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The best service dog breeds are dubbed as the heroes of the canine world. They do real jobs of helping other people and guiding their owners who have a special condition. These pooches prove that, indeed, dogs are men’s best friends.
|Dog Service Type||Suitable dog breeds|
|Autism Assistant Dogs||Great Pyrenees, Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Newfoundland|
|Severe Allergy Alert Dogs||Poodle, Bichon Frise, Yorkshire Terrier, Maltese|
|Brace/Mobility Support Dogs||Labrador Retriever, Standard Poodles, Golden Retriever, Newfoundland, Doberman Pinscher|
|Diabetic Alert Dogs||Golden Retriever, Poodle, mixed sporting dog breeds, Labrador Retrievers|
|Hearing Assistance Dogs||Cocker Spaniels, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Poodle|
|Medical Alert Dogs (MADs)||Pomeranian, Golden Retriever, Poodle|
|Medical Assistance Dogs||Doberman Pinscher, Pomeranian, Poodle, Golden Retriever|
|Psychiatric Service Dog (PSDs)||Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Lhasa Apso, Boxer, Miniature Schnauzer, Havanese|
|Seizure Response Dogs||Collie, Samoyed, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever|
|Visual Assistance Dogs||German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, Standard Poodle|
|Wheelchair Assistance Dogs||Bernese Mountain Dog, Newfoundland, Rottweiler, Bully breeds|
According to the American Disabilities Act (ADA), service dogs are breeds trained to help disabled individuals perform tasks that they can’t accomplish alone. These doggos undergo intensive training to achieve the temperament and behavior required for the job. They are also referred to as assistance dogs.
Service dogs vary in purpose. Some of them are trained to assist the deaf, protect those with seizures and anxiety, and more. They have to be trained and certified first, although certification isn’t required by the ADA.
But take note that not all dogs can be service dogs. There are outstanding breeds that are born to take on this noble career. Here are some of them with their specialization:
Autism Assistant Dogs
Adding a dog to the family is a serious decision, more so for those with autism. However, a study found out that 94% of families who have kids with autism noted that their kids bonded well with their dogs. A separate study also proved that having a dog at home will help kids with autism develop prosocial behavior. Dogs are able to help kids with autism learn how to share, make physical contact, and look at faces.
For this purpose, the Great Pyrenees would be excellent. This dog shares the same appearance with the Golden Retriever but with a fluffier and snow-like coat. This breed is known for its calm temperament and protective nature. Since they are affectionate and playful to kids, they make an excellent autism assistant dog. Some of the best small service dog breeds will also be great for this condition.
But before they become an assistant dog, they have to undergo intensive training. They have a high tendency to wander and energy level which needs to be tamed.
Other autism assistant dogs: Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Newfoundland
Severe Allergy Alert Dogs
As a hypoallergenic dog, there’s no doubt that Poodles are popular for being a Severe Allergy Alert Dog breed. This type of service dog is trained to alert their handlers of a potential allergen on food and environment. Usually, these dogs will wear a special vest with emergency information in its pocket.
Since Poodles shed very little and they don’t drool, they are called the true hypoallergenic dog. They are also intelligent and can get along in any living setup. The fascinating part is that Poodles can be trained with a canine-enabled 911 phone. This way, the service dog can call for help if ever their handler is experiencing anaphylactic shock.
Those who like Labrador Retrievers without their intense shedding resort to Labradoodles. They are also excellent Severe Allergy Alert dogs, having shared the intelligence of both origin breeds.
Poodles are also excellent service dogs for seniors.
Other severe allergy assistance dogs: Bichon Frise, Yorkshire Terrier, Maltese
Brace/Mobility Support Dogs (BMSD)
Brace and Mobility Support Dogs are breeds trained to assist in daily tasks. It could be a simple routine of opening and closing the door, retrieving things, and responding to emergency situations. Usually, BMSD dogs wear a fitted and customized vest so they can easily assist their handler.
One of the best service dog breeds for this is the Labrador Retriever. This doesn’t come as a surprise, though, since Labs belong to the retriever breed and famous for being a family pet.
This type of service dog helps in locomotion either by foot or through a wheelchair. Since Labs are large dogs, they can easily help their handler to regain balance and they can provide support as they walk.
Dogs tasked to provide mobility support undergo a painstaking training process. They have to attain a certain level of precision, problem-solving skills, and independent thinking. Labs used as a mobility support should know how to act to mitigate a situation that may worsen its handler’s sickness.
Other mobility support dogs: Standard Poodles, Golden Retriever, Newfoundland, Doberman Pinscher
Diabetic Alert Dogs (DADs)
Yes, dogs can help even in a condition that’s experienced internally by their handler. Dogs assigned for this task is trained to smell a certain hormone that indicates a spike in blood sugar. In fact, the body produces fruit-smelling ketones during an episode of hyperglycemia. Since dogs have a naturally strong sense of smell, they are fit for this job.
But what makes Golden Retriever stand out is its calm and intelligent personality. They are excellent family pets and they are known for being loyal and affectionate. On the other hand, the best small service dog breeds can also be reliable DADs.
Diabetic assistant dogs come in two types: medical response dog and diabetic alert dog. The former is when the doggo warns the handler during the symptomatic phase. Meanwhile, the latter is a proactive service dog that senses the change in the handler’s biochemistry. Usually, they will alert the caregiver or handler 15-30 minutes before symptoms start to show.
Take note that dogs aren’t substitutes to professional blood sugar checking. Like any sentient being, they may miss the signs. Remember that dogs are just assistants and as the handler, you’re still responsible for your own health.
Other diabetic assistant dogs: Poodle, mixed sporting dog breeds, Labrador Retrievers
Hearing Assistance Dogs
One of the most common assistant pooches is the hearing assistant dogs. These breeds are attentive to sounds but very friendly to strangers. The dogs are trained in both on-lead and off-lead environments to develop their independence. Dogs assigned to deaf individuals are tasked to respond when their handler’s name is called or if there’s someone ringing the doorbell, calling on the phone, knocking, or if an alarm went off.
These dogs don’t have any special equipment requirement, but the color bright orange is reserved for them.
Cocker Spaniels are the best service dog breeds for hearing assistance. Why? First, hearing dogs should be between small and mid-sized breeds. Cocker Spaniels are also known for their high level of sensitivity to sound, smell, and visuals. They are also affectionate to their owners and easy to train.
Cocker Spaniels are known to be working and show dogs. Their discipline to their previous jobs helps them as service dogs.
Other hearing assistance dogs: Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Poodle
Medical Alert Dogs (MADs)
Medical Alert dogs are trained to alert their handlers the moment a sudden drop in their blood pressure or hormonal levels happens. They are trained to sense physiological changes that can lead to the sickness of the handler. The handler may or may not show signs of the disability.
Diabetic Alert Dogs (DADs) are classified as a Medical Alert Dogs (MADs). But not all MADs can be DADs.
The gear that the dog wears depends on the functions he is tasked to do. Some dogs don’t even wear any gear at all.
Pomeranian dogs are just one of the best small service dog breeds for MADs. They are believed to have a special talent as a medical alert dog. If trained well, they can detect symptoms of asthma, diabetes, hypoglycemia, and even heart attack even before it takes a life-threatening turn.
Overall, medical alert dogs are the umbrella breed for canines tasked to detect physiological changes that can harm their handlers.
Other medical alert dogs: Golden Retriever, Poodle
Medical Assistance Dogs
Unlike the medical alert dogs, medical support dogs serve as wingmen of their handlers suffering from various medical conditions. They can open the door, retrieve things, cushion their handler when they are about to fall, and so on. Medical assistance dogs are more of general assistance dogs. Most of these support dogs are sought by patients who don’t want to go into the details of their condition.
As to how experts call it, medical support dogs are the “catch-all” of all service dogs. Canines that possess the characteristics of a support dog but can’t develop accuracy to a certain department are likely to be assigned here.
Doberman Pinschers, for one, are the favorites as medical support dogs. They may not have the ability to sniff physiological changes, but they are alert enough to be of help for their handlers. Dobermans are extremely loyal and dedicated to their humans.
Other medical assistance dog breeds: Pomeranian, Poodle, Golden Retriever
Psychiatric Service Dog (PSDs)
This type of service dog is tasked to provide emotional comfort to their handlers. Both the best small service dog breeds and large dogs can be PSDs. They are trained to physically stop a person from performing harmful moves like slashing the wrist, hitting the head, and so on. Psychiatric service dogs can also sense a change in breathing which is likely associated with panic and anxiety attacks. They are assigned to individuals with depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
PSDs shouldn’t be mistaken for therapy dogs. The latter only provides emotional support to people that aren’t their handlers.
One of the prominent and the best service dog breeds as a PSD is the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. They might be a small dog, but they have a big heart. They love cuddling and snuggling with their handler. Cavaliers can be active too if needed.
Once they develop a bond with their handler, they can be a Velcro dog. This is an excellent fact for those suffering from bouts of depression and anxiety when left alone.
Other psychiatric service dogs: Lhasa Apso, Boxer, Miniature Schnauzer, Havanese
Seizure Response Dogs
Next to PSD, the Seizure Response Dogs are very popular. They are trained to be a companion and a responder during a seizure attack. For example, if their handler has epilepsy, they will crawl beneath the person’s head to prevent it from getting hurt on the floor. Seizure Response dogs will also perform deep pressure stimulation to aid the seizure.
What’s special about this type of service dogs is that they are trained to retrieve medication. They will be trained to remember where the medicine is stored. If the handler is conscious during the attack, the dog will be helpful in preventing the situation from escalating.
One of the popular breeds for this is the Collie. They have the ability to detect potential seizures even before the symptoms manifest.
Other seizure response dogs: Samoyed, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever
Visual Assistance Dogs
Visual assistance dogs help their blind or visually-impaired handlers through a white harness. These dogs are highly trained to heed commands with accuracy and sensitivity to the environment. Many breeds can be visual assistance dogs given that they are even-tempered, sturdy, and fall between mid and large-sized canines.
However, visual assistance dogs don’t lead their visually-impaired handlers. Instead, the handler itself does it. The dog just listens to the command and prevents the handler from encountering obstacles. They are like traffic lights. They stop when there’s an obstacle, then go when the path is clear.
Among the preferred breeds as a visual assistant is the German Shepherd. This dog has one of the most good-natured temperaments in the canine world. They are friendly but cautious enough to dodge danger.
Other visual service dogs: Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, Standard Poodle
Wheelchair Assistance Dogs
Wheelchair assistance dogs are trained to retrieve, open doors, clear the pathway, and pull the wheelchair of their handler. They are excellent assistants even if the handler isn’t at ambulatory mode. Wheelchair assistance dogs have to come from large breeds as they will assist in the pulling of the wheelchair through a harness. The best small service dog breeds won’t be fit for this post.
This is the reason why the Bernese Mountain Dog is a top pick for this job. Any large dog with an even temperament and high intelligence can fit for this job if trained well.
These dogs can also help their handlers regain their balance, stability, and in calling for help.
Other wheelchair assistance dogs: Newfoundland, Rottweiler, Bully breeds
A salute to service dogs!
Dogs don’t just rely on us; they also help humans live their lives with comfort and companionship. A lot of service dogs have saved the lives of their handlers through their quick thinking and alertness. Although they aren’t alternatives to professional medical treatments, the best service dog breeds make the life of patients more worthwhile.
FROM PUPS TO HEROES: Here, BuzzFeed shows how a service dog is trained and how they get to be the heroes many are benefiting from: