17 Best Emotional Support Dog Breeds

If you’re debating getting a dog and having trouble deciding which breed to get, you’re in the right place. We’ve compiled 17 dog breeds that are excellent at helping their owners in various ways, whether it be emotional support, companionship, or as service animals.

Golden Retriever

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Golden Retrievers are known for their friendly and gentle nature. They are highly sociable and compassionate, making them ideal for emotional support. Golden Retrievers are also very intelligent and easy to train. US Service Animals states, “Golden Retrievers love to retrieve. They are a good choice for a mobility assistance dog as they are quickly able to learn commands and enjoy the act of bringing things to their owner.”

Labrador Retriever

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Renowned for their loyalty and affection, Labrador Retrievers are sensitive to their owner’s emotions and adaptable to various environments, making them great as both emotional support and service dogs. This breed is independent yet loving, providing a balance of companionship and personal space.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

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The CKCS is a small, charming, and affectionate pup, perfect for those who want close companionship. They can form strong bonds with their owners, which makes them ideal for emotional support. These Spaniels also have a very gentle nature, so they are suitable for families and individuals alike.

Poodle

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As shared by the American Kennel Club, Poodles can be used as “guide dogs, assistance dogs for people with other physical disabilities, and therapy dogs.” They’re intelligent and easy to train, responding well to commands. Poodles are also patient and very eager to please, making them excellent for the support roles mentioned.

Pug

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Pugs are known for their loving and sociable nature, meaning they are great for companionship and emotional support. As an added bonus, their small size makes them suitable for apartment living. They also require less exercise than some other breeds, making them ideal for less active owners or those with limited mobility.

Shih Tzu

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Affectionate and good-natured, Shih Tzus are perfect for emotional support. Their small size means that they are suitable for indoor living and can provide close companionship. According to Pettable, “Shih Tzus are ideal service dogs for psychiatric and intellectual disabilities. Their affection and snuggly nature will make them brilliant companions to their handlers.”

Maltese

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Maltese dogs are small, affectionate, and ideal for being lap dogs. They love being close to their favorite person and are perfect for single adults looking for a companion. They do require regular grooming; however, this enhances the pet-owner bond through care.

Havanese

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The Havanese are adaptable and travel-friendly, suitable for owners who are always on the go. These dogs are extremely friendly and social, helping their owners in social interactions. They are also non-shedding and calm, which is good for public travel. Havanese pups can even be therapy or service dogs.

Yorkshire Terrier

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Easily portable and confident, Yorkshire Terriers are great in all kinds of social situations. They’re also playful, energetic, and affectionate at home. As a bonus, Yorkshire Terriers have a protective nature, meaning they’re good for alerting owners to potential dangers.

Cockapoo

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According to Dogs for Good, the Cockapoo breed can make great assistance dogs. Although loving to all family members, these dogs tend to connect and form a special bond with one individual. “This devotion to the one person who needs them the most can create a spectacular bond, which is exactly what we’re looking for in our assistance dog partnerships.”

American Staffordshire Terrier

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PetMD says, “The modern AmStaff is a loving, cuddly, and loyal family dog known for their athleticism and eagerness to please their favorite people.” These dogs are confident, good-natured, and smart, making them ideal for sensing their owner’s emotions. With training and proper socialization, they also have a calm demeanor, responding well to unexpected situations.

German Shepherd

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German Shepherds are smart, loyal, and confident, with strong protective instincts. These dogs are affectionate toward family and good with children and other pets. They can also attach strongly to one person, making them great support dogs while remaining loving toward others.

Border Collie

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According to PetPlan, “This highly intelligent, graceful dog is born with an instinct to work and responds extremely well to training.” Border collies are energetic, friendly, loyal, attentive, and always looking for guidance from their owner. These dogs are the perfect companions, best suited to active households.

Vizsla

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Vizsla dogs are loyal, highly intelligent, and playful—nicknamed “velcro” dogs because they like to stay stuck to their owner’s side. This breed thrives on companionship and is very eager to please. Unfortunately, they can develop separation anxiety, so they’re best suited for someone looking for constant love and attention.

English Bulldog

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Kind, gentle, and predictable, English Bulldogs make great companions. They have an extremely calm demeanor, providing a grounding presence for owners, and are not prone to aggression or excessive barking, making them good for peaceful environments. They also have low exercise requirements, meaning they’re ideal for someone who struggles to get out too often.

French Bulldog

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According to TomKings Kennel, French Bulldogs can help reduce loneliness, manage stress and anxiety, reduce symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, and depression, motivate people to be more social, and boost self-esteem and confidence. They’re playful, affectionate, and sociable dogs, thriving on attention. They’re also prone to separation anxiety, indicating strong bonds with their owners.

Bichon Frisé

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The Bichon Frisé breed is cheerful, playful, and gentle, making them great for families. They do require regular grooming, though this further encourages bonding through care. With humans, they are very sociable and affectionate, meaning they are good for companionship and emotional support.

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