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Can a Mastiff Be a Service Dog? The Facts Explored

Rachel Giordano

By Rachel Giordano

Neapolitan Mastiff standing in the meadow

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Mastiffs are one of the oldest dogs around and come in various breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC): Mastiff, Bullmastiff, English Mastiff, Neapolitan Mastiff, American Mastiff, Tibetan Mastiff, Anatolian Mastiff, Dogo Argentino, and the Cane Corso. These majestic, massive, and muscular dogs have served in wars, used as guard dogs, and they make gentle-giant family companions. But can a Mastiff be a service dog?

Any domesticated dog breed can be a service dog as long as the dog can learn specific tasks catered to a person’s specific disability. In this article, we’ll explore the Mastiff’s role as a service dog.

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How Do Mastiffs Make Good Service Dogs?

Any Mastiff breed is intelligent and can learn commands and tricks easily. Once they learn a command, they do not forget. Mastiffs are focused and bond closely with their handler. They also are excellent mobility dogs due to their massive size, which comes in handy for those in wheelchairs. Mastiffs can range anywhere from 80 to 230 pounds depending on the particular Mastiff breed, and their gentle nature makes them a popular breed to own.

Due to how close they bond with their handler, they also make excellent service dogs for those with PTSD, anxiety, and depression. These gentle giants are also protective of small children and their human families and will defend them to the death, which is one of the many qualities that make them excellent guard dogs in addition to service dogs.

What Is the Best Mastiff for a Service Dog?

Any Mastiff breed can serve as an excellent service dog due to their many suitable characteristics: they are intelligent, hard-working, gentle, have easy temperaments, and are massive, which enables them to easily pull a wheelchair and learn commands based on aiding a person with a specific disability.

In short, you can’t go wrong with any Mastiff breed to train as a service dog, so there’s really no “best” Mastiff breed for this purpose.

Brindle Mastiff Close up
Image Credit: Joseph Gruber, Shutterstock

What Breed of Dog Is Most Commonly a Service Dog?

Mastiffs are not the only breed used as service dogs; in fact, many different dog breeds are excellent candidates to serve as service dogs. However, the most common dog breeds that make exceptional service dogs are:

  • Golden Retriever
  • Labrador retriever
  • Border Collie
  • Bernese Mountain Dog
  • German Shepherd
  • Saint Bernard
  • Poodle
  • Great Dane
  • Boxer
  • Pomeranian

What Qualities Should I Look for in a Service Dog?

Even though any domesticated dog breed can be a service dog, one should look for certain characteristics to ensure the dog will have the ability to learn all the tasks and commands from their handler that caters to their specific disability.

The dog should be eager to please, intelligent, easy to train, have a stable temperament and calm demeanor, be loyal and friendly, and possess a loving disposition. The dog should have the ability to not be distracted by loud noises and be friendly around children and adults. A service dog should have the desire to work and be a quick learner, as well.

man in wheelchair and his service dog outdoors
Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

Tips for Keeping Your Service Dog Safe

Whatever dog breed you go with to train as a service dog, ensure the dog eats a proper, high-quality diet. Take your service dog for regular checkups, and you must be willing to uphold their training and work with them every day.

You should also invest in a service dog vest that displays your dog is just that, a service dog, which means people shouldn’t come up and pet your service dog out of the blue. A service dog is working when out and about with you, and if people constantly come up and want to pet your service dog, it could distract them from attending to you.

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Final Thoughts

Mastiffs are massive dogs with gentle personalities. In fact, their enormous size is similar to having another adult living in the household. If you’re looking for a smaller dog as a service dog, the Mastiff may not be the right fit for you. However, if you don’t mind the exceptionally large size of a Mastiff, you can’t go wrong with owning one.

Featured Image Credit: Christian Mueller, Shutterstock

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