17 Best Emotional Support Dog Breeds

Emotional support dogs can help those living with anxiety and depression, easing their symptoms. Some breeds are better suited to provide support than others, with certain breeds offering more therapeutic benefits. Here are 17 of the best dog breeds for providing emotional support.

Labrador Retriever

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Labrador Retrievers are celebrated for their friendly nature, making them excellent champions for those needing emotional support. They are also highly trainable, responding well to positive reinforcement techniques. Guide Dogs writes that as well as being well suited to work as guide dogs, “with the right attention, care, and exercise, they can make wonderful companions and much-loved additions to a family.”

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

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The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is an adaptable and affectionate breed that thrives in various living situations. Their small size makes them perfect for sitting on laps and living in small spaces. They’re also known to get along well with children and other pets.

Yorkshire Terrier

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Yorkshire Terriers are smaller dogs but have big personalities, offering affectionate and lively companionship. This loyal breed requires regular grooming, a soothing activity that strengthens the dog’s and the owner’s bond.

Poodle

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Poodles are a highly intelligent breed available in various sizes (standard, miniature, and toy) to suit different preferences and living situations. Purina praises the Poodle for being “extremely trainable and clever in picking up emotions,” making it highly suited to provide emotional support.

Boxer

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Boxers are great companions, known for their unwavering loyalty and protective instincts. They are energetic and playful, encouraging their owners to take them for outdoor activities and exercise. They often become particularly attached to children, making them ideal for families.

Border Collie

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This is a highly intelligent herding dog that is capable of understanding and responding to emotional cues. Border Collies are energetic dogs that require regular exercise, so they’re better suited for people with an active lifestyle.

Chihuahua

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Chihuahuas develop strong bonds with their owners, and their small size makes them perfect for travel. Service Dog Training International notes that “Chihuahuas can offer not only emotional support and comfort to individuals with mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD but also perform specific tasks for their benefit.”

Cocker Spaniel

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Cocker Spaniels are gentle and affectionate dogs. These caring dogs are of medium size, with manageable energy levels that make them suitable for various households. Cocker Spaniels are also easy to train because of their intelligence.

Standard Schnauzer

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The Standard Schnauzer is a healthy breed known for its protective nature and famous for its beard and whiskers. Intelligent and versatile, the Standard Schnauzer is easily trained for various tasks, including emotional support.

French Bulldog

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Support Dog Certification explains that “French Bulldogs can be either an emotional support dog or a service dog, but a lot of people argue that they may be better as an emotional support dog.” Their relaxed nature and minimal need for exercise make them ideal for less active individuals and those living in confined spaces.

Beagle

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A curious and friendly breed, Beagles offer a cheerful presence that lights up the mood wherever they are. Well suited for retirement homes, these dogs are also suitable for families, as they bond well with children.

Pug

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Pettable argues that pugs are “ideal emotional support dogs as they provide incredible comfort and loyalty to their humans.” Known for their playful behavior, these dogs thrive on human companionship. Their smaller size of 10–13 inches and lower exercise requirements make them perfect for apartment living.

Australian Shepherd

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Highly energetic, the Australian Shepherd loves to engage in outdoor activities, making it ideal for active owners. They’re also affectionate and loyal, forming deep bonds with their owners. Training this breed is relatively easy due to their high intelligence.

Bernese Mountain Dog

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Initially kept as farm dogs, the Bernese Mountain Dog is a large breed known for its calm and gentle nature. Their large, fluffy coats offer a sense of security to those who need a comforting presence. They also especially enjoy outdoor activities in colder climates.

Golden Retriever

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Golden Retrievers are renowned for their patience and gentle temperament, making them ideal for emotional support. They are also strong swimmers who love outdoor activities, making them suitable for active lifestyles. ESA Doctors notes “that Goldens have all the traits necessary to be ESAs (Emotional Support Animals).” Golden Retrievers have been used to “help people, especially children, recover from trauma after significant tragedies.”

Shih Tzu

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This affectionate breed has expressive eyes and a long, flowing coat. Their small size, low weight, and moderate energy levels make them great for elderly individuals seeking company in their apartments. They require regular grooming, which can strengthen their bond with owners.

Greyhound

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The English Greyhound was built for racing and hunting. Tall and muscular, this dog can reach incredible running speeds of over 40 mph. But they’re also known for their calm and gentle demeanors and offer quiet companionship and support to families and individuals.

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