As the saying goes, a dog is a person’s best friend. True companionship and unconditional love is what life is all best-service-dog-breedsabout.

Our furry little (or big) buddies exude this joyous behavior with the purest intention, no questions asked. A dog can become a loyal member of a family in such a short period, melting our hearts. But what hits a whole new level of ‘loyalty’, is when a dog’s is trained to help someone who has a disability by making life a little easier for them.

If you or someone you know has a child or adult with special needs, service dogs can be an incredible ‘trained helper’ to assist them with their daily activities.

Throughout this post, I’m going to inform you about the 4 BEST service dog breeds to know about to help those with disabilities. Most importantly, how a service dog can enhance the life of an individual who is disabled by helping them with their everyday life.

What is a Service Dog?

Service dogs are trained animals with the sole purpose to help a person who is disabled participate in daily activities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines service animals as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include:service-dog

In addition, the ADA states, ‘the work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA. Some State and local laws also define service animal more broadly than the ADA does.”

Information about such laws can be found online at your State Attorney General’s office.

service-dogTypes of Service Dogs

First off, it’s important to be aware of the key differences when you hear terminology related to service dogs. I know when I heard words such as ‘therapy’ or ’emotional support’ dog, I thought it all meant the same thing but there is definitely a difference.

So Let’s briefly touch on what each of these types of service dogs are and then we will get right into the four best service breeds for children or adults.

  • Therapy Dogs are trained to provide comfort, support, and affection by reducing stress and anxiety in others. The dog is specifically trained to interact with people (other than its owner) to make them feel better. These type of dogs are only allowed in public places such as nursing homes and hospitals as well as other places such as libraries (only by prior agreement). Service dog laws do not apply to therapy dogs.
  • Emotional Support Dogs provide comfort to their owner. These type of dogs do not have access to all public areas, but legally, they are allowed to fly with a person who has a psychological or emotional disability and they can also qualify for no-pet housing. What that means under the Federal Fair Housing Laws, is Emotional Support Animals (ESA) must have access to apartments with a no-pet policy and are exempt from pet-related fees (they are considered a medical tool and not a pet).

As stated by US Service Animals, “It’s important to know that an ESA is different from a service animal, although they are both protected against discrimination by the Fair Housing Act.

The main difference between an ESA and a service animal is that an ESA deals specifically with mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, whereas a service animal may be used to help with one of a number of possible conditions, including both physical and mental health disorders.”

Common Traits of the Top Service Dogs

We are about to discuss the top service dog breeds, but before we do you are going to notice a similar pattern in the traits a GREAT service dog possess which include:

  • Hard working
  • Friendly
  • Highly intelligent
  • Calming demeanor
  • Energetic

The BEST Service Dog Breeds for Children with Disabilities

Service dog breeds can range from big to small so it’s important to choose a service dog that fits the lifestyle and needs specific to the person who is disabled.

Below I’m going to cover the 4 most pupular breeds. That’s right, ‘pup’ular, get it? OK, maybe that was a bad joke.

So let’s get right into it!

#1. Golden Retriever is commonly used to help those who are visually and hearing impaired as well as thoseservice-dog who have mobility issues. The Golden Retriever is a compassionate companion who is highly intelligent and trainable in following instructions. This is not a dominating breed, but a breed who shows a lot of sympathy to its owner. Their calming personality is wonderful around other children and animals.

#2. Labrador Retrievers are such people-lovers who are reliable. They have a controlled and balanced personality which makes them an incredible breed to train and learn new tasks to perform for their owner. Because of this, the Labrador serves in almost every service dog capacity. They can also be used for those who have hearing, vision, or mobility disabilities. Because the Labrador is a highly sociable animal, they are great with children and other animals too.

#3. Standard Poodle is used mostly for those with mobility issues to help their owner who is in a wheelchair or needs assistance with walking and support. Due to the Poodle’s large size, they are amazing animals for this type of work. The Standard Poodle is known to be one of the most highly intelligent breeds who are very obedient. They are very curious and aim to please their owner which makes them easy to train and depend on.

#4. German Shepard make great dogs for guard and protection work. I know when I see a German Shepard, I automatically associate this breed as a helper to the police force. However, they make fantastic service dogs because they are very smart, easy to train, and well-behaved. They are a highly driven breed who maintain a joyous attitude during times of hard work. German Shepard are very loyal and protective of their owner. Due to this, it is important to properly train and pair this type of breed with those who are authoritative.

Helpful Resources

#1. If you are just getting started researching service dogs or are about ready to start the journey with your new furry companion, then I would recommend reading or have “The Ultimate Service Dog Training Manual” as a guide to reference. It’s the ultimate resource in covering everything you need to know about getting, training, and living with service dogs.

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#2. If you do have a service dog or are planning on getting one, take a peek at this Service Dog Kit. To save you time, I researched different kits and came across this one which is a lifesaver. I believe this kit has pretty much everything you’ll need, especially the essentials. It comes with a vest with a handle, free registered service dog ID, 5-foot reflective leash, travel tag, American Disability Act information cards, window pocket ID carrier, two reflective patches, and chest pad.

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#3.  For frequently asked questions (FAQ) related to service animals and the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), click here.

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