Emotional support dogs relieve loneliness, provide companionship, and help ease anxiety, depression, and certain phobias. They’re different from service dogs, which are specially trained to perform specific tasks for people with disabilities.
While any dog can offer love and affection, certain breeds excel at providing emotional support because of their temperament, emotional intelligence, and the way they interact with humans.
This article highlights the eight best ESA dog breeds. We hope this makes your search easier. Because let’s face it, life’s challenges are always a bit easier to tackle when you’ve got a pup by your side.
8 Best Emotional Support Dog Breeds
When it comes to emotional support dogs, certain breeds tend to stand out for their natural ability to comfort and uplift humans. Whether you’re dealing with stress or just need a loyal companion, the following breeds are great options for you:
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Known for their loving nature and willingness to cuddle, cavalier King Charles spaniels make excellent emotional support dogs.
They are particularly good for people living in apartments because they are smaller and less energetic than other breeds. They are also well-attuned to human emotions, making them great companions.
Golden retrievers are highly intelligent and easy to train, making them one of the most popular breeds in the United States.
Their tolerant, friendly, and approachable nature makes them naturally good at providing comfort. They’re very gentle, which is why they also work well with children.
They are also very active dogs, so they can help you get out and get some exercise. Whether it’s a game of fetch or a walk in the park, spending time with a Golden Retriever can lift your spirits and help you feel more relaxed.
Standard poodles often get attention for their curly, elegant fur, but there’s much more to them that makes them excellent emotional support animals. One big plus is their adaptability. Whether you live in a small apartment or have a big backyard, a standard poodle will fit right in.
They are also very smart, which makes them very responsive to the needs of their owners. This means they’re not just there for cuddles; they can actively participate in improving your life. Whether it’s playing fetch to help you unwind after a stressful day or simply lying next to you when you need a quiet moment, they’re always there to provide comfort.
Shih Tzus are small dogs that were bred to be companions. They love to be pampered and will gladly spend the whole day sitting on your lap or by your side. Their loving and friendly nature makes them great at providing emotional comfort when you need it most. They’re also the perfect size to be with you wherever you go, whether it’s hanging out on the couch or taking a short trip to the store.
Shih Tzus don’t need much exercise, so they’re still a good fit for you if you’re not outdoorsy. A quick walk around the block or indoor playtime is usually enough to keep them happy.
They’re also good with kids and other pets, making them a great choice for families.
Labrador retrievers are known to be friendly, outgoing, and eager to please—qualities that make them superb emotional support animals.
They have a way of knowing when you’re feeling down and will stick by your side to cheer you up. Labs love to be close to their owners, so you can expect plenty of cuddles and tail wags.
Labs are also highly trainable. You can easily teach them commands or tricks that can help divert your attention away from stressful situations.
Don’t underestimate these tiny dogs; they pack a lot of love and comfort into a small package.
They are alert, caring, loyal, agile, and initiative–the characteristics necessary to provide support and calmness in difficult situations. They’re also known to sense their owner’s emotions and provide support whenever needed.
Pugs are little dogs with a big personality. They’re known for their playful and friendly nature, which can be a huge comfort if you’re feeling down.
They don’t need a lot of exercise, so they’re perfect for people who live in apartments or can’t get out much. Their easygoing nature makes them simple to care for, and their loving temperament provides emotional relief when you’re feeling stressed.
The Havanese is a small dog breed full of love and energy. One of the best things about them is that they’re super friendly. They get along well with everyone—kids, adults, and even other pets. This makes them a great choice if you have a busy home or like to have people over a lot. Your Havanese will be the life of the party, always ready to play or cuddle with anyone who’s up for it.
They are easy to take care of. Their fur needs some brushing, but it’s not a big deal. They also don’t need tons of exercise to stay happy. Running around in the yard is usually enough for them. They’re so easy-going that they’re happy to be where you are, doing whatever you’re doing.
Choosing the right emotional support dog comes down to your needs and lifestyle.
Golden Retrievers and Labradors are solid choices if you want a high-energy and friendly dog. They’re great with kids and love to play.
For those looking for a smaller, more chill dog, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Shih Tzu, and Havanese all fit the bill. They’re great for apartment living and are good for families. If you’re looking for a smart and adaptable dog, the Standard Poodle is a top pick.
But let’s not forget the small but mighty options like the Chihuahua and Pug. They may be small, but they’re big on love and make great companions when you need emotional support.