The 14 Best Service Dog Breeds of All Time2020-11-03
When people think of service dogs, breeds like golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers often come to mind.
It might surprise you to learn that any breed can be considered a service dog. That’s right—the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not discriminate when it comes to service dogs. As long as the dog is trained to help its owner with their disability, the ADA will recognize it as a service dog.
That being said, certain breeds make better service dogs than others. Breeds that are easy to train and have calm temperaments, for instance, are perfect for the job.
In this blog, we cover 14 of the best service dog breeds. Some of these breeds (like golden retrievers) are well-known service dogs, whereas others might surprise you!
1. German Shepherds
First on our list is German shepherds. While these guys are most popular as police dogs, they also make excellent service dogs.
German shepherds have certain characteristics that make them one of the best service dog breeds. They are smart and well-behaved, making them easy to train. Their eagerness to please means they enjoy service work. Best of all, their fierce loyalty allows them to quickly bond with owners.
Because of their strength and large stature, German shepherds are commonly used for mobility assistance. These service dogs often help owners who are blind or have issues with balance. German shepherds also have a strong sense of smell, allowing them to monitor blood sugar levels.
In some cases, German shepherds help owners with PTSD. They can sense when their owner is anxious thanks to their sharp attentiveness. However, it’s important to be aware of the breed’s natural protectiveness. When their owner is anxious, a German shepherd service dog may become overprotective and aggressive. You should evaluate the dog’s temperament before designating it as a service dog for anxiety disorders.
2. Golden Retrievers
Next up we have golden retrievers. Most people consider them to be one of the best service dog breeds, and for good reason! Golden retrievers are naturally intelligent, docile, and friendly. They are willing to learn and ready to serve. Plus, these service dogs have a gentle, calming appearance. This can help others who are nervous around dogs feel more comfortable.
As you might expect, golden retrievers are great for providing support to those with anxiety disorders. They are also up for more physical tasks. So, you will often find them guiding owners who are blind, fetching items for those with mobility limitations, etc.
There’s no doubt that golden retrievers make excellent service dogs. Potential owners should keep in mind that they are very energetic and shed a lot. So, as long as you can ensure they get plenty of exercise and don’t mind a little dog hair, golden retrievers are a great fit!
3. Labrador Retrievers
Like golden retrievers, labs are commonly known as one of the best service dog breeds. They can perform a variety of tasks including assisting someone who is visually or hearing impaired, fetching items for their owner, etc.
While they come in different shades, labs are either black, brown, or golden. Some people suggest that black labs are best as police dogs, brown labs are best as house pets, and golden labs are best for service work. However, with the right training, any color lab can be a dutiful service dog. We most commonly see golden labs as service dogs partly because they appear friendlier to the public.
4. Border Collies
Border collies are super smart and highly trainable. They can learn to do complex tasks such as opening doors and fetching items. These service dogs are also very sensitive to sounds and smells, making them capable of alerting their owners of danger.
Other notable traits of border collies that make them one of the best service dog breeds? Their instinct to herd and natural protectiveness. As long as trainers cultivate them correctly, these traits will make border collies better at their jobs rather than hindering them.
It’s important to note that this breed may not be good for those with anxiety disorders. Because border collies tend to feed off others’ energy, they may make an anxious owner even more anxious.
5. Bernese Mountain Dogs
Bernese Mountain dogs are yet another extremely intelligent breed. They are great at problem-solving and can perform tasks like retrieving items, opening doors, and sending for help.
Humans have long used Bernese Mountain dogs for physical work like pulling carts. This makes them more than capable of pushing wheelchairs, providing help with balancing, etc. A Bernese Mountain dog’s large size and strength might be intimidating, but these guys are gentle giants. Bernese Mountain dogs have plenty of patience and an overall calm temperament.
6. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a sophisticated, charming breed. While this dog is very affectionate and energetic, it is receptive to training. It forms a tight bond with its owner and is eager to please.
Most commonly, people use these dogs as therapy dogs. However, they also make great psychiatric service dogs. They provide comfort and perform tasks related to an owner’s psychiatric impairment. Because they don’t need as much exercise as breeds like golden retrievers, they are great for busy owners.
For a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel to be a successful psychiatric service dog, you must train them as early as possible. This will ensure they remain calm and focused in loud, crowded environments.
If we asked you to name some of the best service dog breeds, a poodle probably wouldn’t come to mind. But, poodles are yet another great choice!
Poodles come in toy, miniature, and standard sizes. This is great as a toy-sized poodle is perfect for someone living in a small apartment.
Note that because even the largest poodles are still relatively small, they aren’t ideal for those with mobility issues. These service dogs cannot adequately pull a wheelchair, help someone balance, etc. However, poodles make great seeing eyes and hearing dogs.
Poodles also help those with conditions like diabetes, PTSD, and epilepsy. Their instincts allow them to retrieve items and perform other useful tasks. Owners depend on their loyalty and eagerness to serve.
Pomeranians are too small to serve as guide dogs, assist with balance, etc. However, this doesn’t mean they aren’t one of the best service dog breeds!
Pomeranians are naturally smart. They are a bit feisty when they are younger but tend to become more docile as they get older. Owners most commonly rely on them for medical alerts. Pomeranians have a natural talent for detecting low blood sugar, asthma attacks, and even heart attacks. They can also serve as hearing dogs by letting their owner know when the phone rings, when someone knocks on the door, etc.
Boxers aren’t very popular as service dogs, but they have all the right traits. They are smart, loyal, and good-natured. Boxers are large and strong enough to perform demanding tasks but compact enough to navigate crowded areas.
They are very friendly and work well around both children and adults. They are also able to adapt well to small apartments. But, you will have to be sure to give them plenty of exercise as they are a high-energy breed.
Bloodhounds are perhaps best-known as hunting dogs, but they are one of the best service dog breeds. Their strong sense of smell allows them to detect low blood sugar levels and other medical issues.
Bloodhounds are very intelligent and respond well to training. They are great companions to have thanks to their affectionate and loving nature. These service dogs behave well around strangers and will remain focused in public settings. Note that because they are somewhat lazy, they are best suited for owners with less active lifestyles.
Samoyed breeds have not been used as service dogs until relatively recently. Even though they have historically been used for pulling sleighs, today’s dogs aren’t suitable for demanding tasks like pulling wheelchairs. However, they can retrieve items, open doors, and perform other similar tasks.
Samoyed breeds have lots of stamina, intelligence, and love to give. They form tight bonds and get along with everyone. They are a good option for more sedentary individuals as they tend to prefer to stay inside.
One common complaint about Samoyed breeds is that they shed a lot. But, their ability to serve (and their cuteness!) tends to make up for this.
12. Great Dane
Great Danes are quite an impressive breed. Their large size and sturdiness allow them to help owners stand, balance, and walk. They also make good psychiatric service dogs thanks to their gentle, calming presence.
Great Danes tend to be very loving and affectionate. They love meeting people and socializing with other animals. That being said, when a trained Great Dane is working, it is completely focused on its owner. It behaves extremely well in overwhelming situations.
Downsides to Great Danes? They take up a lot of space and drool a lot. But, as long as you can deal with these minor things, they make loyal service dogs.
13. Pit bulls
Pit bulls are very smart and highly trainable. They have a strong work ethic and are willing to serve. Most commonly, pit bulls are trained to provide reminders for medication, alert owners of oncoming seizures, etc.
Too often, the media falsely portrays pit bulls as aggressive animals. The truth is that most pit bulls are gentle and loving. As long as they have the right training, pit bulls are calm and focused around strangers.
With a pit bull as a service dog, the only thing you have to worry about is other people’s perceptions of them.
14. American Staffordshire terrier
The American Staffordshire terrier is closely related to the pit bull. In addition to having a similar appearance and temperament, it can perform many of the same tasks.
Pit bulls are already relatively small, but if you want an even more compact breed, American Staffordshire terriers are the way to go. They are perfect for navigating crowded spaces.
We hope this list of the 14 best service dog breeds is helpful. These breeds make great service dogs because of traits including intelligence, calm temperaments, and eagerness to please.
However, keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive. It simply presents breeds that tend to make good service dogs. The ADA says that any dog can qualify as a service dog. So, as long as it has the right personality and training, it has the potential to serve its owner well.
Also, keep in mind that just because a dog is of a certain breed doesn’t mean it will make a good service dog. For instance, a particularly stubborn German shepherd might be too difficult to train as a service dog.
The best service dog really depends on the owner’s needs and the dog’s unique personality. You should take the time to find the right fit, train the service dog properly, and form a lasting bond!
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