When we think about service dogs, Labrador or German Shepherd come to our minds. It’s mistakenly believed that only big breeds can help people with disabilities. Indeed, if we talk about one of the most popular types of service dogs – guide dogs – they tend to be largish dogs. But, in most cases, the size of an animal doesn’t matter. Dogs of all sizes can perform a great number of tasks and can potentially be service dogs. However, different breeds are good at different things. So before choosing a dog, you should clearly understand what you want him/her to do.
Before we talk about service dog’s tasks and popular toy dogs, note that there are no size or breed requirements for being a service dog. However, only dogs can be service animals. Miniature horses can be a rare exception in some cases.
The List of Tasks That Can Perform Service Dogs
There are 12 types of service dogs; they are described in detail in this post. Here we’ll mention the main ones:
- Sensory Signal Service Dogs or Autism Service Dogs. They alert their owners when they’re performing distracting and/or potentially harmful repetitive motions.
- Medical Alert Service Dogs. They alert their owners about some medical emergency cases. For instance, service dogs can feel epileptic seizures, smell increased blood sugar in people that suffer from diabetes, or foresee other signs associated with different illnesses, like cancer or heart disease. To smell and feel people’s chemistry a dog doesn’t have to be big.
- Mobility Service Dogs. They help people with a lack of mobility to do a lot of everyday tasks, such as opening the doors, paying in the shop, taking items from tables or other high surfaces, or transferring a person in a wheelchair. For such help, big breeds are more suitable because of their strength and height. Small breeds can help retrieve items or medications that are difficult to reach. Toy dogs, like Chihuahuas or Toy Poodles, can help unload the washing machine, pick up items, do other easy domestic tasks.
- Psychiatric Service Dogs. Such dogs provide emotional support to people with PTSD, depression, or anxiety.
- Hearing Service Dogs. They alert owners with hearing problems about the phone ring, baby’s cry, emergency sirens, timers, etc.
- Guide Service Dogs. They help an individual that is blind or has some vision problems to travel and perform tasks requiring vision. As we’ve mentioned already, big breeds are better at these tasks.
Top 3 Popular Toy Service Dogs
#1. The Yorkshire Terrier
Weighing approximately 7 pounds (3.18 kg), this is the most popular toy breed. As all Terrier family breeds, the Yorkshire Terrier has a tricky temper. They tend to be protective and yappy. However, if trained, their behavior can be curbed. Yorkshire Terriers are the best therapy dogs. They are also good medical alert service animals. They can help manage multiple tasks, like pulling the doors, retrieving clean clothes, and alerting their owners to specific sounds.
Facts About Yorkshire Terriers:
- The Yorkshire Terrier was the first therapy dog in the world.
- They are hypoallergenic and very sensitive.
- The dog’s size allows bringing him/her everywhere which is crucial for people with different mental illnesses.
#2. Toy Poodle
It’s a very charming tender animal. Toy Poodles are considered to be hypoallergenic and are very social creatures. A toy poodle can be a perfect therapy dog. It is also a good option for people with hearing problems, diabetics, epilepsy, and PTSD.
Facts About Toy Poodles:
- Toy poodles were primarily bred as water retrievers.
- They are one of the smartest dog breeds after the Border Collie and are good at training.
- They are family-friendly and supersensitive to other people’s emotions.
#3. The Chihuahua
It’s a very nice, but at the same time fierce animal. The Chihuahuas will be a perfect choice for those who need a kind of watchdog that protects from undesired situations and people. Chihuahuas are known to be excellent hearing, epilepsy and diabetic alert, allergy detection, medication reminder and psychiatric service dogs.
Facts About Chihuahuas:
- These dogs can be easy held in hands and accompany their owners everywhere.
- They are good learners: with the positive motivation, they can be trained to perform any trick.
- They have a soft part on their head (so-called “molera”), so don’t poke them in the head.
When choosing a service dog, the size is a secondary issue. First, make sure which tasks you want a service dog to do for you. Choose toy dogs for not physically demanding tasks. A good service dog should have specific training depending on your needs. You can train a dog by yourself or send your pet to a professional school. There is also an option of online training: you receive a training plan, realize it on your own, and in the end, your dog should pass a public exam. After training, it also would be helpful to get a service dog certification. From the point of law, it’s not necessary, but in reality, this document facilitates many everyday aspects. With certification, you can more easily access public spaces and live in no-pet properties with your service dog.