Can A Yorkie Be A Service Dog? (How to Register Them)

People often don’t think a Yorkshire Terrier could be a service dog. Yorkies are often thought of as yippie little ankle biters and have a bad rap for being untrainable. Also, their small size and limited stamina may make people believe they can’t perform service-oriented tasks. This simply isn’t true. Yorkies can be trained to perform some very useful tasks for their owners.

Yorkshire Terriers can be trained as service, therapy, and emotional support dogs. Being loyal, alert, and intuitive, Yorkies have characteristics that can help support their owners. People who have mental or physical disabilities such as PTSD, anxiety, or diabetes have benefited from having a Yorkie service or support dog.

Thank you Kim H. for use of your photo!

It is no secret that Yorkies are a very polarizing breed. People tend to either love them or dislike them, but for anyone who has ever owned a Yorkshire Terrier, they know these little guys are not only playful and charismatic but also loving and devoted. Yorkie owners will defend and brag on their little pups all day long!

Read on to learn more about the reasons for a Yorkie’s suitability as a service dog.

And if you are looking for a service dog vest for your Yorkie, click here to see the best options available now!

Definition of Service Dogs

According to Americans with Disability Act (ADA): “A service animal is defined as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.  The tasks performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability.” 

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Under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA): “A service animal is any animal that is individually trained or able to provide assistance to a person with a disability, or any animal that assists persons with disabilities by providing emotional support.” 

It is important to understand that in order to be considered a service dog your Yorkie must be trained to perform a task or a service for you that you can’t do yourself.

There are so many ways in which service dogs can assist humans. These laws don’t specify the particular dog breeds that can be considered service dogs. Thus, it’s not so surprising to see a small breed as a service dog. Their hard work can make all the difference in improving the quality of life for their owners.

Can a Yorkshire Terrier really be a service dog? What services do they provide?

For obvious reasons, Yorkies would not do well for people that need a Service Dog for tasks that involve physical support and heavy lifting. However, that doesn’t mean your Yorkie is out of the picture. 

Many Yorkshire Terriers have proven adept at alerting their owners to symptoms associated with diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, or asthma.

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Yorkies are very different from most service dogs but they do have some special talent. 

  • Yorkies are great for the hearing impaired and deaf

    One Yorkie owner says her dog will alert her when her phone is ringing/vibrating and she’s not near it to feel it.
  • Yorkshire Terriers can help individuals who have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

    One Yorkie owner has their dog sleep with him. His dog can recognize when he starts to have bad dreams. It licks his face to wake him and comfort him. This has helped him from having more extreme night terrors.
  • Despite being small, Yorkies can still be adept at helping around the house with more manageable projects.

    One owner has trained her dog to bring her small items that she needs.
  • The Yorkshire Terrier service dog is valuable for those who have psychiatric disorders such as autism and social anxiety disorders.
  • Also, Yorkies have even proven themselves to be valuable as medical alert service animals. These little dogs can be trained to detect epileptic seizures and subtle changes in a diabetic’s glucose level. Yorkshire Terriers can sense when their owners’ blood sugar reaches dangerous levels and let them know.

    One Yorkie owner’s dog will detect when she starts to have a seizure. She has been trained to press a medical alert button on the floor, and then lay on her owner and bark loudly until help comes.

Following are some of the manageable house chores most Yorkies can be trained do:

  • Fetching television remote
  • Pulling open cabinet doors with soft handles
  • Retrieving light clothing from the dryer
  • Alerting their owner to specific sounds, like telephone ring, alarm, or if someone’s at the door
  • Alerting their owner of baby cry
  • Fetching the newspaper from the lawn

Consider training your Yorkie to become a service dog if he has the following characteristics:

  • Your dog is intelligent and obedient
  • Your dog is well-behaved in public situations.
  • Your dog is healthy to perform the required tasks
  • Your dog is quiet and active when in public

Yorkshire Terriers can be wary of strangers, so they need to be very well socialized and have the right temperament in order to do their jobs in public with no problem.

How To Make Your Yorkie a Service Dog

If you want your Yorkshire Terrier to become a service dog the process is quite simple. Either you or a professional needs to train your dog to do a specific task for you. This task is something that you can not do or have trouble doing for yourself.

Whether the task is to detect when a seizure may be coming or alert you when your blood sugar is getting too low there needs to be a specific task that your dog is trained to do.

If this task is something that you need help with while in public areas your dog needs to be well socialized and able to be in a public place without being disruptive or aggressive.

A service dog is allowed to go into any public place with the exemption of some religious buildings. You do not have to have a license or any documentation stating that your dog is a service dog.

If you are questioned by a business about your service dog they are allowed to ask you 2 things.

“(1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform? Staff are not allowed to request any documentation for the dog, require that the dog demonstrate its task, or inquire about the nature of the person’s disability.” (Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals and the ADA)

Although it is not required to have any identification for your service dog it can be very helpful to have a service vest for your dog so that you can avoid some uncomfortable questions or possible confrontations. Yorkie service dog owners have loved this vest for their dogs. You can check the prices on service vests by clicking here.

It’s important that if you plan to have your Yorkie be a service dog that you train it properly and don’t take advantage of the opportunity to have your dog with you in public places.

Because some people are taking advantage of just saying their dog is a service dog without the proper training it is shining a bad light on service dogs in general and making it more difficult for people who actually do need their dogs in order to function in society.

How to Register Your Yorkie as Service Dog

You do not need to register your Yorkie as a service dog. As long as your Yorkie provides you with a service you can not provide for yourself, is well trained, and is well behaved in public your Yorkie qualifies to be a service dog.

Be aware of online companies promising to provide you with certification. These companies are often scams and they can not officially create any legal documents that would certify your dog as an official service animal.

Pro Tip: Even though it is not required, It can be helpful to have some sort of identification for your service dog. Here you can find service tags and badges for your dog.

Difference Between a Service Dog and an Emotional Support Dog 

Here are some key differences between service dogs and emotional support dogs:

  • Service dogs perform duties and tasks that their disabled owner can’t do. Emotional support dogs offer comfort to people suffering from any trauma or mental health problem.  

    For example for someone who suffers from PTSD if the dog is trained to go into a room to sniff, look around, and check that is safe and then come and signal to their owner that it’s ok to enter that would be a service dog. That would be a specific task that it has been trained to do.
    If the dog is just there to offer support and comfort to the person with PTSD that is not a service dog.
  • Service dogs need training while emotional support dogs do not undergo extensive training.
    Service dogs undergo quite a bit of training in order to be able to complete specific tasks for their owners.
  • Service dogs can easily travel anywhere with their owners. Emotional assistance dogs cannot travel anywhere with their owners. 

Are Yorkies Good Emotional Support Dogs?

With their small size and loving nature, Yorkshire Terriers possess the qualities that make them wonderful emotional support dogs.

Many Yorkie owners I’ve talked with identify their dogs as ESA (emotional support animals) for their needs. Most of the owners said their dog helps with GAD (general anxiety disorder) PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), and depression.

Yorkies can be amazing for kids who have these issues. I have 2 daughters with anxiety and ADHD and our little Maltese Chihuahua mix Bear helps them a lot. When they are feeling overwhelmed and having an anxiety attack he will go and lick their face nuzzle up to them and sit on their laps. It helps considerably to get them to a calmer state faster.

Yorkies won’t give you the additional stress of transportation since they are quite lightweight and very portable. They are the perfect size to carry in your purse anywhere you go. 

There’s nothing quite like the warmth of a sweet cold nose. Yorkshire Terriers can provide you with emotional support as you go about your day. Cuddling up with a Yorkie can boost your spirits when you’re feeling low. 

Yorkies are capable of making their owners feel better and feel happier. They can be of great advantage to those with mental health conditions. Owners must train their Yorkshire Terriers and ensure that they do not misbehave in public, despite the situation.

Do Yorkies Like to Cuddle? (What Owners Say)

What to Look for in a Service Dog 

Regardless of the breed of dog, there are some qualities and characteristics a good Service Dog should possess. These include:

  • The dog should be of the right size, with the right amount of strength and stamina to perform the required duties.
  • The dog must be physically active as well as calm and peaceful when in public.
  • The dog must be smart and a problem solver. It should have a some intelligence and obedience.
  • The dog must always be well-behaved in public situations. They should not be aggressive, hyper, or snappy at public places.

Can a Yorkie be a Therapy Dog?

A therapy dog lends comfort and affection to people in an establishment or to certain people who require help to deal with a physical or emotional problem. They are neither service dogs nor emotional support dogs. 

The responsibilities of therapy dogs are to provide comfort, assistance, and psychological therapy to individuals other than their handlers. Generally, they visit hospitals, schools, old age homes, nursing homes, and many more.

Yorkies are an intelligent and easy-to-train breed. This fantastic combo of brains and beauty makes him an ideal therapy dog. Yorkies do have a tendency to bark, so they need to be trained to stay quiet and calm.

One Yorkshire Terrier owner told me that she takes her Yorkie to a nursing home to help seniors who suffer from memory loss.

The comfort that these energetic and tiny Yorkie can share is remarkable. This small breed is also valuable for those individuals that suffer from any psychiatric issues. Yorkshire Terriers can provide relief to those in anxiety-provoking situations. They can bring comfort and relief to those who are grieving or lonely. Yorkies offer affection to people who are in hospitals or nursing homes.

Cost For a Yorkie Service Dog

The cost for a Yorkie service dog can range widely depending on the amount of time needed to train your dog to fulfill the tasks required. On average service dogs cost between $10,000-$50,000. A big part of that cost is training, but also covers pet health insurance, food, care, and other expenses.

On average Yorkie owners spend around $25,000 through the lifetime of their Yorkie, this is just a regular pet parent, and does not include the added cost of having a service or ESA dog.

You can add another $10,000-$50,000 on top of that to factor in service or ESA training.

Cost Break Down for Yorkie Service Dogs

Cost to purchase a puppy
Service Training Cost
$150-$200 an hour
Vet Bills
$75-$500 a month
Food and Supplies
$75-$500 a month
$30-$100 a month
Additional expenses (Pet sitting etc.)
$50-$200 a month

Vital Stats About Yorkies

Let’s have a look at some vital stats of the Yorkshire Terrier:

Dog Breed Group
Toy group 
Lapdog, Companionship
Gentle, Charming, Playful, Peaceful 
Average Height
8-9 inches
Average Weight 
8-15 Lbs
Energy level 
Exercise needs
Low; 20 minutes per day
14 – 19 years 

Yorkie Characteristics and Personality  

Yorkies are affectionate, fun-loving, and happy dogs. Most Yorkshire Terriers generally share the following personalities:

  • Loyal: Loyalty is a natural behavior of Yorkies. These little dogs are very loyal to the family.
  • Great watchdogs: Yorkies are alert dogs who are fearless in a charming toy-dog way. They tend to bark at anything suspicious if you want to get alert for unexpected people or animals, Yorkies serve as reliable watchdogs.
  • Playful: Yorkshire Terriers are playful dogs and enjoy playing and spending time with their human companions. They thrive on human companionship and can get anxious if they don’t get enough interaction with their owners.
  • Intelligent: Yorkies are fairly intelligent and smart dogs. They can read and react appropriately to human gestures. These little guys have a good memory. need mental stimulation to stay away from mischievous and destructive activities. 
  • Affectionate: Yorkies are very loving and affectionate dogs. They need your attention and affection but offer unconditional love to their owners.
  • Barkers: Yorkshire Terriers are vocal dogs with high barking potential. You can train your Yorkie to stop barking and to avoid unpleasant situations.
  • Adapts well to apartment living: If you live in an apartment or small home, then this little guy is a suitable option for you. Yorkies are excellent apartment dwellers due to their small size.
  • Trainable: Yorkies can sometimes be a bit harder than other small breed dogs to train, but if you have the right tools and enough patience this breed is generally smart and adaptable. Yorkies respond well to rewards-based training. You will need to use treats and games to teach your Yorkie to comply with your requests.

Trying out a fun training program together like this widely popular program Brain Training for Dogs can help unlock your dog’s hidden potential and help them learn how to avoid problem behaviors.

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The temperament of a Yorkshire Terrier is affected by a number of factors, including genetics, training, and socialization. 

Next Steps 

Overall, a Yorkie is a small dog that is not capable of performing big tasks like pulling a wheelchair or supporting balance.

There are many Service Dog tasks that a Yorkie is capable of learning. These include being there for psychiatric issues and small duties around the home like opening cabinet doors.

The Yorkshire Terrier’s size, personality, and capabilities make them a good emotional support dog. They can soothe people who need a furry companion through petting, cuddling, and doing simple tricks or playing games.

Learn more about what makes a Yorkie unique by reading these articles next.

Are Yorkies Jealous Dogs? (What to Do)

8 Reasons Why your Yorkshire Terrier Follows You Everywhere!