Labradors as assistance and support dogs is a common site on TV news screens with every disaster somewhere in the world.

Retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds in the world, and for good reason.

They are known for their friendly and outgoing personality, intelligence, and their trainability, making them ideal for assistance and support work.

Labradors as assistance and support dogs
Labradors make excellent search dogs

Labrador Retrievers as Assistance Dogs

Characteristics of Labrador Retrievers

  • Friendly and outgoing personality
  • Highly intelligent and trainable
  • Loyal and obedient
  • Eager to please
  • High energy levels
  • Gentle and forgiving nature
  • One of the most intelligent dog breeds
  • Often used as therapy dogs, search and rescue dogs, and guide dogs

Training and Certification

Labrador Retrievers must be trained to be assistance dogs.

The training process typically takes several months and includes basic obedience training, as well as specialized training for the specific type of assistance work the dog will be doing.

Once the dog has completed the training, it will be certified by a reputable organization.

Types of Assistance Work

Labrador Retrievers can be trained to perform a variety of assistance tasks, including:

  • Guiding the blind or visually impaired
  • Alerting the deaf or hard of hearing to sounds
  • Providing physical assistance to people with disabilities
  • Providing emotional support to people with mental health conditions
  • Working in search and rescue operations

Benefits of Labrador Retrievers as Assistance Dogs

Labrador offer many benefits as assistance dogs, including:

  • Increased independence and mobility for people with disabilities
  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Increased social interaction
  • Enhanced quality of life

Challenges of Working with Labradors

While Labrador Retrievers make great assistance dogs, there are some challenges to working with them, including:

  • The cost of training and certification
  • The time commitment required for training and care
  • The need for public access and etiquette training
  • The potential for behavioral problems

The Future of Labrador Retrievers as Assistance Dogs

The future of Labrador Retrievers as assistance dogs looks bright.

As the demand for these dogs continues to grow, so too will the availability of training programs and resources.

Advances in technology and training methods are making it possible for Labrador Retrievers to take on even more complex tasks.

Facts about Labrador Retrievers

Examples of Labrador Retrievers in assistance work

  • Endal, a Labrador Retriever who served as a therapy dog for his owner, Allen Parton, a former Royal Navy Chief Petty Officer. Endal was trained to perform a variety of tasks to help Parton, including opening doors, picking up dropped items, and turning on lights. Endal was also trained to alert Parton to potential dangers, such as oncoming traffic.
  • Bretagne, a Golden Retriever who was one of the search and rescue dogs who helped search for survivors in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Bretagne worked tirelessly for 10 days, searching through the rubble of the World Trade Center. She helped to find several survivors and was later awarded the American Kennel Club’s Canine Heroism Award.


CharacteristicLabrador RetrieverGolden RetrieverGerman Shepherd
TemperamentFriendly and outgoingFriendly and outgoingConfident and protective
Energy levelHighHighMedium
Lifespan10-12 years10-12 years9-13 years

Organizations in the USA that promote service dogs

Service dogs Alabama

Paws with a Cause

Canine Companions