Dogs are man’s best friend. They can be affectionate, funny, hard-working, and silly, all wrapped up into one furry package.
Over the last decade, it has become more of the norm to use dogs as emotional support animals (ESA). As rates of anxiety and depression increase, the value of a dog in people’s lives does too.
More psychologists have begun to prescribe dog ownership as a method of treatment for emotional trauma. In general, dogs can help you cope, but you can also get a dog trained specifically. Here are the 10 best emotional support dogs:
1. Labrador Retriever
As one of the most popular dog breeds in the country, it’s no shocker the loveable Labrador retriever is also a top-notch emotional support dog. As temperament goes, they’re happy, laid-back, and nothing seems to bother them much. They are trustworthy, dependable, and always there to lick your face—or your ice cream cone. “This breed is super food motivated,” says Nicole Ellis, a certified professional dog trainer, and Pet Lifestyle Expert with Rover. Because of this, it’s easy to train them and teach them helpful tasks, such as laying beside you, resting their head on you, or providing deep pressure therapy, which is used to help reduce anxiety. It can be brought about by hugging, weighted blankets, and yes, by brushing a dog or a dog laying across your body, Ellis explains.
2. Yorkshire Terrier
Yorkies are the sweetest of the sweet lap dogs. Tiny little things, they don’t require a huge amount of space or exercise, which makes them a great choice for owners who live in apartments and can’t do lots of exercise to keep their pup healthy. Yorkshire terriers are happiest when they’re perched on their owner’s lap or at least somewhere nearby. This makes them great ESAs, as they are super affectionate little dogs that love physical contact.
Beagles are slightly dopey — in a super cute way, of course — and utterly adorable as pets. Their lovable nature also ensures that they make great ESAs. Beagles possess a personality that includes the best of both worlds — either active and energetic or cuddly and calm. Beagles make really versatile ESAs.
There are two types of Corgi: the Pembroke Welsh and the Cardigan. Although both breeds make lovely additions to the family, Pembroke Welsh Corgis tend to be the more affectionate of the two. These dogs are playful and goofy and a little clumsy on their shorter legs.
Part of what makes a Corgi so appealing is their appearance. With foxlike faces, stumpy legs, a long body, and a famous heart-shaped butt, they don’t have to work too hard to gain your heart.
Just one look at a pug’s adorable yet hilarious mug puts a smile on your face. Pugs are great with kids, and also great at tuning into the emotions of their owners. This makes them excellent at being emotional support animals, as they’re able to sense your mood and lift it with their cheeky behavior and cute mannerisms. One consideration if you’re thinking of a pug as an ESA: some airlines don’t allow these dogs to fly due to their classification as a short-nosed breed. The breed can experience breathing problems, so if you plan a lot of travel, it’s probably best to choose another breed.
6. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The floppy eared good looks of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are a key draw of this type of dog. These spaniels are mellow, quiet and low-energy dogs. They’re also very low maintenance, meaning that if you have depression that limits your activities, this breed makes great ESAs.
Pomeranians are adorable balls of fluff. They want to be near you as much as possible, getting disgruntled and anxious when you are gone for too long. They are intelligent and will know the moment you are supposed to be home and the moment you are late.
These little pups are a bit harder to train than some others on this list. They are not fond of strangers and can be yappy if not appropriately trained from a young age.
8. Golden Retriever
Like the Labrador, golden retrievers are a loyal, lively breed that requires a moderate to high amount of exercise, which makes them good as ESAs for those who are comfortable with that. Make sure you’re able to give them the appropriate amount of activity and stimulation they need.
Poodles are an incredibly smart breed that bond closely with their owner. Their high level of intelligence means they’re very easy to train, a valuable quality in an ESA. Having a pet that’s highly trainable means that you’re less likely to experience issues when flying with your pet. Having a well-trained dog can make for a far less stressful experience than a disobedient or headstrong breed.
Chihuahuas are one of the most people-loving — and neediest! — breeds. If you’re after a dog that bonds closely with you and you have plenty of time and attention to give it, then this teeny-tiny breed can be a good ESA choice. Chihuahuas are not particularly fond of children and sometimes even other dogs, so be aware of these traits. They can also be very noisy if left alone, preferring to be at the side (or on the lap) of a human at all times. Chihuahuas are tiny balls of love, with eyes only for their owners, which is great for those with depression.
Whatever breed of dog you choose as your companion, you’ve made a great choice to treat your mental health issues using an emotional support animal. May your ESA be a source of constant support and love for many years to come.