Want to get a dog but don’t know which breed to choose? As a Veteran, choosing the right service dog matters. You wouldn’t want to choose a service dog that physically can’t complete the tasks you need. That’s why knowing which dog breed is best for you can help you narrow down your choice.

What Characteristics Should a Service Dog Have? 

Every dog is different. However, you can tell a lot about their character and skillset based on their breed. 

The most important characteristics that potential service dogs need to have include:

  • Intelligence 
  • Cool and calm demeanor 
  • Friendliness
  • Obedience
  • Energy
  • Emotional composure
  • Ability to concentrate on tasks

10 Service Dog Breeds to Choose From 

Dog trainers can train any dog breed to perform tasks. However, certain breeds are more efficient than others.

Service dogs can serve different purposes and are trained to perform specific duties or help people with specific disabilities or health challenges. For example, some dog breeds are known to help better with mental health issues and PTSD, while others quickly adapt to people living with physical disabilities.

Below are the most popular service dog breeds to choose from. Which one is the right dog breed depends on you though.

1. Labrador Retriever

Many people prefer the Labrador Retriever as a service dog because of its calm personality. Labs are friendly, committed, and extremely smart. They are also easy to train compared to other breeds, making them great service dogs. 

2. Golden Retrievers  

Another excellent service dog breed is the Golden Retriever. They’re an ideal breed to serve as therapy dogs for kids because of their friendliness and charm.

Also, these dogs are intelligent and obedient to their owners. So, they can assist you with mobility and retrieval of objects.

3. Boxers 

Boxers are amiable and gentle dogs. They get along well with people of all ages. They’re also very intelligent. 

Boxers are great psychiatric support dogs. If you have a family with young children or live in a noisy house, boxers are a fantastic choice for service dog breed.

Mind you, boxers have a lot of energy and must frequently exercise to be healthy. So, owning a boxer might be challenging if you’re not physically active and don’t have a plan to exercise your dog. 

4. Lhasa Apso 

While small, Lhasa Apso is another great breed for psychiatry support. They are cheerful and friendly, which can be very helpful to people suffering from PTSD, anxiety, or other mental health issues.

Sometimes, Lhasa Apsos are shy and withdrawn but warm up nicely to their owners.

5. Standard Poodle 

Full-size, standard poodles work best for service-related jobs. These canines are intelligent and large enough to assist with many physical duties, making them excellent working dogs.

Poodles are known for being simple to teach. They like working and appreciate challenges. They often have calm, amiable personalities. 

Plus, the hypoallergenic hair of a poodle makes it an excellent service dog for people with dog allergies. Not to mention less time cleaning up shedded fur!

6. Border Collie 

Collies are one of the most intelligent dog breeds in the world. No wonder shepherds have trusted them to care for their sheep for hundreds of years.

They are well known for being reserved with strangers but have a strong attachment with their owners. This trait makes them excellent service dogs for people with PTSD and other psychiatric conditions.

Another remarkable characteristic of Collies is their ability to sense approaching seizures. This makes them the best choice for people who experience epilepsy or other forms of seizures. 

7. Pomeranian 

Pomeranians may be small, but they’re excellent alert dogs. They can warn you of signs of diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and even asthma.

This may make Pomeranians the right dog breed for the deaf and people with mental health challenges. 

Because of their small figure, they are easy to move around and bring into areas where larger breeds wouldn’t fit.

8. German Shepherd 

The German Shepherd is the one of the most popular breeds for guide dogs. This is why it makes a fantastic service dog, even though it is often used as a “police dog.” This dog breed is versatile and can help people with almost any impairment. So, even if you’re living with a mental challenge like PTSD or anxiety, we strongly recommend this breed.

Because of their strong sense of smell, a German shepherd can do blood sugar monitoring in diabetic patients. They have a big size and a build that is also great for mobility assistance, either as guide dogs or balance assistance dogs.

9. Bernese Mountain Dog 

Bernese Mountain dogs are bulky giant dogs with a service dog’s devotion, intelligence, and easygoing nature. Because of their build and strength, Bernese Mountain dogs can help pull wheelchairs or guide an adult that needs help with movement.

These dogs can be distant from outsiders while being affectionate and friendly with their owners.

10. Great Dane 

The Great Dane is a unique dog breed known for its tall and sturdy build. While it’s not easy to have a Great Dane in a small apartment, if you have the space and the need for mobility assistance, they may be the right dog breed for you.

Despite their shocking size, they’re excellent with children. However, their size also means the sad reality that Great Danes have the shortest life expectancy. Their natural life can be as low as 6 years. Since training takes time and effort, the time you have with your service dog can sadly be cut short.

Tips On How to Choose the Right Dog Breed for You

Choosing the right breed for you depends on many factors. Think about the answers to these 5 questions to find out what kind of dog breed would suit you best. 

1. How Big Is Your Home?

If you live in a small apartment or home, you should consider getting dogs of smaller sizes. Living with a large dog like a Great Dane would be uncomfortable and inconvenient. You can consider dog breeds with smaller sizes like Border Collies or Poodles. 

2. Can You Afford Having a Dog? 

The cost of a service dog aside, there are various fees you need to budget for when you have a dog.

Owning a dog involves paying for their food, grooming, toys, and vet bills. The cost of which can easily be over $1,000 a year for the basics. Especially if you need dog walking services.

If you need a service dog, opt for a breed with fewer known health problems to reduce your potential vet bill. While this isn’t a guarantee, it’s a good tip.

While there are ways to get help with vet bills, you need to take the financial aspect of owning a dog into consideration. 

3. Why Do You Need to Get a Dog? 

Another vital thing to consider is the reason for getting the dog. While some get a service dog to help with mobility, allergies, or PTSD, others simply need a companion.

Our Life Buddy program serves Veterans who don’t need or qualify for a service dog, but still want a companion trained for their needs. Service dogs usually go everywhere with their owner at all times and are allowed to go anywhere people can go. Life Buddies are not registered service dogs, but they can go with you anywhere dogs are allowed.  

This can give you greater flexibility while still giving you the companionship of a four-legged friend.

4. How Trained Is the Dog? 

What makes a dog a service dog is its training. So, it would help if you considered how trained the dog is. Is it trained to suit your needs? Do you need to train it yourself? How much will the training fees cost and how long will it take? You’ll need to ask these questions before deciding which dog to choose.

5. Can Your Schedule Accommodate A Dog? 

Having a dog is a responsibility and commitment. You’ll need to dedicate time and attention to feeding, bathing, and taking care of your service dog or Life Buddy. Plus, dogs need to bond with their owners.

If you can’t dedicate time to taking care of your dog’s physical and emotional needs, having a dog may not be for you. However, if you have plenty of time and energy, getting a more energetic breed may give you the companion you need.

Choosing the Right Breed For You

Ultimately, every dog offers love, care, and companionship to their owners. Knowing which is the right breed for you helps you narrow down your service dog needs. But, the bond you build with your dog is what makes them your best friend.

At Sierra Delta, we’re passionate about connecting service dogs and Life Buddies to Veterans. Our community can support you in choosing the right breed for you, and getting the training needed to fit your lifestyle.

Join our community to learn more about our organization, love of dogs, and top tips for dog owners!

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