Breed Tips

Best Therapy Dogs of 2024

Therapy Dog Breeds: Finding Companions for Comfort and Anxiety Support

Finding the perfect therapy dog isn't a one-size-fits-all approach. While some breeds have a reputation for gentle and friendly personalities, it's essential to consider both the needs of those the dog will be serving and the individual dog's temperament. This article will explore popular therapy dog breeds and explain how they become certified companions for comfort.

What Makes a Good Therapy Dog?

Before exploring specific breeds, let's look at the key qualities of a successful therapy dog:

  • Calm Temperament:

     Therapy dogs work in busy environments and encounter people in different emotional states. Patience and adaptability are essential.

  • Friendliness:

     Having a naturally kind and non-aggressive personality is key. An enthusiastic tail wag goes a long way in comforting someone.

  • Trainability:

     Therapy dogs need extensive training, so intelligence and a willingness to please are crucial.

  • Enjoyment of Interaction:

     The work should be rewarding for the dog; they should genuinely love interacting with people of all ages and enjoy being petted.

Therapists may provide some useful information regarding what makes a good therapy dog. Here's a tip: try searching for therapists near me today to get connected with a professional today!

How Do Dogs Become Therapy Dogs?

While a naturally calm and friendly temperament sets a good foundation, potential therapy dogs require specialized training and official evaluation to truly earn their title. Here's a general overview of the process:

  • Basic Obedience:

     A solid foundation in obedience skills is vital. Many programs require that therapy dogs initially pass the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test to verify basic training and good manners.

  • Therapy Dog Training:

     Specialized programs cover skills for therapy scenarios. This may include navigating distracting environments, responding calmly to medical equipment, and being comfortable with touch from various people.

  • Evaluation:

     Reputable therapy dog organizations will have evaluations to assess a dog's suitability for the role. Behavioral tests and observed interactions with strangers assess both obedience and comfort level.

  • Certification and Registration:

     Upon successful completion of training and evaluation, the dog will become a certified therapy dog and registered with an organization like the

    Alliance of Therapy Dogs or Pet Partners

Top Therapy Dog Breeds for Different Needs

Here are some popular therapy dog breeds known for their calm, affectionate, and intelligent personalities. Individual temperament is critical, even within these breeds.

Large Breeds

Three dogs sit on green grass with their tongues out.

Golden Retriever: Renowned for their gentle nature, Golden Retrievers adore affection and instinctively put people at ease.

Labrador Retriever: Similar to Goldens, Labrador Retrievers are friendly, adaptable, and easily trained companions.

German Shepherd: Intelligent, dedicated, and protective, German Shepherds are wonderful therapy dogs in the right setting and with an experienced handler.

Bernese Mountain Dog: These gentle giants are known for their sweet temperament and loyalty.

Medium Breeds

A black poodle and a brown and white Cavalier King Charles Spaniel sit together on the grass with their tongues out.

Poodle: Poodles are exceptionally intelligent and receptive to training. Their low-shedding coat also makes them a good option for therapy settings.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: This breed exudes affection and has a natural ease with people of all ages.

Small Breeds


Pug: These compact, friendly companions are a favorite with those who love snuggles and a calm presence.

Beagle: Their friendly demeanor and cheerful personality make them suitable for providing emotional support.

Rise In Therapy Dog Interest:

The graph represents the rise in “Therapy Dog” interest since 2004:

A Google Trends graph shows rising interest in "therapy dog" searches in the United States peaking around 2020.

Prevalence Estimates & Authoritative Facts

  • "It's estimated that over 50,000 therapy dogs are currently at work in the United States, providing comfort and support in various settings." (Source: National Geographic, as reported in a blog on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website)

  • "Major therapy dog organizations such as the

    Alliance of Therapy Dogs or Pet Partners have rigorous standards for the registration and training of therapy dog teams."

FAQs About Therapy Dogs

Are therapy dogs the same as service dogs?

No, service dogs receive individual training to perform specific tasks for a person with a disability. Therapy dogs offer general comfort and support to groups of people.

At what age can a dog become a therapy dog?

Most organizations require dogs to be at least one year old to ensure maturity before training begins.

Who Needs a Therapy Dog?

One of the most popular applications of therapy dogs is drug and alcohol recovery.
Therapy dogs play a vital role in alcohol addiction recovery by providing companionship, emotional support, and a sense of unconditional love during the challenging journey towards sobriety. For individuals navigating the complexities of addiction, these loyal companions offer a non-judgmental presence and a comforting touch, helping to alleviate feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression often associated with recovery. We suggest searching for "AA meetings near me" for the best resources.

Responsible Ownership and Pet Insurance

Therapy dogs bring immeasurable comfort, but responsible ownership means ensuring they receive the best care. This includes training, socialization, and regular veterinary visits. Pet insurance like Spot Pet Insurance can offset these costs and ease worries about unexpected accidents or illnesses.

Spot's customizable plans let you choose coverage for accidents, illnesses, and even preventive care. This ensures your therapy dog can get the treatment they need without causing financial strain. Having pet insurance helps bring peace of mind, allowing you to focus on the important bond between you and your furry companion.

Whether your therapy dog is a gentle Labrador Retriever, a cheerful Bichon Frise, or a spirited Yorkie, they make a profound difference in the lives of others. With help from Spot Pet Insurance, you can make sure they're happy and healthy enough to continue spreading joy for years to come. Get a quote today!


Alliance of Therapy Dogs. “Alliance of Therapy Dogs.” Alliance of Therapy Dogs Inc., 2016,

“Pet - Therapy Pets & Animal Assisted Activities.”, 2014,

“Therapy Dogs Work from Home to Help Young Readers.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Accessed 16 Feb. 2024.

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