What is a Therapy Dog – Which Breeds Make the Best Therapy Dog?

Researchers are struggling day by day to gain more knowledge about how pets can improve human health. As a result, they have found many health benefits of pets on humans. So, with time, the importance of pet therapy has been increasing. Many people have been developing an interest in therapy dogs. Such dogs can give comfort to people who are suffering from anxiety, facing difficulties and are in stressful circumstances. 

To learn more about therapy dogs, read this article as you will find all the important facts about them. But let’s first understand the concept of Pet Therapy.

What is pet therapy?

Pet therapy or animal therapy is a way to help people recover from illnesses (mental or physical) by using a trained animal.

There are various animals used as therapy animals depending upon the situation and therapy but the most popular are dogs. They are not only used for animal-assisted therapy but are also used as family pets. 

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What is a therapy dog?

A therapy dog is a friendly, gentle, calm, affectionate, and even-tempered dog that is trained to be responsive and loving towards patients. It has a desire to be around almost everyone and will provide love to elders and kids and interact with other animals. 

A therapy dog can be of any size and breed, certain breeds are ideal to be therapy dogs though. The most important thing that makes an excellent therapy dog is its calm temperament. It should allow human interaction because the main objective of a therapy dog is to allow unfamiliar people to interact with it.

The benefit of Therapy Dogs

There are countless benefits of a therapy dog and the following are the most common ways these specially-trained dogs can benefit individuals.

Increased Self-esteem

Owning a therapy dog can significantly boost your self-esteem compared to someone who does not have one. The presence of a loyal and loving companion can enhance a person’s sense of value and well-being, ultimately contributing to higher self-esteem.

Enhance Social skills

Having a therapy dog or any dog, in general, can improve your social life. It not only helps you enhance your gestures and facial expressions but also gives you confidence and improves your social skills. When you go on a walk with your dog or attend different dog shows, it helps you make new friends and increase your social circle.

To do healthy things

As a dog owner, you are more likely to maintain a healthier routine as compared to those who don’t have a dog. You will have a desire to do healthy activities such as routine exercise and other physical activities. Dogs make you healthy, punctual, and responsible.

Reduce the risk of Heart Diseases

A therapy dog will reduce your blood pressure, several studies have proven that people having dogs have fewer chances of heart disease. Cuddling a dog releases healthy hormones in your body that improve your overall health and reduce stress.

Decrease Isolation

Throughout history, dogs have been the most loyal companions to humans. They will not let you be isolated or bored and will fill your life with happiness and love.

Types of Therapy Dogs:

They have three major types. Keep reading to learn more about all the types.

  1. Therapeutic Visitation Dog
  2. Animal Assisted Therapy Dog
  3. Facility Therapy Dog

Therapeutic therapy dog

The therapeutic dog is also known as the therapeutic visitation dog. It is the most common type of therapy dog which could also be a household pet dog.  

The therapeutic dogs are taken to hospitals, old houses, and rehabilitation centers occasionally. The objective of this visit is to uplift people who are far away from their loved ones due to mental or physical illnesses. Therefore, a visit of an affectionating dog to such places can motivate, give hope, and encourage them to stay strong.

Animal Assisted Therapy Dog

An animal-assisted therapy dog is used as an aid recovery dog. It has several benefits and is usually used in hospitals to improve patient strength, mobility, & balance, and help them go through their rehab phase strongly.

They can also be used in a psychological way to improve self-esteem, increase courage, and reduce stress and blood pressure in such patients.

Facility Therapy Dog

This type of therapy dog is found in nursing homes and care centers to help people who are victimized by Alzheimer’s disease and other mental disorders. A facility therapy dog lives in hospital facilities under the supervision of a trained member only.

Breeds that could be Excellent Dogs for Therapy

  1. Labrador Retriever:

Ranked as #1 for decades in many countries, the Labrador Retriever can make an excellent therapy dog because it is highly intelligent and easy to train. Generally, the Labrador Retriever would be like a member of your family when you own it. With proper training from an early age, a Labrador Retriever could be an ideal choice for therapeutic services.

  1. Poodle:

Being the second-most intelligent breed, Poodles have all the capabilities to be a therapy dog. The great thing about Poodles is that they come in various sizes from Toy to Standard. The Standard, Miniature, and Moyen Poodles are all the perfect options for a therapy dog while the Toy Poodle is very small in size so it may not be an ideal choice. However, the Toy Poodle will be better in those circumstances where you have a smaller space. Apart from the size, the Poodle is one of the smartest dogs out there- a quick learner and easy to train.

  1. French Bulldog:

The French bulldog is an ideal size for a therapy dog, having an outstanding temperament and behavior towards strangers. It can make you feel better on your bad days with its company, love, and even-tempered. If you love cuddling with dogs, the fluffy French Bulldog would be an ideal choice for you.

  1. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel:

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is rapidly gaining popularity for the last few years. It is a small-sized dog that weighs around 15-18 pounds. It is an attention-seeker dog that wants to play all day. This breed can also become a wonderful family and therapy dog.

  1. Golden Retriever:

Well, Golden Retriever is usually thought of as a wild dog but it has been witnessed as a perfect family dog for a long time now. Additionally, it can make a perfect therapy dog if properly trained from a younger age. The Goldens are highly intelligent and quick learners, they will always be there whenever you need their love and attention.

  1. Pomeranian:

Pomeranian is one of the best options if you are considering a therapy dog. It is an ideal dog in terms of size and weighs around 7 lbs. Pomeranian is an active, playful, and friendly dog that will not give you a tough time in training sessions due to its smart mind. It is a frequent barker though, that could give you pain by its high-pitch barking.

  1. Border Collie:

Without any doubt, the Border Collie is one of the most affectionate and loyal therapy dogs. It is a medium-sized dog having a loyal and gentle personality. Border Collie is the most intelligent dog and can easily be trained to perform amazing things. Moreover, it is also a protective and perfect family dog. 

  1. German shepherd:

The German Shepherd is an excellent working dog that can become a very good therapy dog. It has a loyal, protective, and loving nature. Since it has an amazing sense of love and understanding, it can easily be trained to be a therapy dog.

  1. Pug:

A very cute breed known for its adored wrinkled face, Pug. It is a sweet dog that loves to be always alongside its owner. Pug has a fair amount of energy and is always ready to explore new things. It is an intelligent breed, and when well trained it can be a very good therapy dog. It is also known as the clown of the canine world.

  1. Greyhound:

The Greyhounds are thought of as racing dogs, however, they can make excellent therapy dogs. They are very loveable and even-tempered. They enjoy hardcore exercises due to their aggressive temperament, but when they are around humans they are gentle and calm.


Hopefully, this article will answer all your questions about a therapy dog. You can also get a pre-trained therapy dog for yourself or train your dog to become a therapy dog but for that, you need to pass through the AKC-specific training test. You should register your dog in the AKC, a long process but not impossible.

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