People who are looking for a service dog, need to make an insightful choice, based on different factors. Depending on the disability- physical and/or mental, that the individual copes with, and their specific needs, a suitable type of assistance dog will be required. Larger or smaller breeds, more or less energetic breeds, more or less barking breeds...etc., may be preferred. There are some temperament features that every service dog breed, including a Psychiatric Service Dog breed, should possess, to be a great service dog.
In today’s article, we will let you know what these personal features are and what breeds are considered the best Psychiatric Service Dog breeds.
What Personal Features Every Service Dog Should Possess?
A service dog should be intelligent, and able to understand quickly what kind of behavior they are asked to perform. Of course, this does not mean that all dogs have the same pace of learning tasks and obtaining new skills. Your canine will not be considered “less smart” if they need more time to perform a specific task. There are many factors, that may be impeding your dog to fulfill a task such as stubbornness, boredom, attention-seeking, and lack of discipline. You will need to learn where your dog’s limits are and know his/her temperament in order to proceed accordingly.
Dogs while still in a puppy phase are likely to be more undisciplined and disruptive. Most dogs overcome this feature of their character when they grow. However, some dogs are more prone to behave disruptively even after they reach the adult phase. This might be caused by genetic heritage or an unhealthy and unstable living environment during their young age. It is extremely important for a service dog to be calm and balanced in order to attend to its owner properly. Otherwise, their wild temperament might cause more stress and anxiety in the owner, instead of providing a calming effect. A balanced temperament is essential for service dogs when performing both physically-related and mentally-related tasks.
Good service dogs should be able to acquire new skills and improve the already learned skills. Some dogs may require more patience and the application of different training approaches. Others are more trainable and have the innate need to please their owners and perform different tasks.
Loving and friendly attitude
Perfect service dogs should be not only calm and balanced but also love being around people. They need to get along with both people and animals. You may want to be calm and confident while in public and not worry about the behavior of your service dog around other dogs, cats, or other animals as well as passersby.
Service dogs are not pets, they are considered a type of medical equipment, that their handlers can rely on any time they need. Hence, it is of utmost importance for a good service dog to be reliable. Reliability may be considered a summarized feature, that combines all the virtues listed above. It is maybe the most important trait that a dog should possess to be a good service dog.
Considering the personal features listed above, we would like to list ten breeds deemed the best breeds for Psychiatric Service Dogs.
Best Psychiatric Service Dog Breeds
Labrador / Golden Retriever
We will take a look at both representatives of the Retriever group, as they have many similarities. The Labrador Retriever and the Golden Retriever are intelligent breeds who are naturally friendly, loving, and have great personalities. They are perfect as family dogs, as they can get along with other animals and children. The Retrievers are affectionate and develop a strong bond with their owner. They are highly trainable and adaptive dogs. All these features, along with their ability to retrieve objects (as their name indicates itself) make them perfect Psychiatric Service Dogs. They are great at providing tactile stimulation and retrieving medication or any types of objects as needed. Since they are good with children, they can become great companion dogs for children with Autism or ADD. The Golden/Labrador Retrievers have not deemed barkers and you will be able to enjoy calm days and evenings at home. However, they are likely to bark if they lack physical stimulation and social interaction.
Due to their size, the representatives of the Retrievers will be able to help you with your balance, if you are getting dizzy, i.e. after taking medication. Both breeds are quite energetic which will help you be more active and engage in various activities throughout the day. Being engaged in different types of activities will help you improve your social interactions, which, in turn, will mitigate the feeling of isolation and loneliness. On the other hand, if you are more into a lazy type of life, and do not enjoy activities requiring high activity levels, you may not feel very comfortable with a Labrador / Golden Retriever at home. However, you need to remember that through proper training you will be able to point the energy of your furry friend in the right direction.
Another breed that was created for “retrieve” purposes is the Poodle. These cute fluffy doggies, originate in France or Germany and were created to retrieve wildfowls. Their genetic predisposition to retrieve objects contributes to their skills as service dogs. Poodles come in four sizes - Toy Poodle, Miniature Poodle, Medium Poodle, and Standard Poodle, and you can choose the size that will suit your needs best. The representatives of the larger size can perform more physically demanding tasks, while the smaller sizes can be great at jumping on your lap and performing Deep Pressure Therapy that way. Poodles are known for their intelligence and affection for their owners. They are friendly, highly trainable, and get along with both adults and children. When it comes to interaction with other dogs, we would recommend that you train your paw friend properly, as too loud noises and rough interactions may cause stress in them. This breed is hypoallergenic, which is considered a big advantage when the time comes for you to choose a Psychiatric Service Dog breed. Due to their physical and intellectual virtues Poodles are deemed one of the most suitable breeds for Psychiatric Service Dogs.
German Shepherds are amazing dogs known for their great skills as watchdogs as they are loyal, obedient, and highly trainable. You can be sure that you will be alerted if an intruder attempts to break into your home. German Shepherds are very intelligent and love pleasing their owners. They enjoy being engaged in different types of work and games which makes them perfect service dogs. Since we are talking about Psychiatric Service Dogs, in particular, you may want to know, that the representatives of the breed are attached to their owners and extremely devoted to them.
They can be trained to perform both physically-related and mentally-related tasks. They can be trained to paw you, nudge you, put their chin on your lap, guide you to a safe place when anxiety episodes arise, open and close doors, pick up and bring dropped items to you...etc. The tasks that this intelligent breed is able to perform are so many. German Shepherds are playful dogs, who will enjoy physical and mental stimulation on a daily basis and will be happy to participate in different activities with their beloved human. This feature will be really helpful for you if you have children who will be able to find a loyal friend to play with.
These little adorable fluffy balls will brighten your day for sure! They are affectionate, outgoing, and love to cuddle. This is wonderful news, isn’t it! Breeds that love being petted are preferred by people coping with anxiety and depression, as tactile stimulation mitigates the symptoms of these conditions. Although the representatives of this breed are not considered as intelligent as the breeds mentioned above, they are still smart pups who can be trained in various tasks, i.e. they can be trained to comfort their owner by jumping on their lap or providing any kind of tactile stimulation. Bringing medication is another task, that these cute doggies can also fulfill when trained properly.
Their friendly temperament makes the interaction with other dogs and children look so calm and enjoyable. Of course, proper socialization at a young age is still recommended. Havanese dogs are playful and very adaptive, so you do not have to worry if you need to move to a new home or change the environment in any way. They are rather moderately energetic, which makes them perfect for people who enjoy being active but do not like to spend too much energy. Also, these canines are a low-shedding breed, which is another great feature, that needs to be considered. Who would not enjoy a low-shedding lovely fluffy ball, that loves cuddling and can perform different tasks?
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
This royal breed originates in the UK, in the 18th century, when it was created for hunting. John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, noticed that these doggies were able to keep the pace of a trotting horse. We can say that the representatives of the breed combine the cuteness of a toy breed that loves to cuddle and the athletic features of the Spaniel representatives. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are gentle and gorgeous small dogs, who mesmerize with their silky coat and big loving eyes. They are attached to their owners and get along with other dogs and kids. These canines can provide natural comfort due to their friendly and lovely personality.
However, they are also trainable and can fulfill different tricks based on their owner’s needs. These dogs can fit in small apartment living and are quite adaptive. They enjoy both sweet cuddling time on the couch with the family and long walks to investigate the surroundings. You may be surprised how much energy is hidden in these small bodies. But do not worry, these dogs are not hyperactive, they are rather moderately to high energetic. They are not known for being excessive barkers and may bark occasionally. These doggies are sweet, gentle, and friendly- if you chose a representative of this breed, you will have a really good candidate for a Psychiatric Service Dog!
This breed originates in Germany, in the 19th century, where they were bred from Standard Schnauzers to be good ratting dogs. These doggies are obedient, loving, and eager to please their owner. The hair around the muzzle is their distinguishing feature, which makes them look like humans. These canines get along with children, and it is common to see them play and romp with kids to spend their excessive amount of energy. Hence, they can become great family dogs. They are friendly to other dogs as well, but sometimes can be stubborn towards dogs of the same sex. The representatives of the breed are known for their good skills as watchdogs without being prone to aggression and biting.
Due to their friendly temperament, obedience, and trainability these canines can become great Psychiatric Service Dogs. They will be able to provide emotional support and fulfill mobility tasks as well like opening/closing doors, bringing medication...etc. They are energetic and like running around and digging. Their small size makes them perfect to lay down under your seat if you intend to travel with them in the passenger cabin. These doggies may have a tendency to bark at strangers, which can be beneficial for you, if you need an alerting dog and can train them properly.
The breed originates in Tibet where it was bred as a guard dog. Although its representatives are rather moderate barkers, they can be stubborn and have a loud and deep bark due to their genetic predisposition. You may underestimate these doggies, due to their small size, but you will be surprised to find out what great service dogs they can become. They can do amazing work as Psychiatric Service Dogs, as they can be trained to perform many tasks, when exposed to positive reinforcement, especially food and praise. Also, they attach to their owner and can use their good intuition skills to sense any behavioral changes. Pawing, nudging, barking- you can choose what will work for you and train your doggy to perform the wanted behavior. Lhasa Apso gets along with children, but it is recommended that you socialize with your furry friend at a young age and monitor them while interacting. These cute fluffy doggies are energetic, but are not considered hyperactive and are very adaptive. Their small size makes them perfect for transportation and if you want to take them in the passenger cabin.
Doberman or Doberman Pinscher is a breed originating in Germany, in the 19th century and is known for its intelligence and loyalty. We would like to note that the Miniature Pinscher is not a Doberman of a smaller size and both breeds are not related. Although Dobermans may have had a reputation to be aggressive, they are actually friendly, loving, and committed to their family. They are also great guard dogs. Considering the information mentioned above you may have understood what great protection dogs Doberman Pinschers are.
However, they are gentle and affectionate to the family members and get along with the children. These dogs can become amazing service dogs due to their virtues. Also, they need mental stimulation and are highly energetic and trainable. Your paw friend will enjoy working on the tasks you provide them with. They are playful dogs and will truly appreciate the time you spend with them playing various games. Due to their energy, you can enjoy long walks that will stimulate your mobility and socialization. These dogs make great companions and respond quickly. Once you socialize your paw friend at a young age and train them properly, you will have a loyal friend and a great service dog for life!
Gorgeous doggies have high levels of energy, trainability, and intelligence! If you choose a representative of this breed, you will be able to rely on a loyal, and devoted friend, who will develop a strong bond with you! The breed was created for herding purposes, and you may need to monitor the interactions between your paw friend and your kid, while it is still very young, as the herding instincts ingrained in the breed may show up. However, when socialized and trained properly, these doggies become perfect family dogs, as they provide great companionship to kids, are eager to please their owners, and are devoted to the family. Their friendly and playful nature makes them beloved by most people.
Border Collies can be great at providing tactile stimulation, grounding you if you are experiencing anxiety and panic attack episodes, and guiding you to a safe place. Also, the breed representatives are prone to barking, which you can use for your benefit if you need an alerting service dog. Very adaptive, Border Collies will get used to different types of living arrangements. However, we would recommend that you raise your paw friend in a house or provide them with enough walks and mental/physical stimulation if you live in an apartment.
American Staffordshire Terrier
Also known as Staffies, these dogs are smart, confident, and good-natured companions. These dogs are highly-trainable and can become excellent service dogs. However, this breed is not recommended to people with very little dog experience raising dogs. The Staffies can be a bit difficult around other dogs and should not be left unsupervised around other dogs. Socializing a Staffy from a young age is absolutely mandatory if you want your canine to get along well with other animals. Additionally, the breed is prone to digging and if you have a lovely garden at home you may want to avoid getting a Staffy.
The dogs of this breed are famous for their loyalty, their lovely eyes, and their dedication to their owner. Please keep in mind that the American Staffordshire Terrier loves running, agility exercises, and spending time outside. If you have a small apartment, this is not the right dog for you. The Staffies love playing with people and this works great at keeping them mentally sharp. Their coat is easy to maintain and requires a bath 3 or 4 times per month. You will need to keep an eye on their nails as they can become rather long and will need trimming.