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Do people with ADHD like dogs?

What Is The Best Breed Of Dog For A Child With ADHD?

If you’re considering a dog for your child with ADHD, you are in the right place. While the breeds that make for the best pets can be highly subjective, some traits might be more or less desirable for certain families.

So, what’s the best breed of dog for a child with ADHD? In this article, we’ll talk about why dogs can be beneficial for kids with ADHD and what to look for when it comes to the best dog breeds for a hyperactive child. Then, we’ll discuss virtual pets as an addition or alternative to pet ownership.

Not sure if your child is ready for the responsibility of having a dog?

Try the new to-do app for kids with ADHD called Joon first. Joon is a new type of video game that makes routine tasks fun for kids (ages 6 — 12) diagnosed with ADHD by giving them a virtual pet to take care of first. If they prove that they can take care of their virtual pet, then its a good sign they will be able to be responsible for an actual dog!

Try for Free

Is A Dog Good For A Child With ADHD?

Having a dog can be highly beneficial for a child with ADHD. People can even qualify for emotional support animals with an ADHD diagnosis. Dogs can help children with ADHD:

  • Stick to a schedule.
  • Develop their sense of responsibility.
  • Get in physical activity.
  • Cope with emotional triggers.
  • Boost their self-esteem.

Pet ownership can also support enjoyment and overall quality of life. Now, let’s go over some of the factors you might want to consider, as well as some of the top dog breeds for a child with ADHD.

The Best Breed Of Dog For A Hyperactive Child

As you know, getting a dog is a commitment, so you are making the right move by doing your research beforehand. When it comes to choosing an ideal dog for a hyperactive child, the breed may matter. After all, you want the dog to be a good fit both in terms of physical energy and personality. Beyond what you find online, it’s smart to consider traits such as:

  • If you want a dog with a calm temperament.
  • If you prefer larger or smaller, more delicate dogs.
  • The amount of physical activity the dog will require.
  • The size of dog your home has the space for.

All of these things can help you seal the deal and make the right decision. With all of that said, what dog breeds are best for kids with ADHD? Consider these dog breeds for a hyperactive child. We’ll start with the pet we know best—our own.

Try Joon — An Alternative Virtual Pet

Joon is a new kind of video game that motivates children with ADHD to complete their daily routines and tasks. How does this relate to pet ownership? The game is centered around caring for a virtual pet called a Doter. In order to care for the Doter, kids must complete «quests,» which are really household chores and related activities, like eating breakfast, making the bed, doing schoolwork, or getting dressed. This supports executive function, independence, and task completion. Even if you do have a pet in the home, your child can use and benefit from Joon. See for yourself why Joon is the top toy for ADHD children.

Benefits of A Virtual Pet

Not all families are able to be dog owners, whether that’s due to space, cost, or for another reason. With a Joon, your child gets to reap the advantages of having a pet, such as building responsibility, time management skills, and engaging in helpful routines without the commitment and risks of pet ownership. A virtual pet won’t make a mess, and even kids who aren’t ready to take care of a real-life pet can use an app like Joon. It’s a lot cheaper, too. With a virtual pet, after all, there aren’t any vet bills. Joon is safe and affordable, and many parents find that it improves their parent-child relationship in addition to other benefits.

Ready to start? Download the app and sign up for a 7-day free trial to get your child started with Joon, or click here to learn more about the science behind it.

Try a virtual pet for your ADHD child?

Try the new to-do app for kids with ADHD called Joon. Joon is a new type of video game that makes routine tasks fun for kids (ages 6 — 12). Motivate your child with ADHD to focus and stay on top of their daily tasks with a game that turns routines into actual fun!

Try for Free

Golden Retriever

Golden retrievers are known for being playful yet gentle and affectionate. They’re also highly intelligent and intuitive. This combination makes them both fantastic family dogs and great pets for kids with ADHD. As far as size goes, golden retrievers are most often around 55-75 pounds.

Labrador Retriever

Similar to golden retrievers, labrador retrievers have a reputation for being intelligent, friendly, and affectionate. However, they’re somewhere from 55 to 80 pounds in size.


Beagles are affectionate and loyal. They are eager and often require a lot of physical activity. If you’re looking for a smaller dog that shares the friendliness of a labrador retriever or golden retriever, this could be an excellent fit, as they are less than half the size.

Jack Russel

Jack Russells are energetic dogs, making them a strong match for a hyperactive child with ADHD. They have lively personalities and are highly intelligent, as well as easy to train. Another great choice if you’re interested in smaller dogs, Jack Russells love running and chasing after toys, and they’re usually around 13-18 pounds.


Corgis are known for being friendly, loyal, intelligent, loving, and obedient. These traits make corgis easy to train. They’re usually around 30 pounds but could be as low as 16 pounds, or as high as 40 pounds.

Cocker Spaniel

Cocker spaniels are both lively and gentle. They’re affectionate and friendly, and while they aren’t ideal as a watchdog, they make for a wonderful companion. They’re usually in the 25-32 pound range.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is smaller than a cocker spaniel at around 13-18 pounds. However, they are just as affectionate and gentle. This makes a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel an excellent option for a family in search of a smaller dog.


Collies are intuitive, loyal, and loving. They’re also highly intelligent and quick to learn new things. Medium in size, these dogs have fantastic personalities and are easy for dog trainers to work with.

Bernese Mountain Dog

These dogs are considered large at around 79-110 pounds, but there’s no need to be intimidated. Bernese Mountain Dogs have fantastic personalities and can be a splendid dog breed for the right family. They’re affectionate, friendly, intelligent, and eager to please. With these features in mind, professional dog trainers tend to love them and have an easy time with training.

German shepherd

Around 49-88 pounds in size, these dogs are confident, gentle, courageous, and intensely loyal. A German Shepard may take a little more time to make friends, but they will stick by your side, making them a great dog for a child who needs a friend and emotional support.

It’s not to say that other breeds can’t make fabulous pets for kids with ADHD, but hopefully, this list gives your family a solid place to start.

Which Dog Should I Choose?

When it comes the time to pick a dog, you want to think of what’s realistic for your family and the specific traits that stand out to you. In this sense, the best dog for your child or family is highly individual. If you have a small home or apartment and the personality aligns with the needs of your family, a Yorkshire terrier, for example, could be the pet for you. When you’re on your search, spend some time with various dogs first. See who your child and family are drawn to most. As for cost, it’ll vary depending on where you get your pet. Consider getting a rescue animal; it’s a win-win because you’ll save money and will potentially save a life, too. Often, you’ll be able to find a place to rescue a pet in your area if you search the web for «rescue animals near me» or «rescue dogs near me.»

You can also try an alternative virtual pet if you’re not quite ready for a dog.


While pet ownership doesn’t replace ADHD treatment, a dog can make an excellent addition to the family and can help a child with ADHD in various ways. Dogs can enhance the life and functioning of a child with ADHD by acting as a companion, providing emotional comfort, aiding in the creation and maintenance of routines, and more.

The best dog breed can vary from family to family, but there are some dog breeds that are more likely than others to be a good match for kids with ADHD. Labrador and golden retrievers, beagles, and cocker spaniels are all examples of ideal pets for children who veer on the side of hyperactivity.

Consider factors such as energy level and the size of the dog before you get a dog for your family. Virtual pets make a viable alternative for families who can’t take on a pet, and apps like Joon come with a wide range of benefits regardless of if your family has a pet in the home or not.


Dr. Brittany Ferri, PhD

Brittany is a registered and licensed occupational therapist who holds a PhD in Integrative Mental Health. She is the owner of a writing and consulting company called Simplicity of Health. She has direct experience in program development, behavioral health, pediatrics, and telehealth. She has published five books, lectured at 20+ OT/OTA programs, and has been quoted as a health expert by NBC News, WebMD, CNN, and other outlets.


Dr. Brittany Ferri, PhD

Brittany is a registered and licensed occupational therapist who holds a PhD in Integrative Mental Health. She is the owner of a writing and consulting company called Simplicity of Health. She has direct experience in program development, behavioral health, pediatrics, and telehealth. She has published five books, lectured at 20+ OT/OTA programs, and has been quoted as a health expert by NBC News, WebMD, CNN, and other outlets.

Service Dogs for ADHD: Benefits, Things to Consider, Application Process

Julia Childs Heyl is a clinical social worker who focuses on mental health disparities, the healing of generational trauma, and depth psychotherapy.

Published on January 10, 2023

person walking their service dog

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurobehavioral disorder that causes impulsivity, hyperactivity, lack of focus, and numerous other symptoms. About 4.4% of US adults between the ages of 18 and 44 years old have a diagnosis of ADHD. It is more common in men than women, and non-Hispanic white folks have a higher diagnostic prevalence than other racial/ethnic groups.

Though this can be a challenging disorder to navigate, many living with ADHD have robust and productive lives. Strong coping tools can play a large role in navigating an ADHD diagnosis, leading some to wonder if a service dog is an option for them.

This article will explore how a service dog can help with ADHD symptoms, considerations, the application process, and tools to use if a service dog isn’t right for you.

How Can a Service Dog Help ADHD?

“First, there’s limited scientific evidence to support the use of animal-assisted services for ADHD,” explains Dr. Patrick LaCount, a psychologist specializing in the treatment of ADHD among college students and adults. Dr. Shauna Pollard, a clinical psychologist who also specializes in ADHD treatment, noted that while her clients receive support from their pets, she currently doesn’t have any patients in her practice who have a service dog for their ADHD diagnosis.

Despite the limited evidence and rarity of service dogs being used by those living with ADHD, there certainly are reasons a service dog could be of great support for this condition. LaCount explains that a service dog may help their owner when they get distracted from an important task, help them sustain a routine, and encourage them to burn off excess energy.

Service dogs can also interfere during times of emotional distress by prompting the owner to redirect their attention. Some service dogs are trained to provide physical pressure on the body as a form of grounding, ultimately decreasing anxiety. While many may think of adults with ADHD benefitting from service dogs, it is possible for a service dog to be of great help to a child with ADHD. If a child wanders off, an appropriately trained service dog could help the family locate them.

ADHD Service Dog Application Process

Keeping in mind that a service dog is for someone who has a physical or mental disability that hinders their daily activities, a service dog requires extensive training. The best way to get a service dog is to find an organization that specializes in training psychiatric service dogs.

Doing so ensures that you receive a service animal that is equipped to support you in navigating your ADHD symptoms. Little Angels Service Dogs and Doggie Does Good are two great organizations that focus on supporting those with psychiatric disabilities receive support from service dogs.

Written documentation from your clinician is necessary to qualify for a service animal. They will have to confirm that your current ADHD symptoms are debilitating, thus justifying adopting a service animal. Additionally, you will need to register your service dog and ensure it has identification. While it is illegal for others to require you show identification of your service dog, having it handy can keep be helpful nonetheless.

Things to Consider About Getting a Service Dog

A service dog isn’t a pet—it is an animal with a job. That means that the dog must provide assistance that is directly related to the owner’s disability. Service dogs are either trained by the owner or a professional trainer.

With that in mind, it is important to consider the money and time that will go into training a service dog. Additionally, you might want to consider how a service dog will help you perform essential tasks that an ADHD diagnosis prohibits you from doing physically.

What to Do If You Can’t Get a Service Dog

If you’re unable to get a service dog, consider other outlets of help that may be useful. First, seeking out the support of a licensed mental health professional is critical, and even receiving medication can also be very helpful.

Dr. Pollard recommends a technique she calls “chunking,” which refers to breaking up tasks into manageable pieces. “This might look like doing 10 minutes of laundry a day or folding half a load of laundry before taking a break,” she explains. She also encourages mindfulness techniques. “Mindfulness ultimately helps you to become more conscious of where your attention goes and how you can create a gap between your thoughts and behaviors,” she explained. She acknowledges that the goal isn’t to feel calm in the moment, but a consistent mindfulness practice can increase feelings of being calm.

According to Pollard, there are some additional resources that may be of support. She recommends the book Natural Relief for Adult ADHD: Complementary Strategies for Increasing Focus, Attention, and Motivation With or Without Medication by Stephanie Moulton Sarkis, Ph.D. A few podcasts she encourages those with ADHD to listen to are ADHD ReWired, Hacking Your ADHD, and I’m Busy Being Awesome.

A Word From Verywell

Coping with ADHD is no easy task. In addition to seeking out a licensed therapist, consider joining a support group. If you’re noticing that you’re experiencing feelings of hopelessness, wanting to harm yourself, or wanting to harm others, you don’t have to suffer in silence. Dial 988 to get connected to mental health support. If you’re experiencing an emergency, dial 911.

2 Sources

Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. National Institute of Mental Health. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.
  2. National Institute of Mental Health. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Statistics.

By Julia Childs Heyl
Julia Childs Heyl, MSW, is a clinical social worker and writer. As a writer, she focuses on mental health disparities and uses critical race theory as her preferred theoretical framework. In her clinical work, she specializes in treating people of color experiencing anxiety, depression, and trauma through depth therapy and EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) trauma therapy.

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