Choosing A Service Dog Breed
Choosing Service Dog Breed
If you need a service dog, the right breed can work wonders in your life. But what’s the right breed? When it comes to finding your perfect service dog, it’s not about cute and charming. It’s all about reliable, stable and providing effective assistance.
Any breed can technically be a good service dog, but not all will work for your specific circumstances. It’s a fact that many dogs that start a service dog program won’t make it through the training. There are many reasons, from temperament to size and allergies.
To make the most of your investment of time and money, choose a dog that can provide useful support. Experts say you need to look for a dog with:
- A temperament that fits the job you expect him to handle
- The proper size for your situation
- The type of coat that fits your weather
- The strength and intelligence to dependably assist you
- The energy to handle your level of activity
A single breed doesn’t work for every situation. To help you choose wisely, here’s a closer look at how to select the service dog breed most effective for your needs.
Make a List
Start with a list of what you need the dog to handle for you during the day. How does your disability affect your life and in what ways do you expect the dog to alleviate your challenges?
Here are some possibilities:
- Do you want him to help you perform everyday tasks, like open the door for you or turn on the lights?
- Do you want him to react to things that you react to? Or do you want him to be non-reactive? As an example, if you suffer anxiety in a crowd, you might want him to calm you down and serve as a buffer.
- Do you want a dog to distract you so you don’t engage in specific types of behavior? For example, do you want a dog to wake you up when you have nightmares?
Size and Coat
If you need your dog to keep you stable as you walk, you want a larger dog. For balance issues, experts say the average person needs a dog that is at least 50 lbs. If you are a big person, you need a bigger dog.
If you need a dog to alert you to danger and for anxiety issues, a small dog will work just as well as a big one.
It’s important to remember that big dogs take up more space. Do you have the room in your home and office? Big dogs eat more food, which can get expensive. Larger dogs usually have a shorter lifespan than smaller dogs.
Dogs with thick coats or wiry hair require more grooming than dogs with smooth, short coats. Do you have the interest and energy to brush your dog regularly? Will a dog that sheds a lot drive you crazy? Do you have the money to take your dog in regularly for haircuts?
A successful service dog relationship is all about connection. Match your personality with your dog’s to ensure you get along and communicate well. Do you want a dog with an independent personality? Or do you want one that is bred more for companionship?
The whole subject of personality can get confusing. It is often hard to determine what type of dog personality you have.
Thankfully, it has been widely researched.
There are personality tests online that can help you pinpoint the type of dog you will feel most comfortable with. DogTime has an excellent Dog Matchup Quiz, and it’s free.
Another good resource is a reputable dog trainer. This person has the expertise and experience that comes with working with a wide variety of breeds.
It is also essential to match activity levels. Every dog needs to get out for a walk at least once a day. A medium-energy dog, like a Labrador Retriever, needs about an hour of exercise each day. Smaller dogs, like Pugs or Shih Tzus, need half that. High-energy dogs, like the Border Collie, require brisk exercise, like a good run, for one to two hours a day.
Take the time before you select a dog to figure out which breed will work best for you. Research the type of service dog that will meet your specific needs, whether your disability is psychological or physical or both. The closer the match, the happier you both will be.
We Support Service Dogs
USA Service Dog Registration is committed to helping owners with service dogs. It starts with a simple registration process on our website, 3 easy steps and you’re done! It’s free, too.
We also have a wide range of articles and resources, including state laws, a list of trainers, and placement help for veterans. We also have an online store with a wide range of gear for your service dog. Check out the vests, leashes, ID tags, and more.
Visit USA Service Dog Registration today for answers to your questions, gear for your dog, and an easy, free service dog registration form.