11 Best Dog Breeds for Child with Autism & Special Needs (2023)

Dogs can change lives, much so for kids with autism and special needs. They offer a bond like no other, which will allow a child to open up to the world and overcome his or her fears.  In fact, about 94% of parents of children with autism reported a positive impact of dogs in their kids’ life. True enough, about 67% of families of children with autism owns at least one dog. With this, it’s important to get the best dog breeds for child with autism that will help the kiddo take on the world.

Dogs can truly make a difference to children with autism. In this video, Autism Live shows us stories of kids and how they overcome the challenges of autism with the help of their furry friends:

NOTE: Not all dogs are suitable for kids, with or without autism. It’s essential to get a pooch with high tolerance to children and an exceptional level of intelligence, gentleness, and friendliness. If you want to end the hunt, below are the breeds we recommend:

1.      Golden Retriever

best dog breeds for child with autism

The sweethearts of the dog kingdom – Golden Retrievers are probably the friendliest and most gentle dogs you can ever find. They are also brilliant, which makes them the leading choice for service and working dogs.

Goldies offer cozy hugs and reassuring snuggles for kids with autism. Also, this breed is playful and will surely make amazing companions for your kiddo. Moreover, Goldies are far from aggressive and they always remain docile in almost all occasions.

Also, Golden Retrievers are very patient and tolerant of pinchy behavior. They can be trained to perform assisting tasks for kids as well.  The only downside of this breed is their demanding grooming needs. Other than that, they are worth every brush and bath.

2.      Labrador Retriever

Like Goldies, Labs are one of the best dog breeds for child with autism. They are devoted, affectionate, and loyal canines that will stay by your kid’s side. Also, this breed is always eager to please its owner and filled with energy for playtime.

They suit families with an active lifestyle and since they hate being left alone, your child will have a long-time best friend with this breed.

Another advantage with Labs is their shorter coat. Aside from that, they share the same warm and accepting disposition of Goldies.

Labrador Retrievers are also a joy to train because they are very intelligent and keen to please its owners. However, you have to watch out as these dogs could be prone to obesity if not exercised daily. 

3.      Beagle

Do you want your child to overcome its fears of going outdoors? Beagles are the best buddies for the job. This breed is a ray of sunshine and a ball of energy that will surely bring joy to every child. Since they are smaller than other dogs, you won’t have to worry about your child getting hurt.

Still, you have to train a Beagle first. As scent hounds, they love wandering around and they also tend to have intense energy. But with a firm hand and consistent training, this doggo will be devoted to its duty of being a companion to kids with special needs.

Also, Beagles may not always be suitable for all families with kids with autism. You should always pay attention to the energy level you can handle.

4.      Poodle

best dog breeds for child with autism

If your child has an allergy to dander, Poodles are the best breeds to have. This dog has an A+ on everything: intelligence, hypoallergenic nature, friendliness, and loyalty. They also make great dogs for the elderly since they can be trained to perform service dog tasks.

However, there’s one thing that Poodles can’t tolerate: being alone. They always want to be near their owners, which is an advantage if you want a dedicated companion for your child.

As much as these doggos don’t shed a lot, they are high maintenance dogs due to their unique coat. Nevertheless, this is just a small sacrifice for all the love and joy that your child will get from this canine.

5.      Newfoundland

Dubbed as one of the ‘Gentle Giants’, Newfoundland dogs have a heart for kids as large as their size. Fluffy and huggable, this breed will give a child with autism a sense of protection and safety. They also bond with kids strongly and they don’t mind the pinching and intense hugs.

However, we’re not kidding when we said that this dog is a giant. Most Newfies exceed 100 pounds which means they will eat a lot of space in your yard or house. Also, they drool and shed a lot, which will require a lot of attention.

Nevertheless, Newfoundland dogs are sweet canines. Also, they don’t need rigorous exercise just to stay happy. As long as you have a yard where they can stay and roam, this breed will thrive in your care.

6.      Saint Bernard

Saint Bernard dogs are another Gentle Giant that can be one of the best dog breeds for child with autism. Although large, these doggos are very affectionate to their owner, especially with kids. Unlike other large dogs, Saint Bernards don’t have a very high energy level. They prefer cuddling with kids and guarding your yard.

Moreover, Saint Bernards don’t mind being alone, but they also thrive in the presence of kids. They are very tolerant of toddlers and they will be gentle if need be. Also, Saint Bernard dogs are far from being aggressive.

However, for families living in apartments, this isn’t the ideal breed. Saint Bernards are large and they will surely consume a big space in your home.

7.      Bernese Mountain Dog

The last of the giants we have on this list is the Bernese Mountain Dog. A fluff of black, white, and brown fur, this doggo has a very gentle temperament and excellent intelligence.

Children with autism will love the goofiness of this breed. Although they are large, they are total sweethearts. However, this breed is sensitive and demands love and attention all the time. For kids, this wouldn’t be a problem.

Again, like other giant dogs, Bernese Mountain dogs drool and shed a lot. You should be willing to deal with furballs on your furniture.

Nevertheless, the biggest consolation here is that this breed is smart. They can be trained too, which is added peace of mind.

8.      Pit Bull

Who said Pit Bulls couldn’t be great companions for kids? Contrary to stereotypes, a Pit Bull bred, raised, and trained well will become well-rounded canines. In fact, experts notice that Pit Bulls tend to be more protective of infants and kids. With this, your child with autism will both have a friend and a protector.

However, you have to watch out for this breed’s energy. As muscular canines, they can appear rude when they get overexcited. Again, continuous training and socialization will surely dampen this behavior.

The only problem about owning a Pit Bull is Breed-Specific Legislation (BSL). These are laws in some states and cities that prohibit the ownership of the so-called ‘dangerous breeds’ like Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, and so on.

9.      Corgi

These walking loaves are a joy to have! Aside from their funny booties, Corgis are intelligent and easy to train. They are also great with kids, even those in the autism spectrum. Also, they are suitable for new owners and they can also thrive in an apartment setting.

Corgis are amazing pets with a vibrant disposition. Since they have a low gait, you won’t worry that this dog will knock off your toddler during playtime.

Remember that Corgis are vocal dogs that will bark on anything and nip the heels of kids. With proper training, these habits can be fixed.

Corgis might be small dogs, but they are always energetic. They suit homes looking for an active companion that will keep a child with autism busy.

10.  Great Dane

Known as the Apollo of all Dogs, Great Dane dogs live up to the title. They have a noble stature and although they may look imposing, they are sweet, affectionate, and gentle in nature.

Also, Great Danes tend to give goofy looks which will surely brighten up a child’s day. They are super affectionate and don’t mind being cuddled by kids. Great Danes also thrive in a multi-dog household and they also tolerate the presence of strangers.

However, if you decide to own this breed, you need a yard where the doggo could play. Great Danes have high energy levels for playtime and exercise. It’s also a good way to channel your child’s energy.

Since they can be intense at times, Great Danes need an experienced owner. They are easy to train and they will surely become one of the best dog breeds for child with autism.

11.  Boxer

Boxers dogs may look like tough cookies, but deep inside, these canines are cinnamon rolls. They are very affectionate to kids and they are also great playmates. However, Boxers can be whiny and may throw a tantrum if they don’t get what they want.

Nevertheless, this dog is one of the best dog breeds for child with autism. They adapt well to apartment living and they don’t mind grippy hugs from excited children.

However, Boxers can overheat if left under the sun and without proper hydration. You also have to watch over their diet as these doggos have a hefty appetite. They are susceptible to gastric torsion and obesity if portion control isn’t practiced.

12.  Old English Sheepdog

For families with the extra time for maintenance, the Old English Sheepdog might be the best dog breeds for child with autism. These doggos have a long and flowy coat as well as a good sense of humor. Children with autism will surely have fun with this dog’s goofy ways.

True enough, the Old English Sheepdog is great with kids and they can adapt to apartment living. Although they may seem intimidating at first, these canines are actually suitable for novice owners.

However, since they have long coats, regular grooming is necessary. Trimming their facial fur is also imperative so it won’t mat or get into their eyes. Nevertheless, the Old English Sheepdog is hypoallergenic since it sheds very little and it drools rarely.

Just make sure that you give this breed enough exercise as it’s prone to obesity. If you love and treat this dog well, they will be fiercely loyal to your family, especially to your kid.

Final words

Remember that each child requires a specific dog breed. Always check the temperament, personality, and maintenance needs of the dog before bringing it home. This way, you, your kid, and the canine will have a happy time together.

The best dog breeds for child with autism are amazing companions. Aside from their reassuring presence, they also boost a child’s confidence to see the world. Having a child with autism is challenging, but it becomes less worrisome if you have a furry buddy to help you out. Dogs may not have the ability to talk, but they can surely enter anyone’s heart.

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