The other day, I spent time with a friend of mine who was born with a condition that would eventually cause blindness. A few years back when his sight really became bad, he needed to get a guide dog. Leroy the Labrador became his eyes and his best friend. Labradors are incredible when it comes to being a service dog to assist people with a disability.
Being a Frenchie owner, this did make me wonder if French Bulldogs could also be service dogs? Perhaps not as guide dogs as such, but maybe they could be used for another type of disability help.
My initial suspicion was that they wouldn’t be particularly good at this. Here’s what I found.
Can French Bulldogs be service dogs? French Bulldogs can be service dogs but they would be better suited as emotional support dogs or therapy dogs. The main thing you would need to look at is your dog’s temperament. They would need to have the right personality to be able to deal with many different types of people.
I found this very interesting as I honestly didn’t think that my Frenchie could be a service dog of any description. I started looking a bit deeper into how a Frenchie could become a service dog and what training they would need to do in order for them to become a certified service dog.
It’s also interesting to note that any breed can be a service dog. There is no discrimination between breeds when it comes to being a service dog.
Do French Bulldogs make good service dogs?
French Bulldogs are really wonderful lap dogs. They also have calm natures and are even tempered. They also hardly ever bark and are hardy little dogs, that don’t mind being bumped by accident – that’s my experience with Claude anyway, as our Frenchie has to put up with a lot from our young son.
This is just the type of temperament needed for service dogs; French Bulldogs are great with children and adults.
Frenchies are also quiet dogs that crave companionship, being renowned for being loyal.
This sweet and lovable nature makes them perfect for people who have suffered psychological trauma. Based on this, I would say Frenchie are better at being emotional support dogs than an actual classic service dog used for people with mobility issues and physical disabilities.
There is a difference between being a service dog and an emotional support dog though. If you read through these points, it should give you a better idea on why French Bulldogs can be good therapy dogs instead (read this guide to Frenchie’s as therapy dogs).
What is the difference between a service dog and an emotional support dog?
Service dogs are used mainly as guide dogs. They help those who have certain disabilities such as blindness, deafness or those with mental disabilities. Service dogs need to be trained by a qualified dog trainer.
These wonderful furry companions will be trained to assist those who have disabilities.
Service dogs can be trained to help their owners. For example, they can be trained to bark if their owner has fallen over, or if they need help in anyway.
They can also be trained to bring things to their owners such as medication or their owners cell phones.
Interestingly service dogs can also be trained to alert their owners to dangers. If someone is trying to break in, they will bark or if there is a fire, they will be able to alert their owners.
Service dogs need to be trained and certified. If they are certified they will be able to be taken to almost any public place including malls.
I don’t know about you, but as much as I love Claude our Frenchie, he’s not the brightest spark and I can’t imagine him being able to do anything like this.
That’s why I really don’t believe that French Bulldogs can be service dogs in the classic sense of the word.
However, Frenchies can come into their own as emotional support dogs instead.
Emotional support dogs are used to provide support for people with psychiatric or physical disabilities. However, emotional support dogs are not specifically trained though to be of physical assistance to their owners, such as fetching medication and so on.
Emotional support dogs offer emotional support. That’s why a Frenchie would be a good choice as an emotional support dog, because of their caring and loveable nature.
Furthermore, emotional support dogs do not need official training.
That’s more like it. Whose face doesn’t light up when they see a Frenchie? Based on this, I would say that French Bulldogs are good therapy dogs.
As an owner you will need to prove that you truly suffer from mental distress such as PTSD or depression or anxiety. A letter can be provided from your psychologist or psychiatrist.
Emotional support dogs can even be used to help cancer patients emotionally. Therapy dogs will not be allowed into public places, such as restaurants, where service dogs are allowed.
How would you train a service dog?
You would need to find a reputable trainer. The international standard for a service dog is that the average amount of training your pup will need would be an average of 120 hours over a period of 6 months.
It is also recommended that 30 of those hours are spent in public places so that your dog will get use to certain sounds, people and situations. Once your dog is trained, you would need to see how they fair in certain situations.
- They should not show any aggressive behavior.
- They should remain calm and not beg for food or affection.
- They should also not show any hyperactive behavior in public places.
- Service dogs should also not show any sniffing behaviours.
Where can I register my dog as a service dog?
In the UK for example, every guide dog needs to be trained by an accredited association, such as Assistance Dogs International (view website) or the International Guide Dog Federation (view website) – I assume there are similar organisations in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States.
The assessment for a service dog is rigorous and held to a very high standard, ensuring the safety of your pooch and of the owner.
Owners and service dogs should also be reassessed on an annual basis.
The law in America is a bit different and it appears to be a lot more relaxed than it is in the UK. If someone in the United States qualifies for a service dog, they do not need to register their dog.
If you would like to register your service or therapy dog, then the place to go in America is the National Service Animal Registry (view website). They will offer ID cards for your dog and vests.
Which dogs make the best service dogs?
Whilst I am not completely discounting French Bulldogs as service dogs, if you do need a furry friend, here are some better suggestions.
- Labrador Retriever: These lovely obedient and loyal dogs make amazing service They are usually used as guide dogs for the blind. They are social and highly intelligent animals.
- German Shepherds: A German Shepherd is an extremely loyal and obedient animal. They do need to be trained correctly though, as they are large dogs with abundant energy. They also make excellent guard dogs unlike Frenchies.
- Beagle: This loving pooch can be a very good service or therapy dog. They are a gentle, intelligent and friendly breed. They are also used to sniff out drugs in airports. They aren’t big so they can travel pretty much anywhere.
- Boston Terriers: Bosties are very similar to Frenchies (you can see the small differences here) so would be better suited for therapy and emotional support.
- Saint Bernard’s: These huge dogs are described as gentle giants. They are calm and patient animals and are said to be very good with children. They would make awesome therapy dogs.
- Pomeranians: These little fluff balls make great emotional support dogs, particularly for elderly people. They are friendly little creatures who have tons of love and affection to give.
- Pugs: Pugs have been used as great emotional support dogs, especially for children with autism.
- Bernese Mountain Dog: This is one of my all-time favourite dogs. Large and cuddly, they are also super intelligent and loving. Bernese mountain dogs are also often used to visit those who are physically ill. For example, these dogs would go to visit patients with cancer, or who are terminally ill in hospital.
- Poodles: Poodles are very sociable dogs and are able to adapt to most environments. They also, on average, live longer than other dog breeds. They don’t shed and their coats are hypoallergenic. They are very smart too, so they are easy to train. They would make wonderful ESAs.
What are the benefits of your Frenchie becoming an ESA (Emotional Service Animal)?
If you had to use your French Bulldog as an emotional support animal you would be helping people who suffer from depression, PTSD, autism and other mental conditions feel better.
People who suffer from social anxiety, for example, will feel less lonely with an ESA around. An emotional support dog can also help those with panic attacks to calm down.
Many studies have shown how animals reduce stress in their owners. Physically, emotional support dogs can also lower blood pressure, by reducing stress in their owners, lower cholesterol and also help their owners be physically active.
Exercise releases endorphins, so when those who are depressed play with their dogs or take them for walks, this will also help them feel better.
French Bulldogs are good therapy dogs for seniors
You might also be interested in how good Frenchies can be for older people and seniors. For example:
- They are loyal.
- They are loving.
- They don’t need much exercise.
- They don’t need a lot of grooming.
- They don’t need a lot of space.
- They are great with grandchildren.
To find out more about this, see my guide to how Frenchies are great for senior people.
If it’s a service dog you need in the classic sense, I don’t think a French Bulldog is going to cut it. However, if you want a loveable animal that will cheer you up, provide emotional support, and go some way to helping with therapy, a Frenchie could be just the right breed.
To find out more about this amazing breed, browse around the website for videos and photos of our own dog and how he has transformed our lives.