When the first service dog was trained to assist her blind owner she had very distinct qualities. She was alert, observant, loyal, calm, and obedient. She was a German Shepherd. This versatile breed has been trained in many different ways to perform specific duties. While they were originally bred to herd and guard flocks, over the century they have proven to exhibit other qualities that can be bred into their temperament. A high prey-drive German Shepherd is desired for protection work and police work. While pack-drive dogs are preferred for nose work, bomb and drug-sniffing, search and rescue, and service work. Breeders will select dogs from their breedings to enhance these qualities and development.
Labradors and Golden Retrievers have also undergone the same type of breed development to hone in on their skills to do specific jobs. Labs perform in airports across the country. Labs and Goldens alike are highly used in search and rescue operations. And both breeds do exceptionally well in service work. Labs are widely used in mobility, guides for the blind, hearing impaired dogs, and medical alert. Goldens are widely used for psychiatric, medical alerts, and all of the other services as well.
Yorkies have been utilized for their abilities to demonstrate that they can detect certain scents in diabetic individuals and psychiatric uses as well. It should be noted however that dogs that are larger in size are much more preferred for their versatility. Yorkies obviously cannot assist with mobility.
These are the top four breeds that are recognized to provide services to individuals. They have been bred by some of the country’s top breeders to perform specific tasks by honing in on temperaments that complement their ability to work.
While many other breeds are used, these are the ones that most professional trainers look to first to provide the best chances of the dog making it through the rigorous training process.