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Do Goldendoodles make good service dogs?

Training Philosophy

Do Goldendoodles make good service dogs?

Goldendoodles have become increasingly popular in the last decade. They are valued not only for their happy-go-lucky temperament and low-shedding coat, but also as potential service dogs.

Their Poodle mix cousin – the Labradoodle – was originally created in order to be a hypoallergenic service dog. You might want to make your Goldendoodle into a service dog as well. But do Goldendoodles actually make good service dogs? How do you go about certifying your Goldendoodle as a service dog? Let’s jump right in!

Table of Contents

Will my Goldendoodle be a good service dog?

Not every dog has the potential to become a service dog, regardless of their breed. While there are breeds that are more suited to this job, the dog itself also will need specific characteristics and requirements to fulfill his task. A service dog is not created by putting a service dog vest on your dog!

Service dogs should have an even temperament, be non-reactive towards any humans and dogs and be able to work concentrated even in distracting settings. They should be able to train for longer periods of time and food-motivated.  Service dog training takes years and will require consistency and commitment.

Goldendoodles have many of the required characteristics. In particular, most of them are:

  • Handler-oriented
  • Friendly and non-reactive
  • Able to work for longer periods of time
  • Interested in doing well and earning rewards in training

However, like all Doodles Goldendoodles have an enthusiastic and at times rambunctious temperament. Impulse control and a lot of training is crucial to tame this energy.

goldendoodle service dog

What is a service dog?

Many dog owners want their dogs to become “service dogs” so that they will be able to accompany them into stores or on airplanes. However, this is not the accurate definition of a service dog. A true service dog is a highly trained animal that performs specific tasks to assist their owners with a disability.

The ADA specifically states:

“[A] dog must be trained to take a specific action when needed to assist the person with a disability.”

That means that simply “providing comfort” or “accompanying their handler into a store” is not a task for a service animal. A true service dog would for example alert his owner with diabetes when his blood sugar reaches high or low levels. A service dog for a person with epilepsy would alert the owner to the onset of a seizure.

In order to make your Goldendoodle a true service dog, you need to 

  • have a disability 
  • train your Goldendoodle to specifically assist with this disability through trained tasks
service dog doodle

How do you make a Goldendoodle a service dog?

The training required to make a reliable service dog out of your dog will take a lot of time and effort. The earlier you start, the better the chances that your Goldendoodle will grow up to fulfill this role!

If you are a first-time dog owner you should consult with a local service dog trainer who can help you make a month-by-month plan for your Goldendoodle. 

The skills you will likely first work on are:

  1. Walking well on leash
  2. Settling on a mat even in distracting places (such as cafes, restaurants, airports etc.)
  3. Not interacting with other people and dogs when working
  4. Focusing over longer periods of time
By the way: Training can be a lot easier if your Goldendoodle wears a service dog in training vest. That way, strangers will be less likely to interrupt your training when wanting to pet your cute pup!

Keys to success

The journey to a well-trained and successful service dog starts before your Goldendoodle even comes home. When picking a puppy, you want to communicate your goals to the breeder as clearly as possible. Tell the breeder that you are looking for a dog that will do well in service dog work. Specifically, ask your Goldendoodle breeder for a puppy who:

  • Comes from calm and well-mannered parents
    Genetics are huge! If your pup’s parents had a calm temperament, chances are they passed some of this onto their pup. It would be ideal if one or both of the parents or close relatives of your puppy are already working as a service dog.
  • Was a laid-back puppy in the litter
    Even within a litter of puppies there can be a lot of variation in temperament. For your future service dog you want to get a pup that was laid-back and not crazy. 
  • Was evaluated for his temperament
    There are a lot of different tests for puppies’ character, such as the Volhard Puppy Test.
    These are standardized behavior tests (which are completely safe and even fun for your pup!) which let you compare different pups’ behavior in certain situations. They test the puppies’ interest in people and play as well as their response to being startled.
  • Is physically sound
    This should be a given for any puppy of course. Service dogs specifically need to have good structure and no underlying conditions such as hip dysplasia. You should never buy a puppy whose parents have not passed breed-specific health tests.

Are Goldendoodles good emotional support dogs?

If your puppy does not work out as a service dog or you do not have a specific disability that requires assistance, your Goldendoodle can still become an emotional support animal (ESA)!

Goldendoodles are fantastic emotional support dogs. They know exactly when their owners are sad or anxious and how to help them feel better. They will gladly give you as many kisses as you need to cheer up again!

ESAs vs service dogs

Emotional support animals have less stringent requirements than service dogs. They do not need to be trained to perform a specific task to assist their owner. Less intense training and exposure is required.

Most Goldendoodles are more suitable to become ESAs than actual service dogs. This is especially true for first-time dog owners who might not have the time to invest into true service dog training.

While most service dogs need to be medium to large sized in order to e.g. allow their owners to lean on them, any size dog can become an ESA. If you own a Mini Goldendoodle or f1b Mini Goldendoodle, this would be a fantastic task for him!

The Bottom Line

Service dog training is a work-intensive process. Only Goldendoodles who are trained to perform specific tasks to assist their owners with a disability can become true service dogs.

You pup will need to be well-mannered and extensively trained to accompany you into stores, restaurants and on planes.

If you wish for your Goldendoodle to have a less complicated function, making him an Emotional Support Animal is a perfect alternative. He will have the task of comforting you and being your loyal companion with less training required.

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