Breeds for children with Autism

Discussion in 'The Dog Breeds' started by J19, Apr 29, 2013.

  1. J19

    J19 New Member

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    I am looking for a large breed of dog for my son with autism. He does well with our Beagal and I would like a large breed around the house as well. Any suggestions from experiences? I would like a rotweiler because well trained they are protective and great with children and make great family pets with proper training when they are puppies. I was also looking at a mastif because they are great family pets as well. Any suggestions would be appreciated because we are still just looking around for ideas.
     
  2. AdrianneIsabel

    AdrianneIsabel Glutton for Crazy

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    A nice pit bull? Forgiving, tolerant, stoic, honest, driven, energy with an off switch, plus they're cute and fantastic snugglers.
     
  3. Saeleofu

    Saeleofu Active Member

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    Don't look for breed. Look for an individual. Try checking your local shelter for dog that are good with kids. If you get an adult dog, you know what you're getting. I'd avoid getting a puppy.

    I have a boxer, and he ADORES children. My collie also loves kids, but he's a bit more exuberant and is likely to accidentally knock them down to smother them with kisses.

    There's really nothing that would make you need a different type of dog just because your kid is autistic. A kid is a kid, and a dog that's good with kids doesn't care if the kid is different.
     
  4. Whitewave

    Whitewave New Member

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    A pit bull would be my first suggestion too. But honestly, it is hard to recommend a dog for that one aspect as many dogs could be fine, but it depends on other issues.

    Do you own or rent? Are there any breed restrictions where you live? What other qualities are you looking for in a dog? What about grooming? Activity level? What is your experience with dogs? Etc.

    My Dogo is awesome with autistic children. He adores them, but I wouldn't choose a Dogo based on that reason.


    One of Casper's experiences with an autistic child-

    We were at the local collage fall festival and this 12 yr old autistic girl started screaming and jumping up and down, broke free from her mother and tackled Casper. He is 120lb dog and she took him down to the ground and was on top of him hugging him in a bear hug. He just started thumping his tail and licking her in the face. You could see the look of relief in her Mother's face. She had been bitten quit severely by other dogs b/c she got soooo super excited when she saw a dog and wanted to hug them. A few more kids ended up piled on top of him. He is just good natured like that. But he is also large, powerful, selective with other dogs, sheds white hairs on everything I own, has food allergies and has to eat expensive food, and hardheaded as they come!
     
  5. Romy

    Romy Taxiderpy

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    Pretty much this. ^^

    What's more important are things like whether the dog's activity level meshes well with the family schedule. For example, if you're in an apartment with a beagle and kids, you probably don't want a large active breed that needs to run an hour or more every day.

    Things to consider are:

    Are you willing to groom or have a professional groomer work on your dog periodically? Or do you want a wash and wear coat?

    Do you have a fenced area the dog can get some exercise on days where things are too hectic/busy for a regular walk?

    Do you want a dog that's friendly with everyone or reserved/suspicious toward strangers?
     
  6. Saeleofu

    Saeleofu Active Member

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    Okay, I did think of ONE thing to take into account with autism. Hair type. Why? Sensory issues. I don't care for GSD hair, but I can tolerate it. I really prefer smooth coats, like boxers and pointers. But I love the look of wiry coats. Do you think your kid would be okay with a long coat? A wiry coat? A soft and curly coat? A medium-length double coat? If you already have a beagle, odds are a coat along those lines is fine. But there may just be issues with other coat types.

    Way back when I was planning a service dog program for autistic adults, I was wanting to have standard poodles, smooth collies, and rough collies. That gives a wide variety of coat types to choose from, since poodles can be clipped really short or really long, or anything in between. They can even be corded.

    Along those same lines, drool. If your kid's going to be sensitive to drool, stay away from breeds that tend to be drooly. I don't like getting slimed with dog spit, so I'd never choose a drooly dog. It took me a long time to even be okay with dog kisses (but now I love them :) )
     
  7. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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    I agree that it is first more important to narrow down to breeds that fit your family's lifestyle, and then find the perfect one for your son. Going through a rescue or shelter might be an option, someone may be able to help you find a good match.

    Consider how much experience you have in training and raising dogs - Rottweilers can be a tough breed to train and handle, especially without experience. They need a good deal of exercise and might be overprotective of your child if they aren't socialized properly, but they are also excellent with children. If you've got the energy to exercise one and the experience to train one, they might be a good choice.

    I also think a pit bull could work well, they're often called "Nanny dogs" for a reason. But if you already have a beagle, you want to make sure the dog you bring home will be friendly towards your other dog - and sometimes pit bulls, rotties, and mastiffs aren't great with other animals.

    Golden retrievers are also typically very fond of children, as are springer spaniels - but they're quite a bit smaller than the breeds you're considering.

    If you want a dog as large as a mastiff, a st. bernard might be a good breed to look into. They're a bit easier for someone less experienced in training to handle than a rottie or mastiff is.
     
  8. Brattina88

    Brattina88 Active Member

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    I totally agree with Sael but i wanted to add...

    There's a program around here that raises puppies for children with Autism, SPDs, ADHD or ADD, BiPolar seizure response dogs (some learn to alert, it's amazing), etc.... the most common breed I see is Goldens. In second Collies and Labs. There are also a few GSDs, also a few Paps :) lovely dogs with amazing temperaments, from good breeders. BUT, SO many of them don't make it and get placed in "pet only" homes - amazing pets at that!!! :D
     
  9. CharlieDog

    CharlieDog Rude and Not Ginger

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    I wanted to second Saels input about coat type.

    I can handle long and smooth coated breeds, but breeds like poodles and doodles hair I can't really handle. It makes my brain hurt. Cottony coats as well, like, I remember a specific spayed Papillon I couldn't really touch because it bothered me so badly. Wirey coats as well give me issues. It's really an individual person thing, so finding out what your child is likely to react to will help narrow down the search.
     
  10. SevenSins

    SevenSins APBTs & One Crazy Banana

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    I have to say I disagree with not taking breed into consideration at all when you have an autistic child. Some breeds are more prone to reacting negatively to a child who behaves in an "unusual" manner. For example, the lack of impulse control and even complete meltdowns that can occur in a person with ASD, especially in response to the sensory issues that were already mentioned. My co-breeder's son has ASD, and while she is very diligent in her parenting and supervises him around the dogs, like most children with ASD he still has his moments. A more stoic, tolerant breed is ideal for that type of situation and a responsibly-bred APBT with a correct temperament is a good idea, but only IF the home is otherwise suited to the rest of the unique responsibilities of owning the breed.
     
  11. J19

    J19 New Member

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    Thanks for ideas

    I would get a dog with short hair and one that did not need a lot of grooming. Such as a poodle. My some does well with short hair and I was thinking about taking him to the pet store to see how he tolerates different types of breeds because he does have a lot of sensory issues. I am now looking into a Pitt but aren't Pitts and Rotties about the same when it comes to temperament and training? If you have experience with both that would help. Thanks.
     
  12. Whisper

    Whisper Kaleidoscopic Eye

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    Poodles don't shed much, but they still need a lot of grooming! That means taking it to the groomer's or clipping yourself.
    To your question- No. Most well bred "pit bulls" are pretty easygoing, goofy, very friendly to most people, and often wonderful with children.
    Rottweilers are awesome dogs, but even friendly ones are often reserved and protective. If they aren't socialized with children, they might not get along too well. When I was little and I'd be screeching and wrestling with an adult, the rottweilers would often assume there was a threat to me and go into hyper-protective mode.
    With pit bulls you have a very high chance of getting a dog that is dog aggressive. That means you need to be very careful to avoid fights, do not take it to the dog park, etc.
    Rottweilers can also be dog aggressive, though it's most often same sex aggression.

    I also want to suggest that you do not get a dog from a pet store. You have no idea where they come from or what illnesses or temperaments their relatives had and passed on. I'd recommend getting an adult dog from a breeder or rescue, so you already know what the dog is like.
     
  13. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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    No, they have pretty drastically different temperaments. Some times pit bulls with behavioral issues can be pretty tough to train/handle, because they're terriers, hence very tenacious, but many of them are very easy for a first time owner to handle - especially one that's already an adult. They are naturally extremely fond of all people, but can have issues with aggression towards other animals. However, I know many pit bulls who live happily and comfortably with other dogs, it's just important you pick the right dog (it's a misconception a puppy raised with other dogs will do well around them, it's common for puppies to develop a prey drive or dog aggression during sexual maturity. You're better off getting an adult dog), and be aware of signs of aggression, such as obsessing over other animals (even playfully) or looking uncomfortable around them.

    Rottweilers are typically naturally wary of strangers, and extremely protective of their families and homes. While a well-bred rottie who is raised by someone experienced can be taught to tell apart a real threat from something innocent, a less stable dog or one raised by someone without knowledge of animal behavior is likely to become difficult to handle around certain situations. Especially if your son's autism comes with a lot of anxiety on his part, or your part, as the dog bonds to your child, he may become upset or aggressive towards something inappropriate - such as you, or other adults trying to help your son. If you do decide to get a rottie, I strongly, strongly recommend consulting a trainer and going through either a good breeder or an experienced rottie rescue who will offer support to you about training the dog.

    Both breeds LOVE children, and are very intelligent. They're both energetic breeds, but I think typically as adults rotties need a little more exercise. Each dog is obviously an individual, and it depends on their breeding, but as a general rule a pit bull is going to range from "love everyone no matter what" temperament to a watch dog that barks at intruders/trouble, and a rottie is going to be more likely to try to apprehend a threat (and how well that dog can tell a real threat from a child's uncle teasing them or a guy in a scary uniform is going to depend on their socialization)

    People often think getting a puppy will allow them to train and socialize the dog the way they want. Unless you're very knowledgable about dog behavior and training, this isn't the case. Puppies temperaments change as they grow and develop, and they're very impressionable, meaning even a mildly bad experience can cause behavior problems for the rest of their life. With an adult dog, you know what you're getting, they will bond just as closely to you/your family as a puppy would, and there is less of a chance of the way you train and act around them causing behavioral problems.

    If you do go with a puppy, make sure it's from a good breeder (definitely DO NOT go to a pet store. You can research how to know a responsible breeder from an irresponsible one, but the basics would be that they health test their dogs, you can meet the dog's parent's, they provide early socialization for puppies, and they'll offer you support and help throughout the dog's life). I'd also recommend talking to a positive-reinforcement based dog trainer, to help make the dog the best possible pet for your son :)

    If you want your son to be able to meet and interact with different types of dogs and their coats, you might want to look for a pet or breed expo, or all breed dog show, in your area. You could also try going to a local shelter and seeing about meeting some of the dogs there.
     
  14. Saeleofu

    Saeleofu Active Member

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    I just want to point out that your child still requires careful supervision, just like any child. We aren't violent, out-of-control maniacs. You can teach any child, even an autistic one, to be nice. I didn't beat/squeeze/harass our dogs when I was a kid because I was taught how to be around dogs from the very beginning. If you have a kid that CANNOT learn to respect the pets and treat them well, then you really shouldn't have pets at all until the child IS capable of learning that.
     
  15. thehoundgirl

    thehoundgirl Active Member

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    My friend has 2 young children with autism. But, they are 6 and 8 and do like the dogs. She has two well bred Labs that are really good with her kids and would never hurt them. The dogs were actually picked out by the breeder for her home and they are perfect for the kids. :)
     
  16. Red Chrome

    Red Chrome New Member

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    No recommendation on breed exactly, but a story about LoLa who is an APBT and Sheriff who is a GSD. I had LoLa and Sheriff a 5 month old puppy at a family Expo where around 5000 people stopped by the booth we were at and greeted various dogs. LoLa loved the kids, did tricks for them etc. Sheriff enjoyed all the attention. There were a lot of developmentally delayed and handicapped children, downs, autistic etc. LoLa loved them all, she loved interacting with them. However, Sheriff was AMAZING with the delayed children. One little boy kept coming back over and over, hugging Sheriff and pulling on him a bit etc. Sheriff LOVED that kid. He melted into him and cuddled with him. He truly would have been ok in a home with a child like that IF the parents had the experience to handle a dog like him. He paid special attention to the handicapped children, it was very neat to see. Many people commented on it as it is not something that you see a 5 month old working bred GSD puppy do.

    So I truly believe it depends on the individual dog. Narrow the breeds down and then look long and hard for that special dog that makes a connection.
     
  17. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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    I agree with everyone else - I think all the breeds you're considering have the potential to be amazing with a child with autism. At this point you're going to need to narrow it down based on the adults in the household's experience with dogs and the traits you'll be willing to deal with and handle. I don't think you can say a rottie would be better than a pit bull would be better than a mastiff when interacting with and bonding with your child, but one over the other might certainly fit your whole family's need's better.
     
  18. Paige

    Paige Let it be

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    My Border Collie and son get along well except my son FREAKS if his hands are sticky and dog hair gets on him. Maybe a shorter haired dog would be better?
     
  19. Dogdragoness

    Dogdragoness Happy Spring!!!!

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    That's what I was thinking too.

    I have seen very well adjusted well socialized dogs that couldn't handle the off putting behavior of autistic kids & people. How severe is his autism?

    This also does NOT mean that you should leave the dog unattended with the kid or allow the kid to molest, harass or bother the dog esp when the dog is resting, or eating.

    To be fair the dog should also not be allowed to bother the kid in the same says, respect for all.
     
  20. Saeleofu

    Saeleofu Active Member

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    Gee, thanks :rolleyes:


    Anyway, well socialized, adjusted, and trained dogs should be able to handle pretty much anything life throws at them. Even us annoying autistic people :rolleyes: I was at the river the other night and a little kid comes up out of nowhere and bear hugs Logan. Logan's reaction? Wagging his tail, kissing the kid, and generally enjoy the crap out of it.
     

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