When you think of a service dog, you more than likely picture a German Shepherd, a Golden Retriever, or a Labrador. These are the most common service dog breeds. These dogs are smart, train easily, and possess the proper temperament.
But other breeds are often perfectly capable of performing the tasks required of a service dog. Yorkies are not a breed you normally associate with service dogs. But can a Yorkie be a service dog?
A Yorkie can be a service dog if they are able to pass their training. They have many of the qualities required to be a successful service dog, and there have been many Yorkie service dogs.
Though Yorkies may not seem like the greatest fit due to their small stature, they definitely shouldn’t be counted out for the role. Let’s look at what makes a good service dog and how Yorkies fit those requirements.
What Is A Service Dog?
Service dogs are specially trained to help make life easier for an individual or a group of people living with a disability. Like police dogs, they are a type of working dog, but their focus is on assisting individuals with everyday life tasks.
Service dogs play a prominent role in the day-to-day activities of their handlers and can be an invaluable asset to those with disabilities.
What To Look For In A Potential Service Dog
Some of the most common types of service dogs include guide dogs for the blind, mobility assistance dogs, seizure response dogs, diabetes assistance, and hearing dogs for the hearing impaired.
Many dogs are also trained to help alleviate the impact of psychiatric issues, including PTSD.
Regardless of the breed, there are several key characteristics a good service dog should possess. These include;
- Being the appropriate size. Dogs must be large enough to perform the tasks required.
- Having the correct amount of strength and stamina to perform appointed duties.
- Having a good temperament. The canine must be physically active as well as calm.
- They must always be well-behaved when in public. They must be calm, obedient, and ready to problem-solve at a moment’s notice.
Yorkie Fast Facts
- Weight: 4 to 6 pounds
- Height: Up to 9 inches at the shoulder
- Lifespan: 12 to 15 years
General Traits Of The Yorkie
Yorkies are small dogs with lots of love to give. They are curious, sensitive, and highly intuitive creatures that can easily pick up on the feelings of others. Yorkies can also adapt quickly to their surroundings.
Due to their size, a Yorkie may be better for helping with mundane tasks around your home. Such a task might be retrieving the television remote and bringing it to you.
Others may involve the dog retrieving clean clothes from the dryer, and alerting you to sounds like the ringing of a telephone, a doorbell, or a crying baby. But it all depends on the specific needs and requirements of the individual, of course.
The Yorkie breed is also especially valuable as medical alert service animals. They have the right temperament to undergo training to detect medical emergencies including epileptic seizures, changes in the glucose level of a diabetic, and even allergy detection.
Another area where a Yorkie can be used as a service dog is lap duty. This gives caregivers the chance to physically embrace their canine companions rather than just having the dog’s head resting on their laps, which helps to create feelings of calmness.
They are also a great choice for a psychiatric service dog. They are small and portable, meaning that they can accompany their caregivers almost anywhere they are needed.
According to the Psychiatric Service Dog Society, this is a critical component in the management of mental health symptoms. If one suffers from anxiety or PTSD and is assigned a service dog, the animal can detect and alert their handler to oncoming symptoms so they can put themselves in a safer position.
Why Small Dogs Make Great Service Dogs
In addition to size, other factors must be considered when you begin training a dog for this purpose, including their temperament and physical ability. Therefore, one simply cannot say that small dogs aren’t suitable for the role of a service dog.
While smaller dogs may not have the physical strength you’d typically associate with a service dog, with the right training, they can do many of the same tasks.
Many dog breeds can learn the necessary behaviors to become a service dog – regardless if they are taught from being a puppy, or are trained as adult dogs. These include the Shih Tzu, Bichon Frise, and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
Unfortunately, just like with larger dogs, this can’t be said for every small dog. Whether they can be trained or not is entirely dependent on the individual animal. There are several advantages and disadvantages to using a smaller dog breed for this role:
- Small dogs can be quite intuitive. This means that they can learn and develop new behaviors to help individuals in need.
- They are small, so they won’t need a lot of additional exercise to keep them healthy.
- They can immediately alert their handlers to a change in mood.
- Small dogs can become quite snappy if they feel threatened.
- They can become possessive over their territory.
- They can be very excitable, which can keep them from being able to properly carry out their job.
Yes, Yorkie’s and small dogs can be service dogs if they are given the right amount of dedication and training by a qualified handler.
Small service dogs can help deal with a wide array of physical and mental disabilities, but they excel with smaller household tasks and psychiatric care due to their smaller stature.