The 10 Best Canines for Kids on the Autism Spectrum

Cats and dogs were initially tolerated for the services they could provide us, like guarding us and our food supplies against those who would wish us harm and vermin looking for an easy meal. They gradually transitioned to our faithful friends and companions that buoy us via unconditional love and support.

In addition to their other roles, now emotional support canines and service dogs are helping people diagnosed with autism lead better lives every day. If you have a child who’s been diagnosed with autism, you may want to consider adopting a dog to help in stress alleviation, improvement of social skills, and even boosting self-confidence.

One of the most important qualities to look for with autistic kids in mind is a breed known for having a gentle disposition. The dog should be able to remain calm during the kind of challenging moments kids can bring on, plus be good with a lot of physical contact. They must be patient and, of course, highly trainable.

This list of the 10 best dogs for kids on the autism spectrum focuses on larger breeds with two exceptions. Most of these dogs also make the cut for the Top 5 Emotional Support Animal breeds with kids in mind.

golden retriever
Photo: Pixabay/congerdesign

Golden Retrievers

Known for their sweet nature, the breed is calm and extremely tolerant, making them an ideal choice for kids on the autism spectrum. In addition to their family-friendly nature and gentle protectiveness, their well-documented intelligence and willingness to please make them easy to train.

Labrador Retrievers

Another excellent choice due to their devotion and loving nature are Labs. Well-known for their affection and smarts, they can take lots of hugs and petting because they love being with their people. In fact, the breed can be prone to separation anxiety. Note: They need plenty of exercise, and a roomy fenced yard is recommended.

standard poodles
Photo: Pixabay/NandaArt

Standard Poodles

Standard poodles are the largest-sized poodles among the breed and require a certain amount of room and exercise. Like many animals on this list, they were initially bred for work, like hunting, guarding, and rounding up livestock. Considered loving, smart, and trainable, they are also allergy-friendly canines that are loyal and loving.

Bernese Mountain Dogs

This breed is well-known for being great with kids, forming close bonds with their humans, and having a people-pleasing temperament. Their sensitivity and large body size also make them ideal buddies for children with autism. Note: While these sweet, silly dogs bring a lot of love to the table, they are prone to shedding and known to drool.

Newfoundland dog
Photo: Pixabay/warrior-on-ice


Giant teddy bears, these dogs make wonderful companions for kids, period. These gentle creatures are always up for snuggles, pets, and play sessions with kids. Another breed prone to shedding and drooling, these minor annoyances are nothing compared to everything they have to offer in the way of love, patience, and loyalty.

Old English Sheepdogs

Another terrific option for kids with ASD, this breed was originally used for herding sheep, hence the name. They are easy-going, protective, gentle, and always up for playtime with the kids. They also love their people and hanging with their family, making excellent companions all around. Note: They shed and require frequent brushing to keep their coats tangle-free.

great Dane
Photo: Pixabay/axi-schnaxi

Great Danes

Recognized for their generally calm nature, they are another breed that could withstand frequent snuggles and physical touch. Known for being nurturing and protective, they are a breed to consider. Note: As the largest breed on the list it’s worth pointing out that they require a lot of food but they’re also laid back and don’t require as much exercise as other large breeds.


Moving down in size just a bit, boxers are goofy, energetic, and patient dogs that frequently make the list as one of the best choices for children. While these happy, loving pups can withstand a good amount of touching, petting, and hugs, their athleticism requires exercise, and obedience training will be needed.

King Charles Spaniel
Photo: Pixabay/Hamsterfreund

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

This breed is both affectionate and loving, and they make great playmates for children. They are tolerant, make wonderful companions, and they’re fairly easy to train. For children sensitive to auditory stimuli, they aren’t too vocal, either. Because they are smaller in size, it is vital to remind children of the importance of being gentle with pets.


The last pup on the list exhibits a friendly and sweet nature while also being smaller in size. As with the others, though, they make fine companions and great playmates. Known for greeting every person they meet, it’s also worth noting that they like to bark, which could be an issue if your child is sensitive to sounds. Because of their diminutive size, you’ll need to remind kids to be gentle with them.

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