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Types of Service Dogs

Types of service dogs run the gamut of breeds, shapes and sizes.

Viki, our expert advisor on service dogs, has trained several for her own use and also a couple of dogs for her husband.

She's had two Great Pyrennees, including Patches, the dog in the photo, and Hannah, who was a pure white color.

They alert her to impending loss of balance and seizures, and have been trained to pick up and fetch things for her on days when it is too painful for her to do so.

Mildred Isabella, a black Lab, and Karma, a yellow Lab, currently assist her and her husband. (See the Service Dog Stories section below for more about these dogs).




Current Types of Service Dogs

According to the folks at Service Dog Central:

  • Service Animals are dogs with specialized training, which help someone with disabilities perform tasks that person is unable to accomplish for him- or herself. This includes cognitive and psychiatric disabilities. The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) has special requirements for such animals. Miniature horses may also serve as service animals but are governed by different laws.
  • Emotional Support Animals or ESAs require no special training beyond general obedience, and this category includes other common domestic animals. A person with a disabling mental illness that is not covered under the ADA, can request his or her doctor to prescribe the need for such support in cases where dogs are usually not allowed, e.g., no pets housing or in airline cabins.
  •  (I personally think most family dogs are ESAs. Research has shown both physical and mental health benefits to owning a dog.)
  • Therapy Animals comfort people who are in institutions such as hospitals and assisted living centers. Again, dogs are not the only animals that do this. Therapy dogs need to pass some type of tests to certify for the institution that they will not panic in strange situations and stay calm when being handled by people they don't know. There are organizations that register therapy dogs for a fee (around $30) to satisfy institutions, and provide liability insurance as well.


Seeing eye or guide dogs for the blind used to be the only type of assistance dog that people knew about. However, as mentioned above, in the last few years, we have seen quite an expansion in the types of service dogs that are recognized.

Not everyone is informed, however, as you will learn from the stories at the bottom of this page. For instance, Marisa of Tampa, Florida, who was 29 years old when she wrote us, reported that many people questioned her need for a service dog because her disabilities are not visible. Viki receives many comments as well - see Service Dog Breeds and Public Challenges.


Viki often has to explain why people should not pet her dog when they are out in public.

A humorous approach helps, as indicated by the service dog emblem in the photo.



Service Dog Stories

For more stories about Viki and her dogs, as well as other people who have lived with or are living with a dog assistant, see the contributions below.

Consider paying it forward by entering your own story and up to 4 photos. It will become a permanent part of our site, accessible by people worldwide!




Did You or Do You Have a Service Dog?

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What Other Visitors Have Submitted

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Bear Totem 
I would like to share with you a little bit about my present service dog Bear Totem. Or we'd call him an Assistance Dog here in Scotland. He is a British …

Karma: Service pup in training 
In September I saw a puppy on Facebook that took my breath away. Against all of my senses I knew I HAD to have that pup. She had been thrown out of a moving …

Tribute to Hannah 
Hannah was trained to be my second service dog, taking over for Patches. However, at 2 when she was X-rayed, we found out she had a bad hip. She would …

Hannah's Last Days 
January 10, 2014 - Yesterday, after two months of Hannah having the lead to go where ever she wanted to go and her choosing to stay within the mobile home …

Dozer Hund - Top K-9 in Combat and Search & Rescue Unit 
Dozer Hund is one of the top K-9's in the world of public service. We are proud to have him as our K-9 lieutenant, as well as his expert handler and trainer …

Sugar, Therapeutic Companion Service Animal 
My story starts with a Little Papillon no bigger than a minute. She was full of life, had more spunk than most dogs I've ever owned and whatever you do …

Penny and Cooper 
Cooper is a shy, 5 year old Australian red Border Collie. I got him when he was 14 weeks old because he had been picked out by someone who never showed …

Natalia II 
After the death of my husband, I decided to train a canine for the disabled, as my husband wanted to but died before he could do it, so I did it to honor …

Bella - New Ears for Me 
Bella is a long haired dachshund that came to us as a foster and then we adopted her. I will always be grateful that she found her way to me. Bella came …

Happy HOWLoween!!  
Each year in the fall, to celebrate the anniversary of the ADA (Americans with Disbilities Act) the city of Jacksonville, Florida and the Jax zoo invite …

Annie The Wonder Dog 
Hi my name is Pam and I have had my service dog Annie for several years. She is very shy about her age so we don't mention it. LOL! Annie is a 115 pound …

What Tobias, the Dachshund, means to me. 
Well... It all started when my mom got me a Dachshund 5 yrs ago to keep me company and to keep me happy while trying to deal with having bi-polar, arthritis, …

Annie: A Very Special Helper 
Hi my name is Pam and I am 57 years old amd I am disabled. I have too many things wrong with me to go into but just to let you know I can't bend to pick …

Golfi the Wonder Dog 
Golfi is the most perfect dog in the world! :-) She is a 4 Yr old German Shepherd who came from Germany as a puppy. Her first owner claims he just didn't …

Hannah the Great Pyrenees Service Dog 
For those of you following the fun times that Hannah and I are having with the service dog training there were a couple of milestone moments in the past …

Heidi's Service Dogs, Prissy and Melanie 
Prissy Liane did not make the cut - she earned her puppy wings a year ago 2010. Heidi, sorry to hear that - hope you are doing ok.

Mildred the Service Dog - Part Two 
Since moving to Sarasota, FL, which was made famous for John Ringling's winter headquarters being here for years, a friend bought Mildred a special "welcome" …

My GSD rescue who rescued me 
I adopted Theron from a no kill shelter when he was two years old. I was not out to adopt a dog at the time since I was caring for my 15 year old German …

Mildred Isabella the Black Lab Service Dog 
There we were, Mildred Isabella and I, in another doctor's waiting room -- doing what you do in a waiting room -WAITING. I have been working with Mildred …

In Memory of Patches, Service Dog Extraordinaire 
Patches is half Anatolian Shepherd and half Great Pyrenees. She was born the same day my first guide dog puppy graduated (who was raised by my daughter …

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