Emotional support dog breeds come in all shapes and sizes. And even though most pups can offer support, certain breeds are hard-wired with traits that make them especially fit for the role.
If you’re someone who experiences mental health issues, these emotionally supportive canines will be there to offer you unconditional love, companionship, build strong bonds and comfort. By default, these therapy dogs happen to be some of the friendliest and least aggressive dog breeds.
They’ll make life seem more bearable with their gentle and calm demeanor.
- 1 21 Emotional Support Dog Breeds
- 1.1 1. Labrador Retriever
- 1.2 2. Golden Retriever
- 1.3 3. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- 1.4 4. Corgi
- 1.5 5. Standard Poodle
- 1.6 6. Great Dane
- 1.7 7. Yorkshire Terrier
- 1.8 8. American Staffordshire Terrier
- 1.9 9. German Shepherd
- 1.10 10. Border Collie
- 1.11 11. Vizsla
- 1.12 12. English Bulldog
- 1.13 13. French Bulldog
- 1.14 14. Bichon Frise
- 1.15 15. Doberman Pinscher
- 1.16 16. Pomeranian
- 1.17 17. Bernese Mountain Dog
- 1.18 18. Mini Schnauzer
- 1.19 19. Boxer
- 1.20 20. Dachshund
- 1.21 21. Chihuahua
- 2 Best Emotional Support Dog Breeds | Final Thoughts
21 Emotional Support Dog Breeds
Whether you’re looking for a protective pup, a fluffy cuddle buddy, or a goofy dog to help cheer you up when you’re down, these are the best emotional support dogs.
1. Labrador Retriever
Image from Markus Distelrath on Pexels
Labrador Retrievers are even-tempered, gentle, and friendly. They’re hard-wired with a strong desire to please their owners, which makes them easy to train. They also tend to be comfortable out in the world, which makes them a good companion for people who like to travel a lot or often leave their homes.
Because labs are so smart and obedient, they do well as emotional support animals for any range of mental health issues. Their presence makes their owners feel more grounded and relaxed. They make for excellent emotional support dogs.
2. Golden Retriever
Image from Svetozar Milashevich on Pexels
Golden Retrievers are loyal, friendly, and have a patient demeanor. They are one of the most popular dog breeds because of their gentle nature, which means they do well with all ages and family sizes.
These intelligent and highly trainable dogs can easily learn a range of specific tasks and tricks. But because they tend to have a lot of energy, they do require regular walks or exercise.
They are very social and do well with meeting new people and animals. Even in unfamiliar environments, these service animals usually stay even-tempered, which makes them great emotional support dogs. To put it simply, Golden Retrievers want nothing more than to love and be loved.
3. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Image from Lauren Bate on Pexels
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are one of the best-behaved dog breeds. Their temperament is sweet, affectionate, and playful. These cuddle bugs were bred as companion dogs. They love being in your presence, whether that’s by your side on a long walk or simply lounging next to you on the couch.
Because of their small size, they do well as apartment dogs since they don’t require a lot of space.
Due to their cute appearance and overt friendliness, they make great “ice breakers” in what might otherwise be socially awkward situations. They’re like little stuffed animals and make especially great companions for people with depression or PTSD.
Image from Antoni Shkraba on Pexels
It’s no wonder that the former Queen of England loved Corgis so much. These small dogs are an easy-going, happy, and playful breed. Just watching them run around on their short little legs and play can bring joy to anyone. They like to be active, so they need an owner who can help them exert some of their energy every day.
Corgis are herding dogs and are known for being aware of their surroundings at all times. This is good for people who need emotional support, as they can also pick up on human emotions. They have a strong instinct and desire to protect their owner and do well with all ages.
5. Standard Poodle
Image from Sean McSeveney on Pexels
From the looks of a poodle, you might think their foo-foo appearance disqualifies them from being good emotional support dogs. However, Standard Poodles are one of the smartest breeds of dogs and can pick up on their owner’s feelings quite easily. They can be great emotional support animals.
They’re very lovey-dovey and people-pleasing. Poodles want nothing more than to be around you 24/7. But because of this, they can get separation anxiety from their owners and shouldn’t be left by themselves most of the day.
Their goofy personality is sure to bring a smile to your face. And since Standard Poodles are one of the longest-living dog breeds, they’ll be by your side for a long time.
6. Great Dane
Image from Matthias Zomer on Pexels
Great Danes are protective, loyal, and affectionate. If you want a furry bodyguard or a buffer zone between you and other people, this is the dog breed for you. However, their looks are a bit deceiving since Great Danes are actually gentle giants.
Although they will protect their owner if they feel they are being threatened, they generally hold their power and force quietly and calmly.
Great Danes are good with kids, but they can be aggressive with new dogs. This is why socialization at an early age is crucial for this breed of dog.
7. Yorkshire Terrier
Image from JÉSHOOTS on Pexels
Yorkshire Terriers are feisty, energetic, and confident. They make good emotional support dogs because of their small size. They reach a max of six to seven inches tall and weigh between two and seven pounds.
They can be taken anywhere dogs are welcome, and they don’t mind traveling. They adapt well to new environments and can be your spunky sidekick in social situations. This is a big bonus for people with mental health issues who prefer constant support.
These portable pooches also make good lap dogs. They are more than willing to provide their caregivers with physical closeness whenever they require it.
8. American Staffordshire Terrier
Image from Bulat Khamitov on Pexels
American Staffordshire Terriers are confident, good-natured, and smart. They are deeply devoted to their owners, and they pick up on their emotions. Staffies don’t startle or spook easily; they respond well to unexpected situations with a calm demeanor.
American Staffordshire Terriers also get a bad rap for being one of the dog breeds that resemble Pitbulls but aren’t. This can make some people feel uneasy around them, even though they’re very predictable and even-tempered.
As long as they’re properly trained and socialized from an early age, this breed of dog gets along well with other people and animals.
9. German Shepherd
Image from K Zoltan on Pexels
German Shepherds are smart, loyal, and confident. They are hard-wired with strong protective instincts, which can lead to aggression if not well-trained from an early age. However, they are fairly easy to train and eager to please their owners.
This protective pup usually attaches themselves to one person, but they’re still affectionate and loving towards other members of their family. They get along well with other pets and children if raised with them. However, they tend to be leery around people they don’t know.
10. Border Collie
Image from Alotrobo on Pexels
Border Collies are energetic, friendly, and smart. Many consider them to be the most intelligent dog breed. They learn quickly and respond well to praise.
This active breed of dog requires lots of exercise and is best suited for living on a property with enough space for them to run around. Because of their high energy, they can help motivate you to get out of the house and move around with them, even on the days when you don’t want to.
Because they were bred as herding dogs, they look to their owners for directions and rarely choose to leave their side.
Image from chepté cormani on Pexels
Vizslas are loyal, highly intelligent, and playful. They like to stay busy and require plenty of exercise. This breed can suffer from separation anxiety, which can lead to destructive behavior if left alone for long periods of time. They love stimulating dog toys to keep them company when you can’t.
Because they were bred as hunting dogs, they have a strong prey drive and shouldn’t live in the same household as small pets, like rodents and birds. They love to be around other people and make great family pets.
Even though they are considered medium-sized dogs, they’re giant lap dogs. They love cuddling their owners, but for this reason, they’re best suited for families without young children.
12. English Bulldog
Image from Chris Shafer on Pexels
English Bulldogs are kind, gentle, and predictable. They don’t require a lot of exercise and are perfectly content cuddling next to you on the couch all day. This makes them great emotional support dogs for people who don’t lead an active lifestyle.
Because they have such a calm demeanor, they can help give their owners a more grounding and laid-back feeling. Even though this bulldog breed might look intimidating because of its stocky build and blunt face, they are not prone to aggression. They rarely even bark.
13. French Bulldog
Image from cottonbro studio on Pexels
French Bulldogs are playful, affectionate, and social. They thrive on attention and love cuddling and being around people. They’ll be there for you when you need a shoulder to cry on, and their clownish personality will help turn your frown upside down.
They do suffer from separation anxiety when left alone, but that’s just because they love their owners so much. This small-sized dog breed is not prone to aggression, and they bark very little. They do well with children of all sizes and make excellent family pets.
14. Bichon Frise
Image from David Brown on Pexels
Bichon Frises are one of the smartest small dog breeds. Their temperament is playful, gentle, and social. They are like little friendly clowns with happy dispositions that make them stress relievers by default.
If you like to socialize, these little fluffy furballs love being around other people and attract attention wherever they go. They get along well with other dogs and are easy to travel with.
Bichon Frises can live in any sized living space. Even though they require regular exercise, their small size means they might be able to exert all of their energy by simply doing doggie zoomies around your house.
15. Doberman Pinscher
Image from Aysun Kahraman Öktem on Pexels
Doberman Pinschers are the type of dog that will make you feel safe and secure. This medium-large dog breed is extremely loyal and affectionate towards its owners.
They are nicknamed “velcro dogs” because they desire to be next to their humans at all times. Female Dobermans tend to form a closer bond with one person, whereas males are more playful and social with their whole pack.
They are people-oriented but do need to be properly socialized at a very young age. Dobbies have very high protective instincts, and they might require extra training, so they don’t perceive every interaction as a possible threat.
Image from KoolShooters on Pexels
Poms are very outgoing and want to be everyone’s friend, but their number one loyalty lies with their owners. They thrive in almost any setting, and their small size makes them portable. So whether you need someone to cuddle with at home or explore the world with, they’re down for anything.
They are a dog breed that tends to bark, but early training and understanding their needs can help reduce this.
17. Bernese Mountain Dog
Image from Travis Saagi on Pexels
Bernese Mountain Dogs are calm, gentle, and sensitive. If you’re in need of extra comfort, these big teddy bears will be all too willing to oblige. They have tender hearts and are one of the least aggressive dog breeds.
As with all large canines, early socialization is key. But Bernese Mountain Dogs are quick to learn and all too eager to please their owners. They don’t do well with harsh verbal reprimanding; instead, they respond better to positive reinforcement.
18. Mini Schnauzer
Image from Sebastian Coman Travel on Pexels
Mini Schnauzers are friendly, lively, and intelligent. They’re relatively easy to train and enjoy doing tricks for their owners. They get along well with other dogs, as well as children and strangers.
Even though they’re small in size, Schnauzers make excellent watchdogs. They’re big on barking and will let you know if anyone is about to come into your space.
Although they prefer to be by their owner’s side, these friendly dogs usually don’t mind being left alone for long periods of time too. Just make sure to leave them some chew toys to keep them occupied.
Image from Jackson Jorvan on Pexels
Boxers are high-energy, playful, and intelligent. It’s an absolute must to socialize this breed of dog early, however. They can express fear-based aggression with strangers and children if not exposed to them at a young age.
Boxers like to keep busy and require lots of exercise. They need this release of energy to help them stay calm.
If you’re the type of person who enjoys exploring nature, this is the perfect breed for you. They’ll be your adventuring companion and faithful guardian. Boxers are extremely loyal and will protect their owners at all costs.
Image from Dominika Roseclay on Pexels
Dachshunds are playful, clever, and courageous, but they’re known for having a stubborn side, too. They are trainable and have a high energy level, but your efforts need to stay consistent.
These dogs are fiercely loyal, and they often bond very closely with just one person. If not given enough attention, they can get jealous easily. As long as they receive plenty of affection and cuddles from their owner, they make great pets.
If you want a clingy dog who is protective of you, these affectionate dogs will make an excellent sidekick.
Image from nishizuka on Pexels
The temperament of Chihuahuas can range from timid and shy to feisty and outgoing. They’re intelligent animals and very loving. Because of their small size, they’re a great choice for first-time dog owners.
If you want a constant companion, Chihuahuas will gladly accompany you anywhere and everywhere. They don’t require lots of exercise, but they do require plenty of cuddles.
These little lap dogs like to snuggle close to you for two reasons: they love getting attention, and it helps their tiny body stay warm. Like most small dog breeds, their lifespan is long. A Chihuahua can live to be 12 to 20 years old.
Best Emotional Support Dog Breeds | Final Thoughts
If you’re suffering from mental health issues that affect your mood, thinking, or behavior, these emotional support dog breeds will help reduce y
our stress and ease your anxiety. Think of these companion animals as a furry friend who is always rooting for you to succeed.
If you’re looking for an ESA dog or psychiatric service dogs or want to find out how to get an ESA letter check out this article from the American Kennel Club.