Top 11 Best Emotional Support Dog Breeds

Top 11 Best Emotional Support Dog Breeds

Updated on May 12, 2022
Written by ESA Pet Staff

fact checked by Esa Pet Staff

Dogs have always been man’s best friend. The fiery friendship, the never-ending loyalty, and the unconditional love – dogs make our lives whole. Therefore, it is no surprise that they are the most popular emotional support animals worldwide. They naturally lend themselves to being emotional support animals (ESAs) because of their personality traits.

While all dogs have the potential to make great emotional support animals, there are dog breeds that are more attuned to this role. A perfect emotional support animal is gentle, friendly, laid-back, easy-going, trainable, and intelligent to name a few. There are dog breeds that fit these qualities to a tee, and we will look at them in this article.

Before looking at the different dog breeds that make great emotional support animals, let us look at why we consider them the best.

Best Dog Breed Characteristics

Here are some of the qualities that set these dog breeds apart from the rest;

  • They are loving, loyal, and affectionate dogs. 
  • They are friendly and quickly bond with humans.
  • They are obedient and respond well to training.
  • They are more attuned to human emotions.
  • They are confident yet gentle.
  • They can be patient.

Benefits of Having an Emotional Support Dog

There are numerous benefits people can derive from having an emotional support dog. Dog owners know just how much dogs make their lives better.

Here are some of the benefits of having an emotional support dog;

  1. They have therapeutic benefits – Licensed mental health professionals prescribe dog ownership as a form of treatment.
  2. They make people feel better – Dogs easily bring smiles and laughter to people. They are entertaining, and petting them makes one feel good.
  3. They improve the overall mental health of a person – People who have a mental illness can benefit a lot from having a dog around. Companion dogs can help manage a person’s anxiety, depression, or even post-traumatic stress disorder.
  4. They keep you company – Dogs are man’s best friends. They make for a great company, you can talk to them for hours, and you know they won’t judge you. They are also very loyal.
  5. They are entertaining – Dogs are intelligent animals and learn certain tricks and mannerisms. They can be very fun to watch and play with.
  6. They are motivating – Dogs are also a great form of motivation; they can inspire one to keep pushing or even to exercise. Dogs have an infectious energy that rubs on people.

An emotional support dog also exempts you from paying pet fees under the fair housing act. It also allows you to have your animal with you everywhere. The law also mandates airlines to accommodate emotional support animals, making it easier to fly your dog.

Best Emotional Support Dog Breeds

  1. Golden retrievers
  2. Labrador retrievers
  3. Yorkshire terrier
  4. Cavalier King Charles spaniel
  5. Irish wolfhound
  6. Chihuahua
  7. Corgi
  8. German shepherd
  9. Collie
  10. American Staffordshire terrier

Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever dog

Have you ever heard someone say, “that is some golden- retriever energy?” Well, here is where it comes from. Golden retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds around the world. They are great family pets and even better emotional support animals. A golden retriever is one of the most loyal dogs you will ever have. They love to cuddle and nuzzle against their owners.

These dogs have the unbridled enthusiasm to lift your moods at the end of a hard day. They are not shy to show affection, and you will always catch them in an upward loving gaze towards their owners. They have a patient and calm demeanor hence great for people suffering from health issues or senior citizens.

The best part about golden retrievers is that they are highly trainable and food motivated. They are also pretty athletic and enjoy taking long walks. They come in light to dark golden shades and have a wavy or straight coat.

Labrador Retriever 

Labrador Retriever dog

Labrador retrieverss are such a lovable breed of dogs, and they show that love in equal measure. They are among the best emotional support dogs for many reasons. As far as their temperament goes, they are happy, gentle, and relatively easy-going.

Labs do not shy to show affection; they like to affectionately lick the faces of their owners. They are also quite a food motivated, making it easier to train them.

You can train labs to be therapy dogs. They can perform certain tasks such as providing deep pressure therapy to reduce anxiety. They are dependable and trustworthy. Additionally, they make for great companion animals as they love adventure and exploring different places. You can never go wrong with a lab as an emotional support dog.

Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terrier dog

Yorkshire terriers are cute as a button! They may be small in size, but they love in significant ways. Yorkies are the best emotional support dogs for people who crave companionship because these pup tarts love attention. They like to be around their owners all the time!

Yorkshire terriers are great travel companion dogs. They are so small that you can easily carry them with you anywhere. They tend to bond strongly with their pet parents and are quite spunky and confident. Their confidence is infectious, making them great for someone who suffers from social anxiety.

Yorkies are energetic and playful and give the most affectionate snuggles. At only seven pounds and with their silky coats, these dogs will make your day better any day.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel dog

Cavaliers are some of the friendliest dogs you will enjoy okaying with on a daily basis. They are companion animals, but also, a living, breathing stuffed animal. They are the best comfort animals, they go  by the nickname “Comforter Spaniel.”

Cavaliers have a friendly and even temperament. They are well-mannered, laid-back, and also adorable. Their favorite thing to do is usually to cozy up to their pet parents. They love being around people so much that if you leave them for a prolonged period, they start to struggle with separation anxiety.

Cavalier King Charles spaniel is also pretty low maintenance. This makes them perfect for someone who struggles with challenging emotions. They are also great for first-time dog owners as not much goes into maintaining them.

Irish Wolfhound

Irish Wolfhound dog

While not a very popular dog breed, the Irish wolfhound makes an excellent emotional support dog. They are huge and weigh between 105 to 120 pounds, standing at 30 inches and up. So yes, they are very human-sized. This makes cuddling even better because of their physical appearance.

Despite their colossal size, they are pretty gentle, laid back, and graceful. They are often called gentle giants. Wolfhounds are sensitive and can sense human emotions.

They love to run and take walks, so you need to ensure they are in an area where they can exercise. The downside to wolfhounds is that they have a short life span of only six to eight years. This can be a big blow to someone heavily dependent on these dogs to provide emotional support. Other than that, they are excellent emotional support dogs.


chihuahua dog

Chihuahuas are a favorite breed to many- they have a saucy personality that makes them connect well with many people. They are tiny so much that they pass off as a toy breed- but this makes them easy to travel with on trips.

Chihuahuas bond quickly with their owners and crave constant attention. These little pups can develop impressionable personalities enough to be emotional support dogs.

They should start socializing at an early age to get used to being around other people. They do not require much exercise, just cuddles, and snuggles.


Corgi dog breed

Corgis are one of the most cheerful, playful, and easy-going dogs. Watching them play is very entertaining, and their energy is very infectious. They bring smiles and laughter even on the dullest of days.

These dogs are great with children, adults, and even senior citizens. However, corgis are pretty active dogs; they would not be great for people suffering from certain conditions.

Corgis are a perfect companion if you like to play around, exercise, or take long walks. They have a bust of energy that you can tap into. They are also very intelligent and hence quite easy to train.

There are two types of corgis; the Cardigan and the Pembroke Welsh. The Cardigan is bigger than the Pembroke Welsh with a bushy tail. Pembroke Welsh corgis are more affectionate and sociable. Both share the same temperaments and are playful, clumsy, and goofy.

Corgis have foxlike features, long bodies, stumpy legs, and heart-shaped butts. They have a strong instinct to protect their owners. They are perfect for pet parents who like taking walks with their pups.

German Shepherd

German shepherds breed

German shepherds are a breed mostly attuned to being working dogs. They are quite eager to please, so they make good emotional support dogs. They also love to interact with humans and can be sociable when brought up in a friendly environment.

German shepherds often get a bad rap for being too complicated or aggressive. However, it all boils down to how their upbringing and the kind of training they have undergone. They are intelligent animals, so they are easy to train. They can be the best companions with sufficient training and you can teach them to behave well even in public spaces.

These dogs appreciate having a job to do; that’s why they can also help out as service dogs. If you don’t know how to train a dog, it is better to get one already trained. Interacting with them will be much easier from there.

Collie dog breed


Collies are a calm breed with a lot of love in them. They are herding dogs, so you know they will always look out for their owners. They are great at picking cues whenever something is not correct. In the same energy, they will swoop in to try and make things better and provide comfort.

Collies have gorgeous coats which can be very therapeutic to stroke. They show devotion to their owners but one should watch them when they play around children. They also like to move around a lot hence perfect for helping get your energy.

American Staffordshire Terrier

American Staffordshire Terrier dog

Pit bull-type dogs have had a bad rap over the years mainly a result of bad PR and also because they were fighter dogs. However, these dogs are debunking the ideas that have tarnished their reputation for years.

The American Staffordshire terrier is a friendly and devoted breed. When brought up in a friendly environment and with proper training, they can be delightful.

They also make excellent guard dogs due to their intimidating features. When you get used to them, you will find that they are affectionate animals capable of showing love.

Mixed Breed Dogs

Mixed dog breed

Mixed breed dogs are some of the cutest and most adorable dogs you will have the pleasure of meeting. They come in all personalities and types. If you want an active dog, you can find one, and some can also be calm and laid back.

Overall, they are affectionate, loyal, and very lovable. There are also healthier than most breeds because they come from a wider gene pool. This also makes them less prone to suffering from hereditary issues.



We love dogs for many reasons – they are some of the most loyal, affectionate, and trustworthy animals. Emotional support dogs help man in very significant ways- they can be therapy dogs, working dogs, psychiatric service dogs, or just service dogs.

The above-listed breeds of dogs have more significant potential for making perfect emotional support dogs. They have most of not all the qualities desired in an emotional support animal.

If you are in the market for an emotional support dog, ensure you pick a breed that would be perfect for you and all the present conditions. While these are all great emotional support dogs, some are better for certain circumstances than others.

More importantly, ensure you speak to a licensed mental health professional about your needs and mental health issues. If your emotional and mental well-being relies on an emotional support dog, ensure you get an ESA letter so that your animal is appropriately documented. This will also earn you some emotional support animal benefits.