The 10 Best Service Dog Breeds (with Pictures)

Living with any disability can be challenging, but one thing that makes life easier for those who need it are service dogs. These extraordinarily intelligent animals help people live better lives. Not only do they perform a variety of tasks, but they also make a difference on the mental health side.

Now, there is a big difference between a service dog and an emotional support animal. Guide dogs are trained to perform specific tasks that help their owners. While emotional support animals are there to help set the mood, they don’t have a specific job to do.

There are some breeds that are better suited to work than others. When looking for a guard dog, you need to know a few things. Not only that but there are 10 breeds which in all are amazing dogs that love to work.


What Makes a Great Service Dog?

When it comes to finding the perfect service dog for you, there are several characteristics you should look for. Not all dogs make great service animals. Toy breeds, hyper breeds, or even just dogs with a lot of fur are sometimes not suitable.

There are five main characteristics that make great service dogs. That is:

  • Happy to work

  • Clean

  • Friendly and calm disposition

  • Intelligent

  • Can be trained

Without these five traits, a dog would not enjoy working or helping out like other breeds. You have to remember that your dog is going to be doing important work, and they have to get it right 95% of the time.

The 10 Best Service Dog Breeds

1. Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retrievers_Shutterstock_Tina Rencelj

  • Age: 10-12 years old

  • Size: 22-24 inches (men), 21-23 inches (women)

  • Weight: 60-80 pounds (men), 55-70 pounds (women)

Most Labs are very friendly and kind dogs, making them perfect for the service industry. They bond strongly with their owners and love to work. Since they were a larger breed, they were especially useful for those who needed mobility aids.

There is a reason why many spy dogs are laboratories. They love to help their owners find where they need to go, and their instinct is to help. However, many people with mobility needs will often find the lab very helpful. These dogs have a “soft mouth” which means they grip things lightly with their teeth. They won’t damage the object you want, and apart from being slightly damp, the object you need is ready.

Thanks to their natural retrieving instincts, they make the simple job of helping owners pick up things, or bringing things to them.

2. Golden Retriever dog breed

golden retriever_Shutterstock_Olena Brodetska

  • Age: 10-12 years old

  • Size: 23-24 inches (men), 21-22 inches (women)

  • Weight: 65-75 pounds (men), 55-65 pounds (women)

Golden Retrievers should be on this list, because like the lab, they are great service dogs. They are smart and willing to do any job you give them. Not only that, they also have a sweet demeanor, making it easy for them to relax.

Golden is more ideal for those who need emotional support work, or those who have PTSD and need a dog that can handle those needs. However, they can easily do more physical work, such as fetching. Their instinct is to pick up things, and with a “soft mouth” they also carry things without breaking them.

However, this dog sheds more than any other dog.

3. German Shepherd

german shepherd dog resting in the yard

  • Age: 12-14 years old

  • Size: 24-26 inches (men), 22-24 inches (women)

  • Weight: 65-90 pounds (men), 50-70 pounds (women)

When it comes to service dogs, the German Shepherd was almost born to do this type of work. They are very smart, but they also love to work. Shepherds are easy to train, well behaved, and happy to help their owners.

Many dogs of this breed have sizes on their back to help with various mobility problems of various breeds. These dogs can pick up things with a gentle mouth, although this must be trained, unlike a lab. With a strong sense of smell, these dogs are also dogs that are wary of diabetes.

Just like Goldens, these dogs shed quite a bit. Many people also only see this dog as a police dog, which can make people nervous.

4. Standard Poodle


  • Age: 10-18 years old

  • Size: 15+ inches

  • Weight: 60-70 pounds (men), 40-50 pounds (women)

Poodles are very intelligent dogs, and they often go unnoticed because people only see fancy haircuts. These dogs often enjoy having a job, and they enjoy doing it with their owners.

Now, for most servicing jobs, a standard poodle will be best. Because they are bigger and stronger, they can help with a lot more physical work than the size of a toy. With the size of these dogs, you can easily lean on them or have them help you stand on the right leash.

Like other service dogs, this breed is easy to train. The thing to watch out for is a dog that gets bored easily. Poodles need to work or their minds aren’t stimulated, and that’s when they can become as destructive as a bored dog.

5. Border Collie

border collie_xkunclova_Shutterstock

  • Age: 12-15 years old

  • Size: 19-22 inches (men), 18-21 inches (women)

  • Weight: 30-55 pounds

Bored Collies are often considered one of the smartest breeds in the world. There’s a good reason for that, as they learn quickly, and then remember training without worry. Most also love to work, which makes them great service animals because you don’t have to worry if they like their job.

The only major drawback of Bored collies is that they like to herd. After all, it’s in their DNA to be herded. Collies herd sheep, cows, horses, and anything that can be farmed. This can cause them to do that with children, and they can easily drop toddlers.

Like many high-energy, intelligent dogs, they need to be stimulated. Finding toys can be an easy way to keep your dog’s brain stimulated and focused.

6. Great Dane

Great-Dane_Martin Tajmr, Pixabay

  • Age: 7-10 years old

  • Size: 30-32 inches (men), 28-30 inches (women)

  • Weight: 140-175 pounds (men), 110-140 pounds (women)

If you are looking for a gentle giant, then look no further than the Great Dane. They often help those who need assistance standing, maintaining balance, or just needing extra help walking. Given their enormous size, they make great dogs for those who need a dog that can reach things like a standard adult.

They are also dogs who have a friendly demeanor and focus on their humans rather than what is going on around them. Great Danes are usually great for those who need emotional support as well, as they are calm and reassuring. You won’t see a Great Dane panic unless panic needs to happen.

Great Danes drool, so they’re not ideal for all owners.

7. Bernese Mountain Dog

bernese mountain dog_Pixabay

  • Age: 7-10 years old

  • Size: 25-27.5 inches (men), 23-26 inches (women)

  • Weight: 80-115 pounds (men), 70-95 pounds (women)

Bernese Mountain dogs have all the skills to be a service dog, but they are not ideal for those living in warm climates. Because these dogs shed, they can pose a problem for those who are unprepared for a shedding dog or can’t handle a shedding dog.

Although they love to work, they are not ideal for those who live in apartments due to their size and energy level. If you don’t put them to work, they need ample space to run and play. Just like dogs who love to work, if they get bored, they can be great chewers.

8. Boxer

male boxing dog standing on the grass

  • Age: 10-12 years old

  • Size: 23-25 ​​inches (men), 21.5-23.5 inches (women)

  • Weight: 65-80 pounds

With service dogs, Boxers don’t top the list for many. They are large enough to perform many physical tasks, but they are also small enough to navigate through crowds with ease. They have all the skills needed to be a service dog, but are often overlooked by the more popular breeds.

Boxers are dogs that are suitable for all age groups as well. They have a lot of energy to keep up with the kids, but they also know when to calm down.

Unlike some other large breeds, they can adapt well to living in smaller houses or apartments with ease.

9. Pomeranian

Pomeranian_Shutterstock_APIWICH PUDSUMRAN

  • Age: 12-16 years old

  • Size: 6-7 inches

  • Weight: 3-7 pounds

The Pomeranian is a small but mighty service dog. While they can’t help you maintain balance to walk or help you get up, they can perform many tasks that require brain power. Do you need a dog that can get your medicine when you need it, but lives in a small space? A Pomeranian could be the dog that solves that problem.

Given their small size, they are not a hassle to take anywhere that doesn’t have a lot of space. Most people are not afraid of small dogs. However, it can also be a big problem. Service dogs are at work, and people will want to pet your dog. Fortunately, these dogs are very attentive to their owners and focused on the job at hand, but you have to pay attention to other people.

While they do shed, they are easily managed with a trip to the groomer.

10. Police dog


  • Age: 10-12 years old

  • Size: 25-27 inches (men), 23-25 ​​inches (women)

  • Weight: 90-110 pounds (men), 80-100 pounds (women)

While they are at the bottom of our list, Bloodhounds are excellent service dog companions. They are intelligent, loyal, loving, and easy to train.

The best jobs for bloodhounds are those that require a change of scent. Diabetic alert needs can easily be the best job for this breed. They have a very strong sense of smell, so even the smallest changes can be noticed easily.

The downside of this breed is that they can be lazy. This makes them best suited for those who are inactive.

  • Related Read: 25 Interesting Pet Therapy Statistics



While not every breed makes great service dogs, these ten dogs really shine. Whatever your needs, you’ll find them on our list. The important thing to remember is that your guard dog must not only suit your needs, it will work. As long as you can train your dog for your needs, they will be a perfect fit for you and your life.

Featured Image Credit: Africa Studio, shutterstock

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