Therapy dogs are trained dogs that provide emotional support and comfort to people in various settings. They differ from service dogs, which are specifically trained to assist individuals with disabilities. Therapy dogs work with their handlers to offer affection, companionship, and stress relief to a wide range of individuals, including those in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and other therapeutic environments. The main goal of therapy dogs is to enhance the well-being and quality of life of the people they interact with. They are known to provide a calming presence and offer unconditional love, which can have many positive effects on human health. Interacting with a therapy dog reduces anxiety, lower blood pressure, improves mood and increases social interaction. Therapy dogs undergo specialized training to ensure they have the temperament and obedience skills necessary for their role. These dogs are friendly, patient, and comfortable around different people, including children, older adults, and individuals with disabilities. However, they are trained to remain calm in various environments and to follow commands from their handlers.
Dog Breeds Used For Therapy
Therapy dogs come in various breeds, each with its own unique qualities that make them well-suited for providing emotional support and comfort. From gentle and friendly Labrador Retrievers to calm and patient Golden Retrievers, and even smaller breeds like Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Poodles, these dogs undergo specialized training to enhance their natural temperament and social skills, making them ideal companions in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and other therapeutic settings. Their presence and affectionate nature have been shown to ease anxiety, boost mood, and promote social interaction, making therapy dogs a valuable asset in improving the well-being of those they interact with.
1. Labrador Retriever
The Labrador Retriever is a widely recognized and popular breed that is frequently used as a therapy dog. Known for their friendly and gentle nature, Labradors possess a natural affinity for interacting with people, making them excellent companions in therapeutic environments. Their calm and patient behaviour, combined with their high trainability, make them well-suited for providing emotional support and comfort to individuals in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and other settings. Their inherent intelligence, loyalty, and willingness to please contribute to their effectiveness as therapy dogs, as they can easily bond with people of all ages and help decrease stress and anxiety.
2. Golden Retriever Dog
The Golden Retriever is another popular dog breed that is commonly used in therapy work. Renowned for their friendly and affectionate nature, we often describe these dogs as “people pleasers.” They possess a natural ability to provide comfort and support, making them ideal therapy dogs. Their gentle and patient temperament allows them to interact well with individuals of all ages, including children and older people. We know them for their intelligence and adaptability, making them highly trainable for therapy work. They excel at offering emotional support, promoting social interaction, and bringing joy to those they interact with. Their soft, luxurious coats and warm personalities further contribute to their effectiveness as therapy dogs, creating a calming and uplifting presence in various therapeutic settings.
3. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Dog
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a small, elegant dog breed that is often seen as an excellent choice for therapy work. With their sweet and affectionate nature, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel dogs excel at providing comfort and emotional support to individuals in need. They are known for their gentle and patient conduct, which makes them well-suited for interacting with people of all ages, including children and older adults. These dogs are highly adaptable and adaptable, making them adaptable to different environments and therapeutic settings. They form strong bonds with their human companions and have a natural ability to sense and respond to the emotions of those around them. These dogs are cherished therapy dogs for their loving and empathetic nature, bringing smiles and comfort wherever they go.
4. Poodle Dog
The Poodle is a versatile and intelligent dog breed that is often used in therapy work because of its many desirable qualities. Poodles come in various sizes, including Standard, Miniature, and Toy, offering options that suit different therapy settings. We know them for their hypoallergenic coats, which can be a significant advantage in environments where allergies are a concern. Poodles are highly trainable and eager to please, making them quick learners and adaptable to the specific needs of therapy work. Their friendly and outgoing nature allows them to form strong bonds with individuals they interact with, offering comfort, companionship, and emotional support. Poodles are also known for their calm and gentle temperament, which is essential for creating a soothing and reassuring presence in therapeutic settings. With their intelligence, versatility, and loving conduct, these dogs are widely regarded as excellent therapy dogs.
5. Yorkshire Terrier Dog
The Yorkshire Terrier, often affectionately called the Yorkie, is a small dog breed that possesses a big personality. Despite its size, we know the Yorkshire Terrier for its bold and confident nature. Originally bred in England for catching rats in clothing mills, the Yorkie has transitioned into a beloved companion and therapy dog. With their charming and endearing appearance, including a long, silky coat and a proud carriage, Yorkies capture the hearts of many. Their small size makes them suitable for various living situations, including apartments and homes with limited space. They are intelligent and quick to learn, making them capable therapy dogs with the right training and socialization. They often exhibit unwavering loyalty and devotion to their human companions, forming deep bonds and offering emotional support. While their size may limit their suitability for certain therapy settings, the Yorkie’s confident demeanour, adaptability, and affectionate nature make them a popular choice for those seeking a therapy dog that can bring joy and comfort to their lives.
6. Pug Dog
The Pug is a small, sturdy dog breed that has gained popularity as a therapy dog because of its charming and affectionate nature. These dogs possess a friendly and outgoing temperament that makes them well-suited for therapy work. They have a natural inclination to bond with people, forming strong emotional connections and providing comfort to those in need. We know pugs for their playful and gentle nature, which helps create a positive and joyful atmosphere in therapy settings. Their easygoing and adaptable personality allows them to interact well with individuals of all age groups. These dogs thrive on human companionship and are often described as “clowns” because of their entertaining antics, bringing smiles and laughter to those they encounter. Their small size also makes them suitable for various environments, including hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. Pugs have proven to be cherished therapy dogs that bring happiness and companionship to many individuals with their lovable nature and innate ability to provide emotional support. Thus, this dog breed can be surely used for therapy.
7. Beagle Dog
The Beagle is a friendly and sociable dog breed that has increasingly been recognized for its potential as a therapy dog. Known for their gentle and outgoing nature, Beagles possess a natural affinity for interacting with people and providing emotional support. They have a keen sense of smell and are often used in scent detection work, which can be incorporated into therapy activities to engage individuals and stimulate their senses. Beagles are highly adaptable and can thrive in various therapeutic settings, including hospitals, rehabilitation centres, and schools. Their compact size and sturdy build make them well-suited for interacting with individuals of different ages and abilities. We know these dogs to be patient, tolerant, and eager to please, making them ideal companions for those seeking comfort and companionship. With their wagging tails and affectionate nature, Beagles have proven to be valuable therapy dogs, bringing smiles and a sense of well-being to the people they interact with.
8. Pomeranian Dog
The Pomeranian, a small and lively dog breed, has found its place in the realm of therapy work due to its endearing qualities and loving disposition. Pomeranian dogs have a plush double coat that adds to their adorable appearance, capturing the hearts of many. These dogs are highly adaptable and can thrive in various therapy settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. Pomeranians are known for their affectionate nature and their strong desire to bond with their human companions. They offer comfort, emotional support, and companionship to those they interact with, creating a warm and uplifting environment. Although they may require careful socialization and training to manage their energy levels and occasional tendency to be vocal, Pomeranians can excel as therapy dogs when provided with the proper guidance. With their vibrant personalities and unwavering loyalty, Pomeranians bring joy and positivity to individuals in need, making them delightful additions to the world of therapy dogs.
9. Welsh Corgi Dog
The Welsh Corgi, specifically the Pembroke Welsh Corgi and Cardigan Welsh Corgi, is a charismatic and intelligent dog breed that is regarded as a therapy dog. Despite their short stature, Corgis possess a big heart and a friendly, outgoing nature that makes them well-suited for therapy work. Their adorable appearance, with their short legs and long bodies, often brings smiles and joy to those they interact with. Corgis have a natural desire to please their human companions, and their intelligence and trainability make them quick learners in therapy settings. They form strong bonds with people and have an innate ability to provide comfort and emotional support. These dogs are known for their cheerful and playful personalities, which can help uplift the spirits of individuals in various therapeutic environments, including hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. Their adaptability and sociable nature allow them to interact well with people of all ages and backgrounds. Welsh Corgi dogs have proven to be valuable therapy dogs, bringing happiness and companionship to those in need because of their endearing nature, dedication, and loyalty.
10. Saint Bernard Dog
Saint Bernard is a large and gentle dog breed that has been widely recognized for its role as a therapy dog. Known for their calm and patient conduct, Saint Bernards possess a natural ability to provide comfort and emotional support to individuals in need. Their size and strength allow them to be a comforting presence, especially for those who appreciate the feeling of being embraced or leaning against a big, gentle companion. Saint Bernards are renowned for their affectionate and gentle nature, making them excellent therapy dogs for various settings, including hospitals, medical health centres, and schools. Their friendly and sociable disposition allows them to interact well with people of all ages, from children to the elderly. These dogs are known to be gentle and careful in their movements, ensuring a safe and comforting experience for those they engage with. With their loving and compassionate nature, Saint Bernards offer solace and companionship to individuals, making them valuable contributors to the world of therapy dogs.
11. French Bulldog
The French Bulldog, also known as the Frenchie, is a small and distinctive dog breed that has gained immense popularity worldwide. French Bulldogs are instantly recognizable with their unique bat-like ears, compact bodies, and expressive faces. They are known for their friendly, affectionate, and playful nature, making them beloved companions and family pets. One of the endearing traits of French Bulldogs is their love for human interaction. They thrive on attention and form strong bonds with their owners. Frenchies are known to be social and get along well with other pets and children, making them excellent family pets. French Bulldogs, with their endearing and affectionate nature, have gained recognition for their suitability as therapy dogs and in providing medical assistance. They form strong bonds with their human companions, making them excellent emotional support animals in therapeutic settings. French Bulldogs are often sought after for their ability to provide comfort, reduce anxiety, and uplift spirits with their playful and gentle conduct. Their compact size and low exercise requirements make them well-suited for individuals with medical conditions or limited mobility. Additionally, their alertness and adaptability can make them effective in tasks such as alerting to medical emergencies or assisting individuals with disabilities. Overall, the French Bulldog’s charming personality, adaptability, and affectionate nature have made them a popular choice among dog lovers, and they continue to bring joy and companionship to countless households around the world. Thus, this dog breed can be used for therapy.
12. Chihuahua Dog
Chihuahua dogs can indeed be effective therapy dogs. They are known for their spunky and spirited personality and are often praised for their loyalty and strong bond with their human companions. Their small stature makes them portable and easy to bring into various therapy settings. These are highly attentive and can provide emotional support and comfort to individuals in need. Their affectionate and loving nature makes them excellent companions, and they often form deep connections with those they interact with. They can bring a sense of joy, warmth, and companionship to patients in hospitals, residents in nursing homes, or individuals in schools and other therapeutic environments. While they may require socialization and training to ensure good behaviour and appropriate interactions, Chihuahuas can excel in therapy work. Their small size allows them to comfortably sit on laps or be held by individuals, providing a comforting presence and a source of emotional support. It is important to consider that Chihuahuas, being small and delicate, may require special attention and care in certain therapy settings. Their safety and well-being should always be prioritized, and they should be handled gently and respectfully by both their handlers and the individuals they interact with.
13. Bichon Frise Dog
The Bichon Frise is a charming and gentle dog breed that has been increasingly recognized for its suitability as a therapy dog. Known for their cheerful and sociable nature, Bichon Frises make excellent companions and provide emotional support to individuals in various therapy settings. With their hypoallergenic coats and friendly personalities, Bichon Frises are often well-received by individuals with allergies or sensitivities. They have a soft, curly coat that requires regular grooming to maintain its beautiful appearance. They are highly sociable and enjoy interacting with people of all ages, making them well-suited for therapy work. They have a natural affinity for providing comfort and emotional support, offering a calming presence to individuals in hospitals, nursing homes, and other therapeutic environments. These dogs are known for their adaptability and easygoing nature, allowing them to adjust well to different situations and settings. They are eager to please and respond positively to training, which contributes to their effectiveness as therapy dogs. This dog breed has a loving and affectionate temperament, and their small size makes them suitable for being held or sitting on laps, providing a soothing and comforting experience for those they interact with. Their joyful and playful nature can help uplift spirits and bring smiles to the faces of individuals in need. So, this dog breed is well-suited for therapy work.
14. Maltese Dog
The Maltese is a small and gentle dog breed that has been recognized for its suitability as a therapy dog. Maltese dogs are known for their elegant appearance and affectionate nature and they make wonderful companions and provide emotional support to individuals in various therapy settings. They have a beautiful, silky white coat that requires regular grooming to keep it in pristine condition. Their hypoallergenic coat makes them a suitable choice for individuals with allergies or sensitivities. Maltese dogs can easily interact with individuals of all ages, from children to the elderly. They are known for their loving and devoted nature, forming strong bonds with their human companions and offering comfort and companionship. These dogs are adaptable and can thrive in different therapy environments, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. They have a calm and gentle temperament, which allows them to provide a sense of peace and tranquillity to those they interact with. Their intelligence and willingness to please make them highly trainable for therapy work. They can be taught specific tasks or commands to assist individuals in need, such as providing emotional support or performing simple tasks. In summary, the Maltese’s elegant appearance, affectionate nature, adaptability, and trainability make them well-suited for therapy work. They have the ability to provide emotional support and bring joy to those in need, making them valuable assets in the field of therapy dogs.
15. English Greyhound Dog
The English Greyhound, also known simply as the Greyhound, is a noble and elegant dog breed known for its remarkable speed and graceful appearance. While Greyhounds are primarily recognized for their athletic prowess and success in racing, they can also serve as therapy dogs in certain contexts. These dogs have a gentle and calm temperament, which can make them suitable for therapy work. Despite their racing background, they have a natural ability to adapt to a relaxed and soothing environment, providing comfort and companionship to individuals in need. Their sleek and slender build, coupled with their affectionate nature, allows them to form deep connections with humans. Greyhounds are known for their affectionate and gentle conduct, often leaning into people for comfort and enjoying gentle petting. They have a quiet and laid-back personality, which can contribute to creating a tranquil and serene atmosphere in therapy settings. Their presence alone can have a calming effect on individuals, and their ability to exude a sense of peace can be beneficial for those seeking emotional support. It is important to note that Greyhounds have specific needs and considerations. They require regular exercise to maintain their physical well-being, and their thin coat makes them sensitive to extreme temperatures. Additionally, their prey drive may require careful monitoring and training in certain therapy environments. While these dogs may not possess the same level of exuberance or playfulness as some other therapy breeds, their gentle and serene nature can offer a unique and calming presence to those in need of emotional support. Thus, English Greyhounds can potentially serve as therapy dogs.