English bulldogs originated in the British Isles before the 13th century. They are sweet dogs who tend to be gentle and loving. These dogs are great with children and generally get along well with humans. However, in spite of these great qualities, English bulldogs are not known for being good service animals.

Can an English bulldog be a service animal? No, English bulldogs are susceptible to health issues and have physical limitations because of their breed. Because of this, they are not suitable service animals.

In this article, you will learn about English bulldogs, why they do not make great service animals, what service animals are, and whether an English bulldog can be an emotional support animal.

Can English Bulldogs be Service Animals?

While English bulldogs are fantastic canine companions, the breed is not suitable for servicing their humans in the capacity that official service animals do. There are a few reasons why English bulldogs should not be service animals, and they are:

  • They are challenging to train.
  • They are not allowed to fly.
  • They are not as physically capable as other dogs.
  • Their lifespan is only 8 to 10 years.

Trainability

A breed’s ability to be trained is a critical component when considering an animal for a service dog, as they have to be trained to perform specific tasks for their owner.

English bulldogs are well-known for being sweet dogs who enjoy loitering the afternoon away on a soft couch. They are a terrific choice for a family dog. Unfortunately, they are also known to be quite stubborn and difficult to train, which can prove to be a challenge when you need a dog who can perform repetitive tasks for someone with a disability.

Their laid-back temperament means they are not inclined to try to please their owners. They do not need a job to be happy the way other breeds do.

No Fly List

English bulldogs are considered a brachycephalic breed because they have a short head and nose, which leads to respiratory issues even in a typical environment. When flying, brachycephalic dog breeds are more likely to die on an airplane.

The higher likelihood of death has prompted some airlines not to allow brachycephalic breeds on their planes. It is best to check with the airlines to find out individual rules.

Whether or not you can fly with your service dog is vital to consider if you are thinking about using an English bulldog as a service animal. Service animals must be able to go everywhere their owners go – even if that is on a plane.

Physical Limitations of an English Bulldog

Before setting your hopes on an English bulldog as a service animal, you must think about the physical limitations of the dog breed and what tasks would be expected of them as a service animal.

An English bulldog can run, but not for very long. You could expect an English bulldog to run a solid mile, but they cannot sprint for an extended period like other breeds.

PetMD reports that English bulldogs tend to have hip dysplasia and difficulties breathing due to their narrow nostrils and soft palate being longer. They cannot pant to cool off, either. These factors work together to create problems for the English bulldog when running.

Lifespan

Before considering an English bulldog as a service animal, it is crucial to be aware that the breed’s life span is only eight to ten years. Lifespan is vital to consider when looking at a breed for a service dog.

Training a service animal is costly in both time and money. Once someone with a disability has a trained animal to assist with everyday tasks and their quality of life improves, it is challenging to have to start over with a new animal. Owners do become attached to their service dogs, and this disruption can be distressing.

What Is a Service Animal, Exactly?

The American Disabilities Association (ADA) defines the term service animal as a dog trained to do tasks that help an individual with a disability.

These service dogs must be able to do the work to help the person with a disability directly. These tasks might include:

  • Assisting those who have low vision or are blind with navigation or performing other essential tasks.
  • Alerting those who are deaf or have other hearing issues.
  • Performing rescue work or non-violent protection.
  • Helping during seizures.
  • Alerting someone to the presence of allergens.
  • Retrieving items.
  • Helping with physical support, such as balance or stability.
  • Preventing specific destructive behaviors for those with psychiatric disabilities.
  • Being able to call 911 for help.
  • Opening and closing doors and cabinets.
  • Turning lights off and on.
  • Identifying symptoms before the owners are aware of their onset.
  • Assisting with insomnia or other nighttime disruptions of sleep.
  • Being able to bark and finding help quickly.
  • Assisting the owner to become situated in a wheelchair.
  • Sensing low blood sugar.

Service animals have to be chosen wisely because they are assisting a person with a disability. A disability is a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activities. A service dog helps those with disabilities live a more independent life and are trained to help their owners have access to the parts of their lives that were previously limited. 

What Are the Qualities of a Good Service Dog?

If you are considering an English bulldog for a service animal, it is essential to consider what qualities service dogs should possess. Jen Karetnick discusses the qualities of a good service dog in her article for the American Kennel Club, “Service Dogs 101 – Everything You Need to Know.”

A service dog should possess the following qualities:

  • They must be able to remain calm even in unfamiliar and distressing situations.
  • Service dogs cannot react in every situation. They must be able to stay alert and observant.
  • They must display a willingness to please.
  • They must be trainable and be able to remember information.
  • A service animal needs to be able to perform repetitive tasks.
  • Service animals need to be able to be in the world with their owners, so they must be socialized and adaptable.

What About Emotional Support Animals?

According to Stephanie Gibeault in her article for the American Kennel Club titled, “Everything You Need to Know About Emotional Support Animals,” emotional support animals provide a valuable service to their owners by providing comfort and emotional support regularly, but they are not considered service animals. A licensed mental health professional must prescribe an emotional support animal to a patient.

An English bulldog does have the potential to be an emotional support animal because there is no specific training other than being well-behaved in public.

An emotional support animal is different than a service animal not just in its training, but in its ability to enter establishments like malls or places where food is served. A service animal would be granted access where an emotional support dog would not. However, emotional support animals are welcome in housing that might otherwise not be pet-friendly due to the Fair Housing Act.

In the End

An English bulldog may not have the characteristics necessary for a service animal, but they can be a suitable emotional support animal. The overall disposition of an English bulldog lends itself to be a compatible part of a family and home, and their loving nature is likely to bring comfort.

Another question many people wonder is if English bulldogs are good with kids, which I answered in this post.

Learn More

If you want to learn more about English Bulldogs or other types of Bulldogs, then consider checking out this Bulldog Handbook on Amazon.