What Are the Best Breeds of Dogs for Therapeutic Visits in Hospitals?

Therapy dogs have time and again demonstrated the formidable impact they can have on people’s emotional, mental, and physical well-being. These lovable creatures are not just delightful companions, but they also work diligently to provide comfort and support to individuals in need. The gentle nature and training of these dogs make them ideal for therapeutic visits in hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities. However, it’s worth noting that not all breeds are suitable for this distinctive role. So, what are the best breeds of dogs for therapeutic visits in hospitals? Let’s delve into this subject and explore the top breeds that are known for their therapeutic abilities.

The Emotionally Supportive Golden Retriever

Known for their friendly, well-mannered, and versatile nature, the Golden Retriever tops the list of therapy dogs. As a breed recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) for its exceptional ability to work closely with people, Golden Retrievers have a special place in therapeutic settings.

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Golden Retrievers are renowned for their gentle disposition and capability to connect with people of all ages. Their obedient nature, combined with the right training, makes them highly adaptable to different environments, including hospitals. They can provide emotional support, alleviate anxiety, and help improve the mood of patients.

These dogs are exceptionally intelligent and eager to please, making them great for various therapy tasks. Whether it’s helping a patient with physical therapy exercises or offering emotional comfort to those in distress, Golden Retrievers rise to the occasion. With their luscious golden coats and heartwarming smiles, they are sure to brighten up any room.

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The Gentle Giant: Great Dane

Despite their imposing size, Great Danes are known for their gentle, affectionate, and patient nature. These traits make them an excellent choice for therapy work in hospitals. According to the AKC, Great Danes are one of the best breeds for therapy due to their love for people and ability to be trainable.

As one of the tallest breeds in the world, they are often referred to as "gentle giants". Great Danes can provide a sense of safety and security, which can be incredibly comforting for patients dealing with emotional distress or anxiety. Their large size also allows them to work with patients who require physical support, such as help with balance or mobility.

One of the most appealing aspects of Great Danes is their calm demeanor. They are not easily agitated or overexcited, making them well-suited for hospital environments where a calm and composed presence is beneficial.

The Hardworking Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retrievers are another breed that excels in therapy work. Known for their intelligence, adaptability, and friendly nature, these dogs are a popular choice among therapy dog owners.

Labradors are incredibly good at understanding and responding to human emotions, making them excellent at providing emotional support. They possess an innate ability to sense when people are upset and can often provide comfort without any specific training.

Accompanied by their high energy levels and love for play, Labradors can inject a dose of positivity and uplift the spirits of those around them. Their sociable nature also makes them great at interacting with different patients, providing much-needed companionship and comfort.

The Affectionate Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, with its endearing eyes and friendly disposition, is a breed that’s well-suited for therapy work. Known for their affectionate nature, these dogs are great at providing emotional support and comfort to patients.

Due to their small size, they are especially good for therapy work in settings where a larger dog might be intimidating or impractical. Cavaliers are often lap dogs, comfortable being held and cuddled, which can provide immense comfort to patients who are bed-bound or have limited mobility.

Furthermore, these dogs are very sociable and get along well with both adults and children. Their friendly and adaptable nature, coupled with their comforting presence, make them a wonderful option for therapeutic visits in hospitals.

The Compassionate Poodle

Poodles, both standard and miniature, are highly respected as therapy dogs. Their intelligence, combined with their eager-to-please nature, makes them incredibly trainable for a variety of tasks.

A unique aspect of Poodles is their hypoallergenic coats, making them a suitable choice for individuals who are allergic to dogs. In addition to this, Poodles are known for their empathetic nature. They can pick up on human emotions and will often act accordingly to provide comfort.

From providing emotional comfort to helping with physical activities, Poodles can adapt to various roles in a therapy setting. Their loving nature and ability to establish strong bonds with people make them an exceptional breed for therapeutic work.

The Resilient Boxer: A Great Therapy Companion

Boxers are another breed that has shown exceptional abilities in therapy work. Known for their muscular physique and playful nature, Boxers are robust and resilient, with characteristics that make them a great choice for therapeutic visits in hospitals.

Boxers are inherently interactive and enthusiastic, which makes them effective in lifting the spirits of patients. They are energetic and love to play, which can be an invaluable asset in cheering up patients who are depressed or anxious.

Despite their playful disposition, Boxers are also very patient and well-behaved. They can sit calmly by a patient’s side, providing a comforting presence and emotional support when needed. The Boxer’s expressive face and loving eyes often bring a sense of warmth and reassurance to those they interact with.

Moreover, Boxers are highly trainable and possess an instinctive desire to protect and comfort their human companions. Their protective nature can bring a much-needed sense of security to patients who are going through a difficult time. Overall, their strength, affectionate nature, and trainability make Boxers a valuable addition to any hospital’s therapy dog team.

The Intelligent Border Collie: An Excellent Therapy Dog

Border Collies are renowned for their intelligence and agility, making them an excellent option for therapy work. As a breed known for its quick learning ability and desire to please, Border Collies are an excellent therapy dog breed, especially for patients requiring physical therapy.

What sets Border Collies apart is their extraordinary intelligence. This allows them to understand and follow complex commands, making them ideal for tasks that require precise actions or movements. For instance, they can easily be trained to assist patients with basic physical exercises, making the rehabilitation process more engaging and enjoyable.

Aside from their practical abilities, Border Collies also have a compassionate side. They are usually very affectionate and sensitive to human emotions, traits that are vital in providing emotional support to patients. Their keen sensitivity also allows them to respond appropriately to the moods and needs of their human companions, further enhancing their therapeutic value.


In conclusion, numerous dog breeds have the potential to excel in therapy work. The breed’s natural disposition, intelligence, and trainability all contribute to this. However, beyond these traits, a strong bond between the dog and its handler is crucial in ensuring the success of therapy visits.

From the friendly Golden Retriever, the gentle Great Dane, the hardworking Labrador Retriever, the affectionate Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, the compassionate Poodle, the resilient Boxer, to the intelligent Border Collie, each of these dog breeds has unique characteristics that make them well suited for therapeutic visits in hospitals.

Moreover, the training provided to these service dogs, along with their ability to provide emotional support, makes them invaluable in healthcare settings. Whether the patient needs physical support, emotional reassurance, or a friendly companion, these therapy dog breeds are up to the task.

As with any form of animal-assisted therapy, it’s essential to ensure that the therapy dogs are well taken care of, and their needs are met. After all, they are not just service dogs; they are also loving creatures that deserve the highest quality of life.