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can a service dog be any breed
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What is The Best Breed For a Service dog?

What a great question. The thing is, there can’t just be one breed that is the best for service dog work. What a generalization. This is because everyone’s disability is different.

Of course, there are some breeds that seem to be commonly used over and over for service dog work , and there are good reasons why these breeds, well, just work – no pun intended.

Check out our article on the best service dog breeds and how to choose one for yourself and your unique situation and circumstances if you’re currently thinking about this.

can any breed of dog be a service dog?
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Service Dog “Willow” & Friends @the_working_willow

Can Any Dog Become a Service Dog?

Americans with Disabilities Act – for public access rights

Well, yes, any breed of dog can become a service dog in the sense that there are no breed restrictions under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) for public access rights. When thinking about it from a dog personality perspective, some dogs do end up “washing” out of service dog work.

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PTSD Service Dog @vos_ptsd_servicedog

Dog personalities

Certain dogs are made to work, and others just aren’t. Not just any dog can successfully become a service dog. It takes a special kind of personality. This needs to be monitored if you are owner-training your own service dog or service dog prospect .

A service dog candidate (prospect) should: 

  • Be calm, especially in new or unfamiliar settings
  • Be alert, but not reactive to sounds, smells, other people, dogs, children, or other animals
  • Have a willingness to please – some dogs really are not interested in focusing like service dogs need to
  • Be able to learn and retain information – certain dogs may seem forgetful which can get frustrating when trying to do training
  • Be capable of being socialized to many different situations and environments – Imagine a service dog at a place like Disney Land; there are so many different smells, sounds, people, and other animals. Service dogs need to focus, even in extremely distracting environments
  • Be reliable in performing repetitive tasks – an inconsistent dog won’t work well

Under the ADA, a service animal is defined as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.  The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability . The ADA does not restrict the type of dog breeds that can be service animals.

ADA Frequently Asked Questions
service dog border collie
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Border Collie Service Dog @celestialbordercollies

Individual states

In other words, service dogs of any breed that are fully trained are entitled to public access rights with their handler. Depending on the state, individual states may also allow service dogs in training – of any breed – public access rights of some sort, as well.

It’s important to note that the ADA clearly states that any breeds may be used as service dogs. This is true even if a county, state, city, or area has banned a particular breed of dog, such as pit bulls.

Bully breeds are allowed to be service dogs under the ADA
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Municipalities that prohibit specific breeds of dogs must make an exception for a service animal of a prohibited breed, unless the dog poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. 

Under the “direct threat” provisions of the ADA, local jurisdictions need to determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether a particular service animal can be excluded based on that particular animal’s actual behavior or history, but they may not exclude a service animal because of fears or generalizations about how an animal or breed might behave. 

It is important to note that breed restrictions differ significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.  In fact, some jurisdictions have no breed restrictions.

ADA Frequently Asked Questions

Fair Housing Act – for housing situations

Service animals are known as “assistance animals” under the Fair Housing Act in the U.S. Assistance animals under this Act have a slightly different definition when compared to the federal Americans with Disabilities Act for public access rights. In fact, this definition is a lot more broad in comparison, and mentions nothing about breed restrictions.

An assistance animal is an animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or that provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified effects of a person’s disability. An assistance animal is not a pet.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Can a Mix Be a Service Dog?

Absolutely, mixed breeds can be service dogs. Of course.

According to Putnam Service Dogs:

Most of the Service Dogs Schools in the US breed their own dogs to enhance desirable traits and the health and longevity of the dogs. Even with careful, sophisticated breeding and genetics techniques used, there’s a graduation rate of only 30-40% of their dogs.

Meanwhile, there’s a huge overpopulation of dogs in the US, with 3.9 Million of them entering shelters each year. About 1.2 Million of them are euthanized each year. (statistics provided by ASPCA). Putnam Service Dogs will use shelter and rescue group dogs to help contribute to the solution of dog overpopulation in this country.

Putnam Service Dogs, New York

Can Bullies Be Service Dogs?

American Bullies make great pets. They certainly have the potential to become a successful service dog. The American Bully is a mixed breed dog. It’s bred from American Bulldogs and Pitbulls.

It might be better to start at a very young age – which is standard practice anyway when training a service dog – considering their lifespan isn’t as long compared to some other breeds. This breed will probably work better for non-physical tasking, but it certainly can be a successful service dog if all necessary conditions are met.

American Bullies aren’t the number one option for a service dog that most people think of and it’s because they tend to have long-term health issues and shorter life spans

Having said that, they could be considered as an emotional support animal. This is because they tend to have a sweet temperament and loyal personalities. And it doesn’t automatically mean that this breed can not become a successful service dog.

They tend to have the short, stocky build of the Pitbull. In addition to this, they come with the gentle and loving demeanor of bulldogs.

They tend to be:

  • Smart
  • High-energy
  • Family friendly
  • Gentle
  • Loyal
  • Very tolerant toward children
  • Eager to please
  • Knack for sensing negative emotions
  • Goofy
  • Playful
  • Affectionate

Tendency for nose issues

American Bullies tend towards brachycephalic noses. This refers to the squishy noses associated with bulldogs and pugs). Brachycephalic dogs wouldn’t be able to walk very long without getting winded. In addition, the shape of their nose and airway could possibly lead to other long-term health problems. 

Brachycephalic airway obstructive syndrome (BAOS) is a pathological condition affecting short nosed dogs and cats which can lead to severe respiratory distress. 


Consider lifespan

It’s possible that the American Bully’s physical health could become a problem. This breed tends to have shorter life spans when compared to other breeds. A shorter working career might be the reality when compared to other service dog breeds. This is important to consider, especially because training a service dog is no easy (or fast) task.

Ease of training

In addition to the potential health issues, American Bullies may take longer to train when compared to other dogs. When they are well trained, American Bullies can be sweet, loyal, and obedient.

However, they tend to have strong personalities. Additionally, they tend to have a certain kind of physical force that can potentially make the training process longer and/or harder. A service dog obviously needs to be friendly and nonaggressive, and willing to do the specific work or tasks that are required by their owners or handler.

Diesel, a one-year-old American Bully, uses more than just his sweet face and playful personality to help his mom manage her depression. By reading her body language, Diesel is able to recognize the signs of stress and anxiety, and will react accordingly. He may nudge her with his nose, block strangers from approaching, help her get her up if she’s lying down for too long, along with other things.

I Heart Dogs

Can Pitbulls Be Service dogs?

Pitbull Service Dog ADA
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Technically speaking, a Pitbull could absolutely become a successful service dog. However, these are not common service dog breeds and it’s simply because the more popular breeds (Labrador retriever, golden retriever, poodle, etc.) are overall more reliable and aren’t prone to being aggressive.

Pit Bull types (American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Pit mixes) are not recommended for service dog training for several reasons:

1). Terrier breeds can difficult to train for service work if the dog has the typical independent terrier temperament. Do not assume that the dog you choose will be the exception;

2). Pit types can be genetically dog aggressive, and this may not show in the dog’s temperament until it becomes an adult. If this develops after you have invested a year in training, you will not be able to use the dog in public; 

3). You are training a service dog to help make your life easier, not more difficult by facing municipal breed specific legislation, breed bans in rental housing, additional insurance costs, and public access challenges.

Training a service dog will require a commitment of time, energy, and money. All dogs are individuals, but do not assume that the individual dog you choose will be the exception to genetic breed characteristics, or that you can just “train it out of him.” Choosing a breed with the genetic temperament for service work will greatly affect your success. You must decide what is more important to you — having a service dog to help you, or having a particular breed because you like the way they look / had one as a child / want to be a breed advocate.

Handi Dogs, Inc.

Can a Husky Be a Service Dog?

Husky Service Dog ADA
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Kylie’s “Lucy on Duty” Service Dog @lucytheservicesibe

There is no reason why a Husky can’t be a successful service dog. Just like other breeds, there’s no guarantee that a particular dog will be naturally cut out for service dog work.

Huskies are known for:

  • Their talkative nature
  • They are not afraid to let a pet owner know when they are displeased
  • Stubborn breed – however, that stubbornness is not necessarily a bad trait, because they are very devoted to their job and take it seriously
  • Tend to be independent
  • Husky’s are great with children
  • They love attention
  • They love mental stimulation
  • Also love being entertained
  • Extremely intelligent and social breed
  • They have exercise and mental stimulation needs that must be met
  • Love running, and are known as somewhat of an escape artist
  • Get along well with other dogs (having been a pack breed)
  • Might not be good with cats, small animals, or livestock
  • They thrive in colder environments due to their thick coat
  • They shed and need to be brushed frequently
  • They might howl
  • Tend not to like apartments

Fortunately, the Siberian Husky is a relatively healthy breed. Responsible breeders screen their breeding stock for health problems such as juvenile cataracts, and the breed’s national parent club, the Siberian Husky Club of America, has strict guidelines to help reduce reported cases. 

American Kennel Club

It’s recommended to get:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
Siberian Husky service dog ADA
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Kylie’s “Lucy on Duty” Service Dog @lucytheservicesibe

Can a Pug Be a Service Dog?

Yes, there’s no reason why a pug can’t become a successful service dog.

pugs can be service dogs
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Pugs are known to be:

  • The ideal house dog
  • Happy in the city or country
  • Good with kids or older folks
  • Great alone or with other pets
  • They tend to enjoy their food, and care must be taken to keep them from gaining too much weight
  • They tend to do best in moderate climates
  • Low maintenance coat (that does shed)

The Pug has been bred to be a companion and a pleasure to his owners. He has an even and stable temperament, great charm, and an outgoing, loving disposition. Pugs live to please their people, so they are generally easy to train. Their feelings are easily hurt, and harsh training methods should never be used. A Pug wants to be with his family and will be unhappy if he is regularly left alone for long periods of time. Early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended.

AKC – American Kennel Club

Potential problems with pugs as a service dog

  • Eye problems including corneal ulcers
  • Dry eye
  • Pugs sometimes experience breathing problems
  • Sometimes don’t do well sunny, hot, or humid weather

Elliott has had two heart attacks and a couple of strokes. She’s also diabetic and has high blood pressure.

“He can sense when something is going on with me and he will start barking, barking like crazy,” she says of Remi, who’s been trained to be her service dog for about 3 years.

ABC 15 News

Can a French Bulldog Be a Service Dog?

Yes, of course, a french bulldog could absolutely become a successful service dog, given all the right conditions are met. Service dogs may be any size, type, or breed; even banned breeds. French Bulldogs tend to be easygoing, loyal and fun-loving. They thrive on human contact and are wonderful companions. They are patient with children and friendly with strangers.

can a french bulldog be a service dog?
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Can Rottweilers Be Service Dogs?

Yes, of course, a Rottweiler could absolutely become a successful service dog, given all the right conditions are met. Service dogs may be any size, type, or breed; even banned breeds. Rotties tend to be powerful, athletic, protective, loyal, alert, easily trained, loving, and confident.

ADA Rottweiler service dog
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Can a Yorkie Be a Service Dog?

Yes, of course, a Yorkie could absolutely become a successful service dog, given all the right conditions are met. Service dogs may be any size, type, or breed; even banned breeds. Yorkies are known for their confident appearance and they’re energetic, affectionate, intelligent, and enjoy snuggling endlessly with their human(s).

can a yorkie become a service dog?
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What Are The Best Breeds For Anxiety and Depression?

The following breeds seem to be some of the best service dog breeds for anxiety and depression.

  • Standard Poodles
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Great Pyrenees
  • Great Dane
  • Greyhound
  • American Pit Bull Terrier
  • Pugs
  • Yorkshire Terriers
  • Pomeranian
  • Bichon Frise
  • Pembroke Welsh Corgi
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Havanese
  • German Shepherd
  • Border Collies
  • Boxer

Can a Cat Be a Service Animal?

No, cats can’t be classified as a service animal under the Americans with Disabilities Act regulations for public access rights. However, someone with a disability may request that a cat be considered as a “reasonable accommodation” for an employment or a housing situation, where the definition of service animal is much more broadly defined (Fair Housing Act), if at all (employment Title of the ADA).

Under Title II and III of the ADA, only dogs are considered service animals.  (There is a separate provision allowing for miniature horses subject to certain limitations.) Other animals, either wild or domestic, are not service animals. However, under Title I, in the workplace, there is no such definition and technically no limit to what type of animal can be a reasonable accommodation.  This means that accommodating an emotional support animal may be an appropriate reasonable accommodation.

Americans with Disabilities Act – “Taking a Service Animal to Work”
Is a cat a service animal under ADA?
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Sam is an experienced writer, advocate for people with disabilities and mental health, dog lover, artist, philosopher, and generally complicated human being.

Can a Service Dog Be Any Breed?

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