Dogs are pretty amazing, right? Not only do they make the best pets, but they’re also absolute legends with the ability to support people struggling with mental illness. Emotional support animals (ESA), which seem to get more popular every day, provide important therapy aid. They actually help improve the health and quality of life for those who suffer from any number of mental illnesses. Any type of pet can technically be an ESA, but dogs really make the best emotional support animals.
Of course, not all dog breeds are created equal when it comes to acting as emotional support animals. If you're considering getting a new canine to act as your ESA, there are 10 breeds best suited for ESA work in the whole doggo world. Choose your new emotional support dog from among these breeds:
1. Labrador Retriever
Labradors are known to be some of the gentlest breeds around, so they make perfect ESAs. Another bonus of this popular dog breed is that they’re highly food motivated, making them much easier to train than other breeds. Labradors are great with kids too, so they're perfect to welcome into families. These dogs are the ultimate all-rounders, so they make an excellent choice for ESA work.
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.
Corgis represent a stable, obedient and loyal breed. Oh, and have you seen their adorable fluffy butts? If not, we recommend you look that up, like, right now! Although short in stature, this breed is certainly not short on personality. Corgis make a good choice for an ESA because of their even-tempered nature and loyalty to their owner.
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.
These balls of fluff are the ultimate lap dogs, making them a perfect choice as an ESA. Pomeranians love nothing better than being close to their owners at all times, so they’re the ideal pets to provide attention and affection as ESAs. If you want a pet to become your closest friend, a Pomeranian is a great choice.
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.