7 Best Guide Dog Breeds: Choosing A Service Dog Made Easier

What kind of doggy comes to your mind first when you think of breeds that would make the best guide dogs? We guess it's either a Golden, a Labrador Retriever or a German Shepherd. And it's barely surprising. These three breeds are the most common to be seen helping out their beloved humans. But did you know that there are other breeds that can be just as great service dogs? For example, a Standard Poodle can be a fantastic emotional support dog!

German Shepherd guide dog taking a break

Maybe you're looking for an assistance dog or just curious about the topic? In this article, we're going to briefly go through the best service dog breeds so you could make an informed decision, or just learn interesting facts about guide dogs (and scroll through some cute dog pictures, of course).

1. Golden Retriever guide dogs

Golden Retrievers are one of the most common choice for disabled people due to their helpful characteristics.  Goldens are often trained as emotional support dogs, therapy dogs for depression and anxiety,  PTSD dogs, but they're most popular as seeing-eye dogs.

Golden retriever guide dog

Goldens are great guide dogs for the blind because:

  • They are SO friendly.
    This quality helps a lot for their disabled humans to navigate in crowded places. Even though Goldens are quite big, they're not intimidating to passersby - they love everyone!
  • Their size is ideal.
    These dogs are big enough to wear a hefty seeing eye dog harness on their backs, but they're not too large to lead their humans through narrower places.
  • They have an amazing memory.
    Golden Retrievers are very good at remembering routes, so they are the pros when it comes to helping a visually impaired person to move around the city.

Golden Retriever puppy on the grass

2. Labrador Retriever guide dogs

Just like Goldens, Labrador Retrievers are very good boys, which makes them just as popular as guide dogs.  They've always been eager working dogs that want to please their humans.

Labrador retriever guide dog

Why Labrador Retrievers are good guide dogs:

  • They are quick learners.
    As long as they have the right guidance, they can do almost anything their owners ask them to.
  • They are very intelligent.
    Besides being diligent,  a guide dog must also know when it's better not to obey the command if it may put its owner in danger which leads us to the next point.
  • They are extremely loyal.
    Labs will do anything to protect their disabled owners. For instance, if its blind human will try to cross a busy street, a lab will use its own weight to block the way.

White Labrador Retriever dog smiling in a black background

3. German Shepherd guide dogs

German shepherds were the first dogs to turn blind people lives for the better.  In the beginning of the 20th century, visually impaired people were marginalized and had a hard time to fit in the society. They were fully depended on other people taking care of them.

But it all started to change in 1914 when Dorothy Harrison Eustis brought a German Shepherd to the US and started breeding and training them.  To this day, a German Shepherd is almost synonymous with a service dog.

German shepherd guide dog with a veteran

Why German Shepherds can be trained to do all kinds of assistance work:

  • They're extremely obedient.
    German Shepherds always take the duty to help their human very seriously and won't get distracted by passersby.
  • They're natural herders.
    Combined with their natural wish to protect their beloved ones, they will do anything to make sure that their blind human does not cross a busy street.
  • They're task-oriented. 
    German Shepherds need for constant mental stimulation will be fulfilled with all the commands they have to obey while assisting their humans.

4. Standard Poodle guide dogs

Standard poodles are not as big as German Shepherds, Goldens or Labs. So they are not the best choice for physically demanding assistance tasks like blocking the way with their weight or pulling a wheelchair.  But Standard Poodles are incredibly smart dogs that are able to help with many other daily tasks like fetching a wallet or turning on the light.

Standard poodle guide dog

Standard Poodles are also very curious by nature, so they are more than happy to learn new commands, and their eagerness to please makes them really trusted companions. They also need constant stimulation, so serving their humans makes them very happy.

Standard Poodle is a great choice for someone who needs a guide dog but is allergic to one

In comparison to other dog breeds, Standard Poodles tend to shed very little and they are considered to be the most hypoallergenic dogs. This does not mean that they will not cause any kind of allergy but they're the least likely to make a person suffering from allergies experience uncomfortable symptoms. 

Watch the video of a poodle service dog showing off her amazing skills:

5. Vizsla guide dogs

Now, when you think of a Vizsla as a service dog, you might be a bit skeptical. After all, we're talking about dogs that love jumping pretty much on every human they meet. So, how these, sometimes overly eager, doggies could be guide dogs when they need some pretty serious guidance themselves, right?

The truth is... they can.

Two vizsla dogs

Why vizslas make great therapy dogs:

  • They can adapt.
    With proper training, excitable vizslas can channel their energy to carrying out tasks very efficiently because daily service dog duties provide a lot of needed mental stimulation and physical activities.
  • They are great team players.
    Originally bred for hunting, Hungarian Vizslas love assisting their humans and form very strong bonds with them. Vizslas don't like being by themselves, so being a service dog is like a dream job for these affectionate doggies.
  • They are not overly protective.
    While it may sound a little strange at first, but this is a great quality for a therapy or any other type of service dog. Vizslas have great temperament. They know how to behave around unfamiliar people and are safe to be unrestrained in the public.

Just watch how cute and obedient this Vizsla therapy dog is!

Her owner Drew Lynch totally hacked Vizsla training secrets.

6. Labradoodle guide dogs

Like the name suggests, a Labradoodle is mix crossbreed between a Labrador and a Standard Poodle. This crossbreed was invented by Wally Conron in 1988, an Australian breeder, who wanted to come up with a dog breed that would be affectionate and obedient like a Lab and would have hypoallergenic qualities like a Poodle.

Conron succeeded to an extent. Because Labradoodles are a crossbreed, you can't fully predict their characteristics. This, however, doesn't stop Labradoodles from being really popular both as guide dogs and as family pets all around the world.

Labradoodle guide dog

Why Labradoodles are good guide dogs:

  • They are smart like Poodles.
  • They don't shed much like Poodles. They also have much more chances to be hypoallergenic than other breeds.
  • They're energetic and affectionate like Labradors. Labradoodles are also likely to possess the strength and stamina typical to Labs.

Watch how a Labradoodle service dog changed little girl's life:

7. Boxer guide dogs

Originally bred to be guards dogs, boxers might not look as the perfect fit to be guide dogs because they might get a bit too protective of their owners in public. However, all dogs are people pleasers and this instinct prevails over all other characteristics. Also, boxers love to work and are successfully trained as mobility dogs, therapy dogs, and guide dogs for the blind

Boxer guide dog

Why boxers are great guide dogs:

  • Loyalty is their second name.
    All dogs are loyal to their owners, but Boxers take it to the whole new level.
  • They're very intelligent.
    Boxers are very easy to train - they're very quick learners and can assist their humans with many daily tasks.
  • They have a low-maintenance coat.
    Boxers don't shed as much as other dog breeds, and their bathing needs are minimal. It's going to be fairly easy to take care of a boxer in this respect. Also, boxers have low dander, so they are a better choice than other dogs for people who have allergies.

Watch this cute video of a sight assistance boxer Dale helping to train his replacement, Earl: