/10 Types of Service Dogs and What They Do

10 Types of Service Dogs and What They Do

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Many dog people would say their canine companions are their best friends, but for a growing number of individuals with specific physical, neurological or mental health needs, different types of service dogs are also invaluable partners in day-to-day life. Legally, most of these types of service dogs are welcome in places where pet dogs are not. Unfortunately, the practice of non-disabled people passing off pet dogs as different types of service dogs has eroded the rights of real assistance dog handlers, especially those with invisible disabilities.
“Don’t make assumptions,” says Toni Eames, president of the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners. “If you see a person who can walk and talk, and they’re sighted, and they’re hearing, the dog may be alerting to diabetes or seizures.”
According to Eames, those tasks may be done by a breed who doesn’t fit the popular image of a service dog as a retriever or a German Shepherd Dog. As the list of jobs for service dogs grows, so does the diversity of service dog breeds helping disabled people.
Let’s take a look at 10 types of service dogs, from the well-known to the newly developed:
1. Guide dogs
A guide dog helps his handler cross the street. Photography by Lars Christensen / Shutterstock.
Assistance dogs who lead visually impaired and blind people around obstacles are one of the most commonly known types of service dogs. Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Lab/Golden hybrids are often dog breeds chosen as guide dogs, although other breeds, such as Poodles, can also be well suited to be this type of service dog.
According to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, guide dogs have been helping visually impaired people for centuries, and their use may date back to Roman times. Many laws and pieces of legislation regarding service animals were original written with an emphasis on guide dogs. While people often expect guide dogs and other assistance dogs to wear vests, the Americans With Disabilities Act does not require a vest, although they’ll often be wearing a special harness with a handle on it.
2. Hearing dogs
For people with hearing impairments, these types of service dogs assist by alerting their human to noises such as alarms, doorbells or crying babies. When the dog hears the sound, they’ll touch their human and lead toward the noise.
Labradors and Golden Retrievers are dog breeds that are often selected as hearing dogs, but many other breeds, including Cocker Spaniels and Miniature Poodles, have been successfully trained to alert as a hearing dog. According to Assistance Dogs International, small-to-medium

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