If your child has special needs, specific service dog breeds may be a wonderful trained helper to assist with daily activities.
Most importantly, a loyal companion to fit into your family’s lifestyle and child’s needs.
So you may be wondering what breed of dog is best for your child?
Let’s explore that commonly asked question along with:
- What is a service dog?
- What are the types of service dogs?
- What are the best service dog breeds?
- And MORE…
Let’s dive in.
What is a Service Dog?
Service dogs are trained animals with the sole purpose to help a person with special needs participate in daily activities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines service animals as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.
Examples of various daily tasks include:
- To alert you that someone is approaching from behind
- To pull a wheelchair
- To pick up items for you
- To guide and support you while walking
- To calm and soothe you when you’re anxious
In addition, the ADA states, the work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA. Some State and local laws also define service animals more broadly than the ADA does.
If you’re curious about such laws where you live, you may find information online at your State Attorney General’s office.
Now that you know what a service dog is, let’s explore the other different types of service dogs.
Other Types of Service Dogs
First off, let’s get you familiar with the key differences when you hear terminology related to service dogs.
When you hear the words therapy dog or emotional support dog, it may seem like the same thing as a service dog, but there are key differences to know.
Therapy Dogs are trained to provide comfort, support, and affection by reducing your stress and anxiety levels.
The dog is specifically trained to interact with people (other than you) to make them feel better.
These types of dogs are only allowed in public places such as nursing homes, hospitals, and other places like libraries (usually by prior agreement).
It’s important to know that service dog laws do not apply to therapy dogs.
Emotional Support Dogs
Emotional Support Dogs are just as the saying goes…to provide you emotional support and comfort.
These types of dogs do not have access to all public areas, but legally, they are allowed to fly with you if you have a psychological or emotional disability.
An emotional support dog may also qualify for no-pet housing. What that means (under the Federal Fair Housing Laws) is Emotional Support Animals (ESA) must have access to apartments with a no-pet policy and are exempt from pet-related fees (they are considered a medical tool and not a pet).
The US Service Animals shares, “It’s important to know that an ESA is different from a service animal, although they are both protected against discrimination by the Fair Housing Act. The main difference between an emotional support animal and a service animal is that an ESA deals specifically with mental health issues, like anxiety and depression, whereas a service animal may be used to help with one of a number of possible conditions, including both physical and mental health disorders.”
Now that you know the difference between a service, therapy, and emotional support dog, let’s dive into five of the best service dog breeds to know.
These breeds are some of the top-trained animals to help a child with special needs.
5 Must-Know Service Dog Breeds
Service dog breeds can range from big to small so it’s important to choose a service dog that fits your lifestyle and child’s needs.
In no particular order, here are five great service dog breeds to know.
Bernese Mountain Dog
These gentle giants are wonderful companions for kids with mobility issues or who are in a wheelchair.
Because of their large size, they are an excellent breed for bracing or mobility.
Bernese Mountain Dogs are:
This type of dog is easy to train because they are highly intelligent and great listeners. Plus, their lovable personality makes them wonderful family dogs.
When you hear of a German Shepherd you may automatically associate this breed with the police force.
While that is true since they make great dogs for guard and protection work, they also make fantastic service dogs because they are:
- Easy to train
They are a highly driven breed who maintain a joyous attitude during times of hard work.
German Shepherds are very loyal and protective of their loved ones. Due to their protective nature, it’s important to properly train and socialize this breed, along with an owner who is authoritative.
This dog breed is commonly used to help those who are visually impaired, hearing impaired, or who have mobility issues.
Golden Retrievers are:
- Highly intelligent
Golden Retrievers are not a dominating breed, but a breed that shows a lot of sympathy to its owner.
Their calming personality and ability to follow instructions are what make this breed wonderful for children and to be around other animals.
When you hear the word Labrador think people-lover!
They are commonly used for those who have hearing, vision, or mobility disabilities.
Labrador Retrievers are:
- Easy to train
They have a controlled and balanced personality which makes them a great breed to train and learn new tasks for their owner.
Because of this, the Labrador serves in almost every service dog capacity.
They are highly sociable animals who are great with children and other animals too.
This type of breed is used mostly for children with mobility issues in wheelchairs or to assist with walking and support.
Poodles are taller making them amazing animals for this type of work.
Standard Poodles are:
- Highly intelligent
- Easy to train
They are very curious dogs aiming to please their owner which makes them highly trainable and reliable.
Now that we’ve explored five great service dog breeds to know, let’s recap some of the common traits a service dog possesses:
- Highly intelligent
- Easy to train
Keep in mind, there is no set breed for being a service dog.
It’s important for your loving companion to fit into your family’s lifestyle and child’s needs.
Given the right training and proper temperament, other dogs may be trained to be service dogs.
Helpful Things and Resources
Service Dog Training Manual (Step-By-Step)
If you are just getting started researching service dogs or are about to start your journey training your new furry companion, here is one of the top guides to reference on Amazon.
All-In-One Service Dog Kit
If you do have a service dog or are planning on getting one, here’s a kit to save you time.
It comes with the important things you’ll need like: an adjustable vest, bridge handle, a vest with a handle, and a registered ID card. Note: Your ID will be mailed separately after your information is submitted.
Answers To Your Frequently Asked Questions…
For further questions, you may have about service animals and your rights, click here to be directed to the U.S. Department of Justice Service Animals FAQ section.
We want to wrap up by extending our gratitude to thank you for stopping by today!
What service dog breeds do you recommend?
Let us know in the comments below. ♥
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About the Author
Lindsey is the co-founder of The LENN Foundation and content creator of the Intensive Therapy for Kids blog.
When she isn’t busy playing Godzilla with her son or chasing around her mischievous Rottweiler pup, she loves creating experiences and memories with her loved ones (traveling, watching a good flick, trying new n’ yummy restaurants). Speaking of restaurants, one of her favs is Taco Bell!
Most of all, she is grateful for her supportive circle of family, friends, and to live out her passion for helping kids with Cerebral Palsy (like her sweet nephew Lenny).
If you’re curious about The LENN Foundation, you may see the kids’ helped and feel-good content here. ♥
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