Dog Breeds for Assistance Dogs

 

What breeds of dogs make good service dogs?
What breeds make good hearing dogs?
Why shouldn't an assistance dog be protective?
How long does it take to train a service dog?

 

What breeds of dogs make good service dogs?

A lot of assistance dog programs use Golden Retrievers and Labradors. They have many of the characteristics that make for a good service dog. However, there are examples of many other breeds that have been successfully trained as service dogs. Although the needs of the person may determine the ideal size of the dog, the work they do generally requires a dog to be a reasonable size. Small dogs will struggle to pick up and present objects in a suitable way and extremely large dogs are hard to put under a table in a restaurant or out of the way on a bus or plane. A good service dog is not protective, is people orientated, not overly active, and confident but not dominant or submissive. Service dogs should not require complex grooming as this could be a problem for their owner.

 

What breeds make good hearing dogs?

Historically, many hearing dog programs have acquired their dogs from shelters, as well as from known breeders. As a result, many of the dogs used are mixed breeds. They come in all different sizes, shapes, and colors. The great majority of hearing dog applicants request small to medium sized dogs, so most hearing dogs are Sheltie size or smaller. In addition to size, personality and temperament are important for a hearing dog. They must be energetic and ready to work in an instant when a sound occurs. They must be friendly and people oriented. Because of these requirements, a lot of Terrier mixes are used along with various combinations of Poodles, Cocker Spaniels, Llasa Apsos, Shih Tzus, and Chihuahuas.

 

Why shouldn't an assistance dog be protective?

An assistance dog’s job is to assist a disabled individual to live an independent lifestyle, not to protect them. It is very important that everyone is safe when encountering an assistance dog in public. A trained assistance dog should never show aggression to any person or other animals while out in the public.   

 

How long does it take to train a service dog?

There is no specific time frame for training a service dog once they have completed their early socialization and basic obedience training. Service dog programs will have very clear training plans for every dog. In general, service dogs are placed with their future owners around the age of 2. Each service dog undergoes specific training (obedience, task work, etc.) for 1-2 hours a day for a period of 6 to 24 months before they are matched with their future owner depending on the age of the dog when they start the training process.