Can an American Bully be a Service Dog?

February 6, 2023 / Dog Breeds / By: Lilianna Parker

It is not uncommon to see the same types of dog breeds working as service dogs. You will likely mostly see Labs, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds in this field of work. However, there is no rule stating that only certain dog breeds can be service dogs.

Any dog that has been trained to perform a service for a person to aid their disability is a service dog. This means that American Bullies and other Bully breeds can be service dogs just like a Labrador Retriever can be.

In this article, we will be explaining exactly why Bully breeds can make for excellent service dogs with the right training. We will also be answering some commonly asked questions about service dogs in general.

Let’s dive right in!

Do Bully Breeds Make Good Service Dogs?

A pitbull service dog wearing a service vest dog

Yes, bully breeds can make great service dogs. This is because most bully breeds are very intelligent, so they can learn to perform tasks for disabled individuals. I have actually seen many great bully-breed service dogs working in my personal life.

When it comes to service dogs the main thing to consider is a dog’s trainability. This is because service dogs need to be specifically trained to do a specific task. They will also need to be able to ignore distractions like people and other dogs when working.

As long as a dog can do these things, they are an excellent service dog candidate.

Can American Bullies be Emotional Support Dogs?

Yes, any type of dog can be classified as an emotional support dog. In fact, more animals than just dogs can be considered emotional support animals.

This includes animals like cats and even more unusual pets such as ferrets.

As long as an animal provides their owner with important emotional support, it can technically be considered an emotional support animal.

All you will need before your wonderful American Bully can be classified as an emotional support dog is a letter from your mental health professional. A good example is your psychiatrist.

This letter states that you need to have your dog as an emotional support animal for your mental health and well-being.

Once you have this letter, your dog is officially considered an emotional support dog. You do not legally require any other type of certification for an emotional support animal in the United States.

Can American Bullies be Emotional Support Dogs?

Are There Any Service Dog Breed Restrictions?

There is no service dog breed restrictions. This means that both mixed breeds and purebred dogs can work as service dogs.

Service dogs do not necessarily need to be bought from a breeder either. There are many stories of adopted dogs becoming successful service dogs with some additional training.

What Does Service Dog Training Entail?

While training will likely be different depending on the type of service dog, there are some things that every service dog handler will need to do when training their dog.

Here are some basic guidelines on what service dog training generally entails.

Thorough Socialization

Service dogs need extensive socialization. This preferably occurs from puppyhood, but this is not necessarily needed in every instance.

Service dogs need thorough socialization because they are going to be out in public much more often than the average pet dog, and they will also need to not react to most stimuli in order to do their jobs properly.

Socialization includes:

  • Exposure to a variety of people and animals. You will be teaching them to ignore them most of the time.
  • Exposure to a variety of floorings and foot feelings. Service dogs walk on a greater variety of surfaces than the average pet dog does.
  • A variety of environments. Stores, public transportation centers, city streets, etc.
  • A variety of sounds. Loud and soft.
  • Crowds and crowded areas
  • Moving vehicles
  • Anything else that your service dog may come across 

The main goal of socializing is getting your dog used to things so that they do not frighten them. The last thing you want is a nervous or fearful service dog on your hands, so proper and thorough socialization is crucial.

Basic Obedience Training

Your dog will also need some solid basic obedience training before their service dog training begins. This is partially because it makes their service dog training easier and partly because service dogs are expected to be incredibly well-behaved.

For instance, service dogs must not chase things like small animals, children, or fast-moving objects. They must also be housebroken and refrain from destructive behaviors. Having a solid foundation with basic obedience training will allow you to move on to more advanced service dog training.

Service Dog Training

Once your dog has been properly socialized and has some essential basic obedience training, you can then begin service dog training. This training will teach your service dog how to do their job.

Some service dogs need extensive training in this area, particularly guide dogs for the blind. However, other types of service dogs may not need extensive service dog training. It depends entirely on the type of job or jobs that your service dog will need to do.

Can an american bully be a service dog?

Do You Need to Get Specific Dog Training Certification for Service Dogs?

While it is true that service dogs need much more training than the average pet dog, they do not need special dog training certification. They legally don’t need any certification for that matter.

According to the ADA, going through a specialized service dog training course is completely optional. This means that you even have the option of training your service dog entirely on your own! You can also go through any type of training course that you choose. There are no specific qualifications in this area.


Lilianna Parker

Lilianna Parker is a certified dog trainer through the Animal Behavior College, and has been involved in training dogs in the New York State community for several years. Lilianna has also written numerous works on dog training using positive reinforcement. She believes that every dog owner should have the tools that they need to see their dogs succeed. Her articles and blog posts about dog training are excellent ways for dog owners to get started with force-free training. She owns Simply Positive Dog Training and when she’s not writing or training, she enjoys going for hikes with her Shiba Inu called Cleo!

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