What dog breed is the best for service dogs?

King Charles Cavalier Service Dog

What dog breed is best?

This will probably be the most diplomatic answer possible, but at the end of the day it highly depends. A list of “top” dog breeds is always going to be highly subjective depending on your individual personal and/or medical needs. Please keep in mind this list again is subjective, and keep in mind that any breed, age, and gender can be trained for service dog tasks. NO single breed is “bad” for service dog work. The following lists are only some examples of dogs and each will be explained as to why or in what application. The following will be things to look for and what you should know when deciding what breed is best for you.

Hypoallergenic Dogs

If you are going to need your dog with you while at doctors officers, hospitals, restaurants, etc, getting a breed that is more hypo-allergenic then others is recommended. This is not a requirement by state, or ADA law, however definitely something to consider if you’re in the market for a new dog. The following are only a few examples of some dogs that are known to be hypoallergenic.

  • Bichon Frise
  • Schnauzers
  • Poodles & Poodle Mixes (Goldendoodles / Labradoodles / etc)
  • Basenji
  • Irish Water Spaniel

Breed Size

The second thing you will have to take into consideration is the size of your service dog. Depending on your individual and medical needs, dog breed size is going to take a major role.

Consider a larger breed dog for needs such as balance control, walking stability, open and close doors, be able to pick up items off the floor and hand them to you, carry larger items, loading/unloading washer and dryer, etc.

Small breed service dogs can be used for hearing alert, assistance for children, assist with more light weight deep pressure for panic attacks, assistance for people that fly (airline) constantly, shoe/sock removal, etc

List of dog breeds good for service dog work:

  • Poodle / Toy Poodle
  • Golden Retriever
  • Labrador
  • German Shepherd Dog – GSD
  • Border Collies
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs
  • Boxer
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Schnauzer’s (Standard / Miniature)
  • Shih-Tzu
  • King Charles Cavalier
  • Bichon Frise
  • Welsh Terrier
  • ETC

Adoption / Rescue VS Purchasing from breeder?

I will definitely, soon hopefully, be doing a full blog post that will be more in depth on this question and topic alone. However I figured I would quickly address is here.

There is pro’s and cons to both and neither I or any other professional will ever tell you which you “MUST” do. If someone does, they shouldn’t be. We should be educating you to make the decision you have to live with.

  • Pro’s of Adopting / Rescuing a dog from a shelter or rescue agency
    • You save a dogs life
    • Dogs are (usually) older and have already gone through some basic obedience such as potty training, house breaking, sit command, etc.
    • You can generally see the demeanor and personality the dog will have as they will generally already have matured. *Disclaimer: Rescue groups and trainers generally tell you that there is a 2 week break in period where this can change.
    • Much Much Cheaper! Not only is the fee for adopting the dog cheaper then purchasing a puppy, but most dog adoption agencies in NY will include a full vet work up including all vaccines, spay/neuter, etc.
  • Pro’s of obtaining a dog/puppy from a breeder
    • You will generally be getting a dog younger meaning you and the dog can bond and grow from an earlier age.
    • No need to break any possible past bad habits and you can start proper and formal service dog geared training from day 1.
    • You will know the breed and medical history / family lineage of the dog (if purchasing from a reputable breeder).

Breed Specific Legislation (BSL)

Yes, this exists, and yes, it’s something to keep in mind. Certain countries, states, and cities have legislation in place that ban certain breeds. Some states have given cities and municipalities full power to decide which breeds and some are so vague in the law and state, “any dog that is deemed dangerous.” Breeds commonly (and unfortunately) on the list include, Pitbulls, Staffordshire Terriers, German Shepherds, Huskies, Akitas, Malamutes, Dobermans, ETC. This does not mean certain breeds can’t be service dogs (I have trained dozens of pitbulls to do amazing service dog work), however it is definitely something to keep in mind.

There are unfortunately too many states, cities, etc that put restrictions on specific breeds for me to list. However if you would like to research it more, a simple google search for “Breed Specific Legislation” can provide you with all the answers you might need.

ADA’s Stance on Breed Specific Bans

As of research on February 1st, 2020, The ADA does not place any restriction on a single breed. The ADA states that a service animal may NOT be excluded on assumptions or stereotypes about the animals breed. The ADA does go further to also state, local, and municipalities with breed specific bans must make an exception for trained service dogs.

In any situation, BSL or not, if a dog is acting up, lunging, constantly barking, aggressive, attacking, untrained, etc, then YES you can be asked to leave. This is not a breed specific thing, this is a safety for the animal and people thing.

**ADA (American with Disabilities Act) is just that, American recognized. Anything listed here does not cover legality in other countries. Please do your research when traveling with your service dog to other countries.

**PLEASE do your own research, my own research and knowledge can not be used legally and everything researched is subject to change given ADA law, state law, etc.


It was already said at the beginning, but it definitely needs to be understood that lists are highly subjective and any and all breeds can be trained for service dog work. Even though I may not have mentioned a certain breed, does not mean it’s not a good choice for what you may need. The previous are just some to consider for those that may not already have a dog and are looking and may want some advice on dogs that have been known to do service dog work.

Recommended book when researching dog breeds

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As always, do not hesitate to text, call, or E-Mail if you have any questions, would like more information, or would like to set up training for your service dog work.

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