The Best Service Dog Breeds & How To Choose One [2023]

best service dog breeds

The Best Service Dog Breeds

Obviously, you can’t just go to the corner store and pick up a service dog. How do you know what the best service dog breeds are?

It’s difficult to say what the best service dog breed is, because the question is really about what the best breed is for you. There are so many things to carefully consider. Here are some of the most important.

Table of Contents

How to choose the best service dog breed for you
Working K9 “Remmi” @working.collie.remmiOpens in a new tab.

Remember the Reason For Your Service Dog

When looking for the best service dog breeds, remember that the #1 reason for you to get a service dog is so he can help mitigate your disability. This means you must throw away any idea or temptation to get a dog based on superficial qualities.

This includes:

  • The way the dog looks
  • How cute/not cute or fluffy/not fluffy he is
  • The kind of dog you’ve always dreamed about having (not to say you can’t necessarily get your dream dog, too)
remember the reason for your service dog

How To Narrow Down The Best Service Dog Breeds

Consider the breed of the dog that would be most helpful to you. To do this, write a list, or consider your most disabling qualities and think about how a dog could help. The best breed for service dogs may be a breed you haven’t yet thought of.

The Best Service Dog Breeds & How To Choose One [2023]
Write it down

The Best Service Dog Breeds – Consider What Size of Dog Would Be Suitable For You

Some of the best service dog breeds for some people may be smaller dogs

For example, if you need a dog to help with balance issues, then you’ll need a relatively large dog (at least 50 lbs). Some people even use two dogs for stability, and that is okay, and permitted by the federal ADA laws.

Larger breeds are often used by professional service dog trainers and may be more accepted in public areas. More people are used to them.

You don’t have to have a certain kind of dog. Service dogs may be any breed. Technically speaking, under the U.S. ADA lawsOpens in a new tab., a service animal must be either a dog or a miniature horse.

Miniature horses are less common, but still very valuable to the people they go through life with.

What are the best service dog breeds?
“Flirty” The Mini Service Horse in a new tab.

The benefit of small dogs are many.

Some benefits of small dogs include things like:

  • They take up less room
  • They eat less, so they are probably less expensive to feed
  • They tend to live longer

Most importantly, service dog breeds that happen to be smaller are just as competent

Think About Your Personality and the Personality of Certain Dog Breeds

When deciding on a service dog breed, consider personality of you and your dog
Goldendoodle Autism Service Dog “Piper” @service.doodle.piperOpens in a new tab.

Some kinds of dogs are more independent, and others enjoy working with people. Dogs that are bred to chase game (like hounds and terriers) tend to be independent.

Some service dog breeds that seem to enjoy working for people are dogs that have traditionally been bred to retrieve game.

Dogs that are bred for guard work aren’t recommended for emotional or psychiatric work.

Toy breeds, which can be some of the very best service dog breeds, are often bred for companionship and tend to be very connected to their owner.

The Best Service Dog Breeds – More Independent Types of Dogs Breeds

english bulldog service dog
English Bulldog
  • English Bulldog
  • Shih Tzu
  • Chow Chow
  • Basset Hound
  • Miniature Pinscher
  • Boston Terrier
  • Bull Mastiff
  • Tibetan Spaniel

Dog Breeds That Typically Love People

Dog breeds that typically love people are Poodles
Goldendoodle Autism Service Dog “Piper” @service.doodle.piperOpens in a new tab.
  • French Bulldog
  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • Great Dane
  • Collie
  • Italian Greyhound
  • Australian Cattle Dog
  • Poodle
  • Maltese
  • Chihuahua
  • German Shepherd Dog
  • American Pit Bull Terrier
  • Shiba Inu
  • Pomeranian
German Shepherd service dog
Multipurpose Service Dog “Eri” @eri_servicedogOpens in a new tab.

Use This Dog Match-Up Quiz To Find The Best Service Dog Breed For You

dog match up quiz

Check this out. Here you can find a dog match-up tool.

It will help point you in the right direction to find out which breeds and mixes of dogs would be good for you based on your personality and other needs and preferences.

Check it out:

Dog Breed SelectorOpens in a new tab.

Dog Time – Dog Matchup

You Can Talk to Dog Trainers To Determine the Best Service Dog Breeds For You

How to determine the best service dog breeds for you and your family
Border Collies @celestialbordercolliesOpens in a new tab.

Dog trainers, if you can find one to chat with, can offer invaluable information. A service dog trainer would be ideal. There are many other types of trainers.

These would be people who train dogs for advanced competitions, obedience, other types of dog sports, search and rescue training, or even people who are evaluators for the Canine Good Citizen Test.Opens in a new tab.

I am positive that these types of people would be quite opinionated and experienced in knowing what the best service dog breeds are.

Think About Your Level of Activity and Energy To Find The Best Service Dog Breeds

service dog energy levels
How much energy do you typically have?

Sorry to state the obvious, but service dogs are still, well, dogs. Most dogs will likely require at least an hour of walking or another exercise each day.

  • Can you commit to this basic need that your dog will have?
  • If not, do you have a family member or friend that can help you out?
  • Are you able to hire someone to do this for you?

Labradors need an hour of walking or exercise every day. High-energy breeds will require 1-2 hours per day, plus additional activities to keep them busy.

So, some of the best breeds for service dogs might just be furry friends that have lower energy. This might work well if you are prone to encountering barriers to exercise.

Service dog breeds best for people some things to consider
Canadian Service Dog “Everest” @katelynburelleOpens in a new tab.

Lower Energy Dogs

The Best Service Dog Breeds & How To Choose One [2023]
  • Basset Hound
  • Bulldog
  • Bull Mastiff
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Chow Chow
  • French Bulldog
  • Great Dane
  • Greyhound
  • Old English Sheepdog
  • Pekingese
  • Pug
  • Shih Tzu
Lower energy dogs good for service dogs
Blue Heeler “Snow Leopard” @snow_leopard_81Opens in a new tab.

The Best Service Dog Breeds That Are Higher Energy Dogs

Best service dog breeds that are higher energy dogs
Border Collie @celestialbordercolliesOpens in a new tab.
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Golden Retriever
  • Weimaraner
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback
  • Dalmatian
  • Border Collie
  • Siberian Husky
  • German Shepherd
  • Boston Terrier
  • Jack Russel Terrier
  • Pointer
  • Catahoula Leopard Dog
  • Irish Setter
  • Boxer

Activities You Can Do With Your Service Dog

Activities you can do with your service dog
Photo credit: @luna_exploregonOpens in a new tab.

Would a higher-energy dog perhaps be the best breed for service dogs for you?

Think about whether this is something that would potentially fit with your lifestyle and energy level.

Just a few examples of sports and activities you may be able to do with your service dog include:

  • Agility
  • Backpacking
  • Day trips
  • Dog parks
  • Freestyle musical dance
  • Flyball
  • Frisbee
  • Hiking
  • Obedience training
  • Vacations
Fun things to do with your service animal
Working K9 “Remmi” @working.collie.remmiOpens in a new tab.

The Best Service Dog Breeds – Hypoallergenic Options

Hypoallergenic dog breeds good for service dog work
Goldendoodle Autism Service Dog “Piper” @service.doodle.piperOpens in a new tab.

Service Dog Breeds – Coats That Don’t Shed

Dogs who don’t shed are recommended for people who suffer from allergies.

  • Affenpinscher
  • Poodle
  • Bichon Frise
  • Schnauzer
  • Airedale Terrier
  • Bedlington Terrier
  • Bichons
  • Border Terrier
  • Chinese Crested
  • Chinese Shar-Pei
  • Coton de Tulear
  • Greyhound
  • Boxer
  • Ibizan hound dog
  • Komondor
  • Manchester Terrier
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Old English Sheepdog
  • Portuguese Water Dog
  • Hungarian Puli
  • Shih Tzu
  • Silky Terrier
  • Welsh Terrier

Consider Dog Coats That Are Known To Shed

Dog coats that are known to shed
Psychiatric Service Dog “Sarge” in a new tab.

Labradors, German Shepherds, and Golden Retrievers have short or medium coats. These shed.

And, they need to be bushed several times per week. Some dog breeds that are well known to shed the most include:

  • Akita
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • American Eskimo
  • Cardigan Welsh Corgi
  • Chow Chow
  • Great Pyrenees
  • Pembroke Welsh Corgi
  • Siberian Husky
  • Beagle
  • Dalmatian
  • German Shorthair Pointer
  • Newfoundland
  • Pug
  • Rottweiler
  • St. Bernard

For The Best Service Dog Breeds, Consider Work & Home

Best service dog breeds for home and at work
Service Dog “Balu”
  • Consider things like family members who might have allergies
  • Is a dog who might snore in a quiet environment a problem?
  • Some types of dogs might slobber a lot
  • Certain dogs are sensitive to hot or cold weather situations
  • Consider the size of doggy that you may have to travel with and whether that will be convenient
Some of the best service dog breeds are mixed breeds
Blue Heeler “Snow Leopard” @snow_leopard_81Opens in a new tab.

Here Are Some Dog Breeds That Are Known to Snore

  • Pekingese
  • Pug
  • Boston Terrier
  • Bulldog
  • Boxer
  • Shih Tzus
  • English Toy Spaniel
  • Chow Chow

Small Service Dog Breed Options

yorkshire terrier service dog for small spaces
Yorkshire Terrier

Dogs Suitable For Apartments or Small Spaces

  • Basenji
  • Bichon Frise
  • Boston Terrier
  • Brussels Griffon
  • Bulldog
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Chihuahua
  • Chinese Crested
  • Coton de Tulear
  • Dachshund
  • French Bulldog
  • Havanese
  • Greyhound
  • Japanese Chin
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Lowchen
  • Maltese
  • Manchester Terrier
  • Miniature Pinscher
  • Pekinese
  • Pomeranian
  • Poodle
  • Pug
  • Schipperke
  • Shiba Inu
  • Shih Tzu
  • Silky Terrier
  • Toy Fox Terrier
  • Yorkshire Terrier

Can Shih Tzu Be Service Dogs?

For sure. There’s no reason why Shih Tzus wouldn’t make a great service dog. Service dogs can be any breed. They tend to have the excellent temperament that is needed for service dogs.

In addition, they aren’t clingy and don’t tend to overreact. They are usually relaxed in crowded spaces around many people and animals. Shih Tzus are typically easy to train.

Smaller breeds obviously can’t do tasks like pulling wheelchairs or helping with balance and stability, but there are many other types of service dogs and service dog tasks that people can benefit from, such as:

  • Hearing Dogs
  • Seizure Alert
  • Tachycardia Episode Alert Dogs
  • Diabetic Alert Dogs
  • Psychiatric Service Dogs (waking someone up from a nightmare, room checks, deep pressure therapy, etc.)
  • + Much more…

Can a French Bulldog be a Service Dog?

There’s no reason why a French Bulldog can’t be a great service dog. Service dogs can be any size and any breed. Not all service dogs need to be large. Not all disabilities are physical in nature.

French bulldogs tend to have a calm nature. In addition, they’re great with people. They are known to be quiet and great with children, too.

They are even-tempered and sweet. They are known as being loyal and they crave companionship. With these traits, a French Bulldog will want to do anything for its owner. 

Anxiety Service Dog Breeds

Standard poodles are smart, optimistic, and friendly, and great for people who have allergies. Great for stress reduction.

Labrador retrievers are great for so many purposes. They’re loving, gentle, and wonderful for all kinds of different people.

Golden retrievers are similar to Labrador retrievers and are calm and agreeable. They’re highly compatible with all people.

Great Pyrenees are patient, calm, and smart. They’re very affectionate and great for people who are dealing with anxiety. They are typically 85-100 lbs.

Great Danes are calm and confident, and well-known for calming anxiety. They’re quite large, but equally affectionate and lovely companions.

Greyhounds are sensitive creatures, and great at picking up on emotions. They love to snuggle on the couch. Young greyhounds are better than older ones for people with anxiety, as older ones often put up for adoption and have some scars.

Border Collies are fun and good-tempered, and are often thought of as the smartest dog breed on earth. They tend to be high-energy and somewhat mischievous.

Pugs are often described as human-like, with huge hearts. If you’re looking for a smaller breed, you can’t go wrong here.

Yorkshire Terriers – Yorkies bond well with their people human, with a tomboy personalities.

Pomeranians love to stay with their people humans 24/7. Just make sure to socialize them early as a puppy, as if you don’t, sometimes they get nervous around strangers. It may be good to invest in a carrier bag; they love to go everywhere with you but they have short legs.

Bichon Frise are smart, fun, and easy to train, and loves to be by your side at all times. They’re great for allergy sufferers, but they do require a lot of trips to the groomer.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi are smart, easy to train, friendly, great for therapy settings, and energetic. Sometimes they aren’t the best with other dogs.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are great for people who want a calm, consistent lap dog. They’re smart and easy to train, and don’t require much grooming.

Havanese are gentle and fun-loving, but also energetic. This dog will want to be beside you at all times, and love you endlessly, but also loves to be social with others. So, you might have to share him from time to time for a few moments.

PTSD Service Dog Breeds

A few of the very best service dog breeds for emotional support, as well as for PTSD are:

  • Golden retriever
  • Standard poodle
  • Lhasa Apso

Diabetes Service Dog Breeds

  • Golden retrievers
  • Labrador retrievers
  • Mixed sporting dog breeds
  • Poodles

The Top 7 Best Service Dog Breeds

These are for sure the most popular service dog breeds on planet Earth!

Labrador Retriever

labrador retriever service dog

 Labradors are the most popular breed in the USA. They make great service dogs. They are smart and highly trainable.


greyhound service dog

These dogs are highly sensitive and love to spend time with people.

They are quiet and affectionate and can pick up on very subtle cues if something is not right.

They make a great companion for people suffering from PTSD or other health issues that limit mobility.

German Shepherd

German Shepherd service dog
Multipurpose Service Dog “Eri” @eri_servicedogOpens in a new tab.

German Shepherds are highly intelligent, highly trainable, and highly versatile.

They are naturally protective. They are loyal and gentle and make good seizure alert or guide dogs.


pomeranian service dog

These dogs are excellent and can be trained to alert people of impending effects brought on by chronic medical illness.

They can help people who are hard of hearing, and can alert people to sirens, fire alarms and door bells and things like that.

Border Collie

service dog border collie
Border Collie @celestialbordercolliesOpens in a new tab.

 These dogs are well known as one of the most intelligent breeds. They are great as Seizure alert dogs, and for PTSD and anxiety disorders.


service dog poodle
Goldendoodle Autism Service Dog “Piper” @service.doodle.piperOpens in a new tab.

Poodle dogs have great temperaments and are willing to learn. They feature a wonderful hypoallergenic coat.

Poodles can help with mobility issues. They can warn people about emergencies before they happen. Amazing!

Golden Retriever

golden retriever

 These dogs are natural at helping others. They are gentle and great with kids.

They are great for many tasks including seeing-eye and hearing dogs.

Keep Researching The Best Service Dog Breeds

Continue to research and find out everything and anything you can about the breeds.

  • Research Pros and Cons of each breed
  • Make sure to consider lifespan and health concerns of the breeds
  • If you can, go to a dog show and meet people who work with or represent the breeds
  • Remember that in the end, there may not be a perfect dog breed for you and you may have to compromise on some area
  • Do your best & consider what is important to you


It’s hard to tell you what the best service dog breed for you is. There are certainly dog breeds that do excellent at service dog work. It’s important to think about your individual needs and lifestyle. Hopefully this guide has been helpful in determining the best service dog breed for you and your particular situation.

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Sam Nelson

Sam is an experienced writer, advocate for people with disabilities and mental health, dog lover, artist, philosopher, and generally complicated human being.

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