Service dog for the blind on steps

The Best Service Dog Breeds

March 2020 Dogs, Service Dogs

When you hear or read the words "service dog," what picture pops into your mind? Is it a Labrador retriever, golden retriever, or German shepherd? There's a reason most of us picture these breeds when think of disability service dogs. These breeds appear most on a service animal registry because they possess certain qualities that are essential to a good service dog. Keep reading to learn more about these breeds, the traits these breeds possess, and a few other breeds that make great service animals.

Labrador Retrievers

Labs are some of the friendliest and most good-natured members of the canine world, develop strong bonds to their families, and love having a job to do. Another factor that makes them great service dogs is that they have "soft mouths." This means that they are gentle when retrieving items, so they're great for helping mobility-impaired individuals that need help reaching items or performing tasks such as opening doors.

Golden retrievers

Goldens are quite similar to labs in their temperament. They're intelligent and easy to train, and they have a naturally calming presence. This makes them excellent PTSD and emotional support dogs too.

German Shepherds

Though more commonly seen as police dogs, this breed is also an excellent service dog. They're large enough to help mobility-impaired individuals move around and are incredibly attuned to their handlers' moods; a German shepherd will be quick to notice when you're feeling anxious.

Essential Traits for Service Dogs

Though behavioral traits and mannerisms can vary from one dog to another, some dog breeds tend to possess specific traits more frequently than other breeds. This is why you will see so many service animals from the three breeds mentioned above; those breeds simply have the necessary traits that make a great service animal. What are those traits? Here's a quick list:

  1. Intelligence - Service dogs are required to perform complex tasks and must be able to learn new tasks fairly quickly. For this reason, the most common breeds for service dogs are incredibly smart.
  2. Friendliness - Your service dog needs to go everywhere with you, so they need to be comfortable around people and animals and never display aggression towards others.
  3. Calm presence - A service dog can't create a disturbance when they go to public places with you. They must be able to lay calmly at your feet at a restaurant or walk quietly beside you in a store. Additionally, they can't be easily startled, as they'll be in constantly changing environments when they're with you.
  4. Drive to work - Certain breeds are much happier when they have a job to do. We call this a strong work drive. This is an important trait in a service animal, as they are much more driven to learn new tasks and are actually happier when they're able to help you.
  5. Loyalty - Finally, service dogs should bond strongly to their owners. Most service dog breeds are once that are incredibly loyal and develop strong attachments to their handlers.
Service dog in grass

Other Great Breeds

Of course, these three aren't the only options when choosing a service dog. A few others that often possess the five essential traits are poodles, boxers, Great Danes, border collies, Pomeranians, Bernese mountain dogs, and pit bulls.

Of course, there's no hard-and-fast rule of what breeds can be service dogs. It all depends on your needs and the tasks you need your service dog to perform. If you have a dog you want to register as a service animal, contact National Animal Service Registry to learn more about service dog certification.