Dogs are pure beings. They give love without asking anything in return (although some treats would be good, hooman!). As someone struggling with anxiety over the years, nothing can describe how much joy and love dogs can bring. They are furry little buddies full of love and clownish ways. This nature makes a lot of them the best emotional support dog breeds.
Compared to the sacrifices you’d have to do to keep them healthy and happy, their contribution to a better mental health is something that outweighs everything. When no one is around, these service dogs make an excellent companion.
Sure thing, other people prefer cats and other animals. However, some dog breeds are way affectionate that they never fail to make their handlers feel valued and loved.
What are emotional support dogs?
Unlike other working dogs, emotional support animals (ESAs) aren’t expected to perform any task. Still, some of them can be trained as service dogs to retrieve medication and other stuff that will support their owners. Usually, emotional dogs’ presence is valued the most. Their affection and physical support give people with anxiety, depression, and other emotional instabilities a shoulder to lean on.
Although they can or can’t be assistance dogs, emotional support dogs are protected under the federal law. Under the Air Carrier Access Act and Fair Housing Act, people with emotional support dogs are entitled to be with their dogs to help with their condition. However, things can be complicated in BSL states where emotional support Pitbulls can be taken away from their owners. Also, it won’t be safe to transport a flat-nosed breed in an in-cabin setting.
How to qualify for an emotional support dog?
Usually, a medical recommendation from your doctor or psychiatrist is required to officially register your dog as an emotional support canine. Take note that proper registration is needed here so your pooch will be protected by various laws.
Also, the letter that came from your doctor is needed whenever you have to board a flight with your dog. Establishments and housing spaces may also ask for the letter to confirm the legality of your emotional support canine.
You can’t have an emotional support dog just because you want to. There are specific emotional and mental conditions stated under the United States Dog Registry which can be covered by an emotional support dog. Here’s the short list:
➕Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
➕Suicidal thoughts or tendencies
A registered medical practitioner should duly diagnose the condition in order for you to qualify for an emotional support dog. The National Institute for Mental Health states that about 1 in every 4 American adults has a form of mental disorder. In case you suspect that you have any of the listed conditions, seek a medical expert for confirmation.
Top 10 dog breeds for anxiety and related conditions
If you’re considering having an emotional dog, these breeds are some of the best canines for the job. Most of them are Velcro dogs and affection comes second nature. They are also loyal and gentle companions that will sense your negative vibe.
1. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
This pooch fit for a royal isn’t just cute; they are also reliable emotional support dogs. Classified as a toy breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC), they only grow a maximum of 13 inches tall. This Spaniel breed is an excellent lap dog, much so that they were loved and preferred by the 17th century England King Charles II.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is energetic and bears a laidback attitude that works even for kids.
They are also friendly and best for people with depression since they can keep up with long walks. This canine will push you to stay active so you will take your mind off your worries.
The Animal Planet even nicknamed these doggos as “Love Sponges” since they love cuddling with their hoomans. However, you should be willing to commit when you adopt one since these Spaniels need consistent grooming
2. Labrador Retriever
What’s not to love with Labrador Retrievers? These quiet, calm, and loyal dogs are no doubt great companions for all ages. For those looking for big dogs to give them emotional support, Labs are not to disappoint. Those who suffer from intense emotional conditions will benefit from having a Labrador Retriever.
This breed is always in a good mood. Labs are also sweet doggos, however, they love chewing on everything which can be fixed through obedience training. They can also be active dogs who like playing and running. But if it’s time to lay low, they will be there to cuddle with you.
Labrador Retrievers are super easy to train plus they only need daily walks to stay happy. Be warned because they seem to forget that they are a big breed. Some Labs will try to sit on your lap. How sweet is that?
3. Golden Retriever
The cousin of the Labs, Golden Retrievers’ temperament is almost a carbon copy of the former. Don’t be fooled by their size.
Even as a large gun dog, Goldies are total sweethearts who are incredibly affectionate and obedient. They are a favorite service dog due to their intelligence, loyalty, and well-mannered nature.
Goldies were bred to work with people, initially retrieving waterfowls back in the days. Right now, they are great with kids and almost all families. The only thing that’s not so great about Goldies is their intense shedding and evident doggy smell if not groomed properly.
However, emotional support wise, Goldies are unbeatable. They don’t hold back with their affection and they love hugs and kisses. Just make sure that you give them enough exercise to stay healthy. Also, you have to train them so they won’t chew destructively.
The true Velcro dog, the Vizsla dog somehow shares some looks with the Dachshund breed. They like being with their owners no matter what happens. And you know what? Viszlas are obsessed with self-care like cats and that they won’t smell bad even with very little grooming.
Viszlas are smart canines and they don’t have any history of serious medical conditions. So if you want a low-maintenance yet affectionate dog, this breed will be the perfect canine for almost anyone.
To make a Vizsla happy, they only need at least two hours of exercise. All these good things make them a great emotional support for those with depression and suicidal tendencies.
However, take note that Vizslas aren’t good picks if you’re living in an urban setting, say a small apartment or unit. These doggos need a large space to romp around like a fenced yard.
My heart bursts whenever I see a Corgi pup! These cute and adorable pooches are no doubt an effective medicine against your anxiety or depression. They stand small but their supply of love never runs out. In fact, these dwarf dogs are the favorites of Queen Elizabeth II of England.
Corgis love to please their owners and they also like to play, one thing that makes them a perfect fit for people who have emotional conditions.
Although they are bred to herd cattle by nipping on its feet, Corgis can be trained to become less yappy. Their high intelligence and energetic nature mean they don’t fit as a service dog for bedbound people.
Still, their energy can be used to promote a more active lifestyle for people with suicidal tendencies or PTSD. There’s a constant need to make a Corgi busy. If not, they will get bored and start chewing on things.
These little dudes are common favorites, being the 32nd most popular dog breed in the AKC list. Chihuahuas are tinier then Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, but they are energetic just the same. They are very intelligent and they tend to bond with their owners strongly.
Chihuahuas are loyal and loving companions. However, their extreme loyalty may result in aggression against other people and dogs. It’s imperative that they are subjected to socialization and training as early as possible.
Chihuahuas will soon mellow down and become furry buddies for people suffering from various mental and emotional conditions. They loving being petted and snuggling with their owners under a blanket.
Take note that Chihuahuas have little legs which means they have low stamina for long walks and romping. This is best if you want a more laidback pet with a protective nature.
7. French Bulldog
Who says no to a begging Frenchie? These cute, smooshy dogs ranked 4th as the most popular dog breed in the AKC list. And there’s no doubt that they are exceptional emotional support canines as well. French Bulldogs are considered the clown of the canine kingdom due to their playful nature and funny looks.
If you’re suffering from mobility issues and you need an emotional support dog, a Frenchie would be perfect. These dogs are couch potatoes most of the time and need a little exercise.
Beware, though, since they can get really heartsick if left behind without company.
Frenchies aren’t as demanding as other breeds. Just make sure that you allow them to be with you. Also, Frenchies love snuggling and cuddles, so make sure that you give plenty of it to keep them happy.
Poodles are not just cute; they look sophisticated. But aside from their looks, these doggos are one of the smartest canines. They can be trained for various service works whereas being an ESA comes as second nature.
As a hunting and water dog back in the days, Poodles aren’t just iconic pets for classy Parisian girls. They love running and goofing around too. Most of all, they love being around their hooman.
Poodles are lauded for their exceptional people-pleasing attitude. All these make them a perfect companion for people with depression and other severe psychiatric conditions like PTSD and suicidal tendencies.
Poodles are also hypoallergenic. They have a lush coat but they shed very little. These doggos also live longer and they are friendly with just about anyone including little kids and strangers. However, you have to dedicate time to groom them. Since they don’t shed, their hair never stops growing until they look like a ball of cloud.
They may look grumpy, but Pugs are actually the sweetest dogs. These doggos love endless cuddles and kisses, not to mention their clingy nature.
Pugs are one of the companion breeds that don’t require intense exercise and socialization.
Once you bonded with a pug, it’s like sealing a blood compact for life. These doggos stays loyal to their owners and they can pick up any bad moods. When they sense that you’re down, they will squirm closer than ever to make you feel loved. Pugs also have a steady stream of positive vibes and clownish antics.
Just take note that Pugs don’t thrive on very hot temperatures. Also, they don’t like being left behind without a companion. Pugs get heartsick when separated from their owners for a long time.
10. German Shepherd
German Shepherds are the second most popular dog breed next to the magnificent Labrador Retrievers. Born and destined to be a working dog, German Shepherds are highly intelligent and can be trained for virtually any assistance and support tasks.
Since this breed is a herding dog, expect that they would be cautious of strangers and they might end up chasing a critter. Still, proper training should dampen this behavior.
When it comes to affection, German Shepherds are surprisingly sweet dogs. They give the best snuggles and they can sense when their owners are in the brink of an emotional episode.
German Shepherds are naturally protective too and they will do anything to keep you safe. Many observed that they have heightened protectiveness when it comes to kids.
The best emotional support dog breeds are those that are affectionate and loyal enough to be on their handler’s side. If you’re interested to have an ESA, you can tap the help of your psychiatrist or doctor.