the skills to support individuals with autism in various situations.

Adaptability to Autism Symptoms

Autism support dogs must demonstrate adaptability to the wide range of symptoms associated with autism. They should be comfortable with unexpected behaviors and sensory sensitivities that individuals with autism may exhibit. These dogs can remain calm and composed in challenging situations, providing a sense of stability for their owners.

Furthermore, autism support dogs should be able to adjust to changes in routine and environments. They should be adaptable to new surroundings, which is particularly important when accompanying individuals with autism to different locations or social settings.

By possessing the right temperament, undergoing proper training, and displaying adaptability to autism symptoms, these dogs can fulfill their role as reliable companions for individuals with autism. Their unique characteristics make them well-suited to provide emotional support, assistance with socialization, and enhanced safety and security.

Benefits of Autism Support Dogs

Autism support dogs provide invaluable assistance and companionship to individuals with autism. These specially trained dogs offer a range of benefits that contribute to the well-being and quality of life of those with autism. Here are some key benefits of having an autism support dog:

Emotional Support

Autism support dogs are adept at providing emotional support to individuals with autism. They have a natural ability to sense and respond to emotions, providing comfort, and helping to reduce anxiety and stress. These dogs can offer a calming presence during challenging situations, offering reassurance and a sense of security.

Socialization Assistance

One of the significant challenges faced by individuals with autism is social interaction. Autism support dogs play a crucial role in facilitating socialization. They can act as a bridge between the individual with autism and others, making social interactions more comfortable and less overwhelming. These dogs can help improve social skills, encourage communication, and enhance social engagement with peers and the community.

Safety and Security

Autism support dogs are trained to prioritize the safety and well-being of their handlers. They can act as a constant companion, providing a sense of security and reducing the risk of wandering or elopement, which is common among individuals with autism. These dogs are trained to respond to commands, which can help prevent dangerous situations and provide peace of mind to both the individual with autism and their caregivers.

The benefits provided by autism support dogs are truly remarkable. They offer emotional support, aid in socialization, and ensure safety and security for individuals with autism. The presence of these specially trained dogs can make a significant positive impact on the lives of those with autism, promoting independence, confidence, and overall well-being.

Caring for an Autism Support Dog

Once you have chosen the right dog breed for autism support, it's important to provide them with proper care and attention. Caring for an autism support dog involves routine care, exercise and mental stimulation, and building a strong bond with your furry companion.

Routine Care

Routine care is essential for maintaining the overall health and well-being of your autism support dog. This includes regular grooming, feeding, and veterinary check-ups. Here are some key aspects of routine care:

  • Grooming: Regular grooming sessions help keep your dog's coat clean and free from tangles. Brushing their coat not only removes loose hair but also promotes bonding and relaxation. The frequency of grooming depends on the dog breed and coat type.
  • Feeding: Provide your dog with a balanced and nutritious diet that meets their specific dietary needs. Follow the recommended feeding guidelines provided by your veterinarian and monitor their weight to ensure they maintain a healthy body condition.
  • Veterinary Care: Schedule regular check-ups with a veterinarian to ensure your dog's vaccinations are up to date and to address any health concerns. Regular preventive care, such as flea and tick prevention, is also important to keep your dog healthy and protected.

Exercise and Mental Stimulation

Regular exercise and mental stimulation are crucial for the well-being of your autism support dog. Engaging in physical activities and providing mental challenges helps keep them physically fit, mentally sharp, and content. Here are some tips for exercise and mental stimulation:

  • Physical Exercise: Dogs need regular exercise to expend their energy and maintain a healthy weight. Take your dog for daily walks or engage in activities such as fetch, running, or swimming. The duration and intensity of exercise should be appropriate for your dog's age, breed, and health condition.
  • Mental Stimulation: Keeping your dog mentally stimulated is just as important as physical exercise. Provide interactive toys, puzzle games, and training sessions to keep their minds engaged. Mental stimulation can help prevent boredom and unwanted behaviors.

Building a Strong Bond

Building a strong bond with your autism support dog is essential for effective support and companionship. Here are some ways to strengthen the bond between you and your dog:

  • Positive Reinforcement Training: Use positive reinforcement techniques, such as rewards and praise, to train your dog. This not only helps them learn commands and behaviors but also strengthens the bond between you.
  • Quality Time: Spend quality time with your dog, engaging in activities they enjoy. This may include playtime, cuddling, or simply being present with them. Regular interaction and attention help build trust and deepen your connection.
  • Understanding and Patience: Understand that your dog may have specific needs and behaviors related to autism support. Be patient and compassionate, providing them with a calm and supportive environment.

By providing routine care, exercise, mental stimulation, and building a strong bond, you can ensure that your autism support dog leads a happy and fulfilling life while offering the support and companionship you need.


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