Can A Chihuahua Be A Service Dog?


Since I heard about this service animal thing I have been really wondering about the dog breeds that can qualify for service and how they can be recognized for service.

A lot of searching has led me to a frequently asked question that I am going to do my best to answer in this article.

Can A Chihuahua Be A Service Dog?

Let`s find out.

Can A Chihuahua Be A Service Dog?

Yes. Chihuahuas can be service dogs and although they are small as compared to the normal certified breeds, they actually make excellent service animals. Their intelligence gives them a great advantage for meeting all the requirements needed for a dog to be certified for service.

The Americans with Disabilities Act defines a service animal as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. 

And the task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability.

You should also take note that service dogs are not therapy or companion animals and should not be confused as such.

Duties Of A Chihuahua Service Dog

Large breeds have been mostly used as service dogs and the most common ones that were used for service have German Shepherds, Labradors and Golden retrievers.

As the knowledge of animal behavior is greatly increasing, animal behavior experts now fully understand the characteristics and temperament of a variety of dog breeds.

This has led to a massive explosion in what would be considered as unusual breeds being used as service animals.

Service dog qualification mostly depends on the dog`s temperament, skills as well as their willingness to work and learn.

Chihuahuas are mostly used as diabetic and seizure alert dogs but they can perform several tasks as service dogs.

Below is a quick breakdown of the common duties of a Chi service dog:

TaskExplanation
Being A Guide Chihuahuas can qualify to be service dog if they are performing the task of guiding their handler and helping them around busy areas.
Diabetes RegulationYou can get your Chi to be certified for service if you would like it to help you with diabetes regulation. The dog can alert you when your sugar levels are very low or high.
Seizure AlertService dogs including Chis can be trained to identify the symptoms of a person entering a seizure and they will send a message to the emergency services to alert them that the dog is asking for immediate help to b sent to the handler.
Psychiatric AssistanceThis applies if the handler has certain mental disabilities.
Mobility AssistanceChihuahuas may not qualify for this task because of their size but they will mostly be helping with tasks that involves movement. Opening and closing doors, picking up dropped stuff are some of the duties of a mobility assistance service dog.
Hearing AideService dogs can assist people with hearing disabilities by alerting them when specific sounds or noises are made.
Walking AideChihuahuas mostly do not qualify for this task because it is mostly reserved for larger dog breeds.Dogs serving as walking aides help their handlers by supporting them when walking.
Being A SSIG DogPeople with autism can also benefit from having a service dog because they can be trained to help them stop repeating movements by distracting the handler.

What Makes Chihuahuas Great Service Dogs?

The temperament and characteristics of Chihuahuas is what mostly make them great service dogs.

Below is a brief summary of some of the notable characters of a Chi dog that qualifies it to serve in most tasks performed by a service dog:

  • Intelligent and smart
  • Mostly in an indoor dog so it can help a lot with tasks done inside the house
  • Courageous
  • Confident
  • Alert and Hyperactive
  • Chihuahuas are small and light so they can easily navigate and move around many places

Get Your Chihuahua Recognized For Service

Getting your Chihuahua to be recognized as a service dog is not that difficult. The Americans with Disabilities Act does not require that service animals be certified to be recognized.

It has been made clear on their website that service dog certificates being sold online do not convey any rights under the ADA and the Department of Justice does not recognize them as proof that the dog is a service animal.

To make everything easier for you to understand here are some of the things that you need to know when you want to get your Chihuahua to be recognized as a service animal:

  1. Train your dog for the task required. ADA states that people with disabilities have the right to train the dog themselves and are not required to use a professional service dog training program but it is also not a bad idea to get you dog trained by professionals.
  2. Register your dog with local authorities. Different cities require that all dogs be registered and licensed according to specific registration and vaccination requirements. You will dog will be registered following the same criteria used to register all dogs. Mandatory registration of service animals is not permissible under ADA.

To identify a dog as a service animal ADA only permits two questions:

  1. Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
  2. What work or task has the dog been trained to  perform?

Individuals are not allowed to ask these following questions:

  1. The nature or extent of an individual’s disability
  2. Proof that the animal has been certified, trained or licensed as a service animal
  3. Require the animal to wear an identifying vest or tag
  4. Ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the task or work

Verdict: Do Chihuahuas Qualify As Service Dogs

Chihuahuas are qualified to be trained as service animals because the Americans with Disabilities Act clearly states that any dog breed can be service animals.

Individuals cannot be refused access to any place based sorely on the breed of their service animal or assumptions on how the dog is thought to behave. 

But it should also be understood that the same Act states that, if a particular service animal behaves in a way that poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, has a history of such behavior, or is not under the control of the handler, that animal may be excluded.  If an animal is excluded for such reasons, staff must still offer their goods or services to the person without the animal present.

So here is the bottom line, Chihuahuas can be service dog just like any other dog breed out there.

To help you fully understand about the common questions about service animals, here is a list of resources that can help you find the answers that you are looking for:

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