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Top 5 Service Dog Breeds You Can Rely On

Top 5 Service Dog Breeds

It’s incredible all the different things dogs can do for us. They can help a blind person get around or calm someone having a panic attack. They can even warn you if you’re about to have a seizure. While all dogs can be excellent companions, not all are service candidates. So which breed can you turn to if you need a service dog? And by this, we mean Police, Fire, Rescue, and Therapy dogs. Let’s take a look.

What makes a good service dog?

Canines are incredibly versatile. They are hunters, athletes, and can become our best friends. But that doesn’t mean that every pooch is suited to acting as a service dog. Some breeds are better than others at helping out their humans.

First things first, service dogs are not pets. They are animals trained to assist humans with a disability. In their off-hours, they may be snuggly pals that like to hang out with you on the sofa, but while they’re working, they are focused on doing a remarkable job.

It can take years and a lot of money to prepare a dog, getting it physically and mentally fit enough to work as a service animal. While any breed can technically do the task, not every dog excels at it. For example, smaller dogs may have challenges meeting the needs of people with disabilities since most service dogs need to be large enough to perform physical tasks.

They should also be calm, friendly, easily trained, and not too reactive. Of course, it helps if they’re smart enough to learn all the tasks they need to know. They should also be able to bond well with their person since that’s the best way to motivate them to want to work. That’s why the notoriously independent Shar-Pei, Shiba Inu, and Pekingese aren’t always the best service dogs.

They should also be hygienic, since they may have to enter any public space or business while assisting their person. Service dogs also need to have enough energy to be able to help out. At the same time, they shouldn’t be too high energy, which could make them challenging to work with.

Please note: Service dogs are different from emotional support dogs, which aren’t typically trained to the same level. They also have fewer rights in terms of where they can go.

service dog

1. Labrador Retriever

Retrievers are some of the most commonly used breeds for service work, with Labs being the most popular breed of all. They are just the right size for a number of tasks, and are incredibly friendly, good-natured, calm, and willing. They get along with just about anyone, including other animals.

Because they’re so eager to please their people, they are ready to learn just about any job. That means they can do different service tasks needed, including medical alerts, mental health support, physical disability assistance, and police or military work.

labrador retriever

2. Golden Retriever

Goldens are the second most used and popular breed for service – and for a good reason. They have a similar personality to Labradors and are sweet, friendly, loyal, smart, and steady.

Golden retrievers work well for therapeutic purposes, as medical alert animals, and in assisting the blind or deaf. They can also help those in wheelchairs or with other physical disabilities. On top of that, they make good service dogs for police and firefighters.

golden retriever

3. German Shepherd

German shepherds (GSD) are well known for their ability as police and military dogs. But that’s not all they’re good at. Easily trainable, intelligent, and loyal, GSDs have all the traits a dog needs to be good at service. Physically, they are large enough to help with a range of tasks. They have an extremely good sense of smell, which makes them suited for blood sugar monitoring.

Their size makes them intimidating to would-be criminals or suspects, in addition to making them large enough to help out people in a wheelchair.

german shepherd service dog

4. Poodle

While any size of the poodle, whether a toy, miniature, or standard, can make a good service dog thanks to their willing, loyal, intelligent disposition, the largest size makes the best option.

Poodles are focused, friendly, alert, eager-to-please, and famously intelligent. Did you know that they’re the second smartest breed? They also bond intensely with their people and are quick to learn just about any task.

Poodles aren’t quite large enough to assist with some of the more physically demanding tasks, but they are excellent overall for mental health, seeing, emotional, and health needs. Their hunting instinct can make them particularly useful for seizure alerts. Because they are so in-tune with their people, they are also well-suited for assistance in anxiety and PTSD support.

Their coat doesn’t shed, which makes them hygienic enough to enter any space, though they do need a higher level of grooming. You should know that Poodles have a high activity level, which means they need to have a job to do, whether that’s additional training or working all day long.

poodle service dog

5. Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain Dogs are huge, so they may not be the best choice for people living in smaller housing. Still, they make outstanding service dogs because of their friendly, willing, and gentle demeanor.

They are smart enough to learn complex tasks and love to do anything that pleases their people. They don’t get over-excited or overwhelmed in public, and they have been trained to do everything from assisting autistic children to working as search and rescue dogs.

bernese mountain dog

A Service Dog is invaluable

Service dogs have the ability to change the lives of the people around them for the better, no matter what breed they are. If you are looking for a service dog, keep in mind that while these breeds are the superstars of the service world, any breed that does the required tasks can be perfect for the job. With proper training and experience, they eventually learn what their person needs.

What breed is your service dog? We’d love to hear your stories and how you and your furry friend spend your days together!

For more pupdates, be sure to read:

  1. Top 10 Easiest Dog Breeds to Train
  2. Fun Things to Do with your Dog during Lockdown
  3. 5 Common Misconceptions of Pets at Preloved

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Alexandra Seagal

Alexandra Seagal

Community User

Alexandra Seagal is a lifelong dog lover but also an editor and founder at She has written about service dogs, crate training, and caring for elderly pets.