Animal Therapy Dog

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My first instinct would be to pick a small-ish dog. Many people, even those you intend to help, may be intimidated by a giant dog, no matter how well mannered. Try for 50lbs or less or get a well-known breed (aka golden, lab, collie, etc).

And from a trainer standpoint (I've been training for several years and will be taking my national certification test soon), this statement could get you in a lot of hot water (with other trainers, particularly), so I would seriously recommend doing some major amounts of research into protection dogs before even thinking about picking a dog for that reason. It is NOT something to mess around with, especially if you are new to training AND if you expect the same dog to be a therapy dog. It's not impossible, but it's downright dangerous in the wrong/inexperienced hands.

...and would like one that is capable of "protection", since I will probably be alone most of my college career.
Since I've had a sudden change in career interest due to the high possiblity of me having an autoimmune illness such as Multiple Sclerosis and being unable to pull the long hours of a vet, I've decided to make my own profession from a moosh of careers. I'd like to do animal therapy, rehabilitate animals from abuse situations/fighting/etc, behavioral studies, and public speaking against animal cruely.

Anyway, does anyone have any advice on a dog breed that think would be a good therapy dog? I know that all dogs have individual personalities, but I should probably start with a breed that is relatively easy, as I have never personally trained a dog other than running around the backyard with Knnick whooping in my undies when I was wee. I adore large to gigantic dogs, and would like one that is capable of "protection", since I will probably be alone most of my college career.

All in all, just suggestions for a good dog breed for a beginner dog trainer who wants to help both people and animals in her lifetime. :) Thank you!

Most therapy dogs are either Labrador retrievers or Golden retrievers. They can be very social and people pleasing. They are gentle, patient and smart by nature.