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Can Malteses Be Service Dogs? Facts & FAQ

maltese dog in meadow

When people think of service dogs, they often imagine large breeds such as Golden Retrievers or German Shepherds. However, there are many other breeds that can make excellent service dogs, including the Maltese.

Maltese dogs are known for their affectionate nature, intelligence, and trainability. They have been bred for centuries to be companion animals, and their small size and hypoallergenic coat make them popular pets for people with allergies or who live in apartments.

But can a Maltese be a service dog? The answer is yes. While they may not have the same physical strength as larger breeds, Maltese dogs have many qualities that make them well-suited to the role of service dog.

In this article, we will explore the benefits of training a Maltese as a service dog and what is involved in the training process.

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Maltese Quick Facts

The Maltese is a small toy dog breed that originated in the Mediterranean island of Malta. They weigh between 4 and 7 pounds and stand about 7 to 9 inches tall.

Maltese dogs are known for their long, silky white coat that does not shed and they are considered hypoallergenic. They are a very friendly, intelligent breed that enjoys the company of people!

Young maltese dog in a meadow
Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

What Would Make the Maltese a Good Service Dog?

The Maltese breed possesses several qualities that make them a good candidate for a service dog. Firstly, their small size makes them an excellent choice for people who need a service dog but cannot handle a larger breed.

Their hypoallergenic coat is a significant benefit for people with allergies, as they produce less dander and are less likely to trigger allergic reactions.

Maltese dogs are also very alert and aware of their surroundings, which is essential for a service dog to detect changes in their owner’s behavior or medical condition.

As intelligent dogs, they are highly trainable and can be taught to perform various tasks. Maltese dogs are loyal and form strong bonds with their owners, making them a reliable and dedicated companion.

Lastly, they are adaptable and can adjust to various environments, including crowded public places, airports, and hospitals. These traits collectively make the Maltese an excellent choice for a service dog.

How Can My Maltese Become a Service Dog?

To become a service dog, your Maltese needs to undergo extensive training.1 The training process involves teaching your dog specific skills that will help them assist you with your disability.

Some of the skills your Maltese will learn during training include:
  • Retrieving items
  • Alerting
  • Mobility assistance
  • Emotional support

The training process typically takes between 18 and 24 months, and it involves various stages, including basic obedience training, socialization, and specialized task training.

Woman trains her white maltese dog in the park
Image Credit: Monika Wisniewska, Shutterstock

What Other Dogs Can Be Service Dogs?

Aside from the Maltese, are there other dog breeds that make great service dogs? In reality, any breed of dog can be a service dog! While some breeds are more popular than others, all dog breeds can undergo training and become service dogs as stated in the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) guidelines.

Some of the most common breeds used as service dogs include:
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Golden Retriever
  • German Shepherd
  • Poodle
  • Great Dane
  • Boxer

What Makes a Good Service Dog?

While all dog breeds can become service dogs, not every dog may be cut out to be a service dog.

Some of the traits that make a good service dog include the following:
  • Trainability and intelligence
  • Calmness in different situations
  • Alertness
  • Properly socialized with strangers
  • Properly exposed to various environments
  • Overall health
  • Loyalty to wonders

When training a service dog, it’s best to start the training when they’re younger. In addition, proper socialization and exposure to a variety of environments is crucial in making an excellent service dog.

White maltese dog walking with his owner
Image Credit: Monika Wisniewska, Shutterstock

Service Dogs vs. Therapy Dogs

Service dogs and therapy dogs are often mistaken for one another. They may be similar in perception, but they have different roles.

A service dog is trained to perform specific tasks to assist a person with a disability, while a therapy dog provides emotional support to people in hospitals, schools, and nursing homes.

Therapy dogs do not have the same legal rights as service dogs, and they are not allowed in public places where pets are not allowed.

The Importance of Service Dogs

Service dogs play a vital role in the lives of people with disabilities. They help people with physical disabilities, visual or hearing impairments, and various mental health conditions. They provide aid and support, enabling people to live more independently and with greater freedom.

Service dogs can provide a wide range of services such as mobility assistance, alerting their owner to important sounds or events, detecting changes in their owner’s medical condition, and even helping to prevent self-harm and providing emotional support.

Service dogs are also important for their role in raising awareness about disabilities and promoting inclusion in society. By working with their owners in public places, service dogs help to break down stereotypes and misconceptions about people with disabilities, and they can inspire others to become more accepting and supportive.

maltese dog walking with owner at the park
Image Credit: artellliii72, Pixabay

The Legal Rights of Service Dogs

In the United States, service dogs are protected by federal laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). These laws provide legal protections for service dogs and their owners, including the right to access public places, transportation, and housing.

Under the ADA, service dogs are allowed to accompany their owners into any public place, including stores, restaurants, and other businesses. Businesses are required to allow service dogs into their facilities and cannot charge extra fees or impose additional restrictions on their presence.

Similarly, under the ACAA, service dogs are allowed to travel on airplanes with their owners, free of charge, and without requiring any special documentation.

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Final Thoughts

While the Maltese may not be the most common breed used as a service dog, they have many qualities that make them well-suited to the role. With their small size, hypoallergenic coat, and intelligence, Maltese dogs can provide valuable assistance to people with disabilities.

If you are considering training your Maltese as a service dog, it is important to work with a reputable training organization that can provide you with the guidance and support you need. With proper training and socialization, your Maltese can become a loyal and effective service dog, helping you to live a more independent and fulfilling life!


Featured Image Credit: TaniaVdB, Pixabay

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