10 Best Emotional Support Dog Breeds

Emotional support dogs are companions for owners with mental health issues. They don’t require certification but help relieve anxiety through their presence. Here is our pick for the 10 best emotional support dog breeds.


People with mental health issues can benefit from having an emotional support dog which can help relieve anxiety or other emotional problems. They are not service dogs and don’t need any certification, so any dog can be an emotional support dog. Because they often go everywhere with their owners, they need to be well-behaved and social. This article gives a list of 10 breeds of dog that are suited to being emotional support animals. There is no particular size necessary for an emotional support dog, so no matter what your living situation is, you will find a breed that is suitable for you.

“The primary role of a Therapy Dog is to provide companionship and emotional support to an individual, family or a group of people. Therapy Dogs can provide support for people with mental, emotional and behavioural conditions, illnesses and physical disabilities. This support could be as simple and invaluable as staying by someone’s side while they navigate their anxiety or helping to bring families closer by encouraging routine, commitment and empathy.”


What is an emotional support dog?

Every dog provides companionship for their owners, but you would not call your pet an emotional support dog unless a licensed mental health professional ‘prescribes’ one for you. An emotional support dog is any dog that helps with mental illness or emotional problems. They are often used to assist people with problems such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, and Social Anxiety Disorder. Read this article on The Insider on who can benefit from having an emotional support animal.

Emotional support dogs are not the same as service dogs. They do not need any special training. A Service dog is trained to perform specific tasks that are directly related to its owner’s disability. An emotional support dog does not need any training. Unlike service dogs which have certification, the owner of an emotional support dog are likely to only have a letter from a medical health professional.

In recent years, many airlines no longer allow emotional support animals to fly with their owners because of the issues with training and behaviour. That may include dogs. See which airlines allow you to fly with an emotional support dog as well as some important information about what to do here.

What features or personality traits are important in an emotional support dog?

While emotional support dogs do not need any specific training or certification, there are certain features that all dogs must have in order to be an effective emotional support dog:

  • One of the most important traits for an emotional support dog is that it should be loving and devoted to its owner/handler. It must be loyal and stay with its owner at all times it is needed.
  • The dog should be calm in social settings. Because they are often out in public with their pet parents, they need to be able to get along with people and other animals.
  • An emotional support dog should not be timid or nervous.
  • An emotional support dog should be affectionate and respond well to attention. One of the ways that people are supported by their dogs is through touch. An emotional support dog needs to be comfortable being touched.
  • Your emotional support dog should be intelligent and trainable. As you become more aware of what you need from your dog, you will need to be able to teach your dog. A dog that is slow to learn what is expected of it might not be a good choice as an emotional support dog.
  • An emotional support dog must be obedient. Your dog should respond to your commands immediately, especially if it is in public. All emotional support dogs need to obey basic commands and be well-behaved.

For more details about emotional support dogs, see the best qualities in dogs for emotional support.

“In general, a good emotional support animal should be intelligent, easy-going, able to learn, gentle, in a good shape and have an emotional stable temperament. It is important for the animal to be able to sense their handler’s emotions.”


What are the 10 best emotional support dog breeds?

1. Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers have been bred to keep people company. Although they are large, they can be very gentle in comforting people and have been used in helping people to recover from trauma after disasters. They are also good with children and are playful. Golden Retrievers are particularly good for people with PTSD as their size gives their owners a feeling of safety. Read this article from the US Department of Veterans Affairs for more information about Dogs and PTSD.

Emotional Support Dog Breeds, golden retriever
Golden retrievers are very playful, and can be boisterous but love affection and people in general.

2. Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retrievers are friendly and gentle and it often seems as if they know what their owner is thinking. They are always eager to please their owners and are very easy to train. Like Golden Retrievers, they are quite large and can give their owners a feeling of security.

Emotional Support Dog Breeds, labrador, labrador retriever
Labradors and labrador retrievers are very friendly, love affection and are eager to please.

3. Poodle

Poodles are highly intelligent and easy to train. They are one of the most obedient breeds and they like to please their owners. They can be a wonderful companion as they are calm, but also energetic. They will be happiest when they are doing something for their owners. They can be easily trained to fetch as originally they were bred as hunting dogs. Another benefit of poodles is their sizes range from the very small Toy Poodles through to the Standard Poodle which is a large dog. This means that there is a poodle to suit every situation. They are also hypoallergenic.

Emotional Support Dog Breeds, poodle
Poodles are highly intelligent, hypoallergenic and can be easily trained.

4. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (and Cavoodle)

Originally bred as lap dogs, they enjoy spending time with their owners. They are friendly with everyone and get on well with other animals. They seem to be more expressive than many other breeds of dog, which makes them a wonderful support dog. They are quite energetic. The Cavoodle is a mix of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Poodle. They also make good emotional support dogs, often with a mixture of the best features of both breeds.

Emotional Support Dog Breeds, cavalier king charles,
Cavaliers have a great easygoing personality and get along well with others

5.  Bichon Frise

The Bichon Frise was bred as a lap dog, so it makes them idea for an emotional support dog. They are cute and fluffy and hypoallergenic and they are very affectionate with their owners. They may be a little wary of strangers and become protective of their owners if not trained. They are one of the most intelligent breeds of dogs and can be trained to do many things. They need a lot of exercise, but because they are small, they don’t necessarily need a lot of space to run around in.

Emotional Support Dog Breeds, bichon frise
The Bichon Frise dog are very affectionate and intelligent.

6. Chihuahua

Because they are so small, Chihuahuas are suitable for small living spaces. Although they are a very energetic dog, their small size means that they don’t need a large amount of space to run around. They are intensely loyal and enjoy being with their owners.

Emotional Support Dog Breeds, chihuaha
Chihuahuas are energetic but don’t need a large living space.

7. Corgi

Corgis were originally bred for herding sheep, so they are active and protective. They make good emotional support dogs because of their friendly personality and expressive faces. Because they are working dogs, they need a lot of exercise. They are happy, playful dogs that people can be happy just to watch.

Emotional Support Dog Breeds, corgi
Corgis were the Queen’s favourite breed!

8. Pug

Pugs are a popular choice for emotional support animal because it is said that they have many human-like expressions such as surprise and happiness. They are small and playful. They are quite energetic, but they are also fairly independent, so their owners won’t have to worry too much about exercising them. They are small and can be kept in an apartment.

Emotional Support Dog Breeds, pug
Pugs are very playful but can have a lot of breathing problems due to their squished snout

9. Collie

It is said that Collies are very sensitive and are able to react to their owner’s emotions. They are highly intelligent and can be easily trained. They are also very gentle. Because they are working dogs, they are happiest when they are doing something for their owners. They may be a little reserved with strangers but they are highly loyal to their owners.

Emotional Support Dog Breeds, collie, border collie
Collies are working dogs – very active, but very loyal.

10. Mixed Breed Dogs

Any dog can be an emotional support dog. Some of the best dogs are ones that aren’t any particular breed. As long as it has the temperament necessary to be an emotional support dog, the breed doesn’t matter. Most popular dog breeds could be an emotional support dog as long as they have the right temperament.

Emotional Support Dog Breeds, mutt, mixed breed
Even mixed breeds can be an emotional support dog, as long as it has the right temperament.


Finding a good emotional support dog is not necessarily difficult. Any breed may be a good choice, but there are certain breeds that have a suitable temperament for being an emotional support animal. Dogs are probably the most popular emotional support animal. An emotional support dog needs to form a close attachment to its owner and it needs to behave well in public. They should get along well with other people and animals. There are 10 breeds of dogs that often make good emotional support dogs, but that does not mean that they are the only breeds that you can choose.

Make sure before deciding on any dog, you consider the Cost of Getting a Dog as well as other important considerations such as your lifestyle and environment.

Reference List:

1. ‘How to tell if you would benefit from an emotional support animal, plus tips for getting one. Rebecca Strong. Published Jan 25, 2022. Insider Reviews. Accessed online at https://www.insider.com/guides/health/mental-health/emotional-support-animal on 25 Sep, 2022.

2. Airlines that Allow Flying with an Emotional Support Dog [2022]’. Pets that Travel. Accessed online at https://www.petsthattravel.com/flying-with-emotional-support-dog/ on 25 Sep, 2022.

3. ‘What are the best qualities in dogs for emotional support?’. Mentalitch. Accessed online at https://mentalitch.com/what-are-the-best-qualities-in-dogs-for-emotional-support/ on 24 Sep, 2022.

4. ‘Dogs and PTSD. US Department of Veteran Affairs. PTSD: National Center for PTSD. Accessed online at https://www.ptsd.va.gov/gethelp/dogs_ptsd.asp on 25 Sep, 2022.

5. ‘The Covoodle: Breed Profile’. Gentle Dog Trainers. Accessed online at https://gentledogtrainers.com.au/cavoodle/ on 25 Sep, 2022.


‘The Top 12 Small Dog Breeds That Make Great Emotional Support Animals. Official  Service Dog, Therapy Dog and Emotional Support Animal Registry. Published 10 Sep, 2019. Accessed online at https://www.supportdogcertification.org/article/best-emotional-support-dog-breeds on 24 Sep, 2022.

’11 Best Emotional Support Dogs. Lisa Marie Conklin. Published 05, April, 2022. Readers Digest. Accessed online at https://www.rd.com/article/best-emotional-support-dogs/ on 25 Sep, 2022.

‘What Is an Emotional Support Animal?’. Kendra Cherry. Published 27 June, 2021. Accessed online at https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-an-emotional-support-animal-4171479 on 25 Sep, 2022.

‘What Is An Emotional Support Dog? How Do you Qualify?’. Published 14 April, 2021. USA Service Dogs. Accessed online at https://usaservicedogs.org/blog/what-is-an-emotional-support-dog-how-do-you-qualify/ on 24 Sep, 2022.

‘Emotional Support Dogs Australia: The Complete Guide’. Gentle Dog Trainers. Accessed online at https://gentledogtrainers.com.au/emotional-support-dog-australia/ on 24 Sep, 2022.

‘Everything You Need to Know About Emotional Support Animals. Stephanie Gibeault. Published 24 Feb, 2021. American Kennel Club. Accessed online at https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/news/everything-about-emotional-support-animals/ on 25 Sep, 2022.

‘Characteristics of Emotional Support Animals and Best Breeds’. Published 16 July, 2021. Official Service Dog, Therapy dog and Emotional Support Animal Registry. Accessed online at  https://www.supportdogcertification.org/article/characteristics-emotional-support-animals-and-best-breeds on 25 Sep, 2022.

’10 Best dog Breeds for Emotional Support. Laura Muella. Published 9 March, 2021. The Spruce Pets. Accessed online at https://www.thesprucepets.com/best-emotional-support-dog-breeds-4587718 on 24 Sep, 2022.



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