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Golden Retriever Service Dog - Everything You Need to Know

Golden Retrievers are renowned for their friendly temperament, intelligence, and versatility, making them excellent candidates for various service roles. Their gentle nature makes them well-suited for emotional support or therapy work, while their intelligence and trainability make them ideal for tasks such as guiding individuals with visual impairments, assisting those with mobility challenges, and providing comfort in therapeutic settings.

Susana Bradford
February 20, 2024
April 17, 2023
16 minutes read
Updated By
Expert Reviewed By:
April 17, 2023
August 18, 2021
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Discover if Golden Retrievers are the ideal breed for your service dog. Explore our comprehensive guide to getting your own service dog and make an informed decision.

If you live with a disability, a golden retriever service dog may help you obtain more independence while increasing your happiness and overall satisfaction with life. When it comes to service dogs, golden retrievers are one of the most common choices.

Golden Retriever Service Dogs

Golden Retrievers are often trained as service dogs to assist individuals with disabilities such as autism, hearing loss, or mobility issues. These intelligent dogs are also popular as therapy dogs due to their friendly and patient nature, making them great companions for those in need of emotional support.

Bottom Line

  • What are service dogs? - Service dogs offer support and help to their owners with disabilities.
  • Why Golden Retrievers as service dogs? - A Golden Retriever is one of the top choices for service animals. They are friendly, loving, and excel at training.
  • How to get a Golden Retriever as a service dog? - The first step is to consult a licensed mental health professional to ensure you qualify. Then you will need to train the Golden Retriever as a service dog, which you can do at home by taking our online PSD training program.
  • What's the difference between a service dog vs. ESA? - Emotional support animals offer support with their presence, but service animals receive special training to perform important tasks.

What Are Service Dogs?

A service animal is any canine that has been specially taught to carry out duties for the benefit of a person with a disability, including one that is physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or mental. This definition is taken from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In order to display their abilities to others, service dogs must wear vests. 

An assistance dog increases the level of independence a disabled person can have, and no other species, regardless of whether they are domestic or wild, trained or untrained, are regarded as service animals.

An individual's handicap must directly relate to the task(s) that the service animal is performing. Among others, the following are some examples of such tasks:

  • Assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks
  • Alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds
  • Providing non-violent protection or rescue work
  • Pulling a wheelchair
  • Assisting an individual during a seizure
  • Alerting individuals to the presence of allergens
  • Retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone
  • Providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities
  • Helping individuals with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors.

Types of Service Dogs

Service dogs come in various types, each of which is trained to assist people with certain needs. Here are a few of the popular categories of outstanding service dogs.

Service Dogs

Guide dogs aid those who are blind or visually handicapped in navigating their surroundings. Deaf and hard-of-hearing people can be alerted to critical noises by hearing dogs. People who need wheelchairs or walking aids or have balance problems might benefit from the assistance of mobility dogs. Medical alert dogs perform a variety of tasks, including warning the user of allergies, detecting the start of medical issues like a seizure or low blood sugar, and many others.

Psychiatric Service Dogs

Assisting people with disorders including schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder is the work of psychiatric service dogs.

Psychiatric service dogs may be used for tasks including halting repetitive behaviors, reiterating the need to take medicine, or entering a dark area and putting on a light to lessen stressful situations.

Pettable offers a no-cost consultation with a qualified mental health expert to certify your dog as an official psychiatric service dog, enabling you to get a PSD letter of certification for your dog right away. You can read more about PSDs here.

Golden Retriever History

Golden retrievers originated from the Scottish Highlands, where they were used primarily as hunting dogs. The Scottish estate owners needed a dog to retrieve birds in water or on land because their hunting grounds had many ponds and marshes. As guns were improved, retrievers were required to be able to bring back birds from farther distances.

To develop the ideal retriever, the Baron of Tweedmouth, Dudley Marjoribanks, crossed a Tweed water spaniel with a yellow-colored retriever. The four pups were then used in further breeding with lines including the Irish setter, bloodhound, St. John's water dog, and black retrievers. He kept detailed records throughout the later years of the 19th century, showcasing the goal of developing a dog with a soft mouth for retrieving the game that was also strong and active. The breed gained popularity in England and was recognized by The Kennel Club of England in 1911.

During the early 20th century, golden retrievers were introduced to North America as both hunting dogs and a companion. The American Kennel Club officially recognized the golden retriever in 1925. When the AKC debuted the AKC Obedience Champion title in 1977, the first three dogs to earn the designation were golden retrievers. Presidential golden retrievers include those owned by Gerald R. Ford and Ronald Reagan.

Why Golden Retrievers Make Great Service Dogs

When choosing a service animal, there are a lot of breeds to choose from, but among them, the golden retriever remains one of the most common service dog breeds. Golden retrievers make good service dogs because they have the necessary qualities to excel at training.

Friendly Disposition

Golden retrievers are known for their friendly disposition. Your dog may have to accompany you in public spaces, such as grocery stores, public transportation, entertainment events, etc. Unfriendly dogs may be wary or reactive to strangers. A golden retriever is a loving dog, eager to please its owner and happy to meet new people.

People may attempt to approach your service dog or touch him. In these situations, your dog cannot be quick to react negatively. While you can instruct people to steer clear of your dog, you cannot guarantee that no one will touch him. For this reason, you cannot have a dog that acts aggressively or anxiously towards strangers.

Loyal Personality

Some of the best therapy dogs and service dogs are the ones that do not leave their owner's side. Even pet golden retrievers tend to follow their human around. Many people use the term velcro dog when referring to goldens because they want to be close to you at all times. When a dog trusts you, he follows you everywhere. They may be service animals that help you, but they also look to you for approval.

Trainable Temperament

Goldens are a trainable breed. Historically golden retrievers were hunting dogs, so it is natural for them to work alongside humans. Dogs bred for work tend to be more obedient than other breeds. They are trainable because they are one of the most intelligent breeds. However, this does not always mean that it's easy to train your service dog without a professional's help. Professionally trained service dogs are more likely to pass their tests. Golden retrievers are people-pleasers and food motivated. These two qualities make them eager to learn.

Medium-Sized Frame

When it comes to the size of your dog, there may be various factors behind your choice. Extra-large dogs may take up too much space in your home or require too much food for your household. A medium-sized dog like a golden retriever, on the other hand, has enough strength to support you with his body, open doors, and push buttons. A golden usually performs well when you need a service dog to perform height and strength actions. Golden retrievers stand from 20 to 24 inches tall and weigh between 55 and 71 pounds.

Active Energy Level

Golden retrievers have a lot of energy and require activity and plenty of exercise. They thrive the most when they are in a home with someone for most of the day. They may become lonely, frustrated or feel pent up when left alone for long hours. As a service dog, your golden would be at your side most of the time. Working provides the dog with the stimulation he needs. Additionally, he has the energy level to perform tasks as required.

Drive to Work

Golden retrievers are known to have a high drive to work on any task they are given to please their owner. Golden retrievers are extremely intelligent, aware, reliable, obedient, and have a strong work ethic. They are obedient dogs which make them popular service dogs. They find great purpose in retrieving items in exchange for a good old pet or pat on the head. 


Golden retrievers are very intelligent dogs. This makes them excellent service dogs, as they can quickly learn any task given to them by their owner and are smart enough to detect when their owner's blood sugar is low or if a panic attack is coming. They can learn more than a hundred words and their intelligence is comparable to that of a toddler.

Golden Retriever Service Dog

What Tasks Can a Golden Retriever Perform?

Your dog has to be able to perform tasks that help you function in your daily life to qualify as a service animal. The following are a few examples of service dog tasks performed by golden retrievers, one of the most common service dog breeds.


Guide dogs help those who have visual impairments. Guide dogs help determine whether there are obstacles or unsafe conditions in a person's path. Keep in mind that a golden retriever service dog is not a GPS. The dog cannot read traffic lights, but it can see the vehicles crossing. Often, the owner has to listen for signals. The person can then command the dog to cross the street, and the dog decides how safe it is to move forward.


If you have mobility problems, teach your service dog to retrieve your items. For example, dogs can bring you your medication. They can also help you with daily chores. If you need to carry an object to the garbage, your dog can help.


Therapy dogs are companions to their owners. For people with mental illness, a dog's presence can be comforting. A trainer can teach a therapy dog to comfort others. For example, if a person has a panic attack, the dog can use his body weight to ground the person.


Canines have a strong sense of smell and the ability to detect various medical conditions. For example, service dogs can alert to low blood sugar for diabetics, heart abnormalities, and seizures. Your service animal can learn to nudge, paw at, bark or jump to alert you of a medical emergency.


Blocking is a standard command for a therapy dog. If a person begins to feel uncomfortable in a crowd or around people, the dog can put himself between his human and any stranger.

Medication Reminders

Since golden retrievers are easy to train, they can be trained to remind their owners to take their medication every day, every four hours, or at any interval a person needs to take their medicine but may be forgetful or lose track of time due to their disability.

Physical Support

Golden retrievers can offer physical support to those with disabilities. This can include pushing a wheelchair, leading a person to a bathroom or bed, fetching an item that fell or is out of reach for a person, or any other duties that may assist a person living with a disability.

How To Get a Golden Retriever Service Dog

To qualify for a psychiatric service dog, you must first receive a diagnosis from a mental health professional who can certify that the presence of a PSD can serve your condition. Pettable has a simple process to schedule a consultation with a licensed professional. Though not required, you may opt to get a PSD letter from the therapist to certify your need for a psychiatric service dog. Then, you will need to ensure that your service dog is correctly trained. There is no requirement that a professional trainer be involved in the process and self-training is perfectly acceptable. If you wish to train your own psychiatric service dog then Pettable’s online PSD training program may be a good option for you.

Complete Our Assessment

To help us analyze your circumstances and your needs for a psychiatric service dog, you must first complete our brief assessment. You will then state the PSD option you require, such as lodging, transport or a mix of both.

Consult With a Therapist

After completing the assessment, you'll be matched with a licensed mental health professional and provided a link to schedule a live consultation with them after completing our privacy and permission papers to allow our doctors to work with you. To find out if you are eligible for a psychiatric service dog, you will visit a mental health professional for an examination.

Train Your Dog

You will need to train your Golden Retriever to perform tasks that assist you with your disability. You can pay a professional trainer to do this or you can opt to train the dog yourself. If you want to self-train a psychiatric service dog you may benefit from our online PSD training program. The program is delivered through video lessons and can be completed on any timeline.

If you are not satisfied with the training program within 7 days of purchase we will completely refund your money.

Golden Retriever Service Dog

Can I Train My Own Golden Retriever To Be a Service Dog?

A Golden Retriever may be taught to serve as a service dog, you can opt to hire a professional trainer or train the dog yourself. Having patience with your dog if you plan to train your service dog independently is crucial because the process might take a while. Training a service animal can be a laborious but extremely worthwhile process if you're sincere about your devotion to it. If you wish to self-train your Golden Retriever as a service dog, you may benefit from taking Pettable’s online PSD training program.

It's important to keep in mind that training is necessary for service animals before they can be considered a PSD, whether it's done independently or a qualified expert.

Where Can I Adopt a Golden Retriever Service Dog?

Golden retrievers can be adopted at neighborhood shelters or breeders, just like any other service dog or ESA. Regardless of where the dog originated from or even whether it is an existing pet, any dog can be certified as a service animal. This option will require owners to train their dogs, satisfy certification requirements, and establish a bond with them.

The adoption of service animals who have already received training and need a new owner is nonetheless possible through various services.

What Disabilities Qualify for a Golden Retriever Service Dog?

A certified mental health expert must be consulted in order to determine your eligibility for a Golden Retriever service dog. But there are several mental and emotional conditions that frequently make someone eligible for a service dog, such as:

  • Depression and Depressive Disorders
  • Anxiety Disorders & Phobias
  • Bipolar Disorders
  • Schizophrenia and Psychotic Disorders
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Addiction, Substance Abuse, and Alcoholism
  • PTSD, Trauma & Stress-Related Disorders
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders
  • Dissociative and Personality Disorders
  • Autism
  • Neurocognitive and Sleep-Wave Disorders 

Some physical disabilities include:

  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Sensory Disabilities (Blind, Deaf, etc.)
  • ALS
  • Cancer
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic Pain
  • Stroke
  • Paralysis
  • Vertigo
  • And more

What's the Difference Between Psychiatric Service Dogs vs. Emotional Support Dogs?

Psychiatric service dogs differ significantly from emotional support dogs. It's crucial to bear in mind the following significant distinctions between ESAs and psychiatric service dogs:


Any animal is eligible to serve as an ESA. Only dogs and miniature horses are allowed to be service animals, according to federal legislation.


A dog that provides emotional support might help just by being there. A service animal is one that has been properly trained to carry out activities for a person who is disabled.


A letter from a licensed mental health practitioner outlining the therapeutic usefulness of the animal is all that is required to obtain an emotional support animal; no training is required. Personalized training is required for service animals.

Legal Protections

Although emotional support animals are not covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act, service animals are. The Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act only apply to emotional support animals when a valid ESA letter document is present.

Public Access

The owner can take their service animal wherever. While owners of emotional support animals may get away with taking them into areas where pets aren't permitted, the only locations that are legally compelled to accept them are housing units.

Frequently Asked Questions About Golden Retriever Service Dogs

Before you start your search for a service dog, here are some of the most common questions people have about golden retrievers.

How Much Does a Golden Retriever Service Dog Cost?

Most golden retrievers cost between $1,000 and $3,000 for a puppy from a breeder, while rescuing may cost $200 to $500. Thoroughly trained service dogs, on the other hand, may cost tens of thousands of dollars. In-person training may also prove costly, typically averaging around $250 per hour. 

Due to these costs, many opt for at-home training for their psychiatric service dog. This is a far more affordable option, especially if using an online PSD training program for guidance. Pettable offers online psychiatric service dog training through a 15-module video series curated and led by certified PSD trainer Lisa Gallegos. This program provides both task and obedience training to ensure your golden retriever is prepared to support your mental health in real-life situations, and starts at $199.

How To Catch a Fake Golden Retriever Service Dog

It is relatively easy to spot a fake service dog in public. A phony service dog may pull on the leash, sniff everything, steal food, bark, and whine. Most service dogs do not make noise unless alerting their owner.

Can You Get a Golden Retriever Service Dog for Anxiety?

During service dog training, dogs learn to anticipate anxiety attacks. In addition, they may be able to block strangers and fetch medication. Many people with anxiety tend to feel a sense of calm around animals.

Can Any Dog Be a Service Dog?

Many dog breeds can receive service dog training. However, all dogs have to undergo training to ensure that they have the proper temperament. Dogs that tend to be afraid of strangers and reactive do not make good service dogs. Some dogs may also be easily distracted or less motivated to learn new tasks.

Do Golden Retriever Service Dogs Have To Be on a Leash?

While assistance dogs have enough training to stay at their owner's side regardless, they should still be on a leash in public. The leash is not just to keep them close but to protect them.

Does Insurance Cover Golden Retriever Service Dogs?

Health insurance does not cover the costs of therapy dogs, service dogs or emotional support animals. However, this does not mean that you cannot obtain a service dog. If you have a flexible spending account attached to your insurance policy, you may be able to receive help with funding your animal. All you need is a letter of medical necessity.

How To Get a Psychiatric Service Dog

To obtain a golden retriever service dog for psychiatric conditions, you need to have a mental health condition that impacts your daily life and function. You must have a diagnosis and an official letter from a mental health professional explaining how debilitating your condition is.

How Long Does It Take to Train Golden Retriever Service Dogs?

When it comes to training any dog, including golden retrievers, it can take anywhere from 18 to 24 months to train them thoroughly. You can begin training as early as 12 weeks, but how long it takes to train a dog entirely depends on the particular animal.

Are Golden Retriever Service Dogs Allowed Everywhere?

You can bring your service dog to any public space. For example, your dog can accompany you to the grocery store, restaurants, public restrooms, and other public accommodations.

How To Get a Golden Retriever Service Dog for PTSD

Among the standard service dog breeds, golden retrievers are among the top choices for patients with post-traumatic stress disorder. To qualify for a PTSD service animal, you need to have a formal diagnosis. If your PTSD makes it difficult to function or a dissociative episode could put you in danger, you may qualify for a service dog for PTSD.

If you live with a recognized disability under the ADA, you may qualify for a golden retriever service dog. Service dogs allow you to reclaim your life and your independence. They can be trained to perform various tasks to help keep you safe and healthy.

Meet the author:
Susana Bradford

Susana is an avid animal lover and has been around animals her entire life, and has volunteered at several different animal shelters in Southern California. She has a loving family at home that consists of her husband, son, two dogs, and one cat. She enjoys trying new Italian recipes, playing piano, making pottery, and outdoor hiking with her family and dogs in her spare time.

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