Which Dog Breeds Are Good for Therapy Training?

With more and more roles being created to incorporate dogs into our health care system due to a number of proven health benefits, such as stress reduction and physical assistance, it is important to pick the right breeds for the right jobs. With this in mind, which breeds make the grade and for which roles?

Therapy and service dogs in the modern world

Therapy Dogs

These dogs are generally pets who are trained and subsequently brought into treatment centers at regular intervals.

Therapeutic Visitation Dogs

Therapeutic visitation dogs are a type of therapy dog are used to simply brighten people’s spirit and help motivate people in their therapy, whether it be mental or physical.

Animal Assisted Therapy Dog

These types of therapy dog assist physical and occupational therapists by helping patients gain more motion in limbs and improve hand-eye coordination.

Facility Therapy Dog

These dogs work primarily in nursing homes and help people with symptoms from mental disabilities.

For this type of therapy work, the main requirements of training are that the breeds need to be easily trainable and have a gentle temperament at all times. This being the case, any dog can work as a therapy dog with the right qualifications, but the most commonly used include:

  • Labrador Retriever
  • German Shepherd
  • Greyhound
  • Beagle
  • Rottweiler
  • Saint Bernard
  • Pomeranian
  • Poodle
  • Pug
  • French Bulldog

How can dogs help

Service Dogs

Service dogs on the other hand are highly trained to perform certain tasks and as a result, require certain temperaments and skill sets that only certain breeds can provide.

Guide Dogs

Guide dogs take commands from their owners who may have a visual impairment, but will only action these commands when it is safe to do so.

There are a number of traits guide dogs need to have including friendliness, but focus on the job at hand when being trained means a number of breeds are better suited than others including:

  • Golden Retrievers
  • Labradors
  • German Shepherds

These breeds are specifically used for their intellect and reliability, as it is important for guide dogs to take verbal commands from the owner but only action when it is safe to do so, requiring a certain level of environmental awareness.

Hearing Dogs

These dogs are trained to alert their owners with hearing difficulties to sounds by use of physical touch and observation of where the dog is looking.

With the need for these dogs to be reliable, not easily distracted and easily trainable, the most commonly used breeds for this type of service include:

  • Labradors
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Miniature Poodles
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

With medium-sized dogs generally being the most popularly used breeds, hearing dogs require extensive training to alert owners to relevant sounds by either physical touch or through observation of where the dog is looking.

Physical Assistance dogs

These dogs are trained to help those with mobility issues to get around and perform daily tasks such as opening doors, retrieving dropped items and assisting with dressing/undressing.

With this type of service, a sturdy yet reliable breed is required with the following breeds being the most commonly used:

  • Labradors
  • Golden Retrievers

With training for these types of assistance dogs up to 18 months, dogs such as Labradors and Golden retrievers are ideal breeds as they are both hardworking, eager to please and easily trainable, as well as being two of the most popular breeds in the world.

Medical Assistance Dogs

Medical assistance dogs have a number of roles including the detection of conditions such as oncoming seizures, allergy detection (such as peanuts), changing insulin levels and even detecting cancer.

An excellent sense of smell and intelligence is required to undertake this job, meaning that only a handful of breeds are used for this type of work, including:

  • Labradors
  • English Springer Spaniels

With both of these breeds considered to have some of the best noses in the canine world, with up to 220 million smell receptors in their nose as opposed to our 5 million, these dogs have even been put to work detecting cancer with on dog correctly identifying 30 out of 33 cases of cancer from urine samples.

Are they the ultimate health care companion?

With studies showing significant health benefits of dog ownership, including a reduction in the stress hormone, cortisol, the lowering of blood pressure and the positive physical effects that dogs provide, it has become clear that dogs are indeed the ultimate health care companion.

To read more about the health benefits of dogs, visit Fairmont.com for more information.



Cindy S
Cindy Smith10 months ago


Chrissie R
Chrissie Rabout a year ago

Thank you for posting.

Peggy B
Peggy B1 years ago


Past Member
Past Member 2 years ago

Your contents are too straightforward to browse and easy to understand
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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Lenore Kudaka
Lenore K2 years ago


Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the article.

Marie W.
Marie W3 years ago


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sandra vito
Sandra Vito3 years ago