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
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?
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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