Top 10 Crisis Response Dog Breeds

Mary Simpson
by Mary Simpson

So, what exactly is a Crisis Response Dog? Let’s start with what it isn’t. It’s not a Therapy Dog, it isn’t a Service Dog, nor is it an Emotional Support Animal (ESA).

They are in fact, a dog that can move into a crisis situation and help to bring comfort to individual or group disaster victims. From natural occurrences such as hurricanes, flooding, and tornadoes to fires, explosions, and even shootings. A good Crisis Response Dog can calm the chaos and allow emergency services to do their job. That’s probably why, if you google the term Crisis Response Dog, you’ll often see it used in the same context as a Comfort Dog.

And though you may immediately associate this type of four-legged hero with those larger, military breeds, the truth is, almost any dog can do this work. They don’t need a pedigree and they can be any size, shape, or age. What they do need to be is:

-      Comfortable in crowded situations

-      Able to stay calm under stress

-      Unafraid of strangers

-      Outgoing and people-loving

-      Well-trained and socialized

-      A quick study that can respond to commands

Are you still sure your pooch has what it takes to help out in an emergency? There are a few steps both you and your buddy will first need to take - including training and certification in psychological first aid concepts as well as an intro to the FEA Incident Command System (that part is for you). And if you’re thinking your dog may be better suited to this type of work than you are, he can still be partnered with a handler who will pick him up and take him into the field each time a crisis response team is needed.

Naturally, there are several breeds one assumes would be the ideal go-to because of their size, agility, and trainability. But as we all know each dog has his own unique quirks and traits and those can ultimately be more important than his purebred status. That said, there are certain predictabilities in some breeds that make them fairly reliable candidates for crisis response work. And to help zero in on just who they are, we’ve gone to the guru of all things dog, the American Kennel Association, to check out their personality/trait ratings for each breed.

So, let’s see why the 10 breeds that follow, are top candidates for keeping their cool and bringing the love, in a crisis situation.


Labrador Retriever

Gentle, friendly, and calm under pressure, the Labrador Retriever is given top marks for his openness to strangers, trainability, and ability to adapt to changing situations. He’s also great with kids and other dogs, which gives this sweet boy a gold star in our books.


German Shepherd Dog

Another top breed when it comes to trainability, the German Shepherd Dog has that high energy level and stamina you want in a dog that may have to put in long hours. He also scores top marks for his adaptable nature and for being oh-so-great with kids.


Golden Retriever

Things are looking up when a “Golden” strolls your way. And this gentle boy is not only wonderful with children, other dogs and strangers but he’s also highly trainable. That means he’s both emotionally in touch with those in crisis as well as obedient and responsive as needed.

Ammit Jack/Shutterstock

Jack Russell Terrier

Surprised? Who doesn’t appreciate the relief a playful pooch can bring when disaster strikes? This super-friendly terrier loves dogs, kids, new faces… you name it. And while he may be a handful when it comes to training, his high energy will keep him happily on the job for hours.

Aneta Jungerova/Shutterstock

Border Collie

The eager-to-please Border Collie is a natural for stepping into a room full of strangers and sharing the love. Super-smart, easy to train and highly responsive, this uber-active working breed always needs a job to do. And Crisis Response may just be his calling.


Bernese Mountain Dog

Sometimes you just want to hug a big dog and this gentle boy is a ready and willing candidate. Calm, well-behaved and great with kids, other dogs, and strangers, he’s not overly energetic – which makes him happy to just sit alongside those in need, offering quiet support.

Kate Grishakova/Shutterstock


These winsome-looking pooches are described as gentle, noble, and sweet-tempered companions. They also have a mind of their own and that means they like to do their own thing. And if they want to curl up beside someone in crisis, they’re going to do just that.

Mary Swift/Shutterstock

French Bulldog

Hello stranger, want to play? Yes, the fun-loving Frenchie is great with kids, cool with new faces and super adaptable – so he can move from one situation to the next, without stressing. And because he’s not in constant need of entertainment, he’s the perfect companion to help crisis survivors decompress.

Przemek Iciak/Shutterstock


When kids are involved, bring in the Beagle. Seriously, this sweet-natured, highly sociable hound is a natural for stepping in to soothe a frazzled little one. And because he has such a strong pack mentality, he’s always up for working a crowd. Especially when it includes head pats and cuddles.


Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

This highly affectionate pooch adores kids, is chill around other dogs, and is always happy to meet a new face. And with his eager-to-please personality, he’s quick to put his training to work by flashing those big brown eyes and snuggling into a nearby lap to bring comfort to someone in need.

Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

Sharing space with three seriously judgy Schnoodles and a feline who prefers to be left alone. #LivingMyBestLife

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