With proper training, any breed has the potential to become a successful Service Dog. Depending on your disability and needs you may need a larger breed (for example, balance and mobility work) or a smaller breed (for hearing dog work and psychiatric service dog tasks). Historically, though, there are some breeds that excel at Service Dog work. Read on to learn more!
Labrador Retrievers, or Labs, as they’re commonly known to those who love them, are wiggly, happy, social, hardworking critters with a lot of love to give. These stout, large breed dogs are built solid and strong. They have a work ethic a mile wide and their food drive makes them easy to train. They’re suitable for all types of Service Dog work and are often used as Detector Dogs and Search and Rescue Dogs as well.
Golden Retrievers, like their Labrador cousins, love to pick items up, carry them, and work closely with their people. While they’re bred hunting dogs, they have a soft, gentle mouth and an even gentler temperament. They tend to be a bit larger than Labradors, and their coat is thick, long, and requires special grooming. They excel in many Service Dog roles, but they’re particularly suited for mobility work and guide work.
Golden Labradors are a specialized cross between a Labrador Retriever and a Golden Retriever. They’re sometimes called “Goldadors.” Crossing the two breeds results in hybrid vigor, or a healthier litter of puppies due to more varied genetics. The resulting puppies typically possess the best physical and temperamental traits of both breeds. The breed mix is utilized by large Service Dog and Guide Dog organizations around the world.
Standard Poodles rank as one of the most intelligent breeds, and they’re typically non-shedding. Non-shedding doesn’t mean hypoallergenic, although it can help. Standard Poodles are extremely sharp, trainable dogs with an aptitude for all kinds of Service Dog specialities. They excel with alert and mobility tasks, although due to their smaller build and stature, they may not be able to provide bracework to taller or larger people. Their coat requires professional care and grooming.
A German Shepherd named “Buddy” was the very first Seeing Eye Dog in America. Since then, German Shepherds have been widely used as Service Dogs, Guide Dogs, and Autism Dogs around the world. They’re extremely focused, hardworking, and easy to train. They’re also larger than most of the other common Service Dog breeds, which readily lends them to mobility and wheelchair work. However, trainers must be certain to get a German Shepherd from a reputable breeder, as structure, genetics, and temperament are vital for success Service Dog work.
Once you’ve chosen the right breed, there are still a lot of other factors you may not have considered. From picking out a quality harness or dog leashes, budgeting for veterinary care knowing and how much should you be feeding your dog and more. With a little research you can make sure you’re welcoming your new partner into a well-prepared home.