The Best Service Dog Breeds

Welcoming a service dog into your life can be a special time. Choosing the right dog is a little more complicated than just choosing a pet. You have to make sure the dog will support the service you need, as well as mesh with you and your family.

Service dogs come in all shapes and sizes and the best breed for you can vary depending on why you need a service dog.

Two Main Types of Service Dog

There are two types of service dogs. One is trained for medical support and the other is for emotional support. While the breeds for these dogs can be the same, there are very clear differences.

Medical service dogs are dogs that are trained to help their owners during a medical emergency. The most common type of service dogs detect seizures in epileptic patients or low blood sugar in diabetics. These dogs can sense what is happening and can alert their owner that something is wrong.

Emotional support dogs help people with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental health-related issues. They offer protection and support and give the person suffering a companion. These dogs require less training than medical service dogs, but still have to be certified.

Of course, every dog offers companionship, so what makes an emotional service dog different? Because of their certification they are able to enter restaurants, travel, and even live in rentals that don’t normally allow pets.

service dogs

Best Breeds

There are breeds that are more popular than others when it comes to choosing the right service dog for you. There are a lot of factors to consider, and these pups have the traits that best fit the service dog life.

Labrador Retriever

Labs are the most common breed for pet owners, so it is no surprise that they also make the best service dogs. They are extremely loyal to their owners, which makes them ideal for all service dog needs. They are also very obedient, so they are easily trained. Couple that with their calm demeanor and you can see why they are the favorite.

Golden Retriever

Coming in just behind the lab is the golden retriever. Another popular family dog, these medium-large pups are friendly and gentle. Their ability to train easily makes them a popular choice for a medical service dog. Because of their calm and kind demeanor, golden retrievers also make great therapy dogs. Many healthcare facilities welcome them to visit patients while they recover.

German Sheppard

Most people don’t think of a German Sheppard as a service dog, they associate them more with law enforcement and military. But the fact remains that they make great service dogs. They are fiercely loyal to their person and are highly trainable and obedient. Their strength also lends them a hand to help rescue their owner. They are much more common as medical service dogs as opposed to emotional support dogs, but the right dog could be either one.

Bernice Mountain Dogs

These gentle giants are the perfect dog to help with mobility issues. They are certainly large, but they are affectionate and sweet, yet very trainable, making them the perfect companion to someone who struggles to get around.


Poodles are best used in the service dog world for emotional support. There are three sizes to a poodle: standard, miniature, and toy, and all three can offer the same level of emotional support to their owner. These faithful friends require much less upkeep than the other breeds, as they are hypoallergenic. This means that their fur and dander do not bother allergies as much. All dogs shed, but they shed significantly less than the other breeds mentioned here.

Not All About the Breed

While those may be the best breeds for a service dog, it is important to note that any breed can be a good service dog if they have the right training and characteristics. When really evaluating the service animal, the breed is less important than the characteristics of the individual dog. While overall, the lab is the most popular breed for service animals, there are labs out there that don’t fit the bill.

When choosing the best service animal for you, it is important to think about your situation and your family. The characteristics to look for in a service dog are:

  • Temperament
  • Size
  • Strength
  • Intelligence
  • Energy

Fitting those characteristics into your lifestyle is what is going to give you the best success when selecting your service companion. While size may not seem important, remember that large dogs eat a lot and cost more for grooming and vet visits, as well as any medications you may need to get.

Everyone’s journey with a service animal is going to look a little bit different and only you know what the best breed and the best fit with a dog will be.

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