The Best Emotional Support Animal Dog Breeds

12 Best Breeds for an Emotional Support Animal

Did you know that, according to Pawlicy Advisor, 57% of households in the US in 2018 had at least one pet? Additionally, the most popular pets in the US are dogs, with these being followed by dogs, which has been the case since at least 1987.

If you’re planning on becoming a pet owner in the US by getting an emotional support animal, this can be an exciting time, as you’ll finally be getting the emotional support you need from one.

However, this can be stressful if you aren’t sure about which breeds are best, or even overwhelming if you can’t decide on one.

Fortunately, in this article, we’ll review the best breeds for an emotional support animal. Finally,  you get the right ESA for you and get the emotional support you need. Read on to learn more.

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What to look out for

While almost any compassionate and well-mannered dog can act as an emotional support animal, certain breeds have the right personality traits to make them more easy to train and better suited to meet your emotional needs. A therapy dog should bear some of the following characteristics:

  • A good disposition and tolerates other people and animals well
  • Is in good health and don’t mind being brushed and washed
  • Has good dog manners and behaves well in social settings

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Of course, you will want to avoid dogs that show any signs of aggression towards people or dogs that are unable to settle down in public settings. While some smaller breeds of dogs are known to be easily excitable, if trained well and socialized often, they can become the perfect emotional support animal for you.

If you don’t already have an ESA don’t worry, the process is easy and we’re here to help!

5 Good Emotional Support Dog Breeds

Here are 5 emotional support dog breeds with some recommended by Animal Planet, a documentary network devoted to animals:

1) Chihuahua

These small but energetic therapy pets are very intelligent and known for staying alert in regards to their owners and their surroundings. They are extremely devoted and courageous and happen to be the 4th most popular dog around. They can live up to 20 years and will not grow much over 6 pounds.

2) Corgi

With their cattle-herding ancestry, Corgis can grow up to 30 lbs in weight. They are easy to train and are also full of fun energy. These beautifully coated dogs are great with other pets and they love children. Corgis will make a good ESA dog because they are affectionate and very even-tempered. You can also expect them to train easily and remain extremely loyal.

3) Labrador Retriever

If you are looking for a larger dog, the Labrador retriever trains well and their strength makes them suitable for fetching objects or helping in physical ways. These dogs are friendly and they love companionship. They can grow to 80 pounds and have a lifespan of 10-14 years, and they come in beautiful yellow, black, or chocolate colored coats. Don’t rule out a Lab-mix that features the right personality for an ESA.

4) Airedale Terrier

Here’s a dog that is hypoallergenic – in case you have allergies. Airedale Terriers can weight up to 70 lbs, but they fit many roles and are great for companionship. Their regal stance combined with that one-of-a-kind beard and mustache denotes a sense of dignity, making owners proud to carry these dogs anywhere.  Terriers are very alert yet patient. Depend on an Airedale Terrier to defend your home well and keep you physically active at the same time.

5) Poodle

As one of the most common ESAs, Poodles are apartment friendly and stranger-friendly. Expect lots of energy and a sunny disposition.  Standard Poodles can weigh up to 55 pounds, but a Miniature or Toy Poodle will only be 10-15 pounds as a full adult. These dogs are great for tagging along to the lake, they don’t shed hair, and they make great ‘trick’ dogs because they are so willing to please and easily trained.

6) Shiba Inu

Many of the best dogs for emotional support that we’ve covered so far are dogs that love to be snuggly and cuddly, if this isn’t something you’re interested in, then you might enjoy having a Shiba Inu as your emotional support animal.

These dogs are intelligent, quiet, and clean. However, they aren’t very affectionate and are quite independent, so for many many people, they aren’t the best emotional support dogs.

However, they might be the right support dog for you.

7) American Staffordshire Terrier

Even though dogs of the pit bull-type have not always had the best reputation, these are devoted, friendly canines who can give you many of the therapeutic benefits of dogs that you would look for in an emotional support animal.

8) Golden Retriever

If, out of small and big dogs, you have a preference for larger dogs, a golden retriever is a great choice. These dogs are overtly friendly and have patient demeanors, making them a good fit for someone who has health issues.

9) Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terriers are affection, confident dogs who can provide you with a lot of emotional support. Sure, they require a lot of attention, but they’ll give it back to you tenfold. These dogs are also easy to take with you when you’re traveling, so they’re a great fit for people who need an ESA for travel.

10) Irish Wolfhound

These dogs have a nature that makes them protectors. Additionally, they have a sensitive nature that makes it possible for them to have a sense of how people are feeling. However, keep in mind that their lifespans tend to be quite short.

They usually only live between six and eight years, which can be challenging for someone who relies a lot on their ESA.

11) Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

This cute, stuff animal-like dog is an adorable pet you can enjoy snuggling with. Cavalier King Charles spaniels also tend to have a temperament that’s friendly. Sometimes, people refer to these dogs as “comforter spaniels.”

It’s no surprise considering how much they love to spend time with their owners, whether that’s cozying up or going on a pleasant walk together.

12) German Shepherd

German Shepherds are intelligent and eager. These two qualities make them good as emotional support animals. They also enjoy engaging with people, and if you train them properly, they’ll also be wonderful companions when you’re in public spaces with them.

Want to Learn More About the Process of Getting an Emotional Support Animal?

Now that you’ve learned about the best breeds for an emotional support animal, you might want to learn more about the process of getting one. Maybe you want to find out where to find one, how to choose the right one for you, or how to get an ESA letter or certification.

Whatever information you need, we can help. At American Service Pets, we’re ESA experts.

We also make it easier for you to get your ESA certification. To learn more about how we can help you get your certification, contact American Service Pets today.

Get Your ESA Today


Due to the new Department of Transportation (DOT) policy, Emotional Support Animals are NO longer allowed to fly in airplane cabins for free. However, Psychiatric Service Dogs are eligible.


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Attention: Due to the new Department of Transportation (DOT) policy, Emotional Support Animals are NO longer allowed to fly in airplane cabins for free. However, Psychiatric Service Dogs are eligible. Click here to see if you qualify.