German Shepherds Forum banner

1 - 20 of 48 Posts

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,255 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This is very far into the future, but my surgeon is encouraging me to look into a service dog. He believes I will need one in approximately 4-5yrs. My disks continue to deteriorate, and have started further down my spin. I will likely be wheelchair bound, and will need a dog to perform tasks for me.

So the hard part is what breeds I should be researching? I have a strong dislike of labs and Golden’s, and don’t think I could get into either of the breeds. I don’t want to add another GSD, but have been doing some research on Shiloh Shepherds (I know, not a real breed). I’ve also looked into Rottweilers as I have extensive experience with them. But I’m not sure it would be a good mix in my home. Lyka will likely have passed on to a pain free world by then, so it would put Crios at 6-7 years old, and the pups at 4-5 years old. What breeds do those with service dogs have? What are the drawbacks? The positive side of the breed as a service animal?

I’ll need a dog to open doors, grab stuff for me (quickly losing all feeling in both feet and hands due to disks crushing nerves, have very loose grasp, and often drop things). I’d also use him in therapy as an assistant when I am doing physical therapy so I don’t have an atrophy happen. If I could get one that sweeps and mops too, I’d spend all the money in the world for that ?.

But seriously, does anyone have pro’s and con’s in breeds relating to service work???
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,381 Posts
Does it have to be a service dog? What about a capuchin monkey,

The most obvious difference between capuchin monkeys and other service animals is their dexterous hands and amazing fine motor skills. This enables them to perform tasks such as:
turning pages
scratching itches
retrieving dropped objects
inserting straws into bottles
turning on buttons/switches for remotes, phones, computers, etc.
repositioning limbs on a wheelchair
Other differences include:

their long life span of 30-40 years
small size which allows them to cuddle in their human partner’s lap or nook of their neck
monkeys have hair, like humans, which helps to alleviates problems with fur-related allergies
Monkeys also have a strong sense of hierarchy which provides the motivation to care for and be cared for by their human partner. Helping Hands trainers and placement staff utilize this natural hierarchy to create a mutually beneficial and nurturing relationship between the monkey and the recipient

https://www.monkeyhelpers.org/
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,393 Posts
I * think* monkeys have much fewer rights to access as compared to dogs but you should look into that yourself.

For what it's worth I thought I could not stand to be partnered with a lab but now that he is here, I think he is perfect. So maybe try to keep an open mind about breeds you think you don't like.

Also, don't you have a relationship with a shelter? They might let you foster trial likely dogs and you could just try any dog that came through there that seemed like it might have a shot and then you might wind up helping a dog out and getting yourself a SD. If you wanted it to do actual physical mobility assistance I'd want to do X rays before going forward, even with a rescue.

Labs really do rock at retrieving and doing stuff with their mouths, too.

Some people who need bigger dogs for mobility use Greater Swiss-- I've heard but do your own research that there aren't as many major health problems as the Berner.

Anything in the shelter under approx 2-3 years that appears confident, mellow, easy going with people and other dogs, trainable, wants to work, without sensitivity to noise etc, might be worth fostering for a bit to see if it pans out. You could take the dog on outings to pet friendly stores or locations to try and assess temperament in a new place.

My opinion so take it with a grain of salt...I would not choose a bully or pit mix for a candidate no matter how they seemed-- one huge reason being that you are setting yourself up for more conflict as a handler that could easily be avoided.

I've known some flat coat retriever SDs too. Depending on what you don't like about labs and goldens you might not like a flat coat either, but they are somewhat different. I personally would not consider using a dog for myself that could mat--or that had excessive grooming requirements and that's what struck goldens off my list.

Grooming and upkeep is another HUGE plus for my lab so far. It takes a fraction of the time to keep him looking great as it does the shepherds. He stays fit on less food, he never gets an upset stomach

You can't beat a great German shepherd has a service dog but I don't know how easy it is to find that great shepherd...I haven't been able to....although this time around I had already decided to try another breed
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,393 Posts
I missed the part about the wheelchair-- if you are comfortable with Rottweilers and need wheelchair pulling as a task that might actually be a good breed.....

I am not a fan of that breed so I've never considered them for myself and don't have really any idea how hard it would be to find the type of breeder that might produce dogs that could do it.
@stevestrom had/has rotties?

Or really consider a program dog--- they will provide you with a fully trained finished dog.

Because say you raise a rottie from a pup and it washes, then you're stuck with another dog in your household taking up the space you need for a SD. You have to think stuff like that through if you decide to owner train.

Any time you go for a breed like that which isn't really widely used, I think it is just much harder to find the breeder and good dog-- because they aren't being widely bred for that, and statistically your chances of success go down.

Also any time you use a breed that protects and guards your chances of having to wash the dog for that goes up. They certainly can do it and do great---it's all a numbers game to me...what's the most likely to succeed, least likely to fail for whatever reason
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,313 Posts
You might consider a collie. Smooth or rough depending on how much grooming you'd be up to! They have some of the traits as a German shepherd, a collie is the next dog I plan to have partly because of that! I've seen a website for mobility/service collies, But from a good breeder you may find a good candidate.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
421 Posts
I * think* monkeys have much fewer rights to access as compared to dogs
You are correct. Only dogs and miniature horses have access rights. All other species have no access rights at all.

For what it's worth I thought I could not stand to be partnered with a lab but now that he is here, I think he is perfect. So maybe try to keep an open mind about breeds you think you don't like.
Excellent advice. It is very hard to find a dog with the right temperament for service dog work, so getting picky about breeds can make things difficult. Although my girlfriend and I have always insisted on GSDs as service dogs, we would use almost any breed of suitable size if we could not find a GSD that could do the job.

As for Shiloh Shepherds, which JChrest mentioned, they used to be outstanding potential service dogs. But the breed has deteriorated to the point where they are often skittish nervebags. I don't even recommend them as pets anymore.

I've also mostly given up on shelter dogs as potential service dogs. But here's an exception: JChrest, why don't you train Floki to be your service dog? From your earlier posts, he sounds like he has the right stuff, and you could use a service dog now. You decide when to get a service dog, not your doc.

I would not choose a bully or pit mix for a candidate no matter how they seemed-- one huge reason being that you are setting yourself up for more conflict as a handler that could easily be avoided.
I totally agree.

You can't beat a great German shepherd has a service dog but I don't know how easy it is to find that great shepherd...I haven't been able to....although this time around I had already decided to try another breed
It has gotten harder and harder. In recent years, I've had the best luck with GSDs from good quality American lines.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
421 Posts
You might consider a collie. Smooth or rough depending on how much grooming you'd be up to! They have some of the traits as a German shepherd, a collie is the next dog I plan to have partly because of that! I've seen a website for mobility/service collies, But from a good breeder you may find a good candidate.
Excellent suggestion. Can you post the link for that website?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
278 Posts
I don't have any good experience here except that I know of a standard poodle raised locally who is now a service dog. Smart, trainable, and no shedding! :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
642 Posts
I'd really keep your mind open to as many breeds as possible. I am not a huge fan of labs but I found an individual puppy that I really like and is perfect for me. Additionally there's a reason you see so many of them as service dogs compared to other breeds.

Somebody in my area has some huge dog likely a mutt of sorts they use for mobility support. But as others have recommended I'd want x-rays on any of those dogs. There's a shepherd on my school campus that's somebody's service dog in a wheel chair. I think he's owner trained and not the best trained maybe but he does well on campus with all the students and other dogs. (Owner will drop his leash and just let him wander off...)

Shiloh shepherds and king shepherds I've heard nothing good about.

As others have mentioned could you train either Seiran or Floki? Then you'd already have a trained dog once you get to where you really need one.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
923 Posts
I agree with Jon Rob's statement and would not suggest a Shiloh either. Many tend to be a bag of nerves
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,255 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
My dislike of labs and Golden’s is pretty petty honestly. My first husband was an avid hunter and fisherman, and we always had 1-2 labs with a golden thrown in occasionally. They were well trained to follow my husbands commands while on a hunt or fishing, but inside they just annoyed me. Always wanting attention, hyper, in your face kind of energy. I grew to dislike the breeds immensely, to the point where I cringe and turn away from them when I see them in public. I’ve just never found one that didn’t annoy the crap out of me.

A monkey sounds interesting, and I would look into it in a second, except I’ll need a large animal that can take my weight. The nerve damage is what will land me in the chair. From what the surgeon is saying, I will have use of my legs, but will have painful feeling in my legs and feet. He said the best description he’s heard so far from a patient was that it felt like millions of red hot needles constantly stabbing you over and over again, turning the whole lower half of your body into a burning inferno. So to prevent atrophy of my legs, I will have to work on moving and walking a certain distance daily, but will need assistance as falls are common, and the pain combined with the lack of other feeling means I’ll have an issue keeping my balance as well. So I’d need a hearty large breed animal that can handle that.

I would be looking for a fully trained SD, which will probably narrow what is available. I need to start focusing more on my health, and am not sure I could be successful in training a SD on my own. I’m not looking for anymore challenges than I already have, and putting the time and work into a dog that may or may not wash out would leave me constantly stressed and overly nit picky, if that makes any sense.

I’d honestly love a Rottweiler, they have the build I’m looking for, they have great temperaments if breed correctly, and are handler loyal like a GSD, but without the guarding. At least, that has been my experience with the breed, but these were dogs that my parents bred, so I haven’t really worked or seen them outside what was bred by my parents. I had one rescue rott, and he was amazing. He was abused as a pup, had his jaw broken with a baseball bat and never vetted, so his jaw healed badly. He couldn’t shut his mouth all the way, and his upper and lower jaw scissored. He was the biggest goofiest love bug ever, but was terrified of men. In public, he loved everyone and if he saw another dog when I first got him, he’d pull me to my knees and drag me trying to get to them as quickly as possible to play. He LOVED all animals, but a frothing rott dragging his owner towards another dog, and I’m sure you get the picture.

Shiloh Shepherds were an interest because they are larger than GSD’s with less of the health problems and natural aggression of the GSD. They would be able to handle my weight, and are close to a breed I already understand.

The only breeds that pop up here in the local shelter are BB/mixes, with an occasional BYB bred GSD, or Husky. None of which are going to have the temperament needed. I’ve fostered a ton of these personally, and haven’t had one with a solid temperament and nerves necessary for SD work. Floki does have amazing temperament, but is lacking in the physical drive category. He’s basically a couch potato with occasional spurts of energy, and would rather play tug with Seiran than with me. I don’t think he ever bonded with a human, just the other animals at the property. He loves his cuddles, but no matter how much I work him alone, he will not “play” with me for any regular amount of time. And tug? Ha, he just won’t. He will retrieve it, but as soon as I touched the tug, he releases it. Will not engage in it at all with me.

I know I can’t be overly picky in what I want vs what is available, but I have a year to start the hunt for the right breed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
923 Posts
My dislike of labs and Golden’s is pretty petty honestly. My first husband was an avid hunter and fisherman, and we always had 1-2 labs with a golden thrown in occasionally. They were well trained to follow my husbands commands while on a hunt or fishing, but inside they just annoyed me. Always wanting attention, hyper, in your face kind of energy. I grew to dislike the breeds immensely, to the point where I cringe and turn away from them when I see them in public. I’ve just never found one that didn’t annoy the crap out of me.

A monkey sounds interesting, and I would look into it in a second, except I’ll need a large animal that can take my weight. The nerve damage is what will land me in the chair. From what the surgeon is saying, I will have use of my legs, but will have painful feeling in my legs and feet. He said the best description he’s heard so far from a patient was that it felt like millions of red hot needles constantly stabbing you over and over again, turning the whole lower half of your body into a burning inferno. So to prevent atrophy of my legs, I will have to work on moving and walking a certain distance daily, but will need assistance as falls are common, and the pain combined with the lack of other feeling means I’ll have an issue keeping my balance as well. So I’d need a hearty large breed animal that can handle that.

I would be looking for a fully trained SD, which will probably narrow what is available. I need to start focusing more on my health, and am not sure I could be successful in training a SD on my own. I’m not looking for anymore challenges than I already have, and putting the time and work into a dog that may or may not wash out would leave me constantly stressed and overly nit picky, if that makes any sense.

I’d honestly love a Rottweiler, they have the build I’m looking for, they have great temperaments if breed correctly, and are handler loyal like a GSD, but without the guarding. At least, that has been my experience with the breed, but these were dogs that my parents bred, so I haven’t really worked or seen them outside what was bred by my parents. I had one rescue rott, and he was amazing. He was abused as a pup, had his jaw broken with a baseball bat and never vetted, so his jaw healed badly. He couldn’t shut his mouth all the way, and his upper and lower jaw scissored. He was the biggest goofiest love bug ever, but was terrified of men. In public, he loved everyone and if he saw another dog when I first got him, he’d pull me to my knees and drag me trying to get to them as quickly as possible to play. He LOVED all animals, but a frothing rott dragging his owner towards another dog, and I’m sure you get the picture.

Shiloh Shepherds were an interest because they are larger than GSD’s with less of the health problems and natural aggression of the GSD. They would be able to handle my weight, and are close to a breed I already understand.

The only breeds that pop up here in the local shelter are BB/mixes, with an occasional BYB bred GSD, or Husky. None of which are going to have the temperament needed. I’ve fostered a ton of these personally, and haven’t had one with a solid temperament and nerves necessary for SD work. Floki does have amazing temperament, but is lacking in the physical drive category. He’s basically a couch potato with occasional spurts of energy, and would rather play tug with Seiran than with me. I don’t think he ever bonded with a human, just the other animals at the property. He loves his cuddles, but no matter how much I work him alone, he will not “play” with me for any regular amount of time. And tug? Ha, he just won’t. He will retrieve it, but as soon as I touched the tug, he releases it. Will not engage in it at all with me.

I know I can’t be overly picky in what I want vs what is available, but I have a year to start the hunt for the right breed.
I would not recommend a Shiloh
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,393 Posts
I think you said you are looking for a fully trained dog. The only place to really get one is a reputable nonprofit org, where I don't think you will have much if any say in what breed you get.

It sounds like your husband's labs maybe were field labs? Did you read he recent thread comparing them with English?

You might find you like an English lab much better.

I have never heard anything good about mals in this job. But if drive is the only problem you really might be able to work on that.

As far as "bearing weight"...I've heard lots of people recommend never bracing on a dog anymore. It's pretty hard on them physically. It's my understanding that counter balance and forward pulling are safer ways for a dog to provide mobility assistance and downward bracing should really be done on a cane or walker whenever possible.

You should also look up the percentages of body weight for human vs mobility dog and see what your minimum size dog is because thst might rule out breeds depending on how tall you sre and how much you weigh. I *think* square dogs are better suited for it than longer dogs like shepherds.

A last consideration is working with a big dog is a whole other ballgame. My first SD was about 68# in her prime. My male shepherd maxed at 90# and he is about a mile long. I never flew with him and don't know how I would fit him on a plane. Maneuvering and placing a dog that big is a chore. My current one is a 70lb lab and he is the perfect size I feel. Small enough to squeeze into places but big enough to do some real work.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
421 Posts
I think you said you are looking for a fully trained dog. The only place to really get one is a reputable nonprofit org, where I don't think you will have much if any say in what breed you get.
That's a drawback, plus waiting lists run into years, plus a lot of these places are rude and intrusive and feel they can rub a disabled person's face in you-know-what because they are being so magnificently kind by considering granting the poor disabled person a service dog.

Most private sellers of so-called service dogs are scammers, especially the Doodle folks. Beware! But there are some exceptions. Mace's Malinois sells GSD and Mali service dogs and sometimes other breeds. I have no personal experience with his dogs, but based on videos of his dogs and my conversations with him, he really seems to know what he is doing. The drawback with buying a fully trained service dog is the cost. Expect to pay at least $10,000 for a fully trained real-deal service dog.

It sounds like your husband's labs maybe were field labs? Did you read he recent thread comparing them with English?

You might find you like an English lab much better.
Yup. English showline Labs are totally different--usually much calmer.

A last consideration is working with a big dog is a whole other ballgame. My first SD was about 68# in her prime. My male shepherd maxed at 90# and he is about a mile long. I never flew with him and don't know how I would fit him on a plane. Maneuvering and placing a dog that big is a chore. My current one is a 70lb lab and he is the perfect size I feel. Small enough to squeeze into places but big enough to do some real work.
Excellent point. The dog needs to be big enough to do the job but small enough to be reasonably portable.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,255 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
For the mobility assistance, it would be helping me stand from a sitting position, and if needed, bracing my weight on their side. Basically something I can lean into if I get dizzy or disoriented by the lack of feeling. It would never be used to bear my full weight, unless I fell and needed assistance getting off the floor, but even then, I would be assisting.

I’ll take the Shiloh off my list, don’t need a bag of nerves. I’m doing some research on places that will train a service dog, and assist in picking out the right puppy, and doing training with me as well. Not going to get that where I am. We do have a local lady that trains service dogs. I know her personally as I grew up with her children being close friends, but I can’t stand her. I’d be willing to suck it up and see if she can evaluate Floki and see if he would be likely to pass or wash. I know no one can give a guarantee on any animal, but I’d be more willing to work with Floki if he was evaluated first. Seiran, Floki, and Crios are all great at opening things for me. Cupboards, doors, the fridge. But that has just been playing for fun. Crios would be a hot mess as a SD, I don’t want to put any pressure on Seiran to be anything with what has happened to her already, and I still don’t know what/if any long term affects she will have physically. So it really narrows it down to Floki. Would I have to complete his registration for this? I have his and his parents papers, but never really cared enough to go through the registration process. His parents had excellent results on hips, but were put down due to aggression, but that may have had more to do with what they were trained for rather than natural temperament issues. Floki hasn’t displayed any type of aggressive behaviors. Something else to look into and keep me distracted while Seiran is healing away from home. Tons of research to see what I could do, or what I can’t do will be a big factor in that decision. I’d rather not add an additional dog if possible. My days of large packs are quickly dwindling, I don’t have the physical strength to keep up with the needs of a large pack anymore. I just don’t know if he would be great at picking things up and giving them to me, but I’m sure a SD trainer could help me work on that. He literally instantly drops anything once you touch it. So lots of things on the floor that I have to have Seiran get for me, or Crios, but Crios is just as likely to run out back and bury it than he is to hand it over. Stubborn mutt.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
421 Posts
He loves his cuddles, but no matter how much I work him alone, he will not “play” with me for any regular amount of time. And tug? Ha, he just won’t. He will retrieve it, but as soon as I touched the tug, he releases it. Will not engage in it at all with me.
But that's ideal! If your service dog fetches your cellphone, you don't want to play tug of war with him to get him to give it up. Generally, a service dog candidate should be low drive. The dog is motivated by biddability, enjoyment of simply being with you, and (eventually) a sense of duty--that this is his job and it's important.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
421 Posts
I’m doing some research on places that will train a service dog, and assist in picking out the right puppy, and doing training with me as well.
Do not get a puppy, no matter how promising he looks. I have never seen this work out. Puppies are a total crapshoot. Even if a puppy did work out, it's a 2-3 year wait before the puppy can work.

So it really narrows it down to Floki. Would I have to complete his registration for this?
Nope. He does not need papers of any kind to work as a service dog.

Based on your descriptions of Floki, if my girlfriend and I had gotten him instead of you, we already would have started training him as a service dog. It sounds like he has everything we look for in a potential service dog.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,255 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Yes, he had field labs. Shudder. Even the name makes me cringe. For an animal lover, as much as I love GSD’s is probably as much as I dislike field labs. Not sure I’ve ever run into an English lab. I tend to lump all labs and Golden’s into the “no thank you” category. I guess I have a strong aversion to certain breeds. But, if it comes down to needing a lab, I would be willing to work with it, I’m just afraid I would never be able to bond or love it, which seems cruel to me.

Doodle don’t! Those are even worse than a lab or golden for me. I think I may be breed prejudice. Lol

I am 5’2, so it will likely be easier than an adult male needing one. I’m losing weight now that I kicked my Red Bull habit, and have been more active since learning I may not always have the option to be active, so hopefully I’ll be down to my regular weight by the time I need assistance, which is between 98-105lbs. Depression, lack of activity, and bad eating and drinking habits put a lot of extra weight on me, which is as bad as extra weight on a GSD, so I’m actively working on that. I’ll post a pic of my normal body size and what I am now, maybe that will help with determining how large a breed I’ll need? First 3 are my normal body size, up until the accident. The last two are after. And yes, I got kicked out of the store for being in the cart ?
 

Attachments

1 - 20 of 48 Posts
Top