While any individual dog, regardless of breed, can be the right fit to provide emotional support to a person, certain dog breeds are less likely to fit the role. For instance, while the Shar-Pei is a loyal and protective dog, it doesnt tend to be very loving and cuddly. Likewise, the Kerry blue terrier, Pekingese, Shiba Inu, and several other breeds are quite independent and often don’t need to share affection with their humans to be happy. So theyre not likely contenders to provide support whenever its needed.
Emotional support animals provide their humans with therapeutic benefits, including anxiety relief and comfort in social settings, without any requisite training. While all dogs can offer support, certain breeds have traits that make them more likely to excel in the role. They tend to be gentle, laid-back, and sociable. These dog breeds also typically are highly trainable and want to please their humans.
To be considered a true emotional-support animal, a dog must be authorized by a licensed health professional. The dog wont have the same rights as service dogs or therapy dogs, but this might allow a person to circumvent certain no-pet policies.
These dog breeds tend to include dogs that easily bond with their humans, which is an ideal trait for an emotional support animal. They’re the type of dog that’s in tune with its humans and can read their emotions versus a breed that’s more aloof. They respond well to training but don’t have the extreme smarts or energy levels that require an owner to put in lots of effort to tire out their dog mentally and physically. And, while they’re confident dogs, they’re generally not aggressive or headstrong.
Standard poodleOf the three sizes of poodles, the standard poodle is the largest at around 50 to 60 pounds. If you’ve ever seen a poodle in the show ring, you may think they look too “foo-foo” and self-absorbed to be emotional support dogs. Not a chance—they are actually quite lovey-dovey, eager to please, and easy to be around you 24/7. When it comes to grooming, poodles have
Labrador retrievers are well-suited for so many different purposes that it should come as no surprise that they also excel in therapy contexts too.
Few dogs are as loving as Labs, and even fewer are as gentle; they are typically wonderful with children, the elderly, handicapped individuals, and even strangers. This makes them a very popular breed for service work.
Top 10 Emotional Support Dog Breeds
They say dogs are man’s best friend. From the very beginning of recorded history, dogs have been there beside their masters, protecting them and keeping them company. This still holds true today more than ever—as emotional support dogs pose a measurable benefit to mental health.
If you’re thinking of getting an emotional support dog, you might be wondering if certain breeds are better than others in this line of work. Before we get into that information, though, it is good to remember that there is an exact definition for emotional support dog:
An emotional support animal (ESA) is an animal that, without training, provides their owner with therapeutic benefits. Such emotional support can include alleviation of anxiety and panic attacks and offering companionship when the owner is in a depressive episode. The owner of an emotional support animal must receive a prescription from a licensed health professional that states he or she needs one.
Note that an emotional support animal is not the same as a therapy dog or service dog, but if you have an emotional support animal, it is often exempt from some no-pet policies that are prevalent in apartments. It might not be as efficient as having a doctor’s note saying you need a service dog, but if you have a prescription for an emotional support animal, most facilities can’t just bar you because you have a dog.