When choosing your future Psychiatric Assistance Dog (PADs) the most important thing to remember is that it will become a dog that will assist you with your disability and no matter how cute and fluffy they are they are NOT a pet. It is important to accept that the dog you always wanted as a child or your favourite breed is most likely not going to be the best suited for becoming a PADs dog. You need to pick the dog that will mitigate your disabilities the best not the dog that you think looks the best.
Technically, most breeds can become an assistance dog, though some breeds are more suited for service work than others. There is no one best breed for everyone. Different breeds may be better suited for individuals depending on what they need the dog to do, their personalities, where they live, and so on however PADs.foundation recommend that the four breeds below are considered first as a choice for becoming your PADs dog.
Labradors and Golden Retrievers (or a mix of the two) are regularly used as assistance dogs as they consistently display the traits necessary to:
a) make it successfully through rigorous training
b) have a long and effective working life.
While Smooth Collies and Poodles are not used as commonly in professional Assistance Dog Training Programs, these breeds have also proven that they possess the characteristics needed for a good assistance animal. More and more owner trainers are turning to poodles and smooth collies for their prospects. There are very specific traits that make for a successful assistance dog such as trainability, gentleness and a good work ethic.
Equally there are some breeds, particularly herding breeds (smooth collie aside), that despite having many qualities that make a great assistance dog are not recommended for those with mental health issues such as anxiety or PTSD. This is due to their potential to develop over protective behaviours that can be considered as aggression.