We choose to have dogs in our lives for many reasons. However, some people with disabilities actually need the assistance of intelligent and loving pups to get through their own daily routines. Of course, these important dogs with very important jobs are what we call “service dogs.”
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service dog is specifically trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities who would otherwise have trouble completing those tasks. This means that service dogs are not adopted as pets but are there to help their human counterparts with their specific needs.
Although there are different service dogs who are trained to aid with specific disabilities, they’re still separate from therapy dogs and emotional support dogs.
And even if service dogs can come in all shapes and sizes, they all must share some common traits — intelligence, calmness, and friendliness — and they must be willing and easy to train.
So without further ado, here are five of the best service dog breeds.
1. Labrador Retriever
As one of the most popular dog breeds to adopt — and not to mention one of the most intelligent — it’s no surprise that Labrador Retrievers make excellent service dogs.
Originally bred to be hunting dogs, these pups are very perceptive and patient, which are great traits for a good service dog. They’re also large enough to be able to assist in carrying simple items around on their own and are especially helpful for those who are mobility-impaired.
These pups can be trained for a wide variety of tasks, which makes them ideal to help those with any disability.
2. German Shepherd Dog
Though we mostly associate German Shepherds as guard or police dogs, they can make great service dogs as well. They’re intelligent, well-behaved, and fairly easy to train. They’re also a large-sized breed and very strong, which makes them great as guide dogs for the visually impaired.
German Shepherds have a great balance of all the traits a service dog needs, which makes them not only perfect as your helper but as a regular pet, too.
3. Golden Retriever
Since there are similarities between Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers, it’s not a shock that Goldens would also be on this list. These pups are just as intelligent as their Labrador counterparts and are very gentle dogs.
Goldens are hard workers who love to please their humans. They’re also able to have tender bites, which makes them excellent for retrieving items for those who are mobility impaired. Goldens make great therapy and emotional support dogs, too. Golden Retrievers can do just about anything!
4. Standard Poodle
This might be surprising for some, but Poodles can make great service dogs. Don’t let their fancy haircuts fool you; these beautiful pups are highly intelligent and very easy to train.
They’re also friendly and have an acute sense of smell. This makes Poodles able to detect food allergens and save those with life-threatening allergies.
A standard Poodle is the largest of its breed and is able to carry and retrieve items for those with physical disabilities.
Sometimes good things come in small packages. Take Pomeranians, for example. These small pups might not seem like ideal service dogs, but their intelligence and enthusiasm make them excellent helpers.
In fact, they’re great as medical alert dogs. If you live with diabetes, this means they can detect and alert you if your blood sugar is too high or too low. They’re also able to detect medical conditions such as an oncoming asthma attack or heart attack. Poms can make great hearing dogs and alert those who are deaf.