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5 Dog Breeds That Make Great Emotional Support Pets

Quick Guide: Best Emotional Support Dogs

You’ve just been diagnosed with anxiety and your therapist has recommended that you get an emotional support animal (ESA) as part of your treatment. ESAs are quite popular, particularly among persons living with mental disabilities.

Getting the best emotional support dog presents a great opportunity for you to learn more about animal ownership, interact with other pet owners and in the process, overcome or at least mitigate the symptoms of your mental illness. Dogs are one of the best ESAs. These furry friends are highly supportive and loving. Most of these breeds are smart enough to figure out when you’re feeling blue, at which point they’ll try to cheer you up. Although dogs are naturally caring, there are some breeds that stand out when it comes to giving emotional support.

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Top 5 Therapy Dogs Breeds

Golden Retriever

golden retriever running with a stickTheir kindly expression speaks volumes about the character; they are obedient, playful and well-mannered. Golden retrievers make one of the finest family dogs, especially in homes with many family members.

There are several traits that make the golden retriever an excellent emotional support dog. For starters, this dog breed is loyal and friendly. Golden retrievers know how to bond with their owners. For any therapy dog, this factor is crucial since you are rest assured that he will always be by your side. Such a loyal demeanor is particularly good for children diagnosed with autism. With a golden retriever by his side, your child will master courage to venture into crowds. And the good thing is that golden retrievers are calm and even-tempered so they fit in well with the general population.

Golden retrievers are also hardworking and very good at retrieving objects. So apart from giving you company, these dogs will help you out with your daily chores, which makes them suitable for Americans with disabilities. So, if you need help getting your medication or answering the door, this pooch will be more than happy to help.


picture of a puppyAlthough many regard the Yorkie as a pampered lap dog, this breed is actually one of the best therapy dogs, and for good reasons. Firstly, this dog has a very soft coat, which makes it handy in situations where you want a calming hug. Yorkies are also great for persons who experience sensory problems as they usually get calmed by smooth textures.  

Secondly, Yorkies are very easy to train. In fact, they are naturally intelligent so they can pick up cues related to your feelings. They also have great personalities and they will cheer you up when you’re feeling low.

Another beneficial trait of Yorkies is that they’re brave. It means that they won’t get overwhelmed by your emotions when your anxiety or depression kicks in. Being a small breed, Yorkies are lightweight so you can carry them in your pet purse to provide you with emotional support on the go.

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German Shepherd

image of a german shepherd restingIf you prefer a large dog breed, the mighty German shepherd serves as an excellent ESA canine. Although they’re more popular as service animals, they have a couple of traits that make them ideal for this role.

Let’s start with the fact that they’re intelligent. German shepherds can be trained to do just about anything. This dog can be trained to be patient, gentle, calm and caring. These traits make them suitable for individuals who get panic attacks. For such people, keeping a German shepherd provides a calming presence that keeps them stable and grounded.

However, if you intend to take your German Shepherd to large crowds, you should consider getting a leash; not so much because he’s difficult but because people associate him with aggressive behavior. Regardless, this breed is one of the best emotional supports dogs you can have for an active individual. 


image of a collie running towards youSome individuals require more sensitive dog breeds that are capable of detecting emotions and responding appropriately. For persons suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, keeping an emotional support dog like a Collie will be of immense benefit. Apart from being smart, these dogs are intuitive to feelings. One of the reasons we consider them to be one of the best therapy dogs is that they can easily be trained to give support to persons diagnosed with severe mental issues because they are so smart. 

These dogs are also very gentle, a trait that makes them great company for kids. Like the Yorkie, a Collie has very soft fur, which feels nice to pet. The act of petting helps to lower your stress hormone levels and bring about a feeling of calm and relaxation.

Another reason why Collies make good assistance dogs is due to their dependable work ethic. In the past, Collies served as herding dogs. Consequently, these dogs tend to be smart, obedient and have a determination to learn new tasks and see them through.

However, Collies are not so friendly to strangers, including kids and other pets. On the plus side, this means that they’re always devoted and loyal to their owners. Some Collies are also vocal, which is a welcome trait if you’re using him as a medical alert dog.

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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

puppy sitting looking up to the skyThe Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is so loyal that it was named after its most famous owner. This dog has been bred for hundreds of years so he makes an excellent companion to humans. One thing you will notice about this breed is that he does not like being left alone. He will follow you from one room to another until you settle.

Unlike Collies, the spaniels are not picky about who they socialize with. These dogs are very friendly to strangers, kids, and other pets. They thrive in families with children, who are old enough to throw them a ball or teach them new tricks.

Wrap Up

Many research studies have proven that persons suffering from mental health problems can benefit significantly from keeping dogs. Although just about any dog can give you great company, therapy dogs go the extra mile of providing you emotional support. You will often find these dogs in nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, and hospitals. If you’re looking to buy a dog that can comfort you, we recommend going from our list of the best emotional support dogs: golden retriever, German Shepherd, Collie, Yorkie or the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

Want to see if you qualify for an emotional support animal letter? The first step is to take this quick online survey.

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