Service Dogs – Types, Requirements, And Best Breeds

Service Dogs
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Have you ever heard of dog breeds which help persons with disabilities and have specific needs? If not, the answer is service dogs.

Service dogs are much helpful for people having autism disorders, visual, hearing impairments, mental disabilities, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), seizures, ambulatory issues, mental illness, diabetes etc.

Emotional Support Dogs Vs Service Dogs

If a dog provides comfort to a person who is anxious, it is an emotional support dog. But if you train a dog to know the impacts of anxiety and take necessary actions to reduce it, it will be a service dog.

Best Service Dog Breeds

You can train both purebred and mixed breeds as service dogs, but purebred dogs will do more tasks a service dog does. Now, look at the top five breeds which are used as service dogs:

  • German Shepherd
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Golden Retriever
  • Poodle
  • Pomeranian

1. German Shepherd




German Shepherd is an intelligent dog and it is large in size.


The male dog weighs 24 to 26 inches whereas the female weighs 22 to 24 inches.


The male one weighs 65 to 90 pounds whereas the female one weighs 50 to 70 pounds.

Life Span

This breed lives for 7 to 10 years.

Traits(Black, White, And Bown)

  • Gentle
  • Smart
  • Courageous
  • Confident
  • Loyalty
  • Large in size
  • High intelligence
  • Able to move quick
  • Able to learn commands


This breed is suitable for military and police work, but you can train him as a guide dog and seizure alert dog as well. Nemo was the first German Shepherd “war dog” that returned home from the Vietnam war.


  • Easy to train to perform many tasks.
  • Can guide masters both obedience and intelligent disobedience (that is ignoring commands that may cause danger to the masters).
  • Size and strength of this breed provide balance and stability.

2. Labrador Retriever




Labrador Retriever is America’s most popular dog breed. This breed outstands among the other service dogs and they are smart and favorite to families.

These breeds had experience with fisherman off the Labrador Sea shores. They were later developed in England for hunting and retrieving.


The male dog weighs 22.5 to 24.5 inches and the female weighs 21.5 to 23.5 inches.


The weight of the male one is 65 to 80 pounds, while the weight of female one is 55 to 70 pounds.

Life Span

This breed is expected to live for 10 to 12 years.


  • Friendly and outgoing
  • Lovable
  • Has high spirit
  • Responsive and good natured
  • Happy, social and hardworking
  • Solid and strong


This breed suits for all types of service dog work, but are commonly used to assist the disabled, sniffer dogs at airports, search and rescue, and even tracking down certain bugs for pest control companies.


  • Easy to train
  • Can help the blind and diabetic patients
  • Able to sit quietly and relax with the family
  • Can be trained to assist the disabled and be used as sniffers

3. Golden Retriever




The golden retriever is one of the most popular dog breeds of America. They provide good service to their owners and help others.

They were developed as gun dogs to bring fowl, but Lord Tweedmouth fine-tuned them for water work and retrieving skills.


Male weighs 23 to 24 inches and the female weighs 21.5 to 22.5 inches.


The male dog’s weight is 65 to 75 pounds and the female dog’s weight is 55 to 65 pounds.

Life Span

Golden retriever lives for about 10 to 12 years.


  • Outgoing
  • Trustworthy
  • Devoted
  • Pleasing
  • Calm and understanding


You can train them as powerful gun dogs. These dogs can also be trained for search-and-rescue, seeing-eye, and hearing purposes.


  • Easy to train
  • Calmness makes him a good choice for kids.

4. Poodle




The poodle is a great dog breed due to his temperament. They come in three varieties of different size but have same build and proportions. Standards are more than 15 inches tall; miniatures are below 15 inches and toys stand no more than 10 inches.


The height of miniature poodle is 10 to 15 inches, whereas the standard poodle’s height is over 15 inches.


Toy Poodles weighs 10 to 15 pounds, male standard weighs 60 to 70 pounds and the female standard weighs 40 to 50 pounds.

Life Span

Their lifespan is about 10 to 18 years.


  • Able to learn
  • Happy and helping
  • Able to warn his owner about emergencies
  • Eager
  • Flexible to tasks
  • Smart and remarkable versatility


You can train them as lifesavers. They are also good assistants to people having mobility issues.


  • Easy to train
  • Suitable for families

5. Pomeranian




Pomeranian is the best friend of dog lovers. It is the most popular toy breed in the world.


The height of Pomeranian is 6 to 7 inches.


This breed weighs 3 to 7 pounds.

Life Span

They live for about 12 to 16 years.


  • Alert
  • Intelligent
  • Active
  • Tiny
  • Smiling
  • Vivacious


They are great service dogs though they are small. You can train them to warn their owners on the effects caused by some health issues. You can also train them to guide people having hearing issues. They can be trained as watchdogs and pets for families having children as well.


  • Easy to train
  • Learning tricks and games

Other Service Dog Breeds

Apart from the above-mentioned breeds, other breeds can also be trained as service dogs:

Types Of Service Dogs

Service dogs are of different types. Each type helps people with different abilities. Let’s take a look of a few types of service dogs:

Guide Dogs

These dogs help the blind and people having visual impairments. Dog breeds: you can choose Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Lab and golden hybrid breeds as guide dogs. Poodles can also be trained as guide dogs.

These dogs provide assistance to the bind people by opening the doors of their house, helping them to cross the street and brings the things those people need at home.

Hearing Dogs




These dogs alert the hearing-impaired people about the sounds such as alarms, doorbells, baby’s cry etc. They touch their owners and alert them about the sounds they hear.

Dog Breeds: Labradors and Golden Retrievers are common breeds to be trained as hearing dogs. But, you can also train other breeds such as Cocker Spaniels and Miniature Poodles.

Diabetic Alert Dogs




These dogs help the diabetic patients by alerting them about the blood sugar levels. They pick up the scent changes related to hyperglycemic or hypoglycemic events in diabetics and alert their owners. They are also trained to set off an alarm in case of medical help.

Dog breeds: You can train golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, mixed sporting dog breeds and poodles as diabetic alert dogs.

Seizure Alert Dogs

These dogs paw, lick, circle or act restless and alert the people having seizures.

Dog breeds: Labrador retriever is the most common seizure alert dog breed. You can also train golden retrievers, poodles, and Labradoodles

Seizure Response Dogs

These dogs bark or press an alarm when a person experiences seizure. They can also lead the person to go to a safe place during a seizure and gives medicine or phone to a person once the seizure ends.

Dog breeds: You can train Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and their crossbreds.

Mobility Assistance Dogs

These dogs help the people having muscular dystrophy, arthritis, spinal cord, and brain injuries by bringing objects to their owners, pressing buttons on automatic doors, pulling a wheelchair up a ramp etc.

Dog breeds: You can train Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Standard Poodles, German Shepherd Dogs, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, Newfoundlands, Bernese Mountain Dogs and so on as mobility assistance dogs.

Psychiatric Service Dogs




If a service dog helps a person having psychiatric impairment such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), then it is a psychiatric service dog. Here is the list of top 10 breeds for psychiatric service:

Autism Support Dogs

These dogs help the kids having autism spectrum disorders by keeping children from running away and tracking them during stressful situations. They reduce isolation, provide comfort and improves the child’s quality of life.

Dog breeds: Labrador Retriever, Great Pyrenees, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Labradoodle, Bernese Mountain Dog, Newfoundland, and Golden Retriever.

FASD Service Dogs

These dogs are helpful for children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). These dogs are trained to stop the repetitive behavior.

Allergy Detection Dogs

These dogs give an alert about the smell which induces allergy. They sniff and alert about the odor of peanuts or gluten.

Poodle and Labradoodle are the two most common hypoallergenic dogs.

Service Dogs For Anxiety

People having anxiety issues generally have fear, feel difficult to work outside and have less social contact.

For these people, service dogs are bliss. Such dogs will:

  • detect the symptoms of anxiety before it occurs
  • provide water or medication during anxiety
  • calm down the person by licking their face when anxiety occurs and
  • prevent the distressed person from strangers

Service Dog Breeds For Anxiety

You can have the following breeds as service dogs for anxiety:

  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Poodle
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Golden Retriever
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Pug
  • Viszla

Service Dogs For Veterans

Service dogs are trained not only for the public with several disabilities but also for the honorable people who have disabilities and retired from the military.

The military veterans may be suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disability(PSTD) or may have mobility problems. They will be provided with service canines by various service organizations, sometimes without any charges. The PTSD dogs work with veterans with PSTD and mobility challenges.

Normally, Doberman Pinschers, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Poodles, German Shepherds, and Collies work as service dogs for veterans.

Service Dog Laws

Do you know that you cannot take your service dog to all the places?

Several federal laws and guidelines have been framed for service dogs. Most cities in the United States insist that all dogs should have a license.

According to a law, you should not allow the service dog to walk in the passage between two seats in public places.

To get more information, you can refer to a few laws here:

Service Dog Registration

Registering a service dog is not legally required. But, get your service dog certified will allow you to be to clear about the places where you can take your service dog.

To get a license for your service dog, get a letter stating about your disability from you’re the appropriate medical practitioner. Also, get a certificate stating that your dog is in good health from your vet.

Having these two certificates, you can get the license for your dog from a proper licensing body.

After certification, your dog may be provided with identification such as a vest, an ID badge or a certificate.

Where To Register My Service Dog?

You can visit the below websites and register your dog.

Emotional Support Dog Registration

You cannot take your emotional support dogs everywhere. But, legal protections allow them in flights, etc.

You can refer the below websites for registering your service animal:

How Can I Raise My Dog As A Service Dog?

You can raise your dog as a service dog by following the below steps:

1. Knowing the age and health of your dog

2. Conducting a personality test (i.e. whether he/she is aggressive or submissive) for your dog

3. Finding an apt trainer to train your dog

4. Providing time to train your dog

5. Testing the public access to your dog

6. Registering and Equipping

7. Finding someone who is in need

How Much Does A Service Dog Cost?

Service dogs are expensive. Organizations that provide training for service dogs itself charge around $50,000.

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