6 Superior Service Dogs: Brief History & Health Issues

Jun 03, 2016
Tagged with: 6 Superior Service Dogs: Brief History & Health Issues


In the distant past, service dogs were primarily seen assisting those with sight problems, our police and military personnel, but nowadays you will see them practically everywhere. For more than 43 million people who are disabled in the United States, it’s estimated there are almost 400,000 service dogs assisting this differently abled population.

These working dogs can often be at a higher risk from certain illnesses and injuries due to their additional activity levels, changes in environment and increased workload. Here are six of the most popular service dogs, a brief history of their breed and ways these hard-working heroes sometimes have additional health issues:

#1 – POLICE: German Shepherd

When you imagine a service dog, you might first envision a German Shepherd, who is commonly used by the military and police. This highly intelligent, easily trained breed can also come with some very breed-specific health conditions like hip dysplasia. This is the most prominent skeletal issue found in dogs is more likely to be found in larger breed animals like German Shepherds.

#2 – FIRE: Dalmatian

This easily spotted (pardon the pun) dog breed has been around for centuries and got their name after being imported to a region on the west side of Yugoslavia called Dalmatia. Also susceptible to dysplasia due to their size, they’re also at an increased risk for developing allergies, seizures and hearing problems.

#3 – MILITARY: Belgian Malinois

If sat side-by-side with a German Shepherd, it would be difficult to tell these two breeds apart other than the Shepherd’s signature saddle marking. This Belgian beauty originated back in the late 1800’s near the city of Malines, Belgium where it was trained primarily as a herding dog. Also more susceptible to hip and elbow dysplasia similar to their German cousin, the Belgian Malinois can develop seizures and eye problems like progressive retinal atrophy.

#4 – SEARCH & RESCUE: Border Collie

One of the smartest breeds, the Border Collie is well known for their herding skills and are often seen on search and rescue teams. Dating back to the first century B.C., when Vikings and Romans cross bred herding dogs and also used them in battle. This active animal can be prone to vision problems like primary lens luxation, cataracts, collie eye anomaly, generalized progressive retinal atrophy and other eye disorders.


This keen and crafty canines can sometimes be trained to alert their human to the onset of a possible seizure and are believed to be most closely related to primitive dogs without having bloodlines relating to either wolves or foxes. Originally bred in Siberia, they were used for pulling sleds, as working dogs and hunters. Another breed-specific genetic disease sometimes found in this beautiful dogs is Samoyed Hereditary Glomerulopathy, an inherited kidney condition.

#6 – PHYSICAL ASSISTANCE – Golden Retriever

As their name implies, retrievers make an excellent match for those in need of different types of physical assistance. Bred in Britain during the 1800’s, they excelled in retrieving water fowl and other types of wild game for hunters. These furry fetchers are sometimes susceptible to different forms of cancer and skin allergies.

Our hearts go out to all the hearty, hard-working service dogs and wish them the very best of health in their service careers. If you’re in the market for a new four-legged best friend, be sure to research their temperaments and possible health issues so you can be better prepared.

Author: Mark Kirkpatrick

  • bobl07

    Thanks Mark! I have many friends that use and train service dogs. I know this info will be important to them.