Service dogs aren’t just pets. They are working animals that help owners who have disabilities. Without them, handlers would have to find an alternative way to navigate day-to-day life.
When people think of service dogs, most think of golden retrievers helping blind individuals. However, many different breeds can assist owners with different disabilities. This article will give a quick overview of service animals and which dog breeds are best suited for the job.
What Are Service Animals?
Before looking at the breeds that make the best service dogs, let’s define what a service animal is.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service animal is a dog trained to work for a person with a disability. The tasks the dog performs must be directly related to their owner’s disability.
Service animals are different than animals used for therapy or emotional support purposes. Through official service dog registration, service animals have more rights. They are allowed to accompany their owners on planes and in other public spaces. Strict training ensures that they can adequately perform their duties.
Each dog is unique; not all of them are up for the job. That being said, certain breeds excel as service dogs. Some of the best-suited types include:
1. Golden Retrievers
As we mentioned at the beginning, golden retrievers are a very common choice. They are friendly, loyal, and eager to please. Despite being larger, their gentle demeanor puts those scared of dogs at ease.
Interestingly, adult golden retrievers tend to maintain a puppy-like personality. While this makes them extra sweet, it can also cause them to be playful and distracted.
These traits are not ideal in a service dog. The good thing is that golden retrievers tend to be obedient and respond well to training. This allows them to learn how to help their owners and focus on the job.
People with hearing or visual impairments benefit from golden retrievers. This breed is also great at assisting people with mobility issues.
2. Labrador Retriever
Labrador retrievers are another common breed. They share many similarities with golden retrievers including that they love having a job to do.
They can be trained to do just about any task. They’re especially useful for fetching objects due to their retrieving nature and their “soft mouths” that won’t damage belongings.
3. German Shepherds
Most people associate German shepherds with police work or maybe even search and rescue. They also make good service animals.
German shepherds are extremely smart and well-behaved. They bond strongly with their owners and are attentive to their needs.
They’re great for helping people get around due to their size and strength. Their strong sense of smell also allows them to complete tasks such as monitoring blood sugar levels.
4. Pit Bulls
The negative stereotype surrounding pit bulls doesn’t stop them from being service dogs. By nature, they are actually gentle, loving creatures.
One of their most common jobs include a Medical Alert Service Dog. They can detect health issues ranging from low oxygen levels to oncoming seizures. Trainers can also teach them to remind owners to take medications.
We’ll wrap up this article with a bit of a surprising breed. Who would’ve thought poodles would make great service animals? Toy and miniature-sized poodles help owners with disabilities, but small and standard sizes are more common.
Poodles are hyper-focused and great at problem-solving. Perhaps their most unique trait is their capacity for “intelligent disobedience.” This means they tend to disobey orders when it’s in their owner’s best interest.
As you can see, good service dogs aren’t exclusive to one breed. There are many different types that help their owners navigate the world!