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Considering different breeds for selecting a service dog can seem like a daunting task if you’re not familiar with dog breeds that much. So here we break down some common characteristics of the most popular service dog breeds.


Top 7 Service Dog Breeds


Labrador Retriever


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


  • Weight: 55 to 80 lbs
  • Life Span: 10 to 12 years
  • Love to eat and can become overweight easily if not careful
  • They love to eat so much that they sometimes eat things they aren’t supposed to
  • Need plenty of exercise, at least 30-60 min per day
  • High energy
  • Outgoing, eager to please, very friendly, they love people and other animals
  • Intelligent, patient, and easy to train, sweet and happy, love to play in snow and run at the beach, they love to play fetch, and they love to swim
  • Doesn’t like to be left alone for too long (not a good dog to leave in the backyard, he’ll get bored and start to chew things), can be destructive if bored
  • Will be considered a puppy until 3-4 years (a lot of chewing)
  • They shed




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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.


  • Life span: 12-14 years
  • Weight: 60 to 80 lbs
  • They are clean and do not shed very much
  • Generally they don’t bark, but they are known to sing at times
  • They are easily house trained, they love people, they are friendly and affectionate, always want to be with their human family
  • Get along well with other dogs/pets
  • Tend to have very few health problems
  • They love to sleep/lounge around for large parts of the day
  • They do not make a good watch dog/ guard dog


German Shepherd


german shepherd
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They 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.


  • Loving, easy to train, loyal, protective, sweet, kind, playful, athletic
  • Life span: 9-13 years
  • Weight: 75 to 95 lbs
  • Protective and high energy, requiring at least an hour of walking per day
  • Tendency to bark
  • Other people might be afraid of them due to their size and they can appear intimidating
  • Very active and need a lot of mental and physical stimulation
  • They require minimal bathing and are generally very clean, although they do shed a lot
  • They are prone to several health problems including arthritis
  • They don’t really like being left alone
  • They are large and tend to eat a lot of food




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These dogs are excellent and can be trained to alert people of impending effects brought on by chronic medical illness. They are also helpful for people who are hard of hearing, and can alert people to sirens, fire alarms and door bells and things like that.


  • Cute and have a big personality, can be stubborn at times, but they are very smart
  • Life span: 12-16 years
  • Weight: 3-7 lbs
  • Small, easy to accommodate, eat less than larger breeds
  • Don’t require a lot of space, good for apartments, easy to carry around
  • Since they’re small, this means they are also more fragile than larger breeds
  • They could be potentially injured by other animals, including birds
  • They shed a lot, and are high-maintenance in the grooming department
  • Regular dental care is required


Border Collie


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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.


  • Lifespan: 10-17 years
  • Weight: 30-45 lbs
  • These dogs are cute, loyal, they love attention, and are very smart
  • Suited well to people who are very active
  • They’re high energy and require a lot of physical and mental exercise, this energy needs to be released otherwise it can lead to problems with behaviour or aggression
  • They’re athletic, fast, and accurate
  • Highly sensitive, constantly alert, react immediately to even non-verbal cues




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Poodle dogs have great temperaments and are willing to learn. They also have a wonderful hypoallergenic coat. They can help with mobility issues and can warn people about emergencies before they happen.


  • They do not shed (Hair must be clipped every 5-6 weeks)
  • Lifespan: 12-15 years
  • Weight: 45-70 lbs
  • Come in many different colours: white, gray, black, brown, apricot, cream, silver, and café-au-lait
  • Good with children and other people and animals, is loving and kind and will do anything to please its owner
  • Requires daily exercise
  • Potentially prone to health problems


Golden Retriever


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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.


  • They shed quite a lot, and their coat must be brushed weekly all year
  • Weight: 25-35 lbs
  • Lifespan: 10-12 years
  • Do not make a good watch dog/ guard dog (too friendly, will approach intruder to say hello)
  • Tendency to have health issues
  • Requires daily exercise in excess of a mere daily walk (breed was created to sniff, to work, to run, to swim)
  • They do not naturally stay close to home and may tend to wander, following their nose
  • Wonderful disposition and love everyone, transition well to new circumstances
  • They love to work
  • They are sturdy and strong, intelligent, and beautiful


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

Pros & Cons, Characteristics of the Top 7 Service Dog Breeds

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