There are many qualities that people look for when choosing a dog to become useful as a service dog or a therapy dog. Some breeds are better suited to the service lifestyle than others, making them top choices. Therapy dogs are often found with their owners visiting patients in hospitals, hospice, nursing homes, or other places where their nature helps to comfort the patients. Service dogs are typically sought after by police departments, fire departments, to be used as Seeing Eye dogs, among other services.
When choosing a therapy dog, it is more important that their temperament is well suited to providing comfort rather than just choosing a breed. Retrievers for example are known to be wonderful therapy dogs because of their naturally friendly character, they enjoy being petted, and they have an eagerness to please and comfort. Retrievers are also great around children, making them top choice dogs to aid in therapy at children’s hospitals.
Another important factor to consider when choosing a therapy dog is the way they were raised. Almost any dog can be used as a therapy dog if raised and trained properly, given the proper temperament and nature. Also, small dog breeds have been known to provide a comfort level to people because of their ability to fit on laps and get petted. It is more than just choosing a specific breed; the dog has to have the right qualities.
Depending on the type of service, there are a variety of dog breeds that are well suited to a service lifestyle. Police typically use German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, Labrador Retrievers, Bloodhounds, Beagles, and Rottweilers, but again, each dog has to be properly trained and tested to make sure they are suitable to the service at hand. The most common firefighting dog breed is the Dalmatian, mainly due to their intelligence and overall temperament.
For services such as search and rescue and guide and hearing, Border Collies, German Shepherds, Bloodhounds, Golden Retrievers, and Labrador Retrievers are the most common.
Whether you are choosing a therapy dog or a service dog, it is most important to make sure their temperament and nature are suitable for the task at hand, as even a commonly used breed may not be the best fit. Qualities that are found in the best therapy and service dogs are a friendly nature, loving attitude, eagerness to please, able to provide comfort, and the ability to learn and train easily.