While every dog serves us in some way with their delightful cuddles, unconditional love, and constant companionship, there are many reasons why some people need a service dog. Service dogs are dogs specifically trained to help people with disabilities (physical or emotional) as well as life-threatening health conditions.
The help of these dogs allows people with disabilities to live more independently and with greater peace of mind than before owning a service dog. Some of these dogs are trained to be medical alert dogs; others can detect when a seizure is impending, or blood sugar is getting low, while others can sense deadly allergens near their owner. Some service dogs can do all of the above; they are truly amazing and life-changing for families.
If you require a service dog and are looking for the perfect fit for you, your family, and your specific medical needs, several breeds make the best match, depending on what you’re looking for. Please keep reading to learn about the best breeds to adopt as a service dog to start living a life with more peace, comfort, and confidence regarding your mental or physical disabilities.
1. Golden Retrievers
When people think of service dogs, easily one of the first breeds to come to mind is the Golden Retriever. In fact, with their gentle disposition and high intellect, you may have gotten service from a Golden in your past without even realizing it. Golden Retrievers are excellent service dogs as they’re sociable, easygoing, and don’t get aggressive.
They are eager to please, and training a Golden Retriever for service is quick and easy. These dogs enjoy a long lifespan which means they can provide service and comfort to you for many years. They are a larger breed, so they are best in homes with a decent amount of size and do require activity – so either you or your caretaker should commit to exercising your animal regularly or budgeting for a dog walker to do so.
Poodles are regarded as one of the most intelligent dog breeds, which makes them a perfect fit for service work. Service dogs are considered working breeds but require additional training, and Poodles are quick learners in this regard.
The Standard Poodle, with its larger size, makes it a great mobility dog, while a miniature or toy Poodle would be an excellent emotional support service dog. Another benefit to a Poodle is many of them are considered hypoallergenic, which means if you or anyone in your household suffer from pet allergies, Poodles are one of the few breeds that will not aggravate your allergies and still work well in service.
3. American Pit Bull Terrier
Though the Pit Bull gets a bad rap, when trained properly, these dogs make excellent companions and service dogs. They are highly intelligent and incredibly loyal, so they are especially beneficial for those with mobility or medical disabilities who require a service dog’s help.
Like the Golden Retriever, an American Pit Bull Terrier requires frequent exercise, so trips to the dog park are essential, or hiring a dog walker to exercise and play with your pit bull is key. Once referred to as “nanny dogs,” their gentle nature, loyalty, and intelligence have been well-known and regarded for over 100 years.
You may only be familiar with Collies from the famed show “Lassie,” but Collies are one of the most preferred breeds for service dogs. Ranked as the most intelligent dog breed, they are a great fit for people with many medical complexes requiring attention.
They are agile and can react quickly when necessary, and with their intelligence, service Collies can easily fetch items their owners may need in a crisis. Collies are also great with children and have a happy disposition, making them a go-to for children with special needs or mental health issues like anxiety or PTSD.
If you live in a smaller space and don’t have room for some of the larger breeds mentioned above but require a service dog, the Pomeranian is your perfect fit. Pomeranians offer much more than their tiny stature and adorable, fluffy coat. They are skilled at alerting their owners to symptoms and impending attacks. Many patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease and asthma prefer Pomeranians as their service dogs.
The size of the Pomeranian is an advantage as a service dog as they’re highly portable and can be taken everywhere from an airplane to a grocery cart. Additionally, at such a lightweight, even those with serious medical issues can typically lift and carry their service dog when needed. And, of course, these beautiful cuddly pups make great emotional support animals as they love nothing more than to lay in your lap and provide love.
6. Bernese Mountain Dogs
Known for their regal stature and gorgeous black, tan, and white coat, the Bernese Mountain Dog is the perfect service companion no matter your medical needs. They have a laid-back attitude and demeanor, not to mention loyalty in spades – something every service dog requires.
They are strong enough to support full adults who need help getting in and out of a wheelchair or any other difficult situation. Additionally, the Bernese Mountain Dog is a quick student, and they can be taught to fetch and carry items their owners may need in an emergency. Lastly, as you may have noticed, when service dogs are training in public, their handlers ask you not to interact with them. The Bernese Mountain Dog, while devoted and in tune with their owners, are somewhat aloof to other goings on, which makes them perfect service dogs out in public.
While service dogs were once a rare sighting, today, we see more and more individuals taking advantage of the blessing that a service dog can be in someone’s life. If you feel like you would benefit from a medical or emotional support dog, it’s worth talking to your doctor and searching for the right fit for you and your condition. Let the six breeds mentioned above be a starting point for finding a four-legged companion that can give you some of your life back and peace of mind.