Top 15 Breeds For Therapy Dogs: Boosting Mental Health

July 18, 2023
Annette Thompson
Therapy Dogs

Therapy dogs have become a popular and effective way to boost mental health and provide emotional support to individuals struggling with various conditions. These furry companions can bring comfort and joy to people in hospitals, retirement homes, schools, and even in their own homes. In fact, therapy dogs have been known to work miracles and have been described as ‘angels in fur ‘by those who have experienced their positive effects.

This article explores the top 15 breeds for therapy dogs, highlighting their characteristics and certification requirements. We delve into the various benefits that therapy dogs can provide, from reducing stress and anxiety to improving social skills and self-esteem. Whether you are considering getting a therapy dog for yourself or for a loved one, this article will provide you with valuable insights and suggestions to help you make an informed decision.

Key Takeaways

  • Therapy dogs provide affection, comfort, and support to people in need, and are different from service dogs and emotional support dogs.
  • Therapy dogs should be intelligent, well-trained, focused, calm, sociable, gentle, clean, and able to adapt to ever-changing situations.
  • Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers are considered the best therapy dog breeds, but other breeds such as Poodles, Bichon Frises, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels can also make good therapy dogs.
  • Therapy dogs must pass a series of tests to be certified, and are granted specific access to the locations where they work.

Best Therapy Dog Breeds

Therapy Dogs

The pre-existing knowledge highlights the importance of therapy dogs and their benefits for physical, mental, and emotional health. Therapy dogs are trained to provide comfort, affection, and support to people in need, and their positive effects have been extensively studied. One of the most important aspects of therapy dogs is their training methods, which aim to develop intelligent, focused, calm, sociable, and gentle dogs that can adapt to different situations and form strong bonds with patients.

In addition to their training, therapy dog benefits are also strongly influenced by their breed characteristics. Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers are considered the best breeds for therapy work due to their friendly disposition, intelligence, and ability to adapt to different environments. However, other breeds such as Poodles, Bichon Frises, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, and Greyhounds are also good options for therapy dogs, depending on their individual traits and training.

Overall, the key to successful therapy dog work is a combination of proper training, breed selection, and a genuine desire to serve others.

See more also here: The Life Changing Impact of theraphy dogs,The Power of Liquid Gold for Dogs: Natural Health Supplement for Improved Well-being and Furry Therapists: How Dogs Provide Emotional Healing And Support


Characteristics of Therapy Dogs

Therapy Dogs

Intelligence, focused training, calm demeanor, sociability, comfort with touch, gentleness, and cleanliness are all important characteristics for a dog to possess when used as a therapy companion. These dogs should also have a soft mouth and be aware of their size and strength. Therapy dogs must be immaculately groomed and low shedding to maintain their cleanliness during visits. They must also be able to adapt to ever-changing situations, focus on tasks, and form bonds quickly with patients.

Small dogs have advantages for therapy work as they can bond quickly with people and are more portable than larger breeds. Additionally, grooming a therapy dog’s coat can be a special bonding experience for both the dog and the patient. Therefore, therapy dogs should be groomed regularly and kept clean to ensure their effectiveness in providing affection, comfort, and support to people in need.

Ultimately, any breed can be trained to be a therapy dog, but those with the aforementioned traits and grooming habits are better suited for this important role.

Certification and Access

Upon successful completion of a series of tests, therapy dogs receive certification and are granted specific access to the locations where they work, similar to how a key unlocks a door.

Certification is important because it ensures that therapy dogs are well-trained and have the necessary skills to provide comfort and support to those in need. It also gives healthcare providers and facilities assurance that a therapy dog is a safe and reliable addition to their team.

The training for therapy dog certification varies depending on the organization providing the certification. Generally, dogs are required to have basic obedience training and be able to follow commands such as sit, stay, and come. They must also be comfortable and calm around people, especially those who may be in distress.

In addition, therapy dogs must be trained to navigate different environments and situations, including hospitals, schools, and nursing homes. The benefits of therapy dogs are numerous, and certification ensures that they are able to provide those benefits in a safe and effective manner.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common tasks that therapy dogs can perform besides providing emotional support?

In addition to providing emotional support, therapy dogs can perform tasks such as service dog training and animal-assisted therapy activities. These dogs undergo rigorous training and certification to perform tasks that can benefit individuals with physical, mental, or emotional challenges.

Can therapy dogs be owned by individuals or do they need to be trained by organizations?

Therapy dogs can be owned by individuals, but they must undergo specialized training and certification to ensure they possess the necessary temperament and skills. Some organizations offer therapy dog training programs to prepare dogs for their work in supporting vulnerable populations.

How long does it typically take to train a therapy dog?

Training challenges and therapy dog certification can affect the time it takes to train a therapy dog. The process can vary from a few months to several years, depending on the dog’s breed, temperament, and training goals. Proper training is crucial to ensure a therapy dog’s effectiveness.

Are there any breeds that are not recommended for therapy work?

While any breed can be trained to be a therapy dog, certain physical requirements and temperaments are necessary. Breeds to avoid for therapy work include aggressive breeds and those prone to health issues.

Can therapy dogs provide support to children with special needs in a school setting?


Therapy dogs can provide valuable benefits to children with special needs in a school setting, including emotional support and improved social interactions. However, challenges of implementing therapy dog programs in schools must be considered, such as allergies and safety concerns.

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