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Do Golden Retrievers Make Good Service Dogs?

Do Golden Retrievers Make Good Service Dogs?

If you are considering training a Service Dog to help with a mental health disability, one of the most important decisions you will make is which breed best serves your mental health needs. Dogs are known as “man’s best friend” because they possess an innate ability to show unconditional love and share a special bond with humans. While many common breeds have the potential for effective task training, some breeds have skills and temperaments that will pair better with someone with a mental illness. So do Golden Retrievers make good Service Dogs?

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What Breeds are Considered Best for Psychiatric Service Dog Roles?

Four popular breeds, referred to as the “Fab Four,” are considered to possess the most suitable traits for Service Dog tasks. The dog breeds included in this list are Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, Standard Poodle, and Collie. Let’s take a closer look and answer some common questions about what makes Golden Retrievers ideal Service Dog candidates.  

History and Traits of the Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever breed originated in the Scottish Highlands, where they were used as working dogs. They would accompany hunters on expeditions. As their name suggests, their job included retrieving waterfowl or other animals that were shot. They are a work-oriented, intelligent breed that thrives with tasks that require hard work, like hunting and fieldwork. 

Golden Retrievers have very similar characteristics to Labrador Retrievers. They are known to be very intelligent, playful, and happy dogs. They make excellent family pets because they are affectionate, endearing, and good with other dogs and children. In addition to making the “Fab Four list, Golden Retrievers consistently rank as one of America’s top 3 most popular dog breeds. 

Do Golden Retrievers Make Good Service Dogs?
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Due to the new Department of Transportation (DOT) policy, Emotional Support Animals are NO longer allowed to fly in airplane cabins for free. However, Psychiatric Service Dogs are eligible.

What Qualities Make a Good Service Dog?

The key characteristics shared by Service Dogs are: 

  • A desire to work.
  • They are easy to train. 
  • They are calm and well-behaved. 
  • A friendly disposition and adapt easily to change.
  • Intelligent problem solvers.

Depending on the tasks a service dog is needed to perform, other qualities may be equally important to service dog handlers. Mobility service dogs, for example, would need to be strong enough to carry out the tasks required to help their handler. The job may also require that they have a high energy level to perform those tasks regularly. 

Do Golden Retrievers Make Good Service Dogs?

What Does This Mean for Golden Retrievers?

Golden Retrievers make excellent Service Dogs. They check all boxes for characteristics you would want in your ideal Service Dog. They have gentle eyes and physically appear sweet and cuddly, which puts people at ease around them. They are surprisingly strong and can handle challenging physical work as necessary. Goldens are work-oriented dogs that desire to please their owners. 

They are loyal, intelligent, and adapt well to changes. They are easy to train and eager to learn new things. Goldens also make incredible medical alert dogs. And are a good breed for people with physical disabilities or mental health challenges. 

They are popular Service Dogs for handlers with families and other pets because they are good with children and get along well with other dogs. Golden Retriever Service Dogs are commonly used for search-and-rescue teams, as guides for the blind, as Emotional Support Animals, and as Psychiatric Service Dogs.

Give Me the Details!

The life expectancy of the breed averages 10-12 years. 

Do Golden Retrievers Make Good Service Dogs?

How Long Do Golden Retrievers Live?

The life expectancy of the breed averages 10-12 years. 

Are Golden Retrievers Smart?

Yes, very! They are an intelligent breed. Their obedience makes them an excellent choice for any type of Service Dog. They excel at obedience and competitive events, which require advanced training and has earned them the highest ranking in AKC obedience trials since their introduction in 1977. 

How Big Do Golden Retrievers Get?

The Golden Retriever is a medium-sized dog that is typically strong and muscular. The height of a Golden Retriever ranges from 21 inches to 24 inches tall. They can range in weight from 55-75 pounds.

Are Golden Retrievers Easy to Train?

A Golden Retriever seeks to gain the approval of its human. Golden Retrievers have a friendly disposition, are very loyal companions, and respond quickly to training. In fact, Golden Retrievers are often used in movies due to their obedient behavior. Their calm demeanor, dependability, and consistent performance has earned them roles in films and television series such as Air Bud, Homeward Bound, and Full House.  

Do Golden Retrievers Shed?

Yes. The Golden Retriever is known for its thick, shiny, golden coat and feathery tail. Their coat is medium-length, and they do shed a lot. Some owners refer to this as “golden glitter” because, like glitter, their hair tends to get everywhere. If you are okay with always having reminders of them nearby, Golden Retrievers are the breed for you! 

Though they may shed quite a bit, the coat grooming required for them is relatively easy. If you have a low level of tolerance for shedding, consider a dog with a different coat type, such as a Poodle.

Do Golden Retrievers Make Good Service Dogs?

Do Golden Retrievers Bark a Lot?

Compared to other breeds, Retrievers are relatively quiet dogs with a calm temperament and minimal barking level. They are exceptionally smart dogs and, as such, do not bark unnecessarily. They typically only bark to alert or get your attention. 

Can Golden Retrievers Be Aggressive?

Goldens are not an aggressive breed, which is another reason that Golden Retrievers make good Service Dogs! These dogs are generally loving, playful, and laid back. Aggression in Golden Retrievers is typically a result of poor breeding, inadequate training, lack of socialization, or abuse. 

How Do I Get a Service Dog?

To learn if you qualify for a Service Dog, here is a simple guide to help you. To get a Service Dog, you need to talk with a mental health professional to assess if a Service Dog could help you. American Service Pets makes this process simple and stress-free. 

You need written confirmation supporting your need for a Service Dog. Once you get that, you have two options to obtain a Service Dog:

  1. If you already have a Golden Retriever, you’re halfway there! You can train your dog to be a Service Dog. Self-training your dog is easy through I Train Academy from American Service Pets.


  2. Purchase a Service Dog through a Service Dog training organization or have your dog trained by a professional dog trainer. Both options can be costly, and the wait for many such organizations can be years long.  
Do Golden Retrievers Make Good Service Dogs?

Final Thoughts!

Among the most popular dog breeds, especially for families, Golden Retrievers make exceptional Service Animals. In part due to their  temperament, intelligence, size, and trainability. 

Goldens are fantastic companions, making them excellent Service Dogs. They work well with individuals with PTSD and chronic anxiety as well as assisting individuals with physical disabilities or medical needs. Their knack for problem-solving comes in handy when retrieving essential items (such as medication or a phone) that could be vital during emergencies. These characteristics make them ideal for emotional support work and one of the best Psychiatric Service Dog breeds

Golden Retrievers are known for their reliability, which is grounding for people with mental health disabilities. A Psychiatric Service Dog needs to be able to respond quickly in high-stress situations. Golden Retrievers are not easily distracted, remaining focused on the task at hand. It can be safely concluded that Golden Retrievers make good Service Dogs all around!

Service dogs improve the quality of life for their owners dramatically and allow them to live more independent lives. For individuals with disabilities or psychiatric disorders, Service Dogs are a lifeline. If you’ve been on the fence about considering if a Service Dog could help you, I encourage you to take the next step to find out more! 

Do Golden Retrievers Make Good Service Dogs?
ESA or PSA Certification?

The benefits of an Emotional Support Animal certification and a Psychiatric Service Dog certification are drastically different. Fortunately for you, American Service Pets’ network of active board certified doctors can help you find the right path to certification. To find out whether you need an ESA or PSD letter, take our easy, three-step Pet Owner Survey!


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