I have seen a few people inquiring about Czechoslovakian Vlčák as service dogs.
Let's first look at what a Service Dog is. Under the Americans With Disabilities Act, or ADA, a service animal is defined as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person's disability. Tasks can be many different things including, guide work for people who are visually impaired, hearing tasks, mobility work, medication reminders, alerting to blood sugar changes, alerting and responding to panic attacks, seizures and many other things. The criteria here, is that the handler is disabled, and the dog is trained in a behavior that directly helps mitigate the persons disability.
Lets also look at what a Service dog is not. Emotional Support and Therapy dogs are not considered Service Dogs because they have not been trained to perform a specific job or task. In other words, if the only thing that the dog is doing, is just being there, and that is comforting to the owner, that dog would not be considered a service animal under the ADA.
The law doesn't exclude any breeds, and the Federal ADA over-rides local breed bans in regards to service dogs. So why not use a CsV? If this is your thinking, you are partially correct. However, it can get sticky very quickly if the place you are trying to access, or local authorities should show enough evidence that they believe your dog may have wolf in it. But the CsV is a recognized dog breed!!! Again, you are correct in that technicality. However, currently the ADA protects domestic dogs, and in certain cases, miniature horses as Service Animals. If you look at CsV pedigrees, or if you look at a genetic break down of the individual dog, you will find that many of them will also fall into the category of low content wolf dogs.
Now lets look at what makes a good service dog, along with some of what is required by law for behavior. They must be non aggressive to both humans and animals. They cannot show any protective aggression unless the handler is being immediately threatened and it would be reasonable for a human to react aggressively in the same instance. They must be under control at all times. They need to be very stable in every sort of environment that you could encounter in public. Service dogs also need to be very biddable, or obedient to the handlers directions so as to carry out the work or tasks they are trained to perform for the handler.
Practically speaking, this means the dog must be attentive enough to the handler that the dog doesn't need to be constantly reminded to pay attention to the handler when they are asking the dog to do something. If the handler needs assistance with something that only the dog, and not the handler, would be aware of, such as for hearing assistance, or alerting to blood sugar, heart rates, or other chemical changes in the handlers body, the dog must be extremely attentive to the handler and be both willing and able to respond to things without direction from the handler.
And now, let us look at what the breed standards say about the CsV. The FCI standard calls for a dog that is fearless and courageous, yet also suspicious. The CSVCA also describes a dog that has quick reactions, is fearless, courageous, and suspicious. CsV's can have both a dominant and and independent temperament. The UKC standard is much the same. CsV's are also high energy, high prey drive, and need quite a bit of daily physical and mental stimulation.
So, what's the big deal? They were bred to be multipurpose working dogs! If they have a job to do that would provide them with both the mental and physical stimulation! Yes, it would. However, the combination of character traits in these dogs can make for some challenging moments when training.
While service dogs need to be able to ignore other people and dogs, they also must be tolerant of both in close proximity on occasion. With a CsV's natural suspicion of strangers, this could present problems with reactivity. Remember how a service cannot show any kind of aggression during public access? Also, if you as the handler have any kind of medical episode, or accident, the dog may very well not allow a EMT's or other First Responders to approach and help.
Another criteria, a service dog should in general be attentive and biddable. Due to their natural suspicion, and their prey drive, many CsV's tend to focus their attention outwards when in public, rather than keep focus on their handler. This has the potential to present a couple of different issues. One, if the handler needs to direct the dog to do something, is the CsV going to be attentive enough to you that they will hear your cues? Or will they be so focused elsewhere that you will need to constantly remind them to give you their attention? The other possible issue is if you are expecting your dog to alert to medical episodes such as blood sugar or heart rate changes. In order for a dog to do this reliably, they must be very handler oriented, even with major distractions. They must also be reliable enough that they won't provide an unnecessary alert to try and get to a reward.
Another thing to consider is why do you need a Service dog? A person who needs a service dog, has the dog with them because they need the help. If you, or someone you know, needs that kind of assistance, consider whether you have the energy and ability to provide the amount of training and extra work a breed like this will require. Will you have the energy to be that much more alert to your surroundings to create the optimal working environment for your dog? I am not saying that it can't be done, but these are serious questions and issues to consider before getting a dog like this to train as a service dog.
In summary, CsV's have been bred to be a very unique, hard working dog. They are intelligent, independent, phenomenal dogs. But the things that set them apart as unique from other beloved and wonderful breeds, more often than not makes them extremely incompatible with functioning as a service dog. You will find exceptions within the breed. But, these are just that, exceptions to the rule that this wonderful breed is not best suited to being a service dog. If you are considering a service dog, or if you know someone who is considering this breed as a service dog, I would strongly encourage them to look at other breeds first because of the potential for the person to put a lot of time, expense and effort into a dog that will be amazing, but they will not be able to function in the way you need them to.
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