Can A Shih Tzu Be A Service Dog? The answer may surprise you!

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Can a Shih Tzu be a service dog? Due to their trustworthy and expendable demeanor, Shih Tzus can be at the top of your list when it comes to deciding on a service dog.

Service dogs are basically animals of any breed that can be fruitfully trained for the purpose of assistance. They can be either purebred or mixed.

The purpose of these dogs is to help in some form. These dogs may have certain certifications as well. There are numerous forms of service dogs; those that work as medical alert dogs for their owner or handler.

Can a Shih Tzu be a service dog?

Can A Shih Tzu Be A Service Dog?

Shih Tzus are a toy breed, and they have the ability to be immensely efficient as service animals. However, due to their small size, there are certain tasks that a Shih Tzu might have difficulty performing. They might not be suitable for particular disabilities.

A dog that would be a flawless example of a service dog would have the following characteristics:

  1. Patient
  2. Calm
  3. Confident
  4. Brilliant
  5. Encouraged
  6. Social (just to the right degree)
  7. Non-reactive
  8. Motivated

However, an interesting fact to note is that federal law does not restrict any breed from any type of service work. No breeds, even mixed breeds, are ever restricted from working. There are numerous reasons why the Shih Tzu will make for an amazing service dog.

Service dogs must carry out some particular tasks that they learned to perform. There are no strict boundaries on the form of a dog that can be a service dog. Therefore, based on this premise, Shih Tzus can be awesome service dogs if they have the needed skills and are properly instructed.

The only discerning factor in the matter of a Shih Tzu being a service dog is its size. It is generally a point of concern when it comes to considering Shih Tzus as service dogs.

Training A Shih Tzu Service Dog

The bond between a dog and an owner is extremely special on its own. Although when it comes to the connection between a service dog and their handler, the relationship moves to a whole other level.

Serviced dogs give their handlers a little complicated companionship to describe in mere words. They provide a quality of life that cannot come to life without the assistance of the service dog. It truly does make them perfect specimens of a man’s best friend.

People require service dogs for numerous reasons. However, very few breeds are a good match in this scenario. There are multiple types of service dogs.

Some Of The Service Dogs Include:

  1. Guide dogs
  2. Hearing dogs
  3. Seizure response dog
  4. Sensory dogs

The specific disability of the owner will judge what form of training their dog will need to be a service dog. However, some Shih Tzus can also exhibit a natural capability to identify various health conditions.

Intriguingly, emotional support dogs are not considered to be service animals. The state law permits these animals to go with their owners in public places.

If you register your Shih Tzu as an emotional support dog for the sake of providing company and comfort. You cannot train it to perform a specific task to abet your disability. It will exclude the animal from becoming part of the ADA service dog group.

It is also possible to train your dog to be a service animal. However, this depends on certain factors that include the breed of the dog, its capability to learn, and your ability to train it. Along with the resources, you have to hire a professional trainer and the details of your particular disability.

It may sound unbelievable, but people have actually witnessed success in training their one service dog. The results are essentially based on the disability being assisted, your dog’s personality features, etc. But it is definitely a possibility.

Shih Tzus As Medical Dogs

Shih Tzus As Medical Dogs
Shih Tzus As Medical Dogs

Shih Tzu dogs are particularly well-formed to be service dogs as they are smart while being extremely observant. They perform very well in this position as they have an inherent cleverness that allows them to gauge situations quite adeptly.

Shih Tzus are clever dogs which makes them suitable for being medical alert dogs for their humans. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a service dog should have the following traits and uses.

They proclaim it to be “…any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.”

In reference to physical disabilities, medical conditions are a part of it. The medical alert service dogs should notify their handlers about possible allergies and get them medications, etc. A medical service dog’s usage can depend on the individual’s needs.

The fundamental categories of medical service dogs are:

  1. Hearing dogs
  2. Autism Service dogs
  3. Alert or response dogs
  4. Psychiatric Service Dogs (PSDs)
  5. Mobility Dogs

It is remarkable how the Shih Tzu can protect its human being from falling into a major medical emergency. They are proactive and alert the person about their medical condition.

An example of this may be the dog alerting its owner when its sugar levels are either too high or too low. It is a diabetic alert. They can also be immensely helpful for people with severe allergies. The dog will inform the owner of any allergy triggers in the vicinity.

Why Shih Tzus Make For Good Service Dogs?

A key characteristic of service dogs that is exceptional is that they can enter public areas. These include all those places that might also have a no pets allowed policy. Legally, there are only two basic questions that can a person can ask the individual with a service dog.

Other than that, institutions do not have the liberty to question about the particular disability of a person. They cannot inquire about any documentation either.

Although, it is not mandatory for food service businesses to allow the dogs to sit in a chair or have food at the table. There are also some churches and religious establishments that are exempt from allowing this as well.

Some of the tasks that service dogs should be able to perform comprise the following:

  1. pulling a wheelchair
  2. alerting a person to potential danger
  3. picking up dropped items
  4. pressing buttons
  5. reminding a person to take medication

A little Shih Tzu would not be a viable match for an owner who requires a dog that can pull a wheelchair. If you use a Shih Tzu as your service dog, your puppy may perform tasks of the same categories. It is entirely reliant on the specific requirements of the handler.

As there are various jobs that service dogs can execute. It is crucial to gauge the situation as not every person with a service dog might require one at the very first glance.

If an individual can see, hear, walk or talk, then it is normally assumed that that person does not require a service animal.

Although, the person may have actually taught their dog to alert them of some telltale signs of an upcoming medical attack.

Is A Shih Tzu The Right Dog for You?

Is A Shih Tzu The Right Dog for You?
Is A Shih Tzu The Right Dog for You?

A Shih Tzu is not a viable dog as a mobility support dog. This specific form of service does not suit smaller breeds. Mobility support dogs have to be capable of supporting their owners and executing physical tasks.

As a dog owner, you are accountable for looking after the service animal’s food intake and overall well-being. It includes proper grooming, taking care of their medical needs, and also being able to control your animal at any moment.

A Shih Tzu can be the perfect support dog in certain scenarios. For instance, they can conveniently bear the responsibilities of being a hearing ear dog, a seizure alert dog, a cardiac alert, a diabetic alert, an apnea, or another alert.

Shih Tzu can easily pick things up from the ground and bring your medications and phone if needed. Do not undermine the dog’s capabilities owing to its small size.

The breed of a dog does not need to be a matter when it comes to choosing a service dog. The Shih Tzu can qualify as a service dog as any other dog breed. The solution is to match the dog with the types of service the owner needs.

Besides their cuteness, there is the reason that the Shih Tzu is one of the most popular dog breeds in America. Many people out there choose the canine to be their companion in these circumstances.

Their wonderful temperament is the best part of having a Shih Tzu with you. They are wise, affectionate, and low-maintenance dogs, the combination of a perfect service dog.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Owning a Shih Tzu

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Owning a Shih Tzu
The Benefits and Drawbacks of Owning a Shih Tzu

Yes, Shih Tzus are small dogs. Still, they manage to become excellent sources of service when it comes to depending on them for your needs. So unless there is an extremely specific requirement for large-sized dogs, we must not undermine the capabilities of a Shih Tzu.

A significant bonus of having a Shih Tzu as your service dog is that they have the temperament that makes them ideal for this position. Neither are they overly clingy and too attached, nor do they overreact to circumstances.

Shih Tzus are normally very comfortable and relaxed in crowded spaces. Coaching them makes it effortless to make them suitable to be service dogs.

Also, other than the ease of training the Shih Tzu, there is the issue of housebreaking. If they overcome this, there is no better choice in the matter.

Service dogs can give a certain sense of stability to children. They execute a sense of safety in social settings, which can relax them. Additionally, they will also keep the children from running away. You can also breathe a sigh of relief when you train them to track children that may have a habit of wandering off!

Eventhgout many exemptions are in place for service animals in terms of adhering to rules and regulations. Vaccinations are a requirement for service animals, along with being appropriately licensed.

A downside of having a Shih Tzu as a service dog is that they are not big enough to be able to open doors and perform such tasks. However, when it comes to providing emotional support, these little doggies are prime candidates.

Final Thoughts

In its entirety, numerous aspects of a dog make it capable of benign a service animal. The temperament and personality of the animal are primary, along with the level of training the dog can go through.

As the Shih Tzu breed falls on both of these criteria, they are remarkable candidates for numerous categories of service dogs. However, there are always exceptions to any case, as every dog is special in its way. A Shih Tzu is a great companion and could make for a good service dog.


I am the owner of Shihtzuadvice.com and the proud parent of two black and one gold Shih Tzu's. I belive that the Shih Tzu is the best all-around dog for anyone and want to share with you as much valuable knowledge as possible about this great breed!

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