Emotional support animals bring us, humans, many therapeutic benefits that include anxiety relief and comfort in our day-to-day lives, and all this without any training. Although all dogs are good support animals, there are certain breeds that make a dog specially equipped to do very well in the role of an emotional support animal. They are kind, easy-going, easy to train, and social. Let us look at 10 such breeds that you may want to consider if you are in the search for an emotional support animal.
When a dog needs to be recognized as an emotional support animal, it is important that it is authorized by a licensed health professional. It perhaps will not enjoy the rights like service dogs or therapy dogs, but being authorized by an LMHP will allow the owner to avoid any no-pet policies.
American Staffordshire Terrier
Pit bull-type dogs, unlike the public perception that they have as being unruly or aggressive, are actually very friendly and loyal dogs. They can be easily trained and sociable too making them the perfect fit to be emotional support animals. These dogs can usually get along with people and serve well under different circumstances.
HEIGHT: 17 to 19 inches
WEIGHT: 40 to 70 pounds
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Muscular body; they come in colors like black, blue, and fawn among others
Golden retrievers are the most preferred dog breeds in the U.S and have long been used as family pets as well as emotional support animals. Being very patient and friendly in nature, these dogs are a perfect fit for people suffering from health issues. Also, this breed of dog has a high potential for being trained thereby making them very popular as ESAs.
HEIGHT: 22 to 24 inches
WEIGHT: 55 to 75 pounds
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Has a straight or wavy coat; come in light to dark golden shades
If you make a quick search on the best emotional support or therapy dogs, you are likely to see that Labrador Retrievers make it right to the top of any list. These dogs are gentle, friendly and exhibit a strong desire to please their owners. Labs are the perfect fit for people who need a travel companion as they too love exploring!
HEIGHT: 22 to 25 inches
WEIGHT: 55 to 80 pounds
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Athletic body and a short coat; come in colors like black, chocolate, and yellow.
Corgis are popularly known as the preferred breed in UK royalty. However, they are much more than that as these loving dogs mostly behave in a friendly manner with people of all age groups. They are highly intelligent and this makes them very good to train. However, they do need a lot of mental and physical activity which may not be apt for every situation.
HEIGHT: 10 to 12 inches
WEIGHT: Up to 30 pounds
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Have a low height and usually a long body; they come in colors like black and tan, fawn, red, and sable with white markings
They are small in size but when it comes to confidence and affection, they are anything but small. These dogs want a lot of attention, but they give back more than they receive. As they are small in size, they make the best travel companions especially for people looking for emotional support while on trips. They also are highly adaptable therefore do not mind a change.
HEIGHT: 7 to 8 inches
WEIGHT: 7 pounds
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Small body and a silky coat; come in colors like black and tan, blue and tan, and many more.
Being sensitive in nature, Irish wolfhounds play an important role as natural protectors. They can easily sense and tune into the feelings of their owner. However, do keep this one thing in mind – they have a shorter lifespan ranging from six to eight years. And this may not suit or could be difficult to handle by people who are emotionally dependent on them.
HEIGHT: 30 inches and up
WEIGHT: 105 to 120 pounds
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Have a tall, long body with a rough coat; come in colors like black, blue, cream, gray, and more
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
These dogs are very cuddly and have a friendly attitude. To touch they feel like a living stuffed animal and hence are often called the “comforter spaniel”. They love to snuggle up with their owners but also do love to accompany them on walks too.
HEIGHT: 12 to 13 inches
WEIGHT: 13 to 18 pounds
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Medium-length body and silky coat; come in colors like black and tan, black and white, and more
Chihuahuas are a little unpredictable when it comes to temperament. However, if they are trained to be social right from an early age, then these dogs have the ability to become loving – a character that is so important in being an emotional support animal. They too, like the Yorkies, are easy travel companions. Chihuahuas do not need much exercise but they look forward to playing and snuggling with their favorite humans.
HEIGHT: 5 to 8 inches
WEIGHT: Up to 6 pounds
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: They have an alert expression, smooth or long coat; come in colors like black, tan, and more
German shepherds love to be active and useful, because of which they are often used as working dogs. They are very intelligent and have a desire to please their owners, making them well fit to be emotional support animals too. These dogs like to engage with humans and if proper training is given, they can become faithful companions even in a social environment.
HEIGHT: 22 to 26 inches
WEIGHT: 50 to 90 pounds
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Have a muscular body and a medium-length coat; come in colors like black and tan, black and red, solid black, and more
As Collies are natural herding dogs, they frequently check to make sure their family or favorite humans are happy and safe. Most of them have the skills to understand from their humans’ behavior that something is not right and are immediately by their side to give the much-needed love and comfort. These dogs require a lot of exercise and hence they are usually up and moving along with their owners outdoors.
HEIGHT: 22 to 26 inches
WEIGHT: 50 to 75 pounds
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Have a rough or smooth coat; come in colors like sable and white, blue merle, and more
Breeds to Avoid
Although most dogs, irrespective of the breed, can provide emotional support to their owners, there are some dog breeds that may not fit the bill and could be avoided. Take, for example, the Shar-Pei which is faithful and protective too but is not very loving or cuddly. Similarly, the Kerry blue terrier, Pekingese, Shiba Inu, and many other breeds are very independent dogs and don’t have the temperament to be affectionate with their humans.