How To Find the Best Emotional Support Dog Breeds

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emotional support animals help people Emotional support animals (ESAs) or psychiatric service dogs provide emotional and physical comfort to individuals with mental health issues. An ESA can help its owner in various ways, from providing companionship to helping reduce anxiety and stress with specific tasks. But not all dog breeds are the same—some are better suited than others for being ESAs. So what should you look for when choosing an emotional support dog breed? Let’s take a look. 

Temperment is Important

When it comes to ESA dogs, temperament is the most important aspect. The best breeds are those that have gentle and calm personalities, as well as those that are friendly and easy to train. Breeds that are known for being intelligent, loyal, and eager-to-please work best as ESAs. Some breeds that would be a good choice for having these qualities include Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Poodles, Boxers, German Shepherds, and Collies


Size is also important when it comes to choosing an ESA breed; larger dogs may be too intimidating or overwhelming for some people, while smaller dog breeds may not provide the same level of comfort or protection that a large-size breed would offer. Medium-sized breeds such as Labradoodles and Cocker Spaniels are generally considered to be ideal sizes for ESAs because they offer a good balance between size and temperament. 


Trainability is another factor that must be considered when selecting an ESA breed; some breeds may require more intensive training than others before they can serve as effective service animals. Breeds like Labradors, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Poodles tend to be more easily trained due to their high intelligence levels; on the other hand, herding breeds such as Border Collies tend to need additional training to focus on tasks at hand rather than chasing after small animals or other distractions in their environment.  

Some Breeds to Consider

Labrador Retrievers 

Labrador Retrievers are one of the most popular breeds in the world and for good reason. They’re extremely loyal and affectionate dogs, making them excellent companion dogs for people with disabilities. Labradors also have a naturally calm demeanor that makes them ideal for emotional support in stressful situations. Finally, they’re incredibly intelligent, which means they’re easy to train and eager to please their owners. 

Irish Wolfhound

The Irish Wolfhound is a gentle giant of an emotional support animal (ESA), providing comfort and security to those who need it. This breed is incredibly patient, loyal, and protective, making them the perfect companions for owners looking for a supportive pet. With their loving nature, precise athleticism, and large stature, Irish Wolfhounds are beloved by many for their affectionate demeanor and willingness to connect with their owners on a deeper level. They are also noted for having a strong intuition, contributing to their role as an ESA by helping them recognize when someone needs extra love and attention.

Great Pyrenees

The Great Pyrenees are loyal and gentle companions, making them ideal emotional support animals. They are known for their calm temperament and intelligence, which make them easy to train and well-suited for therapy work. Their protective nature makes them especially helpful to those suffering from anxiety or other psychological conditions; being able to sense the emotions of their owners, they provide comfort by instinctively responding with warmth and affection. Furthermore, the majestic beauty of the Great Pyrenees makes them a sight to behold and can be used as a distraction when feeling overwhelmed or distressed.

Bernese Mountain Dog 

The Bernese Mountain Dog is another great breed for those seeking an emotional support animal. This large breed is incredibly friendly and loyal; they form strong bonds with their owners and are always eager to please them. They’re also highly intelligent animals, so they can be easily trained to obey commands or participate in activities such as agility or tracking competitions. Finally, Berners are relatively low-maintenance in grooming; they only need a quick brushing every few days.  

Yorkshire Terrier

The Yorkshire Terrier is an excellent choice as an emotional support animal, offering affection and companionship due to their loving nature. They are highly intelligent and easily trainable, quickly learning commands and responding positively when properly rewarded with treats. Due to their small size and portability, the Yorkshire Terrier can provide comfort in the home and public environments, such as airplanes or restaurants. Their outgoing personalities also make them great playmates for children of all ages, and they form close, lifelong bonds with their owners. Additionally, their hypoallergenic coat means they are unlikely to trigger allergies, making them a practical option for those affected by pet allergies.


Pugs are gentle, loving creatures that make great emotional support pets. They require minimal exercise and love spending time with their owners, so they don’t mind being indoors all day while you work or relax at home. Pugs bond quickly with their owners, which makes them perfect companions if you’re looking for a loyal friend who will always be there for you when times get tough.  

Golden Retrievers 

Like Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers are beloved by many due to their friendly nature and intelligence. They have a loving disposition that makes them perfect for providing emotional support and comfort during difficult times. Golden Retrievers are also incredibly patient and tolerant, meaning they won’t get frustrated if their owner needs extra time with tasks or activities. 

Standard Poodles 

Poodles may be known as high-maintenance dogs due to their grooming needs but don’t let that fool you – these pooches make great emotional support animals! Poodles are highly intelligent and easily trained, so they can learn how to provide comfort when needed without much prompting from their owners. They’re also quite gentle, which makes them great companions for people with physical or mental disabilities. Plus, their hypoallergenic coat means that even those with severe allergies can still enjoy the company of a poodle!

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is an excellent emotional support animal renowned for its loyalty and affection. The breed is considered to be highly intelligent and attentive, making them very receptive to training and quickly learning commands to provide comforting companionship and assistance. As one of the oldest herding breeds, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is known for its strong work ethic, making them a dependable companion during stress or distress, providing solace and comfort when needed most.

German Shepherds 

German Shepherds are a type of dog that has been bred as working dogs since the 1800s due to their loyalty, intelligence, and courage—all important traits in an emotional support animal. While they may seem intimidating at first glance due to their size and imposing appearance, German Shepherds are actually extremely gentle with their owners once they form a bond and learn to trust them. They will fiercely protect their owners if necessary while still providing unconditional love during stressful moments.

Bichon Frise

The Bichon Frise is an ideal emotional support animal, as they are highly trainable, exceptionally intelligent, and deeply devoted to their owners. Their soft, fluffy coats make them the perfect cuddle buddy, and they are known to be one of the most affectionate dog breeds out there. Bichon Frises are also incredibly intuitive and sensitive to their owners’ emotions; they are known to become more relaxed when someone feels anxious or stressed, providing comfort and reassurance in times of need.

Pick the Breed that Suits You

When it comes to selecting an emotional support dog breed, there is no one-size-fits-all solution – different breeds have different temperaments and personalities that make them better suited (or worse suited) depending on individual needs. Although the United States has a Disabilities Act that protects service animals, ESAs are on more of a local law basis, so it’s a good idea to research what mental health conditions are protected for the existence of an ESA animal. That said, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Poodles all make excellent candidates thanks to their loyalty, intelligence, patience, gentleness, hypoallergenic coats (in the case of Poodles), and overall affectionate dispositions. If you’re looking for an emotional support dog that will provide unconditional love while helping you manage your disability, then any of these three breeds could be perfect for you!