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Best Dog Breeds for an Emotional Support Animal

Congratulations! You have completed your emotional therapy process and have received your ESA letter. Now for the excitement of welcoming an emotional support animal into your home and beginning a new journey with a safe and helpful companion.

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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) Poodles

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.  

Making the Decision

When choosing an emotional support dog, always consider the amount of space you have, the places you will be taking your ESA, and how socially active you will expect your furry friend to be. For all questions concerning ESA letter guidelines and how it works, contact American Service Pets for more information.

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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More Great Resources

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.