The best service dog breeds are lauded not just for their physical abilities, but more so for their intelligence and loyalty to their owners. They are considered to be the heroes of the canine kingdom. True enough, many service dogs are born to be a working canine. They will grow old on their job and retire from duty.
Not all dogs are suitable to be service dogs. There are only a few breeds with the right temperament and behavior that can take on the job. Each dog breed can be assigned a specific job which can fall in mobility, medical response, emotional support, and so on.
But before these doggos can become the best and brightest of their pack, they have to be trained and certified accordingly. And if you’re scouting for the right breed, here are 12 of the best breeds you can consider:1
1. Labrador Retriever
Labs are a common sight in the service dog world. They are favorites in the military service as well as in private ownership. Labradors are smart, loyal, affectionate, and long-living. They are very versatile and can fit in various jobs such as mobility support, psychiatric response, autism support, guide dogs, hearing dogs, and more.
As a retriever, Labradors are reliable when it comes to picking and bringing things around.
One characteristic that makes Labs an undeniable working dog is their calmness. Labs are also people-pleasers and have an unwavering level of obedience.
Chocolate-colored Labs are proven to be calmer than black ones. This is why you’ll see more brown Labs as service dogs although there can be variations in color sometimes.
The good thing about Labradors as the best dog breeds for service dogs is they can both be relaxed and in full throttle if need be. The only issue here is that brown Labs tend to suffer from skin issues more often.
2. Golden Retriever
The next most popular breed as a service dog is the Golden Retriever or Goldie, as some call it. Like Labs, they are loyal, well-tempered, friendly, and intelligent. Their large size also makes them an excellent choice as a mobility or a guide dog. Aside from that, they also fit as a medical response dog, psychiatric service dogs, and autism support canines.
Also, Goldies are retrievers. Their history as a field dog helps them carry heavy objects around, say a purse or the cane of their old handler.
Goldies are typically calm and friendly. In fact, they rarely bark out of aggression. This makes them a suitable service dog for someone who’s going to different places.
Since Goldies can be touched by anyone, there’s peace of mind even at very crowded places.
This breed also has the tendency to follow their owners around. It’s the exact trait of the best service dog breeds.
3. German Shepherd
The German Shepherd isn’t the second most popular dog breed in the U.S. for naught. These alert dogs are commonly seen as sniffing dogs in the military, although they can also thrive as private service dogs.
German Shepherds share some traits with the retriever breeds. However, they are more courageous and suspicious of strangers. Still, there’s nothing to fear since German Shepherds can be trained to be affectionate and friendly.
Back in the 1930s, German Shepherds are used as guide dogs in the military, a task they still perform up to this day. Right now, this breed can be trained for almost any kind of assistance task.
What makes them an excellent service dog is their stamina and willingness to accomplish tasks. As natural herders, German Shepherds are used to leading the way and ensuring that his pack is following. This is the reason why they excel as guide dogs.
4. Standard Poodle
Poodles aren’t just fancy dogs owned by Beverly Hills socialites. Aside from their innate beauty, Poodles are also intelligent and obedient breeds. They have been tried and tested to be excellent PTSD, diabetic, hearing, seizure, chair assistance, and medical alert dogs. However, due to their medium-sized build, they can’t be used for physically demanding tasks.
The good thing about Poodles is that they have an unfathomable charisma to the elders. Thanks to their calm and friendly stance, they suit almost every indoor and outdoor environment.
The only caveat about Poodles as one of the best dog breeds for service dogs is their high-maintenance coat.
Anyway, this is just a small issue considering their eagerness to please and their trainable attitude. Also, Poodles don’t tend to be overstimulated when surrounded by many dogs and people.
Take note, though, that Poodles don’t like being left alone for long hours. They need a constant company to stay happy and mentally stimulated.
This may come as a surprise but Pomeranians can also be trained to be service dogs. They may not be as obedient and smart as other breeds, but they have a special talent that other canines don’t possess. Pomeranians are excellent medical alert dogs. They can sense if your blood sugar is spiking or dropping in dangerous levels.
Pomeranians also have the ability to detect the onset of a heart and asthma attack. Their senses are so heightened that they also serve as excellent service dogs for deaf people.
Poms can let their handlers know the presence of any sound, say a knock at the door or a ringing phone.
Poms are small and fluffy dogs, thus requiring regular grooming to stay healthy. You also have to keep up with their exercise requirements. They might be five-pounders only, but their sense of enthusiasm and willingness to do work is massive.
6. Border Collie
Border Collies are the smartest dogs in the canine world. Their background as a herding dog gave them a determined, obedient, and smart nature. Don’t be fooled by their steely gaze, these doggos can also become one of the best service dog breeds with proper training and socialization.
Collies’ amazing stamina makes them an excellent mobility service dog. You can’t expect this breed to be couch potatoes. They need a job to stay happy which makes them a perfect fit for service dog tasks.
To dampen the restless behavior of Collies, they have to be trained from puppyhood until adulthood. If done right, they can help open doors, pick up things, alert their handlers, and even pull wheelchairs slowly.
Some experts say that Border Collies are highly sensitive that they can sense the things you want before you even ask it. They also have a protective nature which can be channeled into something positive.
7. Samoyed crosses
Yes, these walking clouds can be service dogs too! Samoyeds are popular for their smiling faces and black lips. But beyond these trivial things are their stamina, intelligence, affection, and desire to accomplish tasks.
It’s actually a new practice to have Samoyed dogs as service dogs. While these doggos have spent their past as ice working dogs pulling sleds, they can’t be used for very physically demanding tasks. Samoyeds can’t pull a wheelchair alone. Still, they can help with mobility by opening doors and retrieving things.
Samoyeds are perfect options for those living in small apartments. They don’t require much physical activity, a short walk each day would suffice. In fact, they prefer staying indoors.
Samoyeds bond with their owner very well. They are also affectionate and friendly to all members of the family. The only complaint here as one of the best dog breeds for service dogs is their intense shedding and the undeniable cuteness!
8. Belgian Malinois
As a cousin of German Shepherds, the Belgian Malinois is no doubt a reliable service dog. In fact, they are commonly mistaken as the German Shepherd due to the color of their coat and their overall appearance. However, the Belgian Malinois is more agile and elegant in build.
Malinois dogs are naturally protective of their owners and property. Still, they don’t border to aggression which is excellent for people with disabilities and are living alone.
Belgian Malinois are perfect for handlers in a wheelchair since they have the build to pull for mobility.
When it comes to their physical activity, they are fit for those who are maintaining an active lifestyle. As a herding dog, they need to be physically and mentally stimulated to stay happy.
But before a Belgian Malinois can become a service dog, he has to undergo intense training. Unlike the German Shepherd, this breed can border to aggression if not trained early on.
Bloodhounds have 40 times more powerful sense of smell. This makes them an excellent search and rescue dog. But aside from this, Bloodhounds also possess the most amiable personality in the canine kingdom. They are calm, loyal, and an affectionate pet that can be a long-time companion and one of the best service dog breeds.
This breed can sniff and retrieve things that their owners lost. Bloodhounds are independent and tough dogs, however, they need to be trained in order to be obedient service canines.
Bloodhounds are a bit of a couch potato so they suit handlers with very low physical activity. Although they aren’t very reliable as a medical assistance pooch, they do well on opening doors and as a constant companion.
The good thing about Bloodhounds is they can survive hotter climates. Still, as a service dog, they need plenty of shade and a comfy place to sleep.
10. American Staffordshire Terrier
Who says Pitties can’t be good service dogs? Due to stereotypes, Pitbulls are red-tagged as vicious and aggressive breeds. But the fact is that these doggos are one of the sweetest breeds you can find. Sure thing, they can be aggressive, but it’s due to the environment they’ve been raised at. With proper training and intense socialization, they can be calm, affectionate, clownish, and reliable pets. In fact, they can be one of the best dog breeds for service dogs too.
Due to their stocky build, AmStaffs are great mobility dogs. However, these pooches need intense obedience training to stay on top of every situation.
Pitbulls are sensitive too which makes them a favorite pick as an emotional support dog. Given that the Pitty has a clean lineage; it can be trained for a variety of service dog tasks. In fact, more and more people are discovering both the physical and emotional help Pitbulls can bring.
However, the only issue about owning a Pitbulls as a service dog is the Breed-Specific Legislation that states, municipalities, and countries may have.
11. Bernese Mountain Dog
Known as the gentle giants, the Bernese Mountain Dog are excellent dogs for bracing and mobility. Due to their large build, the Bernese Mountain Dog can pull a wheelchair and support the weight of their handler. They can also pull shopping carts, chairs, bags, and other heavy stuff.
If trained well, these dogs can also perform tasks during emergency situations like falling or the need to retrieve medication. They can also open doors for emergency purposes. Their excellent problem-solving skills, laidback temperament, and loyalty make them unconventional yet effective service canines.
Since this breed is blessed with a calm temperament, some of them can start working as therapy dogs at the age of 10 months. They can be trained to be watchdogs too but there’s a great need to dampen their inclination to bark.
Although they look tough, Boxers are actually the first canines to be used during the WWII as messenger dogs, pack-carriers, and guard dogs. Although they were used as attack dogs too, their vicious past is way behind them now. They are more likely to lick your face than attack you.
Boxers are happy, clownish, and one of the best dog breeds for service dogs. They are also highly intelligent and obedient which makes them a good candidate as a service dog.
Boxers have lots of energy they can use in assisting their handler as a working pooch.
However, Boxers aren’t made to stay indoors all day. They need exercise and mental stimulation to keep their wits together. But aside from that, these doggos will be excellent companions.
The best service dog breeds can be just about any dog. There’s no restriction to what canine can be trained as a working dog. As long as the pooch can pass the test, they can be set out as service dogs for various conditions.