I see some common questions in many dog communities. One of those is – can Greyhounds be suitable as a service dog? I was curious too! Wanted to learn how good or bad these dogs really do with physical or mental disability services? I tried my best to explain my findings below.
So, do Greyhounds make good service dogs? Greyhounds are good service dogs working with mental assistance. They do great as Psychiatric Assistant and PTSD Support Dogs. They can also help as Mobility Assistance Dogs as well. But, they are not recommended to perform physical disability services.
I explained those all. Keep reading to get the whole clear picture.
Working Dogs vs Service Dogs
Most people often mix up service dogs with working dogs. Let me tell you – they are not the same.
Working dogs are mainly trained to work as an employee with humans for some daily jobs, as opposed to pet or companion dogs.
On the other hand, service dogs are trained canines who perform tasks to assist physically or mentally disabled people. They are often referred to as assistant dogs as well.
As I understand, Greyhounds may perform in both fields. However, in this article, we are about to discuss their efficiency as service dogs only.
Type Of Service Dogs
Before moving further details, it is worth understanding the major categories of service dogs in short. That will help you to get a better understanding about Greyhounds and their abilities as service canines.
1. Guide Dogs or Visual Assistance Dogs
While choosing a “seeing eye” pooch, you need medium or large sized breeds. These canines provide better balance to the handlers.
2. Hearing dogs
Hearing dogs are similarly trained as guide pups, to help people who are deaf or hard of hearing. These furry friends alert their handlers on various important sounds. For example smoke alarms, doorbells, alarm clocks, and ringing phones.
For hearing pooch you need some well responsible doggy breed as they’ll be the “ear” of the handler.
3. Brace/ Mobility Assistance Dogs
Brace or mobility assistance is one of the most common services that dogs perform. Trained mutts help a person of any age who has balance issues due to any disability. Except that, Mobility support pups help disable persons in various tasks like retrieving dropped items, opening and closing doors, bringing objects to people, and operating light switches.
Large breeds furry friends are most suitable for these roles to provide balance and stability.
4. Diabetic Alert Dogs (DAD)
Diabetic alert dogs work as an alarm for people with Diabetes. The nose of these canines can detect the low level of blood sugars and show the signs to the handlers. So that the person can measure to control the situation.
Many diabetic alert pups are trained to alert others about potential medical issues if needed.
5. Seizure Alert Dogs
A seizure alert canine is trained to naturally detect an oncoming seizure. These types of service dogs are well trained to warn the person so the handler can get some safe place before a seizure starts.
It’s important to note that a seizure alert dog is different from a seizure response dog.
6. Seizure Response Dogs (SRD)
Seizure response dogs are also known as SRD. These types of service pooches are specifically trained for assisting during or immediately after the handler gets any kind of seizure. They may activate an emergency response alarm, retrieve a phone or medication, fetch a nearby person to help or remove a patient.
Please keep in mind that you just can’t train any SRD canine to a Seizure alert dog.
7. Psychiatric Service Dogs
These types of service dogs help people who have any Psychiatric disabilities like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These trained canines are able to sense any change in their handler, especially when the person is about to experience negative symptoms like anxiety attack or a flashback.
8. Autism Assistance And Support Dogs (Sensory Signal Dogs)
Autism support dogs assist people with autism by helping them gain independence as well as perform daily tasks.
These mutts are trained to keep autistic children or elder people from going away to some unknown places. Autism assistance canines can also track them if they really run off.
9. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) service dogs
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) service dogs support children who were exposed to alcohol prenatally, and have FASD issues. The training of these pups have similarities with autism service dogs.
These canines are trained to interrupt any repetitive behavior.
10. Severe Allergy Detection dogs
Allergy detection dogs recognize the smells of life-threatening allergens for their handlers. Most of the time these are food items or anything else that may come to the person’s contact.
Study shows that these pooches remain very useful for kids for detecting allergic items, and alerting the parents about those allergens.
11. Social Anxiety Dogs
Social anxiety dogs provide physical comfort to the handler when the person is about to begin some panic attack.
Another interesting skill of these mutts are taught is to give an alert that can pass for a need of potty. This gives the person an excuse to leave without feeling awkward.
12. Medical Alert Dogs
Medical Alert dogs can alert the handler about dangerous physical changes such as blood pressure, hormone levels. These canines are trained to detect verifiable or measurable bodily symptoms in a person.
All Diabetic alert dogs are Medical alert dogs, but not all Medical alert dogs are DADs.
13. Wheelchair Assistance Dogs
Wheelchair assistance dogs work like mobility assistance dogs. They are trained to help wheelchair dependent people. These service canines are strong to pull the wheelchair of the handler to move them one place to another.
They also retrieve dropped objects, open or close doors, retrieve phone or anything else the handler may need
What Makes Greyhounds An Ideal Candidate For Some Service Dog Categories?
As you see, Greyhounds might not be the best fit to perform all these categories, but some. Study shows Greys do superb in some categories. Yet, in other categories they might be a good fit. I’ll explain those later.
Before that, let me tell you a few more things that make Greyhounds a good candidate breed for being an awesome service dog.
- Temperament: Greyhounds are friendly dogs. Service dog trainers can easily teach them how to respond for specific disabilities.
- Size: In some categories of service dogs, size is a key factor. Fortunately, Greyhounds have the perfect size and shape to help most of those types of disable handlers.
- Low-Maintenance: Greyhound is a dog breed that needs small maintenance. It is very helpful for service dog handlers who are often physically or mentally disabled peoples.
- Low Shedding: Compared with many other dog breeds, the shedding level of Greyhound canines are lower. That makes Greyhounds more useful as an assistant dog.
- The strength: Although Greyhounds look skinny, they are a strong breed of dogs. Even a retired Greyhound can pull a wheelchair.
The large hounds are capable of handling many tasks where some physical efforts are needed as well.
- The Intelligence: More or less all the service dogs must need to be smart and intelligent. There is no exception to this rule.
Fortunately trained Greyhound doggies are smart enough to detect most of the early signs. They can easily alert the handler or other people nearby, when needed.
- Suitable Energy That A Partner Can Handle: A service canine needs low indoor activity, so that the owner does not need to worry about any mess the dog makes in a home. Greyhounds are the rare combination of both high and low energy in a dog breed.
The same Fido becomes highly active outdoors and less active while you have them indoors.
- Longevity: I believe the average lifespan of a breed is very important for any service dog. Study shows that Greyhounds live 10 to 14 years on an average. That means they remain fine after finishing a lengthy (one or two years of) training to become a service dog.
Roles That Greyhound Service Dogs May Perform Best
I believe Greyhounds may fit in many categories of service dogs. And many groups of people are testing those.
I am about to discuss here the few categories, where these pups are already doing excellent jobs. So, keep reading.
Can Greyhound Be A Good Brace / Mobility Assistance Dog?
A mobility assistance dog must need good physical strength to support the weight of the partner. Large breed Scooby-Doos are the best choice for this category.
However, all large breed Fidos do not have the same level of temperament. A good Brace Assistance Dog also needs the temperament to help if the disable partner.
Trained Greyhounds are perfect matches for mobility assistance works for any age of humans. These active pups can assist the handler up and down stairs or even help them stand up if they’ve fallen.
Besides, these dogs can retrieve objects, open/close doors or do other tasks to assist in day-to-day life or in an emergency.
I know a Greyhound named DeeDee, a retired racer. She helped as a balance support dog for her owner from 2012 to till April 2018. She did really well till she got 11 years of age.
I added a video of DeeDee above. You can find more videos of DeeDee on that same YouTube channel.
Can Greyhound Be A Good Psychiatric Service Dog?
Yes! Greyhounds are super mind readers. They can help people who are suffering from depression, anxiety and PTSD as well.
In October 2017, a Greyhound called Avery was featured in some news channel. He was helping his owner Emily l as a Psychiatric service dog. The pooch helped her to recover a lot from a breakdown. If you check the video above, you can learn more about them.
Except that, trained Psychiatric Service Greyhounds help veterans to overcome their bad memories in combat. They help people who were the first responder of any disaster or crime. In many cases, these trained breed served people with experienced abuse things, or terrorism and other life-altering events, such as car crashes.
Many people are working with retired Greyhounds these days, to prepare them as Psychiatric Assistance Service dogs. You can learn more from the above video I added.
Can Greyhound Be A Good Wheelchair Assistance Dog?
Yes, Greyhounds are big enough to assist a wheelchair dependent person. With their physical strength these pups can move the wheelchair if needed. Service Greyhounds can add more freedoms in their wheelchair partner’s life.
I know another retired Greyhound named Hero, was assisting veterans who have balance issues or can’t walk freely.
An organization called Greyhound Pets Of America mainly came up with the idea of connecting disabled veterans and retired racer hounds. They offered new careers for retired racer Greyhounds. For more details you can check the video I added above.
Roles Greyhound Service Dogs May Fail To Perform
Greys are nice dogs, however they also have limitations. You can easily identify some categories where they can’t fit themselves. That is easy common sense. And I believe those don’t deserve explanation.
Nonetheless, there are some categories where you may think them a good fit but they are not!
If you need explanations of those, keep reading.
Can Greyhound Be A Good Guide Dog?
You may imagine Greyhounds as a suitable breed to be a guide dog for their large size and strength. That is the common mistake many people make!
Greyhound canines have a moderate to strong prey drive in their breed. They love to chase. They easily get destructive by nature. Therefore, Greyhounds are not a good fit for a guide dog.
A visually impaired person may need to visit outdoors randomly. Even a trained Greyhound gets super active while outdoors. If they get distracted that may harm the blind person. So, Greyhounds are not a good suggestion as a Guide pup.
Can Greyhound Be A Good Hearing Dog?
Greyhounds have a nice sense of sounds. Trained Greys can specify any known sound with the sources as well. Therefore, as a “hearing dog” they should assist hearing impaired people.
A trained Greyhound has the ability to easily alert his deaf partner about environmental sounds, smoke or other alarms, doorbells, knocking, phones, or their name.
You can offer them to take those responsibilities while they are indoor. In the outdoors, the story is completely different. Chances are a service Greyhound may get distracted and behave differently. That can also risk a deaf handler’s life.
Of course, exceptions happen sometime. Nonetheless, Greyhounds are not recommended service dogs for hearing impaired people.
Roles May Fit Greyhound Service Dogs (no examples found yet)
Can Greyhound Be A Good Diabetic Alert Dog?
Greyhounds have a great sense of smell. If taught, I believe they can recognize the smell of sugar levels, like many other dog breeds.
I’m not so sure if anybody already has tried them to train as a Diabetic Alert Dog. However, I look forward to learning about those cases. If you have heard anything like these, please put those in the comment section.
Can Greyhound Be A Good Seizure Alert or Seizure Response Dog?
Greyhound breed has all the following abilities that a typical Seizure Alert Dog needs to perform:
- Display alert behaviors before a seizure occurs.
- Get close to its owner during a seizure to prevent injuries.
- Alert a caretaker, family member or emergency response system.
- Fetch a telephone, alert device or medication.
- Open a door or turn on a light.
Yet, they need training to detect the symptoms before or during seizure occurs. An intelligent breed like Greyhound should learn those
I’m not sure if there is any complication to train a Greyhound to detect Seizure symptoms. So, I’m continuing to study about this. If you get any reference, please feel free to write in the comment section.
Can You Train Your Own Greyhound As A Service Dog?
Yes of course! Depending on the types of services your Greyhound Fido needs training. Service dog training can take from a few weeks to many months.
Greyhounds are quick learners. They adopt service dog training faster than some other breeds.
Greyhounds are getting popular day by day as service canines in some categories. With strong physics they are very smart, quick decision makers and helpful for the owners. Most of the retired Greys got to the shelter. They remain fit enough to be a service dog.
A number of categories are still open where racing hounds were not tested yet. Service dog training programs can start focusing on those categories and bring new careers for those shelter dogs.