For those who require emotional support in environments like hospitals, hospices, or nursing homes, therapy dogs are some of the most important pillars of relief that can drastically change a person’s life. There have been plenty of studies about the presence of animals positively contributing to someone’s mental or emotional state, but which dog breeds are best for this task?
Of course, choosing your perfect therapy pet comes down to your personal preferences. But, we’ve made a list (in order of escalating compatibility) of which ten breeds make for the best therapy companions. Here goes!
These dogs are highly sought after mainly for their size, as they are small and easy to bring with you wherever you go. This breed is ideal for those who like particularly little animals to hold or cuddle since they are one of the smallest breeds out there.
That said, they rank lower on our list due to being commonly skittish, likely due to their miniature size. So, if you do plan on choosing one as your therapy pet, be sure to get them properly trained and socialized so they can support you as best they can.
9. Yorkshire Terrier
Similar in size and cadence, the Yorkshire terrier is not too far off from #10 on our list. Yorkshire terriers are beautiful dogs that like to be groomed and settled on their owners’ laps, often appearing as show dogs due to their elegance.
However, cute and cuddly as they may (usually) be, Yorkshire terriers can also have a moody streak in them. Whether it’s due to their vulnerable size or breed-related personality, these dogs can sometimes be a little loud!
While you might think of poodles as being divas, this dog breed couldn’t be further from its stereotype! Poodles continue to be a very popular pets for good reason. Typically of medium to large size, these canines are lean and graceful, occasionally aloof but always loyal to their owners.
When it comes to therapy dog breeds, poodles are active and smart, but perhaps not the most outwardly sentimental. If you need steadfast and loyal emotional support rather than a pet that showers you with love, a poodle would be perfect.
7. Shiba Inu
The Shiba Inu is a muscular, small- to medium-sized dog that is especially alert, rule-abiding, and compassionate; qualities that would make them exceptional therapy pets. While not usually employed as service dogs, they’ll make great therapy pups for plenty of reasons. They are protective over their owners, making them perfect candidates for families.
The only drawback with this dog is their affinity for hunting, which could make any nearby cat, bird, or rodent an unfortunate target.
6. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a beautiful, small-sized dog that looks more like a toy than an animal at first glance. They are particularly good therapy pup candidates because of their adaptability—generally comfortable with adults, children, even strangers and other animals.
As far as therapy dog breeds go, this one is especially comforting due to their low maintenance and lap-sized frame.
Surely, they’re not the Queen of England’s favorite dog breed for no reason. Between their massive ears, short and stubby legs, and perpetual smile, these dogs are some of the cutest of all time. They also give a whole new meaning to the term “lap dog,” since that is the spot they most often return to with their owners.
In terms of therapy dog breeds, the Corgi is affectionate and lively, but may find moments of aloofness in between. Loving as they are, they are not needy.
Out of all the breeds of dog, these pups play by their own rules. They are of large stature and lean build, and they are beautiful, athletic, and friendly.
This breed can be some of the best therapy dogs if the one you seek is one with a lot of energy. They love to play and run around and are sure to get you out of the house for plenty of exercise.
3. German Shepherds
This breed is widely loved and highly sought after. They are one of the most popular canine breeds, and it is clear why. They are large dogs that are intelligent, easily trained, and more than willing to do anything for their owner once an attachment is developed.
Of all the therapy dog breeds, German shepherds are common thanks to their balance of ideal qualities.
2. Labrador Retriever
A Labrador retriever is a perfect fit for any family or individual. They are also very smart and some of the best trained dogs, capable of becoming efficient service dogs. They are of medium to large size, and they are well-known for their love of socializing with humans, a must-have trait in any therapy pet.
This breed always wants to play and share space with their owner. When it comes to potential therapy dog breeds, the Labrador retriever is an outstanding option.
1. Golden Retriever
The golden retriever is one of the world’s most beloved dogs, and anyone can see why. They are loving, compassionate animals with mouths so gentle they can carry an egg in it without breaking it.
Golden retrievers are perfectly cut out for therapy work due to their consistent track record of showing affection, vying for attention, and sustaining a powerful emotional bond with their humans. They can easily be considered some of the best therapy dogs for these very reasons.
In short, therapy pets can be some of the most loving animals on this planet, and finding the right one for you may simply depend on the breeds you are most compatible with. Whether it’s a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel or a Labrador Retriever, there is a dog out there waiting to be your perfect emotional support companion.