The Best Emotional Support Dog Breeds

By: Kathryn Anderson Updated: December 21, 2023

Making a call on which of our canine counterparts are the best emotional support dog breeds is a tricky one. Dogs come in as many shapes and sizes as people do. The same goes for the number of personalities people and dogs come in. It really is all about finding the perfect human-canine match.

Good Emotional Support Dogs: Who are They and What Do They Do?

First of all, emotional support dogs are dogs that offer their owners comfort and companionship. People suffering from a range of mental illnesses and conditions, such as depression, anxiety disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can massively benefit from the presence of an emotional support animal (ESA).

Unlike service animals, ESAs are not legally required to undergo any form of training. Dogs are basically genetically wired to make us feel loved and less lonely. They don’t need to be taught how to do this, they are man’s best friend by default.

Wondering “What Kind of Dog Should I Get?” Any Dog Can Be the Best Emotional Support Dog!  

Any dog can be an emotional support animal. This means that pure breed dogs through to mixed breeds, designers breeds and mutts can be ESAs. All that matters is that you find the perfect furry friend you share a connection with!

Where to Find the Most Loyal Dog Breeds and Your Perfect ESA Support Dog: The Animal Shelter!

People often turn straight to a breed search when they are looking for a pet or ESA. The downside of that is that they then go straight to finding breeders that breed with that specific breed.

Sadly most people forget that animal and rescue shelters have all sorts of dogs. They are full of pure breed dogs which have been surrendered for some sad reason. They of course also have tons of pavement specials and mutts that are looking for a second chance at life.

Dog adoption is a noble cause! Especially for people suffering from mental or emotional conditions. When you rescue a dog, you have the chance to heal together.


Emotional Support Dog for Sale? You Can’t Buy One, But You Can Get an ESA Letter!

Trained service dogs tend to cost a lot because they have to undergo such extensive training. You can buy a service dog, but you can’t buy an ESA! The difference between a pet and an emotional support dog is an ESA letter.

An ESA letter is essentially a “prescription” from a licensed mental health professional (LMHP). The letter proves that you have been diagnosed with a mental illness or condition (which is covered in the Diagnostics and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

The letter also proves that you require the presence of your ESA in order to mitigate the symptoms of your disability.

Calm Dog Breeds: The Calmest Dog Breeds Ever   

If you are looking at finding a calm and gentle dog breed, start by asking a breeder or animal shelter about low energy dogs. If you are adopting, you can meet a few different animals to see whether your energy levels match.

Certain breeds (allegedly) calm down as they grow older. Here are a few of them:

  • Labrador Retriever
  • Shih-Tzu
  • Newfoundland
  • Great Dane
  • Irish Wolfhound
  • Great Pyrenees

An Older Rescue Dog Might Be Just What the Doctor Ordered!  

Older dogs are a great choice for people looking for mellow dogs. These dogs are done with their puppy-ish antics and simply want to enjoy the peace and quiet they are entitled to as older doggos.

An older rescue dog will be happy to go on a dignified walk rather than “walkies at the park”. Older dogs might not be the best choice for young children that are constantly nagging the dog to play.

The Loving and Loyal Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel stands out as one of the best emotional support dog breeds. They are known for their loyal and loving nature. They’re also (mostly) incredibly calm (read dignified) furkids.

Small Dog Breeds Make the Best Companion Dogs 

Not everyone has the luxury of living in a house with a big yard for a dog to run around in. For a lot of people, the best emotional support dog breeds are those that can fit into their small apartments.

Small dog breeds, like the French Bulldog and Yorkie, make wonderful ESAs. They are easy to hold and cuddle and don’t take up too much space on the bed or the couch!

Not Just Yappy Yorkies, the Yorkshire Terrier Takes Companionship to the Next Level!

There is a reason why the Yorkshire Terrier is one of the best emotional support dog breeds. These little doggies have enormous personalities. They are fiercely loyal and are the source of endless entertainment.

They can be real Divas, so be prepared for a lot of grooming and giving them your undivided attention.

Cuddlers! Here are Some of the Best Lap Dogs and Most Affectionate Dog Breeds!

Some dogs don’t like to be cuddled. If you want a cuddler, it’s probably a very good idea to see whether the dog likes to cuddle before you commit to taking them home. For example: as cute as Golden Retrievers are, they get incredibly hot after even seconds of physical contact (thanks to that thick coat of theirs).

Dogs with shorter coats tend to really enjoy heat sources (such as that of their owner’s body heat). You will likely have better luck with such doggos.

Jack Russell Terriers: Crazy and Calm all Rolled Up Into One 

These dogs may be INSANE, but their short coats and little bodies make them the perfect cuddle candidates. They can be as cute and cuddly as they can be crazy!

Fluffy Puffy Poodles!

Poodles. Prepare yourself for oodles of poodle cuddles from these pups. This is a loyal dog breed that is independent but also loves some serious cuddle sessions.

The Best Dog Breed For Me? Here are Some Perpetual Puppies!

Remember how we mentioned those doggy energy levels? Well, if you are looking for a more active and energetic breed, you’re in luck. Some breeds (such as the Border Collie) don’t tend to “calm down with age” as others do.

Enter the perpetual puppy breeds. These dogs are the best emotional support dog breeds for people who need a reason to get out of the house and meet some people!


No Matter How Old They Are Golden Retrievers are Always Happy and Playful

Goldens are perpetual puppies. Even with white around their eyes and muzzles, these loving and loyal doggos never lose their pupper spirit!

They make some of the best emotional support dog breeds because of their loving nature and their eagerness to please! They are incredibly trainable and offer an endless supply of love.

The German Shepherd: Once a Lapdog, Always a Lapdog!

German Shepherds never lose their playful character as they grow older. Sure, they may calm down at one point or other, but they will still be up to some walkies or playtime well into their retirement years!

How to Get Your ESA Letter: CertaPet’s Simple Process!

Are you done browsing the best emotional support dog breeds? Great! Once you’ve found your ideal ESA match, all you need is an emotional support animal letter. CertaPet makes the process of getting that ESA letter very easy!

All you need to do is take our free 5-minute pre-screening. If your results indicate that you might qualify for an ESA, we will connect you with a LMHP in your state! You could have your ESA letter in as little as 48hrs!

Common Questions on the Best Emotional Support Dog Breeds

Are there calm and affectionate dog breeds that make good assistance dogs?

Can I buy an emotional support dog?

Do rescue dogs make good emotional support animals?

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