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What do the vest colors mean for service dogs?

Updated April 17, 2017

A dog can enrich your life in a variety of ways, including emotional and physical benefits. For some, however, a dog is more than a pet. These individuals rely on their dogs to help them lead satisfying, productive lives.

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What is a Service Dog?

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) a service dog is one that has been specially trained to assist a disabled person. Other kinds of animals can qualify, but dogs are the most common.

Types of Service Dogs

There are three major classifications of service dogs. Guide dogs assist the visually impaired. Hearing dogs help the deaf by alerting them to specific sounds. Service dogs perform other kinds of work such, as mobility assistance or working with the mentally impaired.

Vest Colors

Orange vests typically indicate a guide or hearing dog. Red or blue vests are often worn by therapy dogs. Green vests usually indicate other kinds of working dogs.

Federal Law

As of 2009, there is no federal law that associates vest colour with a given service role. Specific colours are matters of common practice and owner preference.


Wearing a vest does not mean a dog is qualified to be a service animal. Using a vest to pass off a dog as a trained service animal is a crime.

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About the Author

Christopher Williams has owned and operated his own small business since 2002, and has a wide range of professional experience in retail, sales and insurance industries. He's been writing professionally since 2004.

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