What are the best Dog Breeds for Service Dogs?

I have Bi-Polar Disorder and Major Depression. At this point, my councelor and my Health Care Provider believe it would be best to get a Psychiatric Service Dog. I want a smaller breed, which ones would be best and where do I find a Rather trained dog so only minimal training is required for certification?

Asked by Member 752725 on Oct 13th 2008 Tagged service, bestbreed, psychiatric, breed in Choosing the Right Pet
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I have never heard of that kind of dog. What exactly do they do? I wish I had an answer for you and I hope things get better for you. I am very interested in this subject though. I would think you would have to do some research to find a good answer. I have 2 chihuahua's and a yorkie and I don't think they personally would be good. They want too much attention, but that is just my dogs. I wish you the best of luck!!

Sadie answered on 10/13/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 3 Report this answer


I think a poodle would be good because they are small and easy to train.

Member 747865 answered on 10/13/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 3 Report this answer


Hey, you do not have an account, but you can make one (Just make up a dog, name it "future SD" or something).

Then add me as a pup pal. I can probably help you out, but there is too much information to be relayed in 1000 characters.

Also check out the "Service Dogs Group" on this site. Everyone in the group is very helpful.

See if you have not already done so.

I will tell you now that with a psychiatric service dog, you will have to do some of your own training.

You can try to obtain a dog from a program that has been partially trained for mobility, guide work etc. Many of these guys are dropped from the programmes for minor flaws that you can correct with vigilant training (but make sure there is no aggression). They will already have some good Public Access skills, but you will still have to train all your own tasks and brush up on their public access work, most likely with the help of a trainer, before taking your public access test.

Member 602642 answered on 10/14/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 3 Report this answer


Actual ud think a poodle would be exciteing to train, but i know people who have had issues with the poodles hyper attitude with people. If you want a smaller breed you could go with somehting like......A cocker spaniel, maybe a wesite....(west highland terrier) but with age they have health problems, beagle......if you do some reasearch on, im sure youll beable to find a breed thats right.

Denali answered on 10/20/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


I have spent a lot of years studying dog breeds and one of the best small dog breeds out there is the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. They are great with people and other animals and are not phased by lots of commotion, making them great canidates for service dog work. They are also extremely eager to please and are therefore, very easy to train. Full grown, the average "Cavalier" weighs between 10 and 17 lbs. and stands about 12 to 14 inches high at the shoulder. Depending upon your preference, you can either get a puppy from a reputable breeder or rescue a dog that is between 10 months and 2 years old. Cavaliers live about 13 to 15 years, so either way, you will have the dog for a long time. I highly suggest finding someone knowledgeable to help you pick out a dog because only a very small percentage of dogs have the right temperment to become a service dog. Also, you would need help training the dog. Good luck with everything. I hope it works out for you

Member 786212 answered on 1/1/09. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 2 Report this answer

A Good Dog's Ocean of Fun

As a professional service dog trainer(I have trained and placed over 100 service dogs, and have trained, in general over 5000 dogs and their owners), I should tell you that there is more to this than what you are asking.

First, you need to determine what you need a dog to do. How does your disability impact your life. What "major life functions" can a dog be trained to do, to mitigate your disability. Is your disability considered severe enough, under the ADA, to warrent a service dog.

Next, you need to decide if you really want a service dog. Are you comfortable with people approaching you constantly in public? Because once you have a service dog, you are no longer invisible, but you will have all kinds of confrontations.

Is your family in support of you having a service dog?

Can you afford professional training? Vet Care? Food? Etc

Then, you go to choosing breeds. The real professionals in the field of service and guide dogs, use labs, goldens and standard pood

A Good Dog's Ocean of Fun answered on 1/8/09. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 4 Report this answer

Belle the Psychiatric Service

I have the same symptoms and trained my Black Labrador Retriever Belle. I would say no breed is best but I can't honestly say that. The truth is some breeds are more loyal and tied to their owner than others who are aloof. Labs, Goldens are frequently trained as service dogs for this reason but also because they are highly intelligent and trainable. Saying this, every dog must be individually temperament tested to ensure they are a good candidate.

Belle the Psychiatric Service answered on 3/8/09. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 2 Report this answer


You should research what breed would best suit your lifestyle. How much grooming you would be willing to do, how much exercise you are willing to give, and more importantly, how many medical bills are to be expected with each breed.

My psychiatric service dog (in training) is a German Shepherd / Australian Kelpie Mix. She is 46 pounds. Considering I also have a 150 Great Dane, she is a small dog to me. I love her to pieces and she is so smart and just so willing to learn. But she is very high drive and very high-energy which is typical for a herding breed.

Some good, smart, smaller dog breeds that I know of are the Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie), Miniature Poodle, Papillon, and a small mixed breed. The breeds I listed are very high-energy though (most dogs are) so be careful when you make your choice.
I also recommend this link to help you with choosing a psychiatric service dog:

Member 409208 answered on 4/30/09. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 1 Report this answer


Psychiatric Service Dogs can be any size or breed depending on what you want your dog to do.. They have to do all the Canine Good Citizen stuff, wear a PSD vest and do all the standard things a service dog would do that relate to public access. In addition they need to do a minimum of three tasks that will help with your mental illness. If you go to you will find a list of suggested tasks. You want an adult dog not a puppy because you need to know the dog's temperment is setteled when you buy it.


Member 862811 answered on 8/1/09. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


I had a flat-coated retriever mix who was a pound rescue and was amazing as a service dog. She was very bright and easy to train, extremely well behaved and calm in public. She was a medium sized dog, but was able to curl up quite compactly when we were out, so she didn't take up much space. Over-all she was a sweet and gentle animal who I would recommend to anybody.

Christine answered on 10/9/09. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 1 Report this answer


Golden Retrivers and GoldenDoodles and Black lab and Labadooles. Are the top breed of service dogs. Make sure you get a good clicker book and a clicker train the dog with the help of this book.
You can get your service dog vest and service dog patches from Pup'parel online. Let her know Pami sent you. Good luck in training your dog and puppy to be the next service dog.

Member 513936 answered on 10/22/09. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


if you live in naples florida try brookeslegacyanimalrescue.

Member 936235 answered on 1/7/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


Depends if you want a dog you can carry. Shih Tzu’s I've found have a natural affection and calmness for people with disabilities. My Shih Tzu use to work with children with Autism and mental disabilities. Also, many people find that grooming them is soothing. Also, Italian Greyhounds are very nice and enjoy cuddling but some can be a bit nervous if not socialized. I recommend a Golden Retriever for the very fact that they are very affectionate loving dogs and very soft. They naturally make nurturing companions and aren't dominant and controlling like some breeds can be. Remember that you socialize whatever breed you get and work hard on the training. A therapy animal is a big commitment. If you have depression that keeps you in bed for days and you don't want to walk a dog, maybe you ought to consider getting a cat instead. They are very soothing and many are affectionate and social and even enjoy walks and car rides.

Member 988579 answered on 5/23/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 1 Report this answer


There are many dogs that work well as service dogs, and there are many that do not. There are cocker spaniels, pit bulls, Germans Shepherds, Great Danes, and the list goes on and on.

I am going to assume that you are in the US. The first thing you may want to do is to check the website for the Psychiatric Service Dog Society. Their website is They may be able to direct you to a program in or around your area. They will also be able to help determine what dog might be best for your situation.

You can also check out Service Dog Central at

This is just a start!

Best of luck to you. :)

McKayla answered on 6/17/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 1 Report this answer


If you want a small dog which is easy to train I would also thik you would want a dog that is easy to groom to which is why I dont think a poodle would be the best. I would say a jack russel or bostin terrier. Then again I dont know much about what would make the qualifications for a Psychiatric Service Dog. Thats just what I say.

Jenkins answered on 6/19/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


A suitable service dog shouldn't be very entergentic, should be intelligent and a great companion that loves their owner. I have always thought that Retrievers make great Service dogs, but since your looking for a smaller breed, I have some other suggestions.

A lot of small dogs can be hyper, but some are less hyper than others. Shih Tzus, Japenese Chins, Small Munsterlanders, Tibetan Spaniels, Cocker Spaniels, Malteses, Coton De Tulears, Mi Kis and American Eskimo Dogs are some breeds you may want to look for. or your local resue or Humane Society may have an ideal dog for you. If you want, some organizations have fully trained service dog, so you won't have to worry about any training.

Good luck and I hope you find the perfect dog that fits your lifestyle. Please Paw Mail me if you have any other questions, and I'll answer them to the best of my ability.

Buckeye answered on 7/20/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


go to ... you will find volumes of information and links for service dog information. You do have to do tons of research on your own; I have not found the easy way to get a service dog yet! I found an article that addresses service dogs for psychiatric disorders, but don't remember the direct link. Here is the cover page:

Tasks to mitigate certain disabling illnesses classified as mental impairments under
The Americans with Disabilities Act

Author: Joan Froling
Trainer Consultant
Sterling Service Dogs



just search for it from this info. good luck!

Member 1007512 answered on 10/11/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer

Ginger-  M.I.A.

just a comment to say that the person who told you to make an Dogster account for your (currently) non-existent service dog is asking you to violate Dogster's Terms of Service. Profiles are for real dogs only, you can get in doo-doo if you make a fake profile! Dogster will tolerate profiles for "future puppy," but generally only if you already know what dog you are getting and have real pictures of it.

Check out the forum section of Dogster as well, they have a a very active, helpful service dog section where they can ask you more questions about what you need in a dog.

Ginger- M.I.A. answered on 11/24/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 1 Report this answer


I Would Say Huskies, Jack Russell Terriers, or Beagles.

Member 1014633 answered on 12/5/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


No one type of breed is going to be better then the other. My Mother uses a schipperke which is small and hardly sheds. The best thing you can do is visit an animal shelter. Don't tell them that your looking for a service dog though (volunteers in shelters are notorious for being uneducated about service dogs and wont help you or they’ll push a particular dog on you regardless of what you need). Really get to know the dogs and go to many shelters and find one that suits you. Make sure it has the enthusiasm to pay attention to you though and be interested in going the extra mile to help you. Just because a dog jumps up and licks your face doesn't mean he'll care if you fall down the stairs (personal experience).

Abe answered on 12/18/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


As I write this I can feel my mounting frustration after reading the, (well meaning but misleading) answers on here.

Currently there is NOTHING out there that qualifies or certifies ANYONE as being a PSD trainer despite what anyone wants to tell you. They may have trained a lot of dogs but anyone can claim they are a service dog trainer. Current data indicates that with PSD's the person with the disability is the best person to train the dog to perfom the 'tasks' regarding the disability.

The key here is that unless you are disabled you won't be able to gain access legally under ADA, people gain access not their dogs. You would be best off having a doctors note for a COMPANION dog and leave it at that.

Also, there is NO CERTIFICATION!! NOTHING. So don't waste your time and money. There is a non-profit organization that offers certification but it's only recognized by their own business.

Good luck. P.S. (Many dogs are great service dogs not just labs and goldens).

Member 1025563 answered on 3/4/11. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer

♥Emma CSD-Ret.♥

Breed of dog is only part of the equation. Temperament is also important. There is an interesting article about the C.A.R.A.T test for temperament testing in the monthly newsletter for the Foundation for Service Dog Support (FSDS) and you can locate this at:

You may also want to check out the FAQ page for the definition of service dog, as DOJ has cleaned up the definition. A service dog is designated as such based on task related skills. Making you feel secure, for example, would not be a task. Re-orienting you if you become dissociative is a task, and the dog should be able to demonstrate this on a test. A service dog should be able to perform a minimum of three tasks designed to mitigate the disability of an individual in order to meet the definition. This is consistent with Assistance Dogs International That is another good resource, and you can locate their site at:

Good luck.

♥Emma CSD-Ret.♥ answered on 4/22/11. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


Can't answer your second question, but I recommend you choose a spaniel of some kind. You want a quiet dog that prefers smuggles to walks, definitely not a hyper dog like a Pomeranian or Poodle. Good luck!

Member 1021005 answered on 4/29/11. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


I have a PSD that is a pit bull, much like Hellen Keller. I would not have any other breed. She is very well behaved. Despite what most uneducated people believe pit bulls are the most human devoted dogs I have ever known.

Member 1038674 answered on 6/25/11. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


I have a friend who breeds Pomeranians, message me if you would like to contact him, he may have some puppies available, they come with a bag of accessories.

Every dog is different, service dogs are usually labs but some can be smaller like pomeranians, yorkies or chihuahuas.

You need to create an accounbt to message me

Gia answered on 7/11/11. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


There is one group that does PSDs, but I am not sure where. It's somewhere in New England area.
You will probably need to train from the ground up.
It's your preference as for breed, but as someone who had a small breed PSD, not always easy. You deal with MUCH more prejudice than with a larger breed. I am in the process of training a larger dog for myself, both for PSD, and my health is deteriorating, so he'll be able to help me with that. Follow the links someone else posted, and join yahoo groups, there are some specifically for this type of service dog.

Member 1042071 answered on 7/23/11. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer

Pepper, SD, CGC

It depends on what you need the dog to do. If you need a dog that is persistant and won't let you slack off, a Pommeranian makes a good nagging fishwife. They are hyper alert and notice the smallest change in your attitude. Pick a calm puppy, it will make training the quiet command easier. They do need to be brushed a couple times a week and a good grooming from a Pro every couple months. For med alert, training a puppy yourself will help it bond with you and recognize what your "normal" is. If you can't handle barking, then don't get a Pomeranian. Mine doesn't bark in public when working, but does bark at home. Also, if it has bad knees, you will have to carry it. Whichever breed you choose, be sure to socialize it very well. Also, with a Pomeranian you will have to deal with the cuteness factor, they attract people.

Pepper, SD, CGC answered on 7/31/11. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer

Donovan Rest in Peace

There is no best breed. It is the individual dog's temperament that makes it a good service dog. Also you are not likely to find a "Rather trained dog." You might find an older dog that has obedience training - does that suit you? A service dog usually has two years of intense training. I know, I trained one under the supervision of a master trainer. It is a wonderful and exhausting experience. Something like that is what I expect you will have to do. It might not take you two years if you find an obedience trained dog. How long it takes is partially determined by how much time you put in training the dog. I have major clinical depression. There were days when I did not feel like living much less training a service dog. I did it anyway because the dog called it forth from me. Today he is ten and a half years old and I am realizing that I will soon get to go through the experience of training a new dog.
Good luck to you. Don't be discouraged no matter what!

Donovan Rest in Peace answered on 8/12/11. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


I have bipolar and have two dogs: a service dog, Daphne, who is a border collie/lab mix, and a service dog in training, Liam, who is a toy poodle. I recommend the toy poodle. Make sure you get one from good, calm parents like I did. Plan to spend lots of time and energy training him or her., as mentioned by another poster, is a very good resource. My toy poodle is a great little service-dog-in-training. I take him all over the place with me and am teaching him lots of useful behaviors, like "kisses" and "cuddles" and how to remind me to take my meds in the afternoon. Feel free to PM me if you need help from someone who's been there.

Liam-Service-Dog-in-training answered on 9/26/11. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


If you're in the US, there is no such thing as certification (at least not that's legally recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act). Certifications are often scam outfits trying to trick people or they're helping people with fake service dogs. Just an FYI.

As to what breed, how small do you mean by "smaller"? I think my dog in training is a "smaller dog" at half the size of my retiring dog. But my retiring dog is a 110# Akita and the dog in training is a 50 or so pound Rottie mix. Some people say small dog and mean something like Chi at a max. Others mean up to 25 pounds.

Also, how much energy are you willing to accept? What temperament do you want beyond energy? How easily trained? Intelligent? What kind of fur?

If you want a partially trained (like obedience and socialization) dog, one possibility, if you can find one is a retired show dog. Another route, sometimes are the dogs cut from guide dog programs.

Good luck.

Angel answered on 10/4/11. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer

♥ Anya ♥

Hello! There are a lot of good answers here and also some very bad ones. You should check This site give more information on what is required for your PSD or SD. Just off the top, there is NO Federal requirement for a vest or certification. If a State says they require it, the Federal Government trumps them. I have dealt with this over and over. Good Luck in your search for a PSD and or SD.

♥ Anya ♥ answered on 10/10/11. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


go to talk to someone there and they hopefully will help you out as for the breed it all really depends on your living arrangement's and life style. You don't want a dog that will just sit on the couch all day if you are a active person or a active dog if you are a person that comes home and just wants to relax or veg.

Member 1075557 answered on 12/5/11. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


i have probelms walkin and standing and i think australian shepherds are the best cuz thats what i have for my sevice dogs and she can and does everything that any other one can

Member 1085381 answered on 1/18/12. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


There are more service dog organizations that train Psychiatric/Mental Health Service Dogs than there were even five years ago. I know of one in Seattle, WA called Heeling Allies ( and another in Coronado (close to San Diego), CA ( ). If you aren't totally committed to training your dog to both behave appropriately in public and perform tasks directly related to your disability (and your request for a dog needing minimal training to qualify for certification indicates to me that this is likely), forget about size/breed and work with a service dog provider. Heeling Allies helps people who live west of the Mississippi, while Little Angels Service Dogs works with any U.S. resident (though they require recipients to engage in fund raising to offset their expenses, as do many service dog providers). Both require recipients to travel to them for matching and training (typical of other providers). Good luck!

Member 1065887 answered on 2/5/12. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer

Jazmine *Jazzy*

Congratulations on taking the first step to getting a service dog! I'm by far no expert but if you go onto the service dog forum I'm sure you'll find much more experienced service dog handlers to help you on your quest.

Technically any breed can be a service dog but not every dog in that breed makes a good service dog. I've seen everything from corgis to shelties to boston terriers. It depends on what you need, what dog fits you well and your life. I personally like Shelties and Corgis(although I've heard they can be a bit neurotic).

I would suggest first looking at good breeders for dogs that need to be re-homed or a good rescue that knows their dogs well. The pound/shelters aren't the best places for finding good candidates.
By the way there is no certification for a service dog. It is recommended that a service dog can pass their CGC and PATS (public access test) but not required.

Jazmine *Jazzy* answered on 2/6/12. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


I do not have a dissability, although me and one of my bffs and me want to train one for anyone who has a dissability and we wanted to know what the good breeds are. I learned that labs are gr8 and so are retreivers. Any agressive dog wont be good and small dogs might be hard if you have a wheelchair. I hope my info was helpful.

Member 1105866 answered on 4/14/12. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


Currently, we are training a Great Dane puppy for my 14-year-old son with autism because that is the muscled dog that meets his needs and doesn't have a reputation like the smaller rottie. His retired dog is a lab, and my favorite companion at home is a rescued Tibetan Spaniel while my ultimate dog would be the Cavalier King Charles. So...the short answer is do your research on breeds. Do you want one with lots of maintenance or very little? This will be your most important decision.
Also DO NOT get a rescue animal for a SD. You don't know the dogs history and personality issues. Get a puppy from a reputable breeder and do the socializing and training yourself. (It will be therapeutic.) Get the books Teamwork I and Teamwork II. While II is primarily for physical disabilities, you may can translate it to what you need.
Also ADA does not require a vest with ID, though you need to check your state laws. Also, I would not identify as PSD dog. It's nobody's business.

Member 1085757 answered on 4/26/12. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


You have to be careful with many breeds and health concerns. My family has 3 cavaliers, and 2 of them have heart conditions. They are the sweetest dogs, But 1 of ours was born with problems, and the other developed them at a later age. Have you ever looked into Havanese? They are great dogs, not a breed that you will see everywhere. Very smart, very funny, and very devoted to their family and owners. As a plus they don't get too big, and act like little clowns. I have severe anxiety disorder, and while she is not a therapy/service dog, Isabella never fails to make the anxiety go away just a bit when I look at her and play with her.


Member 1112328 answered on 5/23/12. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


There is no one breed that is the best for service work. Different members of the same breed may have different temperaments. I'd say to go to a shelter or a reputable breeder and ask a shelter worker/breeder for advice on picking a dog with strong nerves, intelligence, and a dog that is willing to learn and trainable. Then, take the dog to a service dog trainer (training can be VERY expensive). Keep in mind that in some places psychiatric service dogs are not considered service dogs, but in fact are considered emotional support dogs. Please Don't Pet Me is a great website to learn about service dogs.

Delta answered on 9/22/13. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer