Anyone that suffers from depression or anxiety knows how extremely difficult it can be to get out the front door and make it through the day. The fortunate individuals who don’t experience these problems will probably never be able to truly understand what it’s like when the mere act of getting out of bed and facing the day causes you so much anxiety that it is almost insurmountable. Unfortunately, those who do suffer from it have to find a way to cope. Taking antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication isn’t always the answer, at least not in and of itself. Many times, the answer comes from something completely unexpected, in the form of man’s best friend. Dogs are some of the best emotional support animal companions. Below are some of the most popular breeds that can be used for such function. Whether you choose to have your dog officially certified as an emotional support dog or let it remain completely unofficial, these are some of the breeds that are most frequently used by individuals who struggle with these two important mental health issues.
Although some people are rather frightened by the sight of a German Shepherd, others consider the experience awe-inspiring. German Shepherds are easily one of the most versatile dog breeds in existence. They can be used for all kinds of different things, ranging from service dogs or police dogs to seeing-eye dogs and yes, emotional support dogs. The truth is, they can be used for practically everything in between as well. They make solid family pets. Under the right circumstances, they typically get along with other animals in the household as well.
German Shepherds can be headstrong and they definitely have their own way of doing things. When they feel like they’re being forced to do something they don’t want to do, they can become completely obstinate, often doing exactly what they’re not supposed to, just to show you that they can. That said, they also make some of the best companions that you’ll ever have. When you bond with a German Shepherd, you have a friend for life. The two of you may not always see eye-to-eye on the little things, but when it comes to the things that really matter, you can bet that that dog will always have your back. In addition, many people choose to use them as guard dogs and emotional support animals at the same time. Being a good service dog, a German Shepherd is intelligent enough to fill both roles and somehow understand when it needs to switch between those roles without being told. There are not many dogs that can do that, but this particular breed excels at it.
It’s hard to imagine how anyone could come into contact with a Border Collie and not fall in love. They’re beautiful dogs with long, flowing, and colorful coats who are just as intelligent as virtually any dog breed out there. They like to have something to do. In fact, there aren’t many things worse than a completely bored Border Collie who is left to his own devices to entertain himself. If you force him into it, he will entertain himself, there is no question about that. The question is, will you have a house left when he’s finished?
All kidding aside, Border Collies really do make lifelong bonds with people. They have this innate way of knowing when you’re sad. Whenever they get that sense from you that something is off, they go out of their way to try to make things better. Even without formal training, they have a tendency to try to get you to focus on them, effectively taking your focus off of whatever is bothering you. If nothing else works, they will simply come up and sit beside you, offering a paw or a kiss on the back of the hand. Even on your worst days, it’s hard not to see a light at the end of the tunnel when you are looking into the eyes of a Border Collie. These incredibly intelligent and empathetic dogs always seem to be there to help you pick up the pieces, often before you even know that anything is broken. They do have a propensity to shed, but their personality makes it worthwhile.
Australian Shepherds look a lot like Border Collies, there is no doubt about that. They have a tendency to employ a bigger bone structure and they have a bit more hair, but many people find it difficult to tell the two of them apart. Australian Shepherds share some personality traits with Border Collies, but not all. Fortunately, one of the traits the two breeds seem to share is their ability to sense when something is wrong with the person they connect with most. They always seem to be there to help you through the most difficult times.
Australian Shepherds are fiercely loyal. They have a tendency to bond with one person and one person only, meaning they may not be the best fit for a large family. On the other hand, if you live alone, this could be the perfect solution. Once they bond with you, they want to protect you in every way possible. As such, they sort of become something of a furry bodyguard but more importantly, they’re always there for you when you’re experiencing those feelings of anxiety or depression that make it so hard to get through the day. With the right training, they can even help you calm down if you suffer from an anxiety attack.
Golden Retrievers are intelligent dogs that are almost always good-natured. In fact, it’s very rare to run across a Golden Retriever that doesn’t want to be friends with practically everybody. That makes them very good candidates for service animals. As such, Golden Retrievers are routinely used to help the blind, the hearing impaired, and the physically disabled. They also work as seizure alert dogs and of course, as emotional support animals. Some of these dogs are purebred, but others are Golden Retriever mixes.
The important thing to remember about emotional support dogs is that they’re not only there to provide comfort when you’re feeling down. Many of them actually undergo very specific training that helps them do all kinds of things such as alert you to the fact that your heart rate is getting too high or help you realize that you’re about to have a panic attack, often before you are aware of it yourself. These specially trained dogs can help you remove yourself from the situation and then take it a step further by assisting you in calming down. This is important in any case, but it becomes even more so when you have other health problems along with anxiety and depression that could potentially be exacerbated by becoming overly emotional.
The Labrador Retriever is a lot like the Golden Retriever as far as personalities are concerned. In this sense, Labs are arguably some of the best emotional support breeds out there. Although some of them tend to be a bit on the high energy side, they do make very good service dogs and are easy to train. In fact, it is often their overall happy-go-lucky attitude that makes them so well suited for the role of an emotional support dog. If being close to them doesn’t help you deal with your anxiety and depression in a positive manner, it’s likely that their silly antics will.
When you think of dog breeds that make good emotional support dogs, the Whippet is probably not on your list. However, many people underestimate these fast little dogs with a heart of gold. Many whippets are retired track dogs and not all of them had the greatest lives while they were racing. As such, the ones that are fortunate enough to be adopted are usually so grateful for the opportunity at a second chance that they spend every waking moment of their lives reminding you how grateful they truly are. Whippets can be intelligent but more importantly, they’re loving. In most cases, they are simply looking for someone to love that will love them back. When you have anxiety and depression, you can feel like you are the only person in the entire world, even in a room full of people. Having an animal that will come up and sit beside you, wanting nothing in exchange but your love, can make a great deal of difference in your outlook on life.
The Greyhound is much like the Whippet, only a bit bigger. Just like Whippets, these dogs have typically retired track dogs who are very grateful to have an opportunity for a different life. They have a tendency to be especially affectionate, even in large families or around other dogs. Of course, each dog has its own personality but as a whole, Greyhounds make loving pets that could become very skilled emotional support dogs if given the right opportunities. It takes time and a little patience on your part in most cases, but it might be well worth the effort.
Perhaps you’re looking for an emotional support dog that isn’t quite as large as the ones that have already been discussed. If that’s the case, the Yorkshire Terrier may be exactly what you’ve been looking for. These are smaller dogs that have big personalities. They’re definitely the perfect size to crawl up on your lap and enjoy spending time with you without crushing you in the process. Better yet, they can make you laugh while they’re doing it. They’re also great options for anyone living in an apartment.
These little dogs have a tendency to connect well with one or two people. Once they bond with you, they also tend to want to stay with you as much as possible. If you’re looking for an emotional support dog that you can take to work or something similar without causing undue stress on everyone else involved, this may be the perfect option. They’re small enough to fit in a backpack or sit under your desk without distracting anyone else. This can be a big plus if you need your emotional support dog to be able to get out into the workforce and lead the productive life that every person deserves to have.
American Staffordshire Terrier
This particular breed has a tendency to surprise some people. The American Staffordshire Terrier, more commonly known as the Pitbull, has gained a drastically unfair reputation in the media. People that believe nothing more than what they hear on the local news probably think that this is the most diabolical dog breed in existence. The truth is, they are easily some of the most affectionate, kind-hearted dogs out there and they deserve to be recognized for what they truly are— some of the breeds that make the best emotional support dog companions .
Now that you have more information about the breeds of dogs that are typically used as emotional support animals, it may be time to consider getting one of your own. Keep in mind, virtually any breed of dog can become a solid emotional support dog if it has the right temperament and is provided with the right training. If you have one of these breeds in mind, that’s great but if you don’t, go ahead and go with your gut instinct. It could be one of the best decisions that you’ve ever made.
Frequently Asked Questions
What breed of dog is best for anxiety?
It would be remiss to say that a single breed of dog is best for calming someone who suffers from anxiety. Any of these dogs on this list can accomplish that goal, as well as breeds that didn’t make the list. When it really comes down to it, it’s about finding a dog that you connect with, one where a special bond exists. Ideally, you want to find one that makes you feel calm when you think about that particular animal. Once you accomplish that goal, some basic obedience training and specialty training for emotional support may be all that’s needed.
What kind of dog should I get for emotional support?
As previously mentioned, you might consider one of the breeds listed here or even consider a different breed altogether. If you have a favorite breed of dog and you are confident that they can be trained properly, there is nothing stopping you from choosing that particular breed to be used as an emotional support animal.
What are the best dogs for anxiety and depression?
Any dog that you can connect with who can be trained to follow basic commands and then recognize the signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression can be used effectively. While the dogs that are on this list are among the most popular breeds for such things, the list should in no way be considered all-inclusive.