Service Dogs: Top Mobility Assistance Dog Breeds Service Dogs for People Wheelchairs – Animal Facts
An estimated 3.6 million people over the age
of 15 in the US use a wheelchair to assist
with mobility and an additional 11.6 million
use a device such as walkers, crutches, and
canes to get around, according to DisabledWorld.com.
Our friend, the dog, has always been with
us to help tend to our needs and he has certainly
been of great assistance in his role as a
In this role, the Mobility Assistance Dog
increases the independence of a person who
uses a wheelchair, has trouble standing, or
Let’s check out what he’s doing and which
breeds are excelling at it.
Let’s get started.
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We’ll get to the top breeds in a moment,
but first let’s look at the Mobility Assistance
Dog and how he is lending a paw, helping his
companions gain independence.
An Assistance Dog helps someone with a disability
complete essential tasks helping to increase
independence and improve a quality of life.
The Mobility Assistance Dog performs a variety
of tasks for his human partner, like bumping
the button on automatic doors, retrieving
dropped items, and retrieving out-of-reach
objects, such as a ringing phone.
For the dog that will be placed with someone
in a wheelchair, the animal can assist with
pulling the chair up a ramp, if necessary.
Other dogs may serve as a brace for people
who are ambulatory but suffer from balance
and strength issues.
With a properly retrofitted home, a mobility
assistance dog can tug open doors, close them
again, turn lights on and off, and summon
help by finding another person in the house.
In public, the mobility assistance dog is
an invaluable helper, quietly serving his
partner with tasks that would be difficult
or impossible to do on their own, according
to Service Dogs for America, a non-profit
whose mission is to facilitate specialized
training, education, and to ensure the placement
of service dogs to individuals with special
So, what are we looking for in a Service Dog
for those with mobility disabilities?
According to My Assistance Dog, Inc., There
is no dog breed that cannot be trained and
used as an assistance dog, but some breeds
are better suited to service work than others.
That’s not due to any shortcomings on the
part of less commonly used breeds; it’s
simply that certain temperaments, traits,
and physiques make it easier for a dog to
learn and perform the variety of tasks of
a service dog.
Physically, the mobility assistance dog requires
adequate size, strength and stamina to perform
the specific duties his human partner need
These may include feats like carrying around
hefty objects, providing support for stability,
or pulling a wheelchair.
He needs to be highly trainable, as a person
depends on him to reliably perform all his
tasks—some of which can be life-saving.
This requires a good deal of intelligence
and obedience, but also an innate curiosity
and strong desire to be mentally stimulated
and solve problems.
The Mobility Assistance Dog must be consistently
well behaved in all sorts of public situations
and environments, especially considering that
many disabled people aren’t able to physically
restrain a canine companion.
So with that, let’s get on to the Top Mobility
Service Dog Breeds.
The Golden Retriever is said to have an innate
intuition of the needs of his handler.
The Golden is also highly intelligent and
easy to train for a wide variety of commands
and tasks, he is particularly obedient, he
enjoys having a job and completing challenges,
and he doesn’t have a strong dominant or
He is also noted for getting along well with
children and other animals.
He has the size and strength to provide a
person with physical support and to pick up
and carry heftier objects—a function he
was specifically bred for to retrieve game
He is active without being overly energetic,
and affectionate and loyal.
The Labrador Retriever is active but not hyper
active, with enough energy, stamina, and interest
in moving about to perform lots of tasks and
accompany his partner everywhere.
He sticks close and remains loyal, but doesn’t
tend toward aggression or have the protective
instinct of many other breeds that can make
it risky to take them into public, populated
In fact, they are friendly with everyone,
including strangers, children, and other animals.
Labrador retrievers are also highly trainable,
with the smarts and the curiosity to do a
wide variety of things.
They respond obediently to commands without
being too submissive.
As we’ve noted in our other service dog
videos, many Service Dog Schools are turning
to a Labrador-Golden Mix as their preferred
breed, combining the numerous traits that
make both of these dogs highly effective Service
German Shepherd Dog
The German Shepherd Dog possess a keen intellect
and reliable obedience, as well as an enthusiasm
for meeting challenges, all of which makes
him highly trainable for a variety of jobs.
He has a strong work ethic and enough energy
and stamina to accomplish all his tasks.
The German Shepherd’s large size also means
strength and the ability to provide physical
There is, however, one key obstacle in using
the German shepherd as an assistance dog.
Although he possesses a superior intelligence
to the breeds above, he has a strong protective
This can easily lead to distraction and aggression
Individual dogs of this breed need to be successfully
trained to overcome this aspect of their temperament,
and it is best that they partner with people
who are able to maintain strong authority
and restrain them if necessary.
Don’t be fooled by the poodle’s stylish
He is among the most intelligent and most
obedient dogs to be found.
This, combined with his curiosity and eagerness
to please, makes him easy to train and dependable.
These qualities make the breed popular today
they’re valued for assistance work.
The Poodle appreciates mental challenges and
lots of physical activity, both of which often
come with assistance work, and he has an innate
love of retrieving.
He’s also adaptable to different environments,
allowing him to stay focused and alert at
home and in all sorts of public situations.
The Poodle is friendly but not overly enthusiastic
or stimulated around unknown people or animals,
remaining well behaved and attentive to their
responsibilities outside the home.
Also, he doesn’t like being left alone for
prolonged periods, thriving with frequent
So, not only can his handler benefit from
the companionship of a standard poodle, but
this dog mutually benefits from a person relying
heavily on him.
English Springer Spaniel
While he doesn’t have the size or strength
of the other dogs on this list, the English
Springer Spaniel has a strong work ethic,
the energy to carry out tasks, and the self-control
to stay calm and focused.
This includes around strangers, kids, and
other animals; although the breed has a protective
streak, he is friendly and people-oriented
enough that this trait isn’t likely to cause
problems in public.
The English Springer Spaniels is highly intelligent,
eager to meet challenges, and obedient.
Add in his enthusiasm for pleasing loved ones
and his go-getter attitude, and it’s no
wonder the breed can work so well for certain
types of service dogs.
Additionally, he readily adapts to different
situations, environments, and demands.
This is a valued characteristic in a dog that
must accompany a disabled individual to different
places and perform a variety of duties wherever
He may not have the size to stabilize an adult,
but for a child or for a handler that doesn’t
require him to perform those tasks, this lovely
breed is a great fit.
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