From emotional support to medical response, from wheelchair assistance to hearing dogs for the deaf, the best service dog breeds can take many jobs. Still, some breeds are more suitable for such tasks. 

But what are they? 

We’ll tell you everything, but let’s check some definitions first.

Types of Service Dogs

As defined by the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), service dogs are individually trained to perform specific tasks for people with disabilities. All of them support people with a wide range of disabilities worldwide. 

Best Psychiatric Service Dog Breeds

These dogs can relate to both therapy and emotional support dogs. They specifically serve people suffering from mental health issues like PTSD, depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Some are even trained for emergency response. For example, they can call 911 when needed.  Here are the best psychiatric service dog breeds.

Poodles

Poodles are easily trainable due to their exceptional level of intelligence and eager-to-please personality. So they’re ideal for psychiatric care.

These dogs are sensitive to our mood, meaning that they become completely attuned to their owner’s state of mind with proper training. As they’re among the small service dog breeds, Poodles don’t comply with the physical requirements of mobility assistance dogs. Also, they’re hypoallergenic service dogs.

Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are intelligent, playful, and easy to train dogs that like to spend maximum time with their owners. They’re one of the best service dog breeds for PTSD or reducing anxiety. 

This breed isn’t easily distracted from its responsibilities. Though they tend to shed quite a bit, these wonderful dogs aren’t challenging to look after and thrive as caretakers themselves.

Best Service Dog Breeds for Anxiety

Research on dogs and emotions shows there’s emotional contagion between dogs and people. The best service dog breeds for anxiety can create a calming atmosphere. According to service dogs statistics, 80% successfully complete training and become service dogs. Let’s read all about them and examine the traits that make these breeds stand out.

Boxers

Boxers have a reputation as outstanding anxiety-reducing dogs. They have a habit of softly nudging their owners as if they want to know whether everything is fine and if they can assist you in any way. 

If the dog feels that something isn’t quite right, it’ll follow the owner from room to room. These dogs are incredibly concerned with their human parents’ well-being. Plus, they love their owner’s company and simply wish to remain by their side. These extraordinary dogs are gentle and understanding. 

Newfoundland

The Newfoundland is a service dog that was initially bred to help fishermen. Over the years, they continue to serve on land and water, but they can also be trained as one of the best service dog breeds for anxiety and depression.

Anxiety makes people want to stay inside and never leave the house. And Newfoundland will help their owners work up the courage to go out and have some fun. This dog is a great swimmer and an excellent beach or pool companion. What’s more, the huge puppy prefers to stay with its owner and doesn’t like being alone. Consider the Newfoundland as a teddy bear you can cuddle when feeling anxious.

black and white service dog on a walk

Service Dogs for the Deaf

We highly value dogs for their ability to hear sounds that most people can’t. Hearing dogs alert deaf people to important sounds, such as a knock on the door or a person entering the room. They touch the owner with their paws or nudge them with their nose. Then lead their human to the source of the sound. Here are the best service dog breeds for the deaf:

Portuguese Water Dogs

The Portuguese Water Dog is a service dog famous for its swimming capabilities. Many are therapy dogs and assistance dogs, helping with mobility and seizure response.

They serve as deaf-assistance dogs, thanks to their ability to seek out and alert their owners of specific alarms. The Portuguese Water Dog easily learns to bark when the phone rings, or there’s a knock at the door. They bond strongly with their owner and are the happiest around them.

Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniels are very intelligent. In combination with their desire to please people, they’re generally quite easy to train. They can handle many tasks and remember different commands. Cocker Spaniels are one of the best service dog breeds for anxiety due to their calming personality. 

These dogs are ideal for hearing impaired and deaf people. Their high energy level makes them quick to respond to sounds and commands.

Best Mobility Service Dog Breeds

Service dogs also help people in wheelchairs or with mobility issues. They may open and close doors, bring objects their owner can’t reach and operate light switches. The following breeds are considered the best service dog breeds for mobility. 

Rottweiler

Rottweilers were originally bred to be guard dogs, so they can sometimes be territorial. But these dogs can also be very gentle and caring when properly trained and socialized. Their physical strength and intelligence make Rottweilers one of the best mobility service dog breeds. 

These dogs are trained to offer balance and a sturdy platform for bracing when their owner is transitioning from a wheelchair or other mobility device to a bed, car, or seat. Male Rottweilers can reach up to 135 pounds and 27 inches. They can also support people suffering from mental and emotional issues.

Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retrievers are ideal for owners with mobility disabilities. They have soft mouths to gently pick up and pass items to their human companions without damaging them.

These dogs are also quick learners, equipped with curiosity for different tasks. Labrador Retrievers can be trained to respond directly to their owner. Plus, they can independently implement various tasks at home, in public, or in unfamiliar environments.

Bernese Mountain Dog

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a newcomer to the top service dog breeds list. It’s a large breed providing support to individuals with mobility issues.

They are incredibly friendly, love to please, and are physically strong enough to help their owners. Bernese Mountain Dogs may perform tasks in case of a fall or other emergency situations. These can include retrieving medications and opening the door.

Great Dane 

Great Danes belong to the large service dog breeds that can handle tasks other dogs might struggle with. Thanks to their size, they can provide mobility support and service work easily. They’re strong enough to support their owners’ weight and help physically disabled people with mobility issues. Great Danes can also act as psychiatric service dogs for individuals with mental impairments.

Autism Assistance Dogs

These dogs are trained to assist people with autism by alerting them to crucial sensory signals like a smoke alarm. They can also interrupt repetitive behaviors or mitigate overstimulation. So here are the best service dog breeds for autism.

Havanese

Havanese dogs are one of the best service dog breeds for autism since they’re miniature in size, people-loving, and brilliant creatures. You can prepare them for many tasks, including getting medication for their owner or interrupting repetitive or harmful behavior.

These dogs are perfect for children with autism. Their presence helps bridge the gap between the two worlds and provides kids with a sense of security. It’s truly a unique dog that’s very much up to the task of being among the best breeds for a psychiatric service dog.

St. Bernard

St. Bernard is a child-loving, gentle, and friendly creature. Although sometimes they can be heavy droolers, they’re excellent for children with autism because of their tolerant and friendly nature. They have a good sense of smell. That’s why we employ them as search and rescue dogs.

St. Bernards train well and get along perfectly with people of all ages. Plus, they don’t bark a ton. Barking can be startling, and many autistic people also experience noise sensitivity. Hence a dog on the quieter side is ideal.

Border Collie

Border Collies are one of the most intelligent dog breeds. They’re trainable and thus extensively used as service dogs for multiple tasks. These dogs are some of the best dog breeds for autism.  Border Collies are highly aware of human emotions, an essential trait for parents considering a dog for a child with autism spectrum. 

The positive side of training a Border Collie as a service dog is that they’re smart and capable animals. They can learn to pick up dropped items, open doors, and alert their owners.

Small girl holding onto a large German Shepherd

Seizure Response Dogs

These dogs are trained to recognize seizures. They’ll stand guard over their owner during an episode or go for help. Here are the best choices for service dog breeds that can help people with such issues.

German Shepherd

If there’s one breed that can do it all, it’s the German Shepherd. We often use them as guard or military dogs, but these puppies are amazing for service dogs, too.

It’s an intelligent breed that quickly understands changes in its owner’s mood. What’s more, the German Shepherd’s sense of smell is so developed that your dog will know of changes in your blood sugar levels. These dogs are also among the best service dog breeds for seizures. 

Calm and easy to train, the Shepherd is considered to have human-like intelligence. It’s the perfect dog for owners suffering from psychiatric issues. These dogs would make a great fit for children with autism, too.

Labradoodle

Mix two of the best service dog breeds, and you’ll get the best of both worlds. The Labradoodle, part Labrador Retriever, part Poodle, has all the qualities of an excellent service dog. They’re brilliant, loyal, and trainable. Also, the Labradoodle was bred as a service dog. 

The mix came from Australia in the 1980s, where it first helped a visually impaired woman and her allergic husband. So nowadays, they’re often used as assistance dogs for the blind. We consider them the best service dog breeds for epilepsy that can respond to an imminent seizure.

The dog can retrieve medications or use tactile stimulation to interrupt their handler’s obsessive-compulsive or harmful behavior. They have quick learning skills when it comes to training and are easily adaptable to most situations.

Diabetic Alert Dogs

These dogs provide a vital lifeline. Their amazing noses help detect low or high blood sugar and alert their handlers of dangerous levels before they become symptomatic. Here are the best breeds for a service dog for diabetes:

Bloodhound

Besides smart, Bloodhounds are calm, loyal, and affectionate, making them ideal for service dog companions. They possess a strong sense of smell. Their nose has 40 times more scent receptors than ours, making it one of the most sensitive noses on the planet. So Bloodhounds are among the best dogs for diabetics.

They’re very intelligent and enjoy extensive training. Overall, Bloodhounds are excellent companions due to their affectionate and loving nature. 

Pomeranians

Pomeranians are very different from most service dogs, but they have special talents. They’ve been successfully trained to identify high and low blood sugar levels, making them one of the best breeds for a service dog for diabetes. 

They can also be used as hearing dogs. Pomeranians can easily alert their owners of any sound worth paying attention to. It’s a valuable skill for deaf or partially deaf people struggling to hear knocks at the door or a ringing phone.

Guide Dog Breeds

Guide dogs help blind people navigate obstacles. While any dog can be can trained for a guide dog, only some breeds can fulfill this role: 

Doberman

Dobermans are usually associated with police work, but they love work and can do a variety of tasks. No wonder they’re among the common service dog breeds.

They can provide people with the support and love they’re longing for, which best fits people with PTSD, anxiety, and depression. These dogs can prevent people from harming themselves. 

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers

Although the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is popular as a sporting dog, the breed can also be a guide dog for the blind. Intelligent and trainable, they make great, loyal companions.

Chessies are very friendly, but they do need a good amount of exercise. Bred as working dogs, they need a job at all times. But their affectionate and protective personality makes them excellent guide dogs. 

How to Choose a Service Dog Breed

Choosing the right service dog breed can change your life. But what’s the right one for you? When it comes to finding your ideal service dog, pay attention to reliable and stable dog breeds. 

It’s also best to look for a dog with the following characteristics:

  • A temperament that fits the role you expect your dog to do
  • Dog size that’s suitable for you
  • A coat that fits the weather where you live
  • Strength and intelligence for providing support
  • Energy to handle your level of activity

Care Advice

Here are a few tips on how to take care of the best service dog breeds:

  • Provide a clean living environment.
  • Keep fresh water available at all times. Maintaining proper hydration is vital for health and energy.
  • Get quality food and feed it on a schedule to prevent obesity. 
  • Find a veterinarian you feel comfortable with. 
  • Make sure your dog gets regular exercise to stay in shape.
  • If your dog struggles in and out of a vehicle, get a dog ramp for your car. 
  • Find a harness for large dogs that fits.

Wrap Up

While you can train any dog for the function of a service dog, they do need some key traits.

The best service dogs are intelligent, easily trainable, friendly, and clean. So some breeds are more well-suited to the role than others. Still, the ideal service dog depends on the individual and their specific support needs. 

The best service dog breeds can change your life, so take your time and do your own research before you decide.

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Vessy's taken care of animals for as long as she can remember. Throughout the years, she's had hamsters, guinea pigs, and parrots. But her one true love is cats. As an advocate of science and technology, she joined the pawsome team to ensure top-quality research, and help pet owners find modern ways to improve the lives of their animal companions.