Choosing A Service Dog Breed

Discussion in 'Service Dog Training' started by tx_cowgirl, May 26, 2011.

  1. Heidi Olszewski New Member

    I would have to say TX that I am with you in the area of wondering about a breed to use for a service dog. I had originally gotten Max to train as a service dog, but found that he was a washout because of his skiddishness to new things. Now I am seriously thinking about trying it again, but on the fence because then I would be responsible for two dogs. Also trying to make sure that the need is really there for me to have a service dog and what the benefits would be. For myself it would be for PTSD, depression, and anexity. It would definately open up my life, but its a big committment. Also not sure how my job would take it.
    I would love to get a shelter dog also and feel that you have a wonderful idea with training shelter dogs. I believe the program that the jails use for training service dogs comes from shelters so I believe that it is possible. I would think though that you would need to get a young puppy in order to train, just so that you know that it doesn't have any baggage to come with.
    I personally would be hesitant to use a rottie or pit bull. I know that they have a undeserved, bad rap; but the disabled that use a service dog fight access issues and I think it would just make it harder for them in the long run. Alot of business owners are worried about liability and rotties and pit bulls seem to have at this time seem to have that stamped all over them.
    Also the rottie that my parents had was prone to hip problems so I'm wondring if that is something that needs to be watched out for in that breed. I know that German Shepards that hip problems are always a worry.
    I think poodles are a wonderful choice but agree with you on the upkeep issue. They seem to be naturally smart, willing to work, and very gentle. I wondered about a poodle mix, but would need a standard poodle size because of my dizziness and disorientation problems from PTSD and medication.
    I've been thinking about contacting some local shelters and seeing if I can explain to them what I am looking to do and see if I could volunteer with them so that I could get a better idea, also build a rapport in the begining incase there is a dog I see that I believe is the right one. I really believe that it comes down to a case by case decision. But again labs, retreivers, and german shepards are choosen quite a bit and its hard to dimiss that.

  2. fickla Experienced Member

    Actually if you are going to use shelter dogs than I would not get a puppy but would get one between 12-24months. With a shelter dog you just don't have the same information as you would if you knew the dog's parents, grandparents, etc. Our organizations use shelter dogs but there is a much higher rate of them dropping out due to not passing xrays. And even for temperament reasons you know more of what you're going to get with young adult than with a tiny puppy.
    running_dog and Lexy88 like this.
  3. Anneke Honored Member

    I have been reading here with interrest... and I can agree on the fact that finding a different breed than the usual is a good idea.
    But as far as using rotties as service dogs... Yes they are willing to work and not too high energy, but... they are often referred to as a one person dog. So maybe a rottie will work for you, but not so well for the person that he/she has to help. Rotties are strong minded dogs and certainly not for everyone. As they were bred to think for their own, they often tend to take over leadership.
    I know someone in a wheelchair who has an aussie that is his service dog(the first one in Holland)
    As for dismissing high energy dogs... Uhmm all the labs I know are bouncy things;), who need a good free run every day. But they are trained in selfcontroll. And the thing about them snacking around, well that can be trained too.
    They do a great job as a servicedog, I mean if they have a job to do like what you said, picking up stuff, helping around the house etc. But I would never use them as an alert dog( warning for a seizure), because then they mostly are doing nothing.
    So the choice of dog depends on what kind of service you want to train for.

    I am also wondering how you plan to go about it all. Do you get a dog and train it, then go and find someone who needs a dog?
    Because over here, puppies are tested, then they go and live with a host family who have to train the dog, teaching it the basics, with the help of a trainer who works for the foundation. Then the dog goes to the person they will live with and together they have to go to "school" A training of 7 days at the training school, to get to know each other and teach the person how to handle their dog. Then they go home and they get a personal trainer who helps to train the dog to do what is needed. So you don't get a fully trained dog over here, but you train your own dog to do what you need it to do in your specific situation.
    There are some organisations that will help you train your own dog.
    Only the seeing eye dogs are fully trained before they go to their owner.

    And as I was just surfing around to find out a little more about servicedogs in the Netherlands, I came across a flattcoat retriever. Not very usual for a servicedog either:) And i did see a rottie fly by:oops:
  4. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    I love Flat Coats. ^^ Lovely dogs, in personality, appearance, everything.
    I've talked to some Rottie breeders, asked them tons of questions; they've been so helpful. Even stumbled across one that has bred and trained some for assistance dogs! Each of the breeders and trainers I spoke to says that they are phenomenal service dogs, but definitely need a special kind of handler, since they do tend to be dominant dogs.
    Starting out, I'm sure I will join an already established group, but eventually I want to have my own program. In America, typically you have puppy starters, like Fickla. Sometimes they do a lot of the early training. Each dog learns a basic task list(100+ commands) before ever being placed with a client. There is typically a very specific application process to make sure each dog finds just the right client, and each client finds just the right dog. Throughout the next year or so, the trainer(s) work closely with the client to make sure both dog and client are working well together, and maybe go through any tasks the dog may need that are specific to the handler's disability. If the dog ends up being not the best fit for that person, or vice versa, they try to find a better fit for dog and handler.
  5. Anneke Honored Member

    I think it must be such a satisfying job, to help people become more independent. Hard work but to see a person and their dog come together and go out and do things...
  6. GordaLoca Member

    I adopted a two-year-old mini schnoodle from a shelter, confident that he'd beat the odds and be a stellar Mental Health (a.k.a. Psychiatric) Service Dog...and learned three months in that he's WAY too social and reactive (in a friendly way) to other dogs and people, as well as whiny when he's denied access to them. He's also MUCH more active than the shelter staff led me to believe he'd be - a liability because I have severe arthritis and often use a cane. I'm doing research into breeds now and am frustrated by how the many online breed finders don't even ask anything regarding how active you are or how social you want your dog to be - both very important to me. Though I know it will be hard to find, I'm leading towards a Bolognese. They need occasional trimming, but are a good size for me, moderate activity level, and cool towards strangers without being aggressive with either humans or other dogs. They are also both bright and very biddable. Thanks for giving me some food for thought.
  7. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    How unfortunate that your Schnoodle ended up not working out as your service dog. :( And that's awful that the shelter intentionally misled you about his activity level. I hope this hasn't soured your opinion of getting a service dog from a shelter, as not all shelters would do such a thing.
    Good for you for doing some research to find a breed that suits you and your needs! (y) Best of luck finding your Psych dog. Welcome to the website!

    There are many online breed finders that are definitely not up to par. has a decent one.
    I personally have no experience with the Bolognese breed. Because you mention that your dog is a Schnoodle, I think it's worth mentioning that Poodles are excellent service dogs. Schnauzers can be good too. Poodles can be high-energy dogs, but most that are bred for service work are fairly middle of the road. So don't completely count either of those breeds out unless there are other factors that make them less suitable for your needs. :)

    If you haven't made your mind up on the Bolognese or another breed and want any other input on breeds, you might post a separate thread in this forum requesting tips and what you're looking for exactly for your psych dog. We have tons of members here that are very knowledgeable. :) And again, don't completely cross off shelters, as there may very well be a dog in a shelter somewhere well-suited for your needs.
    Good luck! :)
  8. androvjones New Member

    A Youkie Retriever because they have big layers but do usually reduce a lot.They also are excellent for kids because they have excellent sufferers and a smooth chew they also don't debris much.
  9. GordaLoca Member

    Please rephrase your advice! Do you mean a Yorkie/retriever, as in a Yorkshire terrier/Labrador retriever cross? I'd have a hard time finding one of those, I think!! What do you mean by their having "big layers" and "excellent sufferers"? I don't understand what you mean by saying that they have a smooth chew and don't debris much, either. Maybe you need a translator.

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