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Special Needs Dogs: Top Breeds That Become Service Companions

By    |   Tuesday, 13 Jan 2015 11:02 AM

Special-needs dogs serve a critical function for the disabled, so the "cute and fluffy" factor has no bearing on whether a dog is suitable as a service companion.

The most important factor to take into consideration is the capability of the dog to meet a disabled person's specific needs. Therefore, temperament, trainability, and hereditary breed traits are all taken into consideration when selecting breeds with the potential to become service companions.

Here are some of the top breeds trained as service companions:

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1. Labrador Retriever: According to Guide Dogs for the Blind, 70 percent of their dogs are Labrador Retrievers because they have found them "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." These dogs are hardworking, extremely intelligent, as well as friendly and sociable.

2. Golden Retriever: This breed has a very calm temperament, high intelligence, a low level of dog aggression, and tends to be very loyal to their owners and family. They have been bred for strength and endurance and are an ideal size to be a service companion.

3. German Shepherd: While the retriever breeds are currently at the forefront, this breed used to be the gold standard for service dogs for the blind. German shepherds are bred specifically for their intelligence and have character traits high in devotion and courage. This very versatile breed can excel at almost any job and they are often used as police service dogs.

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4. Standard Poodle: While poodles are less common as special-needs dogs, they are highly intelligent and 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."

5. Terriers, Cockers, Llasa Apsos, Shi Tzus, and Chihuahuas: While none of these breeds can pick up a pair of shoes, open a door or otherwise physically assist their owner, 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."

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Special-needs dogs serve a critical function for the disabled, so the "cute and fluffy" factor has no bearing on whether a dog is suitable as a service companion. The most important factor to take into consideration is the capability of the dog to meet a disabled person's needs.
special needs dog, top breeds, service, companions
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2015-02-13
Tuesday, 13 Jan 2015 11:02 AM
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