It has been said countless times that dogs are man’s best friend. If you’ve ever had a dog in your life, you know that to be a fact.

Dogs are devoted companions who always seem to know when we’ve had a bad day. They know just when to give us extra love and attention to cheer us up and make us laugh.

funny dog

But there are those breeds of dog who seem to be able to really home in on our emotions and bring us the comfort we need in troubling times. If you or a loved one would benefit from an emotional support dog, the breeds on this list will bring you the calm, comfort and care you are searching for.

What is an emotional support dog?

Emotional support dogs provide comfort and attention for people who are suffering from anxiety or other mental health issues. While any animal can fill this roll, dogs just seem to have a natural ability to make us feel warm and fuzzy and better than we felt before they hopped on the couch with us.

But beyond being a comforting presence in our lives, emotional support dogs require care themselves. Feeding, grooming and walking a dog gives many people a sense of purpose. The act of caring for an animal also can be a positive distraction from whatever is causing their anxiety or depression.

And finally, emotional support dogs make wonderful listeners. While they may not understand what we are saying, they do give us their full (or at least somewhat full) attention. This can be very helpful to people who need to talk about what’s bothering them but have a fear of being judged by others.

These are not just “feel good points.” There have been studies that show companion animals can decrease anxiety and depression and improve a person’s mental health and well-being. Just another reason to love dogs!

Are Emotional Support Dogs the Same as Service Dogs?

service dog

There is a lot of confusion as to whether service dogs and emotional support dogs are the same thing. The Americans with Disabilities Act states, “A service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.”

So technically, service dogs and emotional support dogs are not the same thing, though they both provide important support to their human. Service dogs are trained to perform specific tasks. As an example, a seeing eye dog assists people who are blind to safely travel. A psychiatric service dog assists people who suffer from psychiatric episodes. The dog may remind people to take their medication and do safety checks for those suffering from PTSD. Service dogs are virtually allowed anywhere the general public is permitted to go.

Emotional support dogs are not considered service animals under the ADA because they have not gone through special training to perform specific tasks that assist people with disabilities.

You will see many emotional support dogs in hospitals and nursing homes, offering their furry friendship as a much-needed distraction from the fear and loneliness people commonly experience in these places. And of course, they can provide this same wonderful distraction in the many homes of people who are dealing with depression and anxiety.

therapy dog

 5 Best Emotional Support Dogs

While all dogs have the ability to bring comfort and love, there are specific breeds that are calm and have easy-going dispositions and are also incredibly devoted and loyal. The following breeds seem to be naturally suited for the role of an emotional support dog.

1. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

This gorgeous dog was actually bred to be a companion dog, so their genetics have been specifically developed to be loving and comforting. In addition, they are incredibly cute and well-mannered. If you live in an apartment or just prefer a smaller dog, a spaniel would be an ideal match.

2. Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds, and no doubt that has to do with their wonderful temperament. These dogs are happy (you swear you can see them smiling sometimes!), laid-back and easy-going. They are completely dependable, are easy to train, and are always up for a cuddle. Some might suggest the Lab is everything a dog should be, and we’d be hard-pressed to argue. They make wonderful emotional support dogs.

3. Corgi

Corgi

It’s hard not to smile when you see a Corgi. Their short legs and big ears make this breed incredibly adorable. Looks aside, they also happen to have specific traits that make them ideal for emotional support dogs. They are very playful, affectionate and happy. And, because they have been bred as a herding dog, they also have a strong instinct to protect their human.

4. The Great Pyrenees

The Great Pyrenees

They don’t call them “Great” for nothing! These dogs are incredibly calm and mellow, which can be very beneficial for those suffering from anxiety. Spending just a few moments with a Great Pyrenees may bring the calm into your life that you really need. These dogs have luxurious coats and do need to be groomed/brushed often. But the act of brushing a dog has also been shown to be very calming.

5. Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever

Of course, we couldn’t not have the Golden Retriever on this list! If you’ve ever had the pleasure of looking a Golden Retriever in the eyes, you know that there is something special about this breed. You’d swear they were part dog and part human. If you’re looking for a companion who seems to truly be hooked into your emotions, this is the breed for you. In addition to being incredibly sensitive to human emotions, Goldens are also happy, goofy dogs who seem to like nothing more than to make you laugh!

Protect Your Emotional Support Dog from Unforeseen Illness and Injuries

Your emotional support dog is going to do everything they can to make sure you are okay. Don’t you want to extend that same commitment?

No matter how much we love our dogs and try to take care of them, things happen. Illnesses can strike as can sudden injuries. If you’re not prepared, the cost of one ER visit or multiple vet visits with needed bloodwork and X-rays can run up a very large bill.

Protect your dog with a pet health insurance plan that guarantees the best veterinary care without breaking your piggybank. A dog health insurance plan can reimburse you for up to 90% of your veterinary costs.

At Pet Insurance Review, our commitment will never change: we will always bring you the absolute best policies from the top pet health insurance providers in the market. Take a moment to get a free quote now, and let us do the rest!

References:

  1. 1.  Gibeault, S, MSc, CPDT, Everything You Need to Know About Emotional Support Animals. Retrieved from: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/news/everything-about-emotional-support-animals/
  2. 2. Beetz, A., Uvnäs-Moberg, K., Julius, H., & Kotrschal, K. (2012). Psychosocial and psychophysiological effects of human-animal interactions: the possible role of oxytocin. Frontiers in psychology3, 234. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00234
  3. 3. Retrieved from: https://beta.ada.gov/
  4. 4. Retrieved from: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/cavalier-king-charles-spaniel/
  5. 5. Retrieved from: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/labrador-retriever/
  6. 6. Retrieved from: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/pembroke-welsh-corgi/
  7. 7. Retrieved from: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/great-pyrenees/
  8. 8. Retrieved from: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/golden-retriever/