According to the American Kennel Club, the legal definition of “emotional support animal” is a pet “prescribed by a licensed mental health professional to a person with a disabling mental illness.”
Domestic animals ranging from dogs to cats to ferrets can qualify as emotional support animals (ESAs). Unlike service dogs (which are taught to aid people with disabilities) and therapy dogs (which volunteer with their owners at schools, nursing homes, and other facilities), ESAs provide emotional support to owners by comforting them and do not need to be trained in a specific task.
But the qualities that make canines suitable service and therapy dogs, like loyalty and adaptability, also serve them well as ESAs.
Keep reading to learn about 10 dog breeds that experts say make great emotional support animals, from poodles to Pomeranians.
Poodles are adaptable, with a good intuition.
An adaptable breed with a good intuition, poodles have the added benefit of being hypoallergenic. Since they come in three sizes ― standard, miniature, and toy ― you can choose the pooch that suits your emotional support needs.
The only caveat is that poodles require lots of grooming.
Labrador retrievers are gentle and outgoing.
Collies are loyal and intelligent.
Greyhounds are gentle and sweet-tempered.
The American Kennel Club describes greyhounds as “gentle” and “sweet-tempered” ― qualities that make these sleek racing dogs sensitive to people’s emotions.
Although it’s common to adopt retired greyhounds, older dogs could have suffered physical and/or emotional abuse. K9 of Mine advises that those with high levels of anxiety might prefer to adopt a greyhound puppy instead.
Corgis are affectionate and even-keeled.
Although they’re often associated with the royal family, Corgis are known for being affectionate and even-keeled. According to Animal Planet, these obedient herding dogs make suitable companions for individuals in nursing homes and people with disabilities.
Pomeranians are calm and need little exercise.
Calm and requiring little exercise, Pomeranians are suitable for home-bound patients, according to PetPom.
The American Kennel Club says that this small canine with a large personality also makes a good watchdog.
Dachshunds are affectionate and lively.
Dachshunds are known for their affectionate, lively personalities ― assets that make them ideal companions for those with anxiety and depression (and for people with autism and epilepsy), according to Animal Planet.
French bulldogs are low-key and affectionate ― not to mention portable.
Yorkshire terriers are tiny and energetic.
Tiny and energetic, Yorkshire terriers are historically known for their therapeutic work. During World War II, a Yorkie named Smoky(who was rescued from a foxhole) travelled around with her owner, Cpl. Bill Wynne, to visit injured soldiers in New Guinea.
The American Kennel Club says that this deceptively dainty-looking breed will offer “years of laughs, love, and close companionship.”
Golden retrievers are notable for their loyalty.
Notably loyal, golden retrievers tend to stick by their owner’s side. They are energetic but still calm and can be a good companion for those who have to venture into larger crowds.
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