Want to Train a Service Dog? What to Know to Choose the Right Breed for Your Needs

Posted on: 23 November 2016

Service dogs are more than just animal companions. When properly trained and cared for, a service dog is able to live with, travel with, and provide 24/7 assistance to their owner to help them live a more normal life, even when they are impacted by severe mobility, dexterity, or other issues. While there are many professional dog trainers who specialize in training service dogs, many people who need this type of animal often choose to handle the training themselves as a part of the bonding process. If you or a family member would like to enjoy the assistance and companionship that a service dog can offer, the following information can help you select the best breed for your particular needs.

Factors to consider before purchasing your puppy

The process of training a service dog takes dedication on the part of both the owner and the animal. In order for you to successfully complete the training, both parties will need to be committed to the process and willing to work on reinforcing the necessary skills each day. If you are facing medical procedures with long recovery times or other issues that will keep you from working with your dog on a daily basis, it is wise to consider delaying your purchase of a puppy until you can devote more time and attention to the task. 

In addition to making sure that you have the time to devote to the training process, consider the types of tasks that you will want to train your service animal to perform and use that information to make sure that you are choosing a breed that offers the right characteristics for doing so. For example, if your dog will need to fetch items for you that are heavy or bulky, you will want to choose a breed that offers enough strength and endurance to be successful. 

Breeds known for intelligence and endurance 

Intelligence and endurance are traits that every service dog must have, and the breeds that excel in these areas include German shepherds, labrador retrievers, and pit-bull terriers. While all three breeds have performed well as service dogs, pit bulls are rising in popularity as service dogs because 

  • they are extremely loyal and attentive to their owners
  • they adapt well to living indoors due to their shorter coat and compact body conformation
  • they have proven themselves to be intelligent and adaptable as service animals

Before purchasing any puppy to train as a service animal, consider contacting your local veterinarian and asking to be referred to a reputable breeder in your area who is known to breed and raise puppies in comfortable, healthy surroundings. Check out a variety of breeders, such as Blue Lycan Kennel, to find one whose  practices you agree with. This will help to ensure that you choose the best possible puppy for your needs.