Best Emotional Support Dogs: To Soothe Anxiety, PTSD, Depression, & More

Numerous studies are proving that pets can be beneficial for many emotional health conditions in humans, including various forms of depression.

E.g., this experiment made it clear that adopting a pet can be used as an effective method of dealing with treatment-resistant major depressive disorder. Especially if pet therapy is combined with regular medical appointments.

And here’s another paper compiling the results of 69 original studies that demonstrated the positive effects of human-animal interactions. 

So when it comes to the best emotional support dogs – it’s not a made-up list by a dreamy dog-enthusiast. Rather a solid choice of breeds that can be a tremendous furry help for you if you need it.  

Depending on the specific condition, some dog breeds might a better fit than others. So I hope this short guide will be a great help to establish what you want to be looking for. 

Do you have a specific question about the best emotional support breeds? Then use the table of contents below to jump to the most relevant section. And you can always go back by clicking on the black arrow in the right bottom corner of the page. Also, please note that some of the links in this article may be affiliate links. For more details, check the Disclosure section at the bottom of the page. 

Best emotional support dogs for anxiety

Golden Retriever

Golden retrievers are well-suited for evoking smiles and calming frazzled nerves. They are calm, obedient, and cooperative – qualities that are very obvious to anyone who’s ever met this dog.

Like many of the breeds on this list, they can usually pass all the necessary tests with a little training, proving just how teachable these four-legged furry friends can be. That’s because these dogs are probably the most intelligent of all, and they surely made this list of smartest dog breeds. 

Great Dane

Great Danes are gentle, but confident dogs that are good for lessening anxiety. But you better be sure you can welcome such a big pet to your family – large males may be as high as 3 feet at the shoulder standing. With that being said, Danes give a type of affection and company a very few other breeds can provide.

Bulldog

Are you’re someone who soothes your anxiety by hanging out at home and doing something calming, like reading or crafting? 

Then you’d likely be most comfortable with a dog who loves doing the same and enjoys lying silently near its owner. And Bulldog (or any type of bulldog mix) fits the bill perfectly. Even though these guys require exercise and walk just like any other breed, they tend to be less energetic, which is perfect when all you need to feel good is to relax at home.

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Best dog breeds for depression

Border Collie

Border Collies are loyal and affectionate companions. These dogs are easily trainable, devoted, and tend to be a people pleaser. They are so good that they made our list of best-behaved dog breeds. Since they started as a herding dog, Border Collie will encourage you to get moving even if you don’t feel like you want to.  

This feature makes them an exceptional dog for those who go through depression. Additionally, if you experience anxiety, this quiet, content dog will provide loads of comfort. 

Viszla

Vizslas sometimes also referred to as “The Velcro Dog” because they like being around their human family a lot. They develop very close relationships with their humans and avoid being left alone.

So even though Vizslas are lovely companions for anyone suffering from depression, you have to remember one rule. It won’t be that best choice of a dog if you’re away from home most of the time. 

Most empathetic dog breed

Poodle

You standard Poodles are medium-sized, smart, obedient, easy to train, and are valued as a mental health companion. They love physical activity, a good challenge, and shine in any situation.

They are friendly with humans and animals alike, but their top preference is their empathy and loyalty to their owners.

Poodles are very trainable too, and their “hypoallergenic” fur tends not to be very irritating. They are also made our list of dogs that don’t shed, which makes the breed even more suitable for allergics.

Corgi

Their physic makes it impossible for them to perform many service dog jobs. But since Corgis were raised for herding, they are still can make the excellent guide dogs. They have a strong sense of sensing their owners’ emotions and supporting them accordingly.

These dynamic working dogs are intelligent,  (one of the smartest among all the small breeds) curious, enthusiastic, and easy to train. Corgis are also recognized as a perfect fit for people who require continuous emotional support.

Greyhound

Greyhounds are very receptive dogs, who can pick any emotions. They also love cuddling on the couch with their family, so they are an excellent choice for anyone who needs a lot of physical contact with their puppy.

They are also don’t shed much and are amongst the healthiest dog breeds too, so it’s not that challenging to care about them. 

Note that Greyhounds who can’t work anymore are often sent for adoption. Still, these pooches often have pretty deep emotional wounds.

So, yes,  these “retired” Greyhound can make an excellent pet for some. But if you are experiencing anxiety often, you will be better off with a puppy instead.

Best dog breeds for PTSD 

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is on almost every best emotional support dogs list. These super devoted animals are faithful companions, quick to learn, and keen to please.

Kind and gentle, King Charles, they’re happy just to be around you, whether you both are on a walk or hugging on a couch. And they are an outstanding choice for those struggling with depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Labrador Retriever

Since they are smart and gentle, Labrador Retrievers are recognized as perfectly suited to be psychiatric service dogs. As they are naturally intelligent and versatile that they can be taught to succeed at virtually any assignment.

In various situations, Labrador Retrievers demonstrate remarkable intelligence, well-balanced personality compliance, and enthusiasm for pleasing their owners. And all that also contributes to a perfect service dog profile for someone who struggles with psychological issues in particular.  

Lhasa Apso

Lhasa Apso breed was created in Tibet. And initial dog’s mission was to warn monks about intruders. Since then, the dogs still can be wary of outsiders but is remarkably loyal to their owners.

You might not believe that a small, fuzzy pooch is a proper fit to be a service dog, but you’d be astounded how supportive Lhasa Apso to their owners.

If this breed is specially trained as a psychiatric dog, it can be a priceless friend to people suffering from depression, PTSD, or even bipolar disorder. These cheerful-natured creatures can make anyone smile even during the hardest moments.

And this breed can also be trained to identify the different feelings and respond appropriately in certain triggering circumstances. And if you are looking for more options, check my recent post for other best service dog breeds for PTSD

Credits: thanks for the cover photo to Canva.

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