Having a dog is beneficial for your mental health. With that in mind, meet the 14 best emotional support dog breeds.
All dog owners will be more than happy to tell you about all the benefits life with a dog can offer. Besides companionship and unconditional love (don't forget about plenty of snuggles and kisses!), having a dog can work wonders for anyone struggling with mental health issues. This is why mental health professionals will sometimes prescribe an Emotional Support Animal to people who might need a little extra support for their mental health, such as depression or anxiety.
A quick word of advice: only animals authorized by a licensed mental health professional via an ESA letter can be considered a true emotional support animal. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, dogs with an ESA will be allowed to go everywhere with their owners, though some airlines may require additional information before a flight.
Okay, first, let's define what exactly an Emotional Support Animal is: Emotional Support Animals, or simply ESA, are animals prescribed to give support and comfort to the well-being of people typically struggling with a mental illness -- like an Emotional Support Dog. However, unlike service dogs, they are not required to perform any specific tasks; ESAs are also not limited to what species they can be. (Hence: an emotional support alligator and an emotional support peacock!)
Best Emotional Support Dog Breeds
1. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The ultimate companion dog, Cavaliers King Charles Spaniels have a super sweet temperament, they also really love to cuddle, making them one of the best ESA dogs.
2. Golden Retriever
Having long been one of the most popular dog breeds in the U.S., Golden Retrievers are just a wonderful family pet all around. Their high intelligence and gentle nature make these friendly dogs a great ESA.
Considered the clowns of the dog world, pugs never fail to delight and charm anyone they meet, making these fun and sociable pups a really great fit for doing any sort of emotional support work.
4. Yorkshire Terrier
Yorkies are affectionate little dogs that are great ESAs because they are so easy to travel with: their small size allows them to accompany their humans to most places, which is vital when it comes to needing mental support.
Originally bred as a herding dog, corgis are affectionate dogs that have a strong instinct for picking up on their human's emotions, making them well-suited for emotional support work.
Ranked as the second smartest dog breed, the poodle is super intelligent and easy to train, to say the least. Because of this, poodles can be wonderful companions when it comes to helping with mental health issues.
With proper early socialization, these small dogs can develop loving personalities that translate pretty well into being good emotional support dogs. Their tiny size also allows major portability and great snuggling time.
8. Labrador Retriever
9. Border Collie
Considered the most intelligent of all dog breeds, the Border Collie is great at picking up cues from their humans that something isn't right -- this affectionate dog is a great candidate for an ESA.
With a maximum weight of only seven pounds, the tiny but mighty Pomeranian is a pleasant dog that is friendly to everyone, making it a good choice for an ESA.
11. Great Dane
Even though these pups are very large dogs, they really are gentle giants. Great Danes have a shorter lifespan due to their size but are great emotional support or therapy dogs and are often seen visiting senior homes and hospitals.
12. French Bulldog
French bulldogs have a great personality and temperament for an emotional support dog or therapy dog. However, these pups do not make great service dogs.
13. Pit Bulls
One type of dog that is grossly mischaracterized is Pit bulls. These powerful pooches are big into cuddling and will instantly become your best friend. In fact, many pit bull owners will tell you that they are just lapdogs.
14. German Shepherds
German Shepherds are common service dogs. Even though they have high energy levels, they still can be valuable dogs for those who need emotional support. A lot of people with post-traumatic stress disorder have German Shepherds for emotional support.
Just because a pup doesn't make the list, doesn't mean it can't be a great emotional support dog. Many dogs can become valuable service animals with the right training. Even rescue dogs can be trained to help people with needs such as anxiety disorder and depression.
Do you live with any of these dog breeds? Share your furry best friend with us on the Wide Open Pets Facebook page!