Can French Bulldogs Be Service Dogs?

| Updated: August 15, 2023
Can French Bulldogs be good service dogs? The poll says YES!

If you’re a fan of French bulldogs, you probably adore their cute faces, funny personalities, and cuddly bodies. They are the perfect companions for snuggling on the couch, playing in the park, or taking selfies for Instagram. And they aren’t too demanding. There’s a reason they are the most popular dog in America now, according to the AKC.

But did you know that Frenchies can also be service dogs?

Perhaps that comes as a surprise, but yes, your little loveable pup might have what it takes. It depends on a few factors, and not every individual will qualify.

Let’s look at what service dog functions Frenchies are best suited for and what to look for in a potential service animal. Ready?


What Makes a Good Service Dog?

Service dogs are not ordinary pets. They have special training to assist people with disabilities or health conditions, including mental health. They are often required to perform tasks that their owner can’t do themselves. Like alerting a blind owner that they are approaching a crosswalk.

Have you ever seen that before? To me, seeing dogs be so helpful is never short of extraordinary.

To be a good service dog, certain qualities and skills are needed to make them suitable for their job. Some of the most important characteristics a dog must have are:

  • Temperament: The dog should be calm, confident, and friendly. They should not get distracted, scared, or aggressive easily. They should be able to handle different situations and environments without getting stressed or overwhelmed.
  • Intelligence: They should be smart and trainable with the ability to learn new commands and tasks quickly and reliably. They should also be able to adapt to changing circumstances and follow their owner’s cues.
  • Health: Being healthy and fit is necessary. Any medical conditions or disabilities could interfere with their work or affect their quality of life. They should also be well-groomed and clean to avoid spreading diseases or allergens.
  • Size: They should not be too big or too small to perform their duties effectively and safely. For example, a large dog may not be suitable for someone who lives in a small apartment or needs to travel frequently, while a small dog may not be able to provide physical support or protection for someone who is disabled or vulnerable.

Do French Bulldogs Meet These Criteria?

French bulldogs have many traits that make them great candidates for service companions.

  • Calm and friendly: French Bulldogs are known to be easy-going and sociable dogs. They get along well with people and other animals. They are not prone to barking or biting, which makes them ideal for public places.
  • Smart and trainable: French bulldogs are really intelligent and eager to please their owners. They can learn new commands and tasks with positive reinforcement and consistency. They are also very loyal and attentive to their owners’ needs and emotions.
  • Healthy and clean: French bulldogs are relatively healthy dogs that do not require much grooming or exercise. They have short coats that shed minimally and do not produce much dander or saliva. They are also low-maintenance dogs that do not need much space or equipment.

But Frenchies also have some challenges that might make them less suitable for service work.

  • Small and fragile: French bulldogs are small dogs that weigh around 20 to 28 pounds on average. They have short legs and flat faces that make them prone to breathing problems, overheating, and joint issues. It can be difficult for them to perform tasks that require physical strength, endurance, or speed, like pulling a wheelchair, carrying heavy items, or running long distances.
  • Stubborn and sensitive: French bulldogs can be independent and stubborn. Meaning they don’t always follow commands or instructions the way we’d like. They may need more patience and motivation than other breeds to train them as service dogs.

Their health is one of the biggest concerns when considering service work because they are prone to quite a few health conditions. When they are healthy, they are good to go, but that is more likely to change with Frenchies than some other breeds.

To see the cutest little Frenchie in action, check out Charlie with his 1 1/2 year old buddy.

Charlie the Frenchie service dog

What Types of Service Dogs Can French Bulldogs Be?

Let’s say we’ve got a prime candidate that would make an excellent service dog. What kind of work or tasks are Frenchies best suited for? To answer that we have to look at the different types of service dog jobs.

  • Guide dogs: Dogs that assist people who are blind or visually impaired. They help them navigate through obstacles, traffic, stairs, doors, etc. They also provide companionship and confidence for their owners.
  • Hearing dogs: Dogs that assist people who are deaf or hard of hearing. They alert them to sounds such as doorbells, alarms, phones, etc. They also provide comfort and security for their owners.
  • Mobility dogs: Dogs that assist people who have physical disabilities or impairments. They help them with tasks such as opening and closing doors, picking up and retrieving items, pushing buttons, etc. They also provide balance and stability for their owners.
  • Medical alert dogs: Dogs that assist people who have medical conditions or disorders. They alert them to changes in their blood sugar, blood pressure, heart rate, etc. They also provide emergency assistance and medication for their owners.
  • Psychiatric service dogs: Dogs that assist people who have mental health conditions or disorders. They help them cope with symptoms such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc. They also provide emotional support and comfort for their owners.

French bulldogs are often best suited for psychiatric or medical alert service, as these tasks do not require much physical strength or stamina. They can also make good hearing dogs. They have good ears and can be trained to respond to sounds. But, they aren’t really ideal as guide dogs or mobility dogs since these tasks require more size and speed.

What’s the Difference Between Service Dogs and Other Types of Assistance Animals?

Service dogs aren’t the only type of assistance animals that are able to help people with disabilities or mental health issues. There are also other types of assistance animals, like:

  • Therapy dogs: You’ve seen the stories about the friendly dogs that visit children’s hospitals. That’s a therapy dog! These dogs provide comfort and happiness to people in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, etc. They don’t have to be certified as a therapy dog or have specific training or tasks; they are simply friendly and well-behaved. They do not have the same legal rights and access as service dogs.
  • Emotional support dogs: Emotional Support Animals (ESA) can be practically any type of animal. Whether it’s a dog or something else, they provide emotional support and companionship to people who have mental health issues like depression, ADHD, social anxiety, etc… They do not have any specific training or tasks, but they are prescribed by a licensed mental health professional. They were given limited legal rights and access under the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act, but not under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

French Bulldogs as an Emotional Support Animal

French bulldogs are good therapy dogs or ESAs because of their temperament, behavior, and general loveability. But they still might need to meet certain criteria and follow certain rules to be recognized as such. Unlike service dogs, therapy dogs and ESAs do not get the same protections and freedoms.


What are the Legal Rights and Responsibilities of Service Dog Owners?

Service dog owners have certain legal rights and responsibilities under the ADA. The ADA is a federal law that protects people with disabilities from discrimination. Some of the most important rights and responsibilities of service dog owners are:

  • Rights: They have the right to bring their service dogs to any public place or anywhere open to the general public, like restaurants, hotels, stores, theaters, etc. They do not need to pay any extra fees or deposits for their service dog. Nor will they need to show any proof or certification of their dogs’ training or status.
  • Responsibilities: Owners have the responsibility of keeping their service dog under control at all times. They must use a leash, harness, or other device to restrain their dog unless it interferes with their disability or the dog’s job. They also have to make sure that their dog is well-behaved and doesn’t cause any trouble or harm to others. They need to clean up after their dogs and follow any local laws regarding vaccination, licensing, etc.

Common Problems and Issues with French Bulldogs as Service Dogs?

I mentioned it briefly above, but although French bulldogs can be service dogs, they may face some common problems and issues along the way. Some areas of concern are:

  • Health problems: They are prone to various health problems due to their breeding history and physical features. Some of these problems include brachycephalic syndrome (breathing difficulties), intervertebral disc disease (spinal problems), hip dysplasia (joint problems), cherry eye (eye problems), skin allergies (skin problems), etc. These problems can affect their ability to work or require expensive medical care. You will need to take good care of your Frenchies’ health and visit the vet regularly to prevent or treat these problems.
  • Training difficulties: Stubbornness and sensitivity can make it more difficult to train French bulldog’s to work as a service dog. They don’t respond well to harsh methods or negative reinforcement and get bored or distracted easily during training sessions. You’ll need to be patient and consistent with your Frenchie’s training and use positive reinforcement and rewards to motivate them. It’s a great idea to hire a professional trainer or look for specialty organizations to help you with the training process.

Becoming a Certified Service Dog

If you think that your Frenchie has what it takes to be a service dog, you could be right! You also probably wonder how to make it happen. There are some steps and guidelines that you need to follow to make your Frenchie a service dog. Here are some of the things that you need to do:

  • Consult your doctor: The first thing that you need to do is to consult your doctor or mental health professional to see if you qualify for a service dog. If you do, you’ll get a letter or a prescription that states your need.
  • Choose your Frenchie: The next thing to do is look into getting a French bulldog candidate. Check that your Frenchie meets the criteria we discussed above. You should also consider the dog’s age, personality, and health. Ideally, dogs between 6 months and 2 years old that are friendly, calm, and healthy make the best candidates. Remember, not all dogs can be trained to help in the way we need them.
  • Train your Frenchie: By far, the most important step is to get your Frenchie trained correctly. Your pup will need basic obedience skills, such as sit, stay, come, heel, etc. To truly become a service animal, they will need proper training that relates to your disability or condition, such as alerting you to sounds, fetching items, providing emotional support, etc. Because it can take years to complete service dog training, it’s most common to get one from someone that already trained them. It’s possible to do it yourself, but depending on the disability and the tasks needed to be trained, it can be very difficult.
  • Socialize your Frenchie: Another essential thing is socialization. In this case, exposing your Frenchie to different people, animals, places, and situations that they may encounter as a service dog. They will need to know how to behave appropriately in public places, such as not barking, jumping, or begging for food.
  • Optional – Register your Frenchie: The final thing you can do is register your Frenchie. If you would like to register your service dog, one option is the national service animal registry. Although this is not required by the ADA, it can alleviate issues by providing identification, verification, or documentation. There may also be state or local government registries. They are all on a voluntary basis only! If you decide to register your dog, you might have to pay a fee or upload a photo of your pup. Once you register your Frenchie, you will receive a certificate and an ID card that you can use as proof of your service dog status.

Other Dog Breeds That Make Amazing Service Animals

For some reason, the belief spread that the only two dogs that could be service animals were Labs and German Shepherds. They do make fantastic service animals, but the statement itself is fundamentally wrong. Any breed of dog can make great assistance dogs! They will need to be evaluated on an individual basis though not every dog is a good candidate. A few excellent breed options, besides the Frenchie of course, are:

As you can see, any breed can become a service dog; some are just more common than others. If you think a French bulldog will make the best ESA or service companion for you, then go for it!!

Kayla Stewart Author Image
Kayla Stewart
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