Service dogs come in all shapes, sizes and breeds; from dogs, as small as Chihuahuas to dogs as massive as Mastiffs, and almost everything in between. When most people think of service dog breeds they think of the traditional breeds such as German Shepherds (GSD), Labradors, and Golden Retrievers. But nowadays the use of unusual breeds has exploded. More and more breeds are finding use in the service dog industry. Mastiffs are used for mobility work. Chihuahuas are used for diabetic or seizure alert dogs.
Service Dog Breeds- Temperament
If the dog has the temperament, skills, and willingness to work; almost any breed could do certain jobs. A corgi wouldn’t work out for pulling a wheelchair but but could work as a hearing dog. Breeds like pugs and bulldogs don’t always make the best of service dogs due to the pushed in noses–this leads to difficult breathing while walking and a shorter working life. While toy breeds can do some service dog jobs, they are not often taken seriously by store employees and the public, especially if dressed up like someone’s child.
Smaller breeds are being used by more disabled people on a fixed income as they eat less and can live happier in a smaller home. A cocker spaniel can alert to a sound just as well as a labrador.
Service Dog Breeds- Restricted Breeds
Bully breeds, dobermans, and rottweilers are used as service dogs. This can caused access problems in areas with breed specific legisislation (BSL) aka breed bans. Some cities require service dogs of a banned breed to be muzzled in public. Or you may not be able to purchase a banned breed if you live within city limits.
Service dogs change the lives of thousands of Americans every year. There are estimates of between 100,000 and 200,000 trained service dogs in the United States. These highly trained helpers deserve the utmost respect and admiration for their capabilities and their devotion.