Dogs have significantly changed the way we live our lives. Aside from being wonderful family companions, dogs also play significant roles for people with specials needs.
Special-needs dogs serve an important purpose for the disabled. This means that the “cute and fluffy” is not a factor in determining whether a dog is suitable as a service companion.
The most vital factor is the dog’s capability to meet a disabled person’s needs. So, temperament, trainability, and hereditary breed traits must be considered when selecting breeds with the potential to become service companions.
Here are the 5 top dog breeds trained as service companions:
Seventy percent of Guide Dogs for the Blind are Labrador Retrievers because they have been found “to be the most successful breed used for guide dogs. In fact, the Labrador Retriever is the dog most often used for guide dog programs throughout the world.” Labradors are hardworking, extremely intelligent, and are very friendly and sociable.
The Golden Retriever has a very calm temperament. They are also highly intelligent with a low level of dog aggression. This breed tends to be very loyal to their owners and family. They were bred for strength and endurance and are an ideal size to be a service companion.
This dog breed used to be the standard for service dogs for the blind. German Shepherd dogs are bred specifically for their intelligence. They are also very devoted and courageous. This very versatile breed excels at almost any job. They are often used as police service dogs.
Poodles are less common as special-needs dogs, but they are very intelligent. They are an excellent option for disabled people with allergies. American Poodles at Work states, “We have years of experience with poodle training and are quite convinced that our faith in them as assistance animals is well placed. Poodles love to ‘work’ and we love to teach them.”
Terriers, Cocker Spaniels, Lhasa Apsos, Shih Tzus, and Chihuahuas
These little dogs cannot pick up a pair of shoes, open a door nor physically assist their owners, but they are often used as hearing service companions. According to Assistance Dogs International, “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, ready to work in an instant when a sound occurs. They must be friendly and people oriented.”
Image credits: Guide Dogs for the Blind/Facebook