Fact checked

Golden Retriever Service Dog - Everything You Need To Know

If you have a disability, you may be eligible for a golden retriever service dog. Find out the benefits of golden retrievers as service dogs and how to obtain one.
Expert reviewed by:  
Written by:
Susana Bradford
Published on:  
September 7, 2022
Updated on:  
September 7, 2022

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.

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? - Aletter from a health professional is necessary to qualify for a Golden Retriever service dog.
  • 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 dog receives specific training to work for people with disabilities. Disabilities are impairments that limit major life activities. Service dogs undergo training to learn how to assist people. For instance, guide dogs can help those with visual impairments navigate, while medical alert dogs signal the onset of medical issues like low blood sugar or seizures.

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 top choices. Golden retrievers make good service dogs because they have the necessary qualities to excel at service dog 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.

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 five examples of service dog tasks.


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.

How To Get a Golden Retriever Service Dog

You need to take several steps to begin your journey with your service dog.

Complete Our Assessment

Your first step includes finishing an assessment. The assessment allows us to determine what type of service dog you need. Once you complete the evaluation, you select whether you need a housing letter, travel letter, or combination.

Consult With a Therapist

We have clinicians to work with you. Before we begin, you have to sign the consent and privacy forms. We will match you with a mental health professional and send you a link to book a live consultation. Once you meet with a mental health professional, they can determine your eligibility.

Get a Psychiatric Service Letter

For emotional support animals and psychiatric service animals, you need a mental health professional to write you a letter to recognize the animal legally. For ESAs, you may be able to obtain a letter within 24 hours of your consultation unless you are a California resident.

If you are not satisfied or the letter does not work for you, we will offer you a 100% refund.

Golden Retriever Service Dog

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

You have a right to train your dog, and all dog training begins with the basics. The foundational skills include housebreaking and socialization. However, once your dog masters the basics, you may want to consider a professional trainer to help with more specific tasks.

Where Can I Adopt a Golden Retriever Service Dog?

You can look for specific organizations for breeding or training service dogs to adopt a service dog. Most of the time, you can find them through a Google search. Be careful, however, to look at reviews and testimonials. Only pick organizations with credibility.

What Disabilities Qualify for a Golden Retriever Service Dog?

Golden retrievers can help with various disabilities. If you have a disability that could benefit from the help of a service dog, the odds are it qualifies. Some common disabilities include:

  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Epilepsy
  • Sight-impairments
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Eating disorders

If you have a disability recognized by the ADA, you are eligible for a service dog.

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

It is easy to confuse emotional support dogs with psychiatric service dogs. Emotional support animals are pets that provide emotional support to their owners. They do not require special training but can live anywhere, regardless of pet policies. While you do need a prescription for an ESA, you cannot bring the ESA into all public spaces. Learn how to make your dog an emotional support dog.

What is a psychiatric service animal? A psychiatric service dog helps a person function and perform daily tasks. They have specialized training to assist people with mental illnesses like PTSD, anxiety, depression and schizophrenia. To find out if you qualify, try our psychiatric service animal quiz.

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?

Some service dog organizations provide dogs free of cost. However, most golden retrievers cost between $1,000 and $3,000 for a puppy if you have to pay. It will cost between $200 to $500 to rescue a golden retriever. Thoroughly trained service dogs, on the other hand, may cost tens of thousands of dollars.

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.