These Four Doodles are Excellent dogs for Special Needs Children

You’ve considered getting a family pet for years, but you are unsure which breed is best. Do Doodles make great dogs for families with children of Special Needs?

If you are the parent of a special needs child, you know how difficult it can be to get your child to be more engaged in the world around them. A dog can help. A recent study found that 67% of families with autistic children had dogs, and of the homes that had dogs, 94% of the parents reported their autistic children had formed a special bond with the dog. So, it is a universal truth that dogs can have a special place in the hearts and minds of children with disabilities. 

Dogs have been used in therapy for special needs children for years. Generally, larger, and more gentle breeds like a Labrador or Golden Retriever make excellent service pets on their own. When bred with a Poodle, they can bring out the best traits from each bloodline.

But what breed is best? Do Doodles make good service dogs? Will they be gentle and loving? The last thing you want is to invest money in a breed that comes home, ignores your child, and makes them feel even more rejected and isolated.

Please note that smaller breeds, like Chihuahuas, Jack Russell Terriers, or Boston Terriers, are usually too high strung for these circumstances and tend to nip and bite at toes and fingers. Because a special needs child may suffer from anxieties caused by their disability, you want a dog that will not exasperate your child, create undue frustration, or cause a meltdown.

What Doodles Make Great Pets for Special Needs Families?

Some breeds are better than others for special needs kids.


The Labrador Retriever ranks as the number one service animal on many lists. Not surprisingly, Poodles are also on the list. When a breeder crosses these two bloodlines, the result is an intelligent dog with docile tendencies. The Labradoodle’s characteristics are amiable and outgoing, like the beautiful masterpiece you know is buried inside your child. These dogs are very playful and full of life, preferring to be active. Labradoodles tend to be curious about everything and everyone around them. The smarts of the Poodle and the gentleness of the Lab make for a pet that will make your child’s welfare their top concern. 

Labs can perform various services for their owners, but they’re exceptionally accommodating for mobility-impaired owners who need help reaching and securing items. They have natural retrieving instincts and love to “fetch” with a careful bite that will not attempt to be possessive and retrieve it as soon as it is taken from them.  


This breed is a cross between a Golden Retriever and Poodle mix. Golden Retrievers were raised as hunting dogs. They are affectionate and active with a very gentle disposition. Like their Labrador cousins, they make lifelong pets. Do not be surprised at how the dog takes to your special-needs child, maintaining a loyalty that will last for a decade or more. (The Goldendoodle does require about an hour or more of exercise a day – so be prepared to have your child go outside or take both for a walk). This animal is not the dog you want if you live in an enclosed space like an apartment as they can be cumbersome and their size makes them sometimes difficult to navigate. 

A Goldendoodle would make a good therapy dog, which will easily give lots of comforts to ease your child’s anxiety. They do like people and are not prone to being easily excited or anxious. Since many autistic children struggle with ADHD and separation issues, this breed can help calm a fearful child’s heart. 


This hybrid is a mix between a Poodle and a Bernese Mountain Dog. The Mountain Dog comes from the Swiss Alps and is primarily a herding dog. The larger version of this breed, called the Standard, will usually get to a height of 23 – 29 inches and 70-90 lbs. The Miniature is somewhat smaller in that it is 25 – 49 lbs, and has a height of 18 – 22 inches. Either size dog would be adequate for a special needs child unless you are looking for a much smaller version (Tiny Berniepoos are very cute and rarely get over a couple of pounds – they are the ultimate lap dog, with very gentle kisses, but they are not service dogs). 

A Bernie will be highly relaxed with an eager-to-please attitude. Expect the Bernedoodle to keep things moving, as shepherding is an instinct from its bloodline. They make a good walking dog and can be trained to alert others when they sense something is amiss or danger is present. If you need an extra set of eyes on your special-needs child, then a Bernedoodle is the way to proceed. The coat is wiry and very hypoallergenic. It does require grooming but does not shed profusely. The grooming requirements can help teach daily chores to your child and give them a sense of responsibility in the care and upkeep of their dog. 


Also known as a Borderdoodle or Borpoo, this brilliant breed crosses between a Border Collie and a Poodle. Both Border collies and Poodles are known for their intelligence. The dog is used for herding, and raised for shepherding cattle and sheep in Scotland. A border collie will tend to be protective of its family and, like collies in general, take to one person in the family as their primary focus. It likes to be trusted with great responsibility. 

The Borpoo can be stubborn at times. It needs activities to be engaged in and is happiest when given a task. Because they take to commands well, this is an excellent avenue to help your special needs child learn the value of commanding and training a pet to perform simple tasks.