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15 Best Small Service Dogs You’ll Love

15 Best Small Service Dogs You'll Love

Best Small Service Dogs: Traditionally, service dogs come from large breeds. Having strong and sizable bodies allows these dogs to easily perform physical tasks, such as supporting owners with balance issues. Being tall allowed them to guide people with visual impairments too.

In recent years, small dogs have risen in popularity as service dogs. These adorably-sized companions have limited capabilities in terms of physical service, but they excel at providing psychiatric support to owners with mental health conditions.

In this guide, we’ll discuss some of the best small service dogs. Their tiny frames are incomparable to the size of their hearts and their willingness to serve.

15 Best Small Service Dogs

Get to know the compact breeds that successfully get their service tasks done:

1. Corgi

15 Best Small Service Dogs You'll Love

Corgis are some of the friendliest and most agreeable dogs you’ll ever meet! They were originally bred as herding dogs, which explains their lively and protective nature. These intelligent dogs respond eagerly to training.

Additionally, corgis are both athletic and affectionate. Despite being small, they have muscular bodies and a big bark. Corgis are also sensitive to their owners’ emotions, which makes them ideal psychiatric service dogs.

2. Yorkshire Terrier

15 Best Small Service Dogs You'll Love

Sensitivity and attentiveness are some of a Yorkshire terrier’s therapeutic traits. These toy-sized service dogs may look timid, but they have lively and energetic personalities. Having one on your lap can provide you with endless laughs, comfort, and companionship.

Yorkshire terriers are healthy dogs, but their coats need frequent grooming. As for training, these dogs can benefit from activities that enhance their agility, obedience, and behavioral control.

3. Poodle

15 Best Small Service Dogs You'll Love

As service dogs, poodles might surprise you with how naturally adept they are at sensing your emotions. These dogs also have high energy levels, so they’re quick to respond or interfere with your actions if the situation calls for it.

In case you’re allergic to fur, no worries! Poodles have hypoallergenic coats that shed minimally. Always groom and trim their coats regularly to keep them clean and tick-free.

4. Pug

15 Best Small Service Dogs You'll Love

When you think of service dogs, pugs might not be the first breed that comes to mind. Yet, their innate desire to be around people allows pugs to be soothing service dogs and comforting companions.

Pugs enjoy being petted. They love being the center of attention and are happy to be held. They provide much-needed support to owners with mental health conditions, including veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and kids on the Autism spectrum.

5. Chihuahua

15 Best Small Service Dogs You'll Love

A Chihuahua’s watchdog instincts can sometimes make him fierce and protective around owners. This breed can also become loud or aggressive when left alone for long periods. However, with proper training, Chihuahuas can become confident and sociable service dogs.

Their small and compact stature makes them ideal for owners who travel frequently. They’re active and alert enough to perform service tasks swiftly. What’s more, Chihuahuas are low-maintenance dogs. They typically don’t require a lot of food, grooming, or exercise.

6. Pomeranian

15 Best Small Service Dogs You'll Love

Pomeranians are small and light enough to carry in a pouch or a backpack. Their cute and attractive features can bring instant joy and amusement. Additionally, a Pomeranian’s perky and vivacious personality can bring relief during stressful situations.

Individuals who have anxiety or depression can benefit from having this service dog by their side. Pomeranians can be trained to detect symptoms of mental illness and prevent their owner from self-harm.

7. Miniature Schnauzer

15 Best Small Service Dogs You'll Love

Aside from providing psychiatric support, miniature schnauzers can perform numerous mobility tasks for their owners as well! This delightful dog can open and close doors, get your medication, or alert you to visitors.

In addition, schnauzers excel at being family service dogs. They’re eager to obey and please adults. At the same time, their boundless energy allows them to play and comfort kids tirelessly.

8. Lhasa Apso

15 Best Small Service Dogs You'll Love

Lhasas were originally bred in Tibet as watchdogs. As such, they’re highly capable of performing service dog tasks, such as pawing, barking, or nudging, without fail. They’ll eagerly respond to most forms of positive reinforcement, such as treats and praises.

Due to their small size, Lhasas can live comfortably with their owners in flats or apartments. They only need small amounts of regular exercise, but a lot of grooming is a must for their long and silky coats.

9. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

15 Best Small Service Dogs You'll Love

Another extraordinary breed fit for service is the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. As a lap dog breed, spaniels always enjoy being held or cuddled on your lap! They’re also adaptable enough to quickly adjust to an owner’s active or laidback lifestyle.

Even when provoked, spaniels can maintain a calm temperament. In some cases, timid spaniels need socialization training to enhance their behavior.

10. Havanese

15 Best Small Service Dogs You'll Love

Alertness, obedience, and eagerness to perform tasks are essential traits for a service dog. Fortunately, the Havanese breed has them all!
Behind those adorable puppy-dog eyes, Havanese possess remarkable intelligence. They can often sense mood changes in their owners, and respond accordingly.

For instance, Havanese easily learn the “lap” command. This involves dogs putting their front paws on their owners’ laps. Applying this type of physical pressure relieves stress and anxiety.

11. Dachshund

15 Best Small Service Dogs You'll Love

Dachshunds are intelligent, curious, and spirited dogs. Their bold personalities can sometimes make it a challenge to train them for service. However, these dogs have unmatched loyalty and offer warm companionship to their owners.

Since they’re so smart, dachshunds swiftly learn and remember important commands for specific situations. They just need sufficient training to lengthen their attention spans and manage their independent nature.

12. French Bulldog

15 Best Small Service Dogs You'll Love

Despite misconceptions about bulldogs having aggressive and rugged behavior, they’re actually well-suited to be psychiatric service dogs.

French bulldogs, in particular, have warm and affectionate dispositions. This breed’s calm and comforting nature is ideal for owners who’ve suffered psychological trauma.

Additionally, French bulldogs have robust and muscular bodies. They usually don’t mind getting bumped by children and can be transported with ease.

13. Bichon Frise

15 Best Small Service Dogs You'll Love

Bichons may be small, but they’re sturdy and intelligent enough to be the perfect service dogs! This breed is well-behaved among children, strangers, and even other dogs. This trait allows owners to manage them easily in public areas.

A bichon’s hypoallergenic coat makes it a suitable companion for owners who have allergies. In terms of maintenance, bichons require daily grooming to keep their long and curly coats fresh and healthy.

14. Beagle

15 Best Small Service Dogs You'll Love

When adequately trained, beagles can be smart and reliable service dogs. Their compassionate nature makes them a good fit for providing adult support. At the same time, a beagle’s playfulness and energy levels can easily lift a child’s spirits.

One thing to note about beagles is their tendency to be stubborn at times. In this case, they’ll need proper guidance and correction from a firm handler.

15. Maltese

15 Best Small Service Dogs You'll Love

An elegant white coat, floppy ears, and innocent eyes are the trademark characteristics of Maltese. However, there’s more to this irresistible dog breed than just looks!

When it comes to personality, Maltese are lively and love to be cuddled. They’re easily trained and respond well to commands, making them excellent service dogs.

In addition, these dogs are tiny and adaptable enough for owners to conveniently bring them along for emotional or psychiatric support.

What Is the Best Small Service Dog?

Although there‘s no particular dog breed that’s considered best for service, corgis, poodles, and Chihuahuas are the most promising. These breeds have the necessary trainability, temperament, and compassion needed for service work.

Other essential service dog traits include low touch sensitivity, travel readiness, and the ability to focus in a distracting environment.

What Is the Least Common Service Dog?

Pugs are well-known family pets, but people seldom choose them as service dogs. Cocker spaniels, Pomeranians, and Samoyeds are other less common service dog breeds.

Despite being uncommon choices, these breeds are just as committed to providing unconditional love and support to their owners. In fact, all dog breeds can perform service work with proper training.

What Is the Smallest Low-Maintenance Dog?

The Chihuahua is one of the smallest low-maintenance dog breeds in the world. On average, they weigh around 2–6 pounds and are 5–8 inches tall. They’re even called “purse dogs” due to their small bodies.

Size doesn’t hinder these dogs from service work, though. Chihuahuas are charming and charismatic enough to provide comfort and joy to owners with mental health conditions. They require minimal exercise, grooming, and overall maintenance, too.

What Breed of Dog Cannot Be a Service Dog?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) doesn’t ban or restrict any breed from becoming a service dog. Most breeds can be of service as long as they’re capable of performing tasks that are directly related to an owner’s disability.

What Kind of Service Dog Is Good for Anxiety?

Poodles, boxers, and golden retrievers work well as anxiety service dogs. They provide calmness and security during intense situations. They’re also capable of sensing an oncoming anxiety attack and fetching medication for their handler.

Anxiety service dogs can also be trained to provide pressure therapy (DPT), distract their owner through barking, or call on other people for help.

Wrapping Up

Small service dogs may be limited in size, but that doesn’t hinder their ability to provide unwavering and unconditional support. They’re ever ready to amuse and comfort owners anytime they’re needed.

Hopefully, you’re now familiar with the best service dogs with small bodies and big hearts.

When choosing a dog, always remember that the tiniest of breeds can have the boldest and warmest personalities. With enough training, patience, and understanding, any dog breed can become fit for service.

If you liked this blog article about the Best Small Service Dogs, don’t forget to leave us a comment down below to tell us about your experience.

Elisa Steffes

Elisa Steffes

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An emotional support animal, or ESA, is an animal companion that provides comfort and support to someone suffering from a mental or emotional disability such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder or a phobia. Emotional support animals and their owners have certain protections under federal and state laws. Landlords, Co-Ops, HOAs, and other housing providers must allow tenants to live with their ESAs free of charge, even if the building has a policy banning pets.

To have a valid emotional support animal, you must be in possession of a recommendation letter from a licensed health care professional (sometimes also referred to as a “licensed mental health professional” or “LMHP”). The ESA letter will establish that you have a disability and that an emotional support animal alleviates symptoms of that disability. Under federal law, this is the only legitimate way to qualify an animal companion as an emotional support animal.

A valid ESA letter is the only documentation you need in order to qualify an emotional support animal. Landlords cannot ask for a certificate, registration, license or ID, or insist that your ESA wear a vest. These items do not confer any legal status on emotional support animals. Some ESA owners use such items as tools to signal that their animal companion is an ESA, but they are not mandatory and do not function in lieu of an ESA letter as valid forms of proof for an ESA. There is also no need to register your ESA in a database or registry.

No, ESAs do not have an automatic legal right to be in grocery stores, restaurants, and hotels that prohibit animals. ESA owners have the legal right to be accompanied by their animal companion in their home pursuant to the Fair Housing Act. Only ADA service animals trained to perform tasks (such as seeing-eye dogs for the blind) have public access rights in places like grocery stores and restaurants. Some establishments such as hotels are not obligated by law to accommodate ESAs but will do so anyway as a courtesy. It is best to check with the hotel or other businesses to see if they have a policy regarding emotional support animals.

No, ESAs are not a scam. Regrettably, there is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding on the internet when it comes to emotional support animals that puts an undeserved cloud over legitimate ESA owners and service companies. Contrary to some myths, there is a developed regulatory framework surrounding emotional support animals in the United States. ESAs are protected by federal laws and government agencies which enforce those laws. There are specific legal requirements that ESA owners must adhere to in order to obtain accommodation under law for their animal companion. Legitimate owners of emotional support animals must have documentation in the form of a recommendation letter from a licensed healthcare provider. Housing providers have the right to demand an ESA letter from the tenant before accommodating an ESA request.

There are also many legitimate emotional support animal services online such as You should proceed with caution with any website that promises that their certification, registration, license or ID will immediately qualify your pet as an emotional support animal. Websites that are not scams will instead connect you to a healthcare professional who is licensed for your state. That professional will conduct an independent assessment of whether an ESA is right for you and issue an ESA letter only if they determine that you qualify. Legitimate ESA companies online cannot guarantee to instantly qualify an emotional support animal, since that determination must come from an independent licensed professional after evaluating the client.


A psychiatric service dog (or PSD) is a type of service dog that has been individually trained to perform tasks relating to a handler’s mental, emotional or learning disability. Psychiatric service dogs have the same rights as other types of service dogs which assist handlers with physical disabilities. Service dogs have special access rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Fair Housing Act and Air Carrier Access Act. They are allowed to accompany their owners in the home, on-flights and in places where members of the public are generally allowed to go.

A psychiatric service dog is not the same thing as an ESA. The primary difference between a psychiatric service dog and an emotional support animal is that a PSD must be fully trained to perform tasks relating to a disability. A PSD in training does not yet qualify as a service dog. In contrast, ESAs are not required to have any specialized training. ESAs primarily provide comfort to their owners just through their presence and companionship. An ESA also requires a letter of recommendation from a licensed healthcare professional.

PSDs and ESAs also differ in terms of their access rights. ESAs have the right to live with their owners free of charge (even in buildings that prohibit pets) under federal Fair Housing laws and various state laws. PSDs have greater access rights under the ADA and ACAA – they can board flights as well as places generally open to the public like stores.

The other major difference between ESAs and PSDs is that an ESA can be a wide range of animals but a psychiatric service animal can only be a dog.

In order to qualify for a PSD, the handler must have a mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. That can include things like depression, anxiety, PTSD, phobias, learning disorders and autism. A licensed healthcare professional is best suited to determine whether you have a qualifying condition.

Under new rules that went into effect in January of 2021, PSDs can board the cabin free of charge as long as the handler submits the Department of Transportation’s Service Animal Transportation Form prior to boarding the flight. The form requires the handler to self-certify that their animal is a trained psychiatric service dog. It also requires information regarding the dog’s trainer (which can be the handler) and veterinarian. Only the handler is required to sign the form.

The ADA allows for service animals to be trained by the handler or through a professional. If the handler is confident and capable of training their psychiatric service dog, they are allowed to do so. It is not necessary to use any organization or professional trainer, although those alternatives may be useful for owners who are not experienced in training dogs.