10 Best Dog Breeds for Emotional Support Animal

Emotional support animals have already become an integral part of the treatment of some mental disorders. Often, such pets replace psychotherapists and drug treatment for their owners. Dogs support their handlers in difficult times, are able to listen and lend a “helping paw.”

An emotional support dogESA DOG selfie

Dogs are probably the most popular type of animal helpers. These creatures are doing excellently as service dogs, therapy dogs, and also provide psychological assistance to people who need it.

An emotional support dog is a faithful companion and friend who saves people from feelings of loneliness and abandonment issues, from obsessive thoughts and foul mood. Psychologists and psychiatrists often use ESA as an auxiliary therapy for obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, PTSD, eating disorders, and a variety of other mental frustrations.

The advantages of emotional support dogs

Dogs do not need to finish special training, have a certificate or special skills to grant emotional support to the owner. It is possible that your dog is already an ESA, if it helps you relieve symptoms of anxiety, depression, or reduce panic attacks.

Veterans and victims of psychological or physical abuse are recommended to acquire an ESA most often. Emotional support dogs assist, for example, for people with PTSD, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, or suicidal tendencies. And these are just some of the diagnoses from the “list”. The dog gives a psychological endorsement in such a way that alleviates one or more of the identified symptoms of a person’s disability. It is much more than just hanging out with someone who is lonely.

Dog owners are less prone to migraines, blood pressure surges and sleep disturbances. They sleep soundly, practically do not suffer from insomnia, and more easily recover from stress. Dogs heal our nervous system by helping to relax, get rid of negativity and recharge with positive energy. They are able to listen carefully, without asking unnecessary questions and without being distracted, which in itself gives the owners of home “psychotherapists” the opportunity of psychological and emotional relaxation.

General characteristics

Any dog can be an emotional support dog. If you already have a pet you can qualify it as an ESA. There are no special requirements for ESA. The main thing is that the dog brings you the level of emotional boost and positive emotions that you need. The animal can be of any size and breed. When choosing an ESA, the main attention should be paid to the character and temperament of the dog. Also, for each breed, regular training and exercise aimed at interacting with the owner are recommended.

It is also important to remember and be prepared for the fact that even the most obedient and well-trained dog can become distracted and not follow the command. With ESA, such cases happen less often than with regular pets, but it is still possible. You need to treat this calmly, give the dog the opportunity to play and throw out energy, and then devote a little more time to obedience training.

Optionally, you can register ESA animal online, and order some special pet accessories. ID card, Emotional Animal Harness, Housing Accommodation Request and others are also available on MyServiceAnimal registrar. These accessories will allow you to quickly prove the support status of your pet, and enjoy all its benefits in public places.

  1. Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are very loyal, kind, and friendly, so they are considered one of the best emotional support dogs. Initially, these were hunting dogs, but because of their temperament, they quickly became full family members of their owners. Moreover, Golden Retriever’s natural intelligence and intuition make this breed very trainable. Dogs learn new commands easily and are ready to help their owners at any time. That’s why Golden Retrievers are often chosen as service and emotional support dogs.

These are quite large dogs with medium-length hair. However, despite their large size, Golden Retrievers are very affectionate and playful and can easily get along with anyone, including little children.

Before getting a Golden Retriever you need to consider that this dog needs daily exercises, training, and strict discipline. They are very energetic dogs that require a lot of space. They also need to be brushed and bathed regularly to keep their hair looking healthy.

  1. Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever is known as one of the most courteous dog breeds. So they usually become great service and therapy dogs, and emotional support animals. They are intelligent enough dogs that they are easy to train, especially when motivated by food. Labrador Retrievers are absolutely non-aggressive dogs, very obedient and reliable. These creatures are very playful and energetic, love to be in the company of people, and get along well with children.

Despite being active, these dogs will not bring you any inconvenience at home. If you provide the necessary regular exercise and taming while walking, the dog will be very calm and quiet at home. Nevertheless, if a Lab feels a threat to the health of its owner, it will protect him or her in every possible way.

  1. Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terrier is a cute small dog that can melt the heart of any person. Yorkies fully compensate for their small size with their charm and charisma. That is why it is one of the most popular dog breeds in the world.

These dogs are very loyal, caring, and protecting. They can become very intimidating when defending their handler. However, they are extremely sweet and tender with those they love. Yorkshire Terriers love to be pampered, stroked, and picked up. They constantly strive to be in tactile communication with their handlers.

  1. Cavalier King Charles spaniel

These spaniels are extremely adorable and beautiful. They are very friendly a

nd social and like to be in the company of people or other animals. That is why Cavalier King Charles spaniel will be an excellent option for large families, where the animal will never be alone.

Cavalier King Charles spaniel is popular with older people as the dogs are not overly active. As true royals, these dogs love to be lazy and do nothing, but at the same time, if the dog is in a good mood, it is quite easy to train it. However, spaniels have long coats that require regular grooming. The dog needs to be washed and combed several times a week.

  1. Corgi

Due to its appearance, Corgi is considered one of the cutest dog breeds. These dogs bring joy and happiness to their owners, which is why they make great companions and emotional support animals. These are active dogs, but they get along well with people of all ages and are ready to adapt to the mode and pace of the owner’s life.

Corgis are very obedient, intelligent, and loyal dogs. However, training this breed can be difficult due to their extreme activity. Therefore, you should not expect the corgi to execute complex commands.

It should also be kept in mind that this dog breed requires some care and special grooming. Their coats need to be brushed and trimmed regularly to keep the dog looking tidy. Doing this at home can be difficult, so it’s best to go to a professional.

  1. Pug

Pug is a decorative breed of dog. They are very active and playful, and their appearance is captivating at first sight. Despite the fact that from very first sight a pug seems to be quite clumsy and funny, in fact, it is a very intelligent breed with a great personality and gentle temperament, which can become a wonderful emotional support animal.

It is one of the most friendly dog breeds you’ve ever met. Pugs doing great with the elderly, children, and with other animals. They are very food motivated, so you can train them easily if you pamper your dog with something tasty. If you don’t train your pup regularly, it can become stubborn and willful, making it difficult for you to care for the dog.

Pugs do not require super complicated care. They can shed heavily, so it is recommended to comb their coat several times a week. They also often have dental diseases, so you need to monitor the dog’s oral cavity and brush her teeth. Particular attention should be paid to diet. Pugs are prone to obesity, heart attacks, and various allergic reactions, so it is important to monitor your pet’s diet.

    1. Poodle


Poodles are highly intelligent and trainable dogs that love to give emotional support and attention to their owners. These dogs can perform not only basic commands but also much more complex tasks. Therefore, it is an excellent choice for those whose mental health issues are accompanied by physical limitations. In addition, it is important to give the dog not only physical but also mental exercise to keep it in good shape.

Because of the curly coat, Poodles need to be trimmed and brushed regularly and therefore require more careful grooming than other breeds. However, it is one of the few hypoallergenic dog breeds that practically does not shed.

    1. Chihuahua


It is one of the most loveable breeds that gives all its attention and affection to the owner and seems to feel him or her on a mental level. Chihuahua is very attached to a human and strives to spend as much time with him or her as possible. This dog is a loyal and reliable companion that often becomes not only a wonderful pet but also a great emotional support dog.

Because of their small size, Chihuahuas get along well with children. These dogs do not require regular training or vigorous exercise but will be very happy just to play with their owner. At the same time, the dog needs to be regularly socialized and introduced to other animals, as well as train its obedience.

The dog needs to be well looked after including regular brushing and clipping of the nails. In addition, the dog should be closely watched during walks. Chihuahuas do not realize how small they are, so they can show aggression towards dogs that are much larger and stronger than them.

  1. American Staffordshire Terrier

American Staffordshire Terrier is a medium-sized dog with strong muscles and is often used as a service dog for people with mobility problems. Nevertheless, this breed copes with the duties of an emotional support dog just as well. Despite their formidable appearance, they are very caring and loving dogs. Staffordshire Terrier is very loyal and eager to please their owners when they feel bad.

These dogs are very sociable, frisky, and vigorous, so regular exercises are essential for them. Moreover, the dog can be very headstrong and stubborn that’s why they need constant obedience trainings. During these training sessions, an internal bond is built between the dog and the owner, which contributes to better treatment results.

However, due to the wayward nature of the Staffs, dog trainers highly recommend dog owners to get the Canine Good Citizen certificate as a part of a responsible dog ownership program.

  1. Collie

Collies are very dedicated and courageous dogs. They are distinguished by a high level of obedience and diligence. They unquestioningly carry out all the owner’s commands and always protect him or her from possible dangers. At the same time, they are very cute, gentle, and caring creatures who adore when they are stroked and pampered.

There are long-haired and smooth-haired Collies. Long-haired dogs have a straight, coarse coat and require more than basic grooming. However, during the shed period, both species of this breed require additional care and regular combing. Also, this breed requires daily long walks and runs where it can throw out all its energy.

Breeds to eschew

Of course, every dog has a different personality and temperament, but some breeds, in general, do not do well in the role of emotional support animals. For example, Pekingese, Shiba Inu, and some other breeds are very independent, willful, and unwilling to follow the instructions of the owner if they do not want to. Sherpas require a lot of attention to their health and can bring some inconvenience in owners’ lives.

These breeds can be great pets to spend time with. But at the same time, it is important that their owners feel and accept the personal boundaries of their pets.


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