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Can Pitbulls Be Service Dogs? Requirements & FAQs

Rachel Giordano

By Rachel Giordano

pitbull walking with his owner

The word “Pitbull” elicits fear in many people but in reality, Pitties make excellent companion dogs when properly trained, just like any dog. Pitbulls have a bad reputation, mainly because of backyard breeders and poor breeding of these dogs, but in reality, Pitties are loyal, loving, intelligent, and eager to please. With these excellent characteristics, can Pitbulls be service dogs? Thankfully, yes, Pitbulls can be service dogs.

Read on to learn more about the requirements for a Pitty to become a service dog and what they have to offer an individual that is in need of such services.

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Can Pitbulls Be Service Dogs?

Most certainly. Delta airlines implemented a ban on Pitbulls being allowed to accompany a person as a service animal. As of 2021, Delta airlines lifted the ban as long as they have the proper documentation requirements for service dogs. In fact, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)1 allows any type of dog breed to work as a service animal. So, any type of Pitbull-type dog can be a service dog, whether the dog is an American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bully, or Staffordshire Bull Terrier—all of these breeds classify as a “pitbull-type” dog.

Delta airlines are not the only airline that lifted its ban; the Department of Transportation prohibits any airline from banning pitbull-type dogs being allowed on flights as service dogs.

pitbull on a leash lying on sand
Image Credit: Jools Theriault, Pixabay

How Does a Pitbull Become a Service Dog?

Now that we know Pitties can serve as service dogs, how do they become one? All service dogs undergo specific training catered to the individual’s needs. Certification and registration are not required; however, airlines may require a U.S. Department of Transportation form attesting to the animal’s behavior, training, and overall health.

A person can train their dog on their own or enlist a dog-training service to train the dog. A dog training service can train the dog to the individual’s specific needs, but it can be costly—you may pay up to $25,000 for a service animal.

What Do Service Dogs Do?

Service dogs aid people with certain disabilities and help them function in everyday life, such as guiding the visually impaired, retrieving items for people with mobility issues, signaling signs for the deaf or hearing impaired, and alerting to possible heart attacks and seizures before they happen.

Pitbulls make excellent service animals due to their intelligence, strong, muscular build that allows them to pull wheelchairs, and the ability to give stability when walking or standing.

staffordshire terrier dog walking with owner
Image Credit: Aleksey Boyko, Shutterstock

What Disqualifies a Dog from Being a Service Dog?

In order for a dog to pass service animal requirements, the dog must have a calm demeanor and be able to remain calm in any environment, such as other dogs barking, loud noises, etc. The dog must remain focused on their handler at all times and have a low enough energy level to sit or lie with their handler. The dog must walk alongside their handler without pulling or tugging. The dog must also not show aggression, be overweight, timid, or aloof.

Are Pitbulls Allowed on Rental Properties as Service Animals?

Some rental management companies or individual landlords may ban certain dog breeds they feel are aggressive from being on a rental property, and Pitbulls are typically one of the breeds falsely considered aggressive. However, if the Pitbull is a service dog, the dog must be allowed on the premises with its handler/owner.

Sadly, it can still be a headache getting your Pitbull service animal approved. For example, a landlord or management company may not have the right to ask what disability you have but they can request documentation proving that the disabled person, in fact, needs the service animal.

man holding documents
Image Credit: Piqsels

Tips for Keeping Your Pitbull Safe

Socializing your Pitbull is essential, especially given they have a bad rap and can be looked down on in society as being aggressive dogs. Any dog can exhibit undesirable behavior without proper training, and the Pitbull is no exception. Ensure you spend time with your dog and train appropriately to keep your Pitty happy, healthy, and safe.

Give your Pitbull adequate daily exercise to keep obesity at bay and feed a high-quality dog food that provides all necessary nutrients. If you run into snags while training, hire a professional to help you achieve training success.

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Pitbulls may have a bad rap, but that doesn’t mean they cannot be service dogs. In fact, Pitties make excellent service dogs due to their intelligence and loyalty to their owners. Any dog breed can be a service animal as long as they pass the test and requirements regarding its temperament and abilities.

Nearly 50% of dogs do not possess the necessary traits to become service dogs, proving it takes dogs with particular characteristics and abilities to succeed as service dogs. If you’re a Pitbull owner and have wondered if you can make your doggie into a service animal, the answer is a resounding yes.

Featured Image Credit: William Perugini, Shutterstock

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