Can a Chihuahua be a service dog? If you’ve never been the proud owner of a Chihuahua, you’re likely to answer that question with a resounding no, and without a doubt, we can tell you’re basing your answer on the dog’s size!
You may be surprised to know that Chihuahuas are capable of much more than what appears to be the case. These dogs are small but they’re also super energetic and protective of their owners.
Chihuahuas don’t possess a bulky, threatening stature, but they do have unimaginably big hearts – metaphorically, of course – and that’s what makes Chihuahuas excellent service dogs! Allow us to elaborate.
Chihuahua Breed Profile
It may not be visible on the surface, but Chihuahuas pack a lot of wonder in their small stature.
Here’s a detailed breakdown of this phenomenal breed:
Chihuahuas identify as small dog breeds because the average maximum height they can grow up to is 6-8 inches, and between 6 to 8 pounds. If the Chihuahua weighs anywhere below 6 pounds, it’s underweight, but it’s not too uncommon for these short canines to weigh up to 12 pounds.
Their coats can be both short-haired and long-haired, but the texture is smooth. As for the colors, these could be tan, black, white, fawn, or a mix of several colors.
The dietary needs of this easy-to-keep breed are minimal. You need to feed about 4-10 ounces of food to Chihuahuas every day, and some vets have even recommended feeding adult Chihuahuas with puppy food since it has a high nutrient density.
Emotionally, a Chihuahua is aggressive but alert. These cute little bundles of energy would take on a dog 10 times their size if their strength allowed for it.
Unlike other breeds, a Chihuahua’s emotion drives them. Be it anger or devotion, these strong-headed and strong-willed creatures aren’t afraid of anything. Once comfortable and connected to you, they will demonstrate heights of devotion.
Chihuahuas live for about 10-20 years. As they age, their mental level progresses, too. As a baby, you’ll find a Chihuahua curious and mischievous. With time, you’ll find them developing stability and maturity.
Their high intelligence level permits them to perceive situations, understand human emotion, and decipher circumstances. In terms of intelligence, these dogs possess admirable authority.
Given this, they’re also easier to tame and train. Chihuahuas aren’t naturally social but is trained to interact the right way, they will give it their best. Chihuahuas are also exceptionally obedient, and we must say, smartness and obedience combined come along really well!
So, Can a Chihuahua Be a Service Dog?
Yes! Chihuahuas can be a service dogs, and they’ve been shown to perform the task quite well. Given the physical, emotional, and mental characteristics identified above, Chihuahuas are highly capable of assisting those in need.
They’re particularly capable of helping with therapy because they’re intelligent, loyal, and suitable for small spaces (such as a room or an apartment).
Chihuahuas as Service Dogs
By definition, a service dog refers to a dog that’s capable of easing the life of a disabled person. To do so, the dog should adhere to certain standards. They should also have the federal law certification (more of which we’ll discuss below).
Some general tasks that a service dog can assist with include:
- Fetching objects for someone who cannot move well.
- Alerting a blind or deaf person of any obstacles in the way.
- Signaling emergency services for patients with epilepsy or seizures.
- Providing medication reminders.
- Soothing patients with anxiety.
Chihuahuas seem to be an excellent fit for this range of services. Let’s explore how Chihuahuas can be excellent service dogs in greater detail.
Specific Types of Services Chihuahuas Can Provide
Following are some services Chihuahua dogs can qualify for:
Diabetic Alert Service Dog
Diabetes is a health condition that commonly occurs in the elderly. Diabetic patients have to take their medicines on time, or else risk putting their life in danger. In such a situation, when blood sugar goes up, dogs can perceive the unique odor and remind the patient to take their medicine right on time.
Epilepsy Alert Service Dog
Service dogs receive training to feel the seizure conditions in advance. So, if a patient with an epilepsy condition is about to have an episode, these dogs will detect it and seek instant aid. Chihuahuas can get the best possible help in such a situation and alert their owners before they become epileptic.
Hearing Service Dog
The task of a hearing service dog is not very critical. All that the dog has to do is alert the patient about all the emergency alarms. These may include fire alarms and warning alarms of natural disasters, intruders, police, and so forth. With the proper training, a Chihuaha can fit the bill of a hearing service dog.
Psychiatric Service Dog
It’s a common belief, based on evidence and study, that dogs have a special connection with human mental health, and in today’s world, people are paying more attention to mental health conditions.
As a psychiatric service dog, Chihuahuas provide therapy to patients with anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These dogs provide comfort to their owners and help them through distressing situations.
Training Your Chihuahua
So, can a Chihuahua be a service dog? Without a doubt, it definitely can be!
If you have a Chihuahua puppy or are thinking of buying one, it’s a good idea to begin with basic training as soon as possible. Train and align your Chihuahuas temperament as per an ideal service dog. To be a service dog, Chihuahuas will have to be trained to be sociable and calm.
Puppies will also need to learn the basics, such as potty training and boundaries inside and outside of the home.
On the other hand, if you own an adult Chihuahua, you can begin with proper service dog training programs. Service dogs can be trained by professionals, or trained on your own.
We’ll discuss these in more detail in the following sections.
Public Access Skills
To teach public access skills to your Chihuahua, we recommend introducing it to various public situations. Train your Chihuahua to be calm under all circumstances and discourage any investigative, hyper, or reactive behaviors. For calmer responses, reward your Chihuahua.
You might have to put a vest on your Chihuahua to alert passersby of the ongoing training. It will restrict any disturbing public access during training. Apart from acclimatizing your dog to being calm in various situations, you’ll also have to teach it how to move around.
For example, teach your Chihuahua off-leash recall, vehicle manners, and being obedient to basic commands like sitting.
Emergency training is a bit more challenging than public access skill training. You might feel the need to break this training down into several achievable steps over a span of several weeks.
Here’s a general plan that you can follow:
- Train your Chihuahua to exhibit alert behavior at all times and identify signs of emergencies. It could be the scent of low blood sugar, a phone ringing, a light indicator, the doorbell, etc.
- Teach your Chihuahua how to respond to the emergency sign. It could lick the hand of a certain person, press a certain buzzer, bark, or do other motions.
- Reward your Chihuahua once it successfully identifies and reports the alarming sign.
Perform this course of action repetitively until you’re sure that your Chihuahua has the whole process learned and sorted. Be sure to optimize and tailor this plan to the specific needs of the emergency that you’re dealing with.
Getting Your Chihuahua Certified
Once you have your Chihuahua trained, it’s time to get it certified. Remember, certification is necessary if you want your Chihuahua to put its natural and learned skills to use in public spaces.
At the community level, you’ll need to back your Chihuahua with certification due to conflicting opinions in several instances. You’ll likely have to have your Chihuahua pass through the public access and ability test. Some online agencies may offer certified authentication of these tests and issue an ID card to your dog to openly perform its service. This could cost you around $100.
Be vigilant and ensure you’re getting the proper certification for your Chihuahua service dog, as several fraudulent businesses are going on in the name of service dogs.
Wrapping up, let’s go back over a few points:
- Chihuahuas are small and easy to keep.
- Chihuahuas are smart, obedient, and loyal.
- Chihuahuas have a long lifespan and an adaptive mindset.
That said, can a Chihuahua be a service dog? By now, you probably know the answer is yes!
Chihuahuas can serve as excellent emotional support service dogs. They can serve as a therapy animals to people with imbalanced mental conditions, and they can ease the life of people with physical disabilities. All they require is some training, but once they have that, Chihuhuas prove themselves to be some of the best service dogs out there!