Best in Show: Public Perceptions of Different Dog Breeds as Service Dogs

Jennifer K. Link and Matthew Wice

Department of Psychology, State University of New York, New Paltz

Recent research has shed light on the amount of discrimination faced by those who require service dogs (Mills, 2017). While most of the research thus far on discrimination against those who use service dogs has pertained to the appearance of the disabled individual, very little has assessed the appearance of the dog in the amount of discrimination an individual faces. The current study aimed to examine the ways in which the breed of dog impacts the way they are viewed as Service Animals. Participants each looked at one picture of a dog, either a Pomeranian, a Pit Bull type dog, or a Labrador Retriever. They then answered a series of five questions about the animals’ legitimacy as a Service Animal. Pomeranians were rated significantly lower on perceived legitimacy than both Labrador Retrievers and Pit Bull type dogs. Additionally, participants rated themselves as the least comfortable around Pit Bull type dogs, regardless of their perceived legitimacy. These findings continue to shed light on the ways that individuals with service dogs are perceived and contributes to the larger body of research surrounding those who are discriminated against for their disability.
Keywords: Service Dogs, Animal-Assisted Intervention, Human-animal Interaction, Breed Discrimination

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Keywords: animal-assisted intervention, Breed Discrimination, human-animal interaction, service dogs
Posted in Pre-Publication Articles