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Can A Yorkie Be A Service Dog (2023)? The Surprising Truth

Can A Yorkie Be A Service Dog

Can a Yorkie be a service dog? When we talk about service dogs, a Yorkshire Terrier won’t probably cross your mind. We often think of breeds like German Shepherds, Labradors, and Golden Retrievers as service dogs.

You’ll be forgiven for having the same thoughts because, according to the American Kennel Club, these three breeds are some of the most popular among service dog training organizations.

But have you ever thought that a 7-lb Yorkshire Terrier or Yorkie could be as helpful as a large and muscular German Shepherd?

Have you ever thought that a dog breed that is often seen in dog shows, sporting a smooth and luxurious coat of steel blue and rich golden tan, can offer more than just aesthetics? Can a Yorkie be a service dog?

Here are some of the facts about Yorkshire Terriers that make them an ideal choice as service dogs.

Can A Yorkie Be A Service Dog & Are They Good at it?

The simple answer is yes because Yorkshire Terriers are among the most intelligent breeds of dogs; thus, with proper training, they can be good service dogs.

Of course, if you need help pulling or pushing your wheelchair, a Yorkie may not be the best option. But tasks like opening a cabinet, picking small stuff like your eyeglasses or pens, and alerting you to sounds are some of the things that your Yorkie can definitely do for you.

But the most amazing trait of the Yorkshire Terrier, when properly trained, is its capability to detect impending epileptic seizures and sudden changes in your glucose level that may otherwise be too late to notice, making it an excellent medical alert service dog.

Its size also allows you to bring it practically anywhere. You can go to different places knowing that your Yorkie is right by your side and ready to help you.

An Overview of a Service Dog’s Role

Some may argue that service dogs are also called emotional support dogs, and people use the terms interchangeably. However, a service dog provides support to people limited by external factors like injuries or physical disabilities.

On the other hand, an emotional support dog serves as a companion to a person who finds it difficult to connect with others and the world.

Service dogs are trained to assist people with disabilities or specific needs. Some are trained to help people with hearing impairment or mobility problems. Others serve as a medical alert or psychiatric service dogs.

To put it simply, service dogs help people with disabilities to reduce external discomforts or unwanted happenings. They perform tasks that are otherwise painful or impossible for their owners.

Yorkshire Terrier: Outstanding Characteristics, Wrapped In A Small Package

Can A Yorkie Be A Service Dog

Yorkshire Terrier or Yorkie is a toy-sized breed of dog that can weigh up to 7 pounds and is known for its long and silky coat resembling human hair. Combine these two traits, and you get a dog that sure is a head-turner. These traits won the hearts of many Victorian ladies in the past, and it’s not difficult to see why.

However, Yorkies came from a very old line of dogs that were originally bred to fight critters. They used to be working dogs, hunting vermin in mines and mills in the 19th century, far from the lap dogs they are today. In fact, modern-day Yorkshire Terriers still have the instinct to hunt and will chase and kill a rat if given a chance.

Do Yorkies Get Attached to One Person?

The answer is yes, but it’s the case in most dogs, if not all. It’s an evolutionary trait still present in modern-day dogs, which they inherited from their primary ancestors: wolves. Yorkies, like other dogs, look up to one person they consider the alpha or the leader of the pack.

Yorkies develop a stronger bond with the person who meets all their needs. Hence, it is advisable to have them around while they are still pups, provide all their needs, spend as much time as possible with them, and train them early if you want them to become excellent service dogs.

What Can Yorkies Do, And What Are The Things They Excel At?

As service dogs, Yorkies can pick up small stuff off the floor. A great help if bending is a problem for you or if you have mobility issues. They can also be trained to listen to specific sounds like doorbells or alarm clocks, helping you become aware of your surroundings.

Yorkies can also perform tricks if trained and can become a source of entertainment, especially for those in need of cheerful companions.

Yorkies are excellent guard dogs due to their loyalty and can get wary of strangers and unfamiliar sounds. They are proven excellent medical alert service dogs because they can detect subtle changes inside your body.
Their intelligence also helps them take training fairly well; hence, Yorkies can become excellent service dogs because they can follow a variety of tasks.

What Is the Best Dog for a Service Dog?

Can A Yorkie Be A Service Dog

It’s tempting to say that one dog breed is far better than the others as a service dog. However, there is no standard category for finding the best breed for a service dog.

A Golden Retriever is big enough to provide balance support, but due to its size, there are certain places where you cannot bring it.

On the other hand, a Yorkie can accompany you almost anywhere, but you cannot expect it to be able to do tasks that require strength that only large breeds of dogs can provide.

Therefore, there’s no one-size-fits-all in the world of service dogs.

How To Find The Best Service Dog For You?

Finding the best breed for a service dog can be tricky because it involves a lot of factors, such as the level of activity and energy the dog requires and if you can provide it. You also have to consider both your and the dog’s personalities. Some dogs love working with people, others tend to be independent.

You may also wanna try online tools for selecting the best dog breed for your case, to get an idea of how to choose a breed for your service dog that will suit your needs.

But the most important factor in choosing your service dog is based on your specific needs. You shouldn’t choose a breed for a service dog based on its cuteness or fluffiness. Talk to a dog trainer to get professional advice if you’re having difficulties determining the best service dog for you.

Can Yorkies be trained?

Yorkies can, in fact, be trained. While they are not the easiest breed to train, they are intelligent and can start training as young as 8 weeks. Patience, diligence, repetition, and appropriate expectations are required for effective training.

How smart is a Yorkie terrier?

Yorkshire Terriers are thought to be intelligent, ranking 27th out of 90 breeds according to the Yorkshire Terrier Information Center. Stanley Coren, a canine psychologist, ranks them as above average intelligent and the 34th smartest dog breed. They are known to be alert, curious, and responsive, making them excellent pets despite their small size.

Are dogs happy to be service dogs?

Service dogs are generally well-cared for and respected by their handlers, which can add to their happiness. However, some experts have expressed concern that service dogs’ lives may be overly mechanized and regimented, negatively impacting their overall well-being. It is important to note that because dogs cannot express their emotions in the same way that humans do, it is difficult to know how they feel about being service dogs.

What not to do with a Yorkie?

To keep your Yorkie safe and healthy, avoid allowing them to jump from great heights, attaching their leash to a collar, and feeding them certain foods like alcohol, walnuts, macadamia nuts, spicy foods, and curries. Regardless of your Yorkie’s age, you should not skip veterinary wellness checks or stop puppy-proofing the house.

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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.