What Is a Service Dog?
Service dog breeds are trained to help differently-abled people. Types of service dogs help people who need different types of services. Guide dogs and hearing dogs help people who are blind, visually impaired, and deaf, respectively.
An Autism service dog calms down someone who has autism if that person is upset. Mobility aid dogs perform tasks like opening doors and picking things up.
Allergy detection dogs receive dog training to sniff out allergens. Diabetic alert dogs sense when their person’s blood sugar is too high or low. Psychiatric service dogs protect people with emotional issues. Therapy dogs offer comfort and affection. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) service dogs help people born with FASD.
Seizure alert dogs sense when someone’s going to have a seizure and alert them. Seizure response pups lay next to the person, bark for help, and/or are trained to hit a button for help.
Types of Service Dogs
All pet dogs are really therapy dogs in that they lower our blood pressure, give us unconditional love, and make us smile. Some pups are trained to help their people in other ways. They have to focus and not be distracted by loud noises or anything else. Most of the canines below are on the list of best dogs to train.
Here are the types of service dogs:
Hearing dogs help people with hearing disabilities. When a hearing dog hears a cue, they place their paw on their owner to notify them of doorbells, oven timers, smoke alarms, crying babies, etc. They also lead their person toward the noise. The most popular canine companions for the job are Golden retrievers, Labradors, Cocker spaniels, and Miniature and Standard Poodles.
Autism Service Dogs
A neurological assistance dog gives people with autism emotional support, comfort to reduce stress, confidence, and social help because they have trouble with social skills. Children with autism sometimes run or wander away. Autism service canines are able to alert their parents and chase them. Autism service dogs can protect the child, who may be non-verbal.
They can be trained to perform in the classroom.
These pups help people on the autism spectrum physically, emotionally, and mentally because their companionship and protection help them feel secure. They are specially trained in deep compression, which helps stop harmful behavior.
Autism service dogs are also specifically trained to calm and comfort their people who have a difficult time with social settings and exhibit behavioral problems.
Mobility Aid Dogs
Mobility assistance dogs provide life-changing physical help to people with mobility issues from spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, muscular dystrophy, etc. Mobility assistance dogs need to be 55+ pounds. Mobility assistance dogs support their people by pressing buttons, turning on lights, opening doors, retrieving objects, and providing wheelchair support.
Mobility assistance dogs need to be big so their humans can lean on them for balance. Mobility assistant dogs help their people live independently with a mobility assistance dog.
Allergy Detection Dogs
Allergy detection dogs save human lives with a sniff, preventing their people from being exposed to dangerous allergens. They are trained to alert their human to peanuts, gluten, etc., to protect them from food allergies and other severe allergies.
Children have more allergies than adults, so these canines help their kids to be independent and safe and spare them from going into anaphylactic shock.
Allergy detection dogs wear a vest with pockets for meds and medical information. An allergy-detection canine is a medical service dog.
Diabetic Alert Dogs
In addition to being wonderful sources of love and amusement, diabetic alert dog can smell low and high blood glucose levels. A diabetic alert dogs provide help as they can tell someone in the home or set off an alarm if their person needs medical attention. They can also tell the owner to inject insulin if glucose is too high.
Diabetic alert dogs are lifesavers because they prevent their human from having a seizure, etc. They can smell changes in blood sugar before hyperglycemic or hypoglycemic events.
Psychiatric Services Dogs
Psychiatric service dogs are trained to give people with mental health disorders emotional support. Someone with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) needs a service dog to combat depression or anxiety, and they feel safer with their trusty psychiatric service dog.
Psychiatric service dogs detect flashbacks, anxiety attacks, waking from nightmares, and oncoming panic attacks.
PTSD dogs check a room to make sure it’s safe (or bark if not) before their person goes into it and turns the lights on with foot pedals. They take people out in public, shield them, and ground and redirect their person from panic attacks, anxiety, and flashbacks. Psychiatric service dogs can provide a physical barrier from other humans, so their human has more personal space.
PTSD pups perform specific tasks like applying deep pressure therapy by pressing themselves against their person and reminding them to take their medication. They go through extensive professional training like other service dogs.
Therapy dogs aren’t trained like service and emotional support dogs. Often, they also aren’t certified and allowed in the same public places as other assistance dogs. Therapy dogs are trained to provide comfort and companionship to people in places like schools, hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, after natural disasters, and mental health facilities. They are considered pets.
A pup’s qualifications for therapy dogs are being calm in unfamiliar, noisy, and busy places and being okay with lots of people petting them. Therapy dogs don’t need to be as big and strong as service dogs.
Guide dogs have been helping visually impaired people and blind people for centuries. Many are Golden retrievers and Labradors because they are smart, sweet looking (so people who are afraid of dogs won’t be running away terrified), and very trainable. The soft Lab mouth is useful in picking up items.
FASD service dogs
Children with FASD have difficulties processing stimuli, resulting in stereotypical or inappropriate behavior. Their dog is taught to recognize those in training. They interrupt the behavior by laying a paw on the child or prodding them.
Overwhelmed children with FASD feel calm when a dog lays on their legs. If a child becomes hyper and can’t sit or be calm or sitting, the assistance dog calms them.
A FASD assistance dog learns to stop at crossings and cross the road on command when there are no cars or bikes. Thus safeguarding children who don’t notice road dangers. Some children are attached to the dog by leash, which is also done with autism assistance dogs.
Seizure Alert Dogs
Seizure alert dogs are trained to recognize when their handler is about to have a seizure. A seizure-alert dog can also save a person’s life.
Seizure Response Dogs
They call for help and lay against their human to protect them. Big support canines can move their owners if they are in an unsafe place. Some people have reported that their pet dogs that weren’t trained to predict seizures had a natural ability and did detect one.
Seizures can cause someone to fall and hurt themselves, and their canine will block their fall. Calling for help during seizures is certainly a lifesaver.
Best Breeds for Service Dogs
Delve into the world of the best service dog breeds, renowned for their intelligence, empathy, and ability to provide unparalleled assistance and companionship.
1. Golden Retrievers
- Intended for carrying and retrieving
- Kind to children
Goldens are perfect therapy and service dogs (and perfect canines). They are intelligent, friendly, affectionate, good with children and dogs, playful, devoted, and easy to train.
Golden Retrievers are a pleasure to be with, happy to help and enjoy being active. The Golden is often a guide dog. They are very popular as pets as well as types of service dogs.
2. Labradors (American and English)
- Excited to help
American Labs are known for being energetic, playful, affectionate, good with children and pups, and are one of the easiest dogs to train. Like Goldens, this is one of the dog breeds that’s happy and helpful. They love people and are eager to please. The Lab makes a great guide dog.
English Labs are quieter, softer, calmer, and less active than American Labs. Both types of Labs were hunting dogs, so they’ve been following commands and are very responsive to people with disabilities and people without disabilities. The Labrador Retriever dog is a great companion and service pooch.
3. German Shepherds
- Loyal and obedient
- Protective for their person
- Quick to learn
German shepherds (GSD) are natural service dogs because they are playful, energetic, courageous, confident, affectionate, good with children, and need mental stimulation. They like to have a job.
They were the original dog breed used by Seeing Eye for guide dogs. GSDs are very popular as family fur babies and best service dogs, including the White German shepherd.
- Sociable and outgoing
- Quick learners
- Wonderful small-space service dog
Emotional support breeds don’t have to be big to do physical tasks, so a portable cutie like a Pommie can fit the bill. Poms are affectionate, lively, inquisitive, bold, and even a good watchdog.
A Pom can provide emotional support just by being adorable and delightful. Just having them there to pet and kiss is uplifting.
5. Portuguese Water Dogs
- Curious and outgoing
- Kind with children
Portuguese water dogs are affectionate, friendly, playful, protective, athletic, adventurous, good with pooches, easy to train, and energetic.
The Portuguese water dog makes a better therapy dog than a service dog. Some have been trained as hearing dogs and allergen detectors. They are even better as therapy pups cheering people up in nursing homes and hospitals, comforting children, and having children read to them. They may burn out after a few years.
6. Bernese Mountain Dogs
- Loyal to their owner
- Easy to handle
- Eager to please
Bernese Mountain Dogs are calm, good-natured, playful, friendly, smart, affectionate, strong, good with children and canines, and energetic. They have a nice laid-back temperament which makes them great therapy and support dogs. They love their people and will try to cheer them up. Bernese are big enough to do physical work, too.
- Active and fun-loving
- Intelligent and simple to train
- String instincts
Poodles are active, playful, very intelligent, good with children, friendly, energetic, protective, and need mental stimulation. They are great guide canines for people who have hearing or vision impairment, diabetes, mental disabilities, and seizures.
The Poodle is trained to alert someone else. The Standard Poodle, not the Toy Poodle, is usually one of the types of service dogs.
- Playful and friendly
- Loyal to their person
- Love to work
Boxers are intelligent, friendly, playful, active, fun, affectionate, protective, energetic, and great with children. They have been used as guide canines and epilepsy alert canines. The Boxer dog makes a great service dog.
9. Border Collies
- Rapid learners
- Intuitive issue resolvers
- Full of energy
The Border Collie is one of the smartest dog breeds, friendly, playful, energetic, affectionate, and easy to train, and they enjoy having a job. They do need a lot of physical and mental stimulus, so if you can play fetch with them or walk them, they’ll be able to focus on helping you.
10. Great Danes
- Gentle quiet giants
- Strong and sturdy
- Can provide stability for persons who require mobility aid
Great Danes are lovely companions. They are affectionate, patient, friendly, dependable, playful, protective, energetic, good with children, and they like to be busy. If you need a large dog to help steady your balance or for any other reason, Danes are delightful.
Which Service Dog Breed Is Best for Me?
Choosing a service dog requires several considerations. Do you have a big home? Which breeds are best for the type of help you need? Assistance dogs vary in specialties.
What Is the Most Common Type of Service Dog?
Guide dogs are the most common type of service dogs/assistance dogs.
Can I Train My Dog To Be a PTSD Service Dog?
Yes, people can train their dogs as PTSD service dogs. The United States Service Animals has an online program to train your own service dog.
What Breeds Can Not Be Service Dogs?
Because people with disabilities need to take their service dogs everywhere, it is difficult to have a type of service dog that is banned in certain places. That’s unfortunate because Staffies and American pit bulls are very sensitive to their human needs, and they are the victims of breed-specific legislation.
Therapy and service dogs need to be intelligent, specially trained, and to go through extensive training. Service dog breeds need to be good working dogs, big (if they are doing physical work), friendly, and have a calm personality.
Therapy and service dogs also should be energetic and enjoy working. Many dogs were bred to work, so there are many types of great therapy and service dogs.
Service dogs have an intuition from the bond they have with their human partner.