Want to relieve stress and boost your happiness? Dog training experts reveal best breeds for emotional support

Cavalier King Charles spaniel being cuddled by man outside
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you have a dog, then you don't need us to tell you what a positive influence our pups can have on our mental health and wellbeing.

Whether it's heading out for a stroll together or tossing around the best dog toys, there's no greater companion than a canine. And because they can read and respond to our emotions, they're great for providing emotional support.

“Dogs can offer unique companionship and provide an emotional connection strong enough to combat feelings of loneliness, which many people face," says Tarik Jayousi, the founder of A&T Trained Dogs

But it turns out that when it comes to the best emotional support animal breeds, some pups stand out as being extra affectionate, loyal and comforting. Read on as the team at A&T Trained Dogs share their favorite breeds for canine companionship.

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We gave these to our tester Isaiah for his dog Hayes to try. He reports back that they're his new favorite treat and are a suitable size for training. "He could and would eat the whole bag if allowed!"

1. Labrador retriever: "This breed is known for being friendly, outgoing and gentle," says the team at A&T Trained Dogs. "They are also highly intuitive and sensitive to human emotions, which can help them feel when their owners might need their emotional support and attention." If you plan on adopting a Labrador retriever, make sure you've got plenty of time to spend with this energetic breed.

2. Golden retriever: "This breed has a calming nature, which can be great for soothing those with anxiety, and they are also gentle, friendly and tolerant," the A&T Trained Dogs team state. Because they originated as hunting dogs, the golden retriever has boundless energy, so here's 12 tips to help keep dogs walks fun!

3. Poodle: The experts over at A&T Trained Dogs describe poodles as being "extremely intelligent and intuitive, enabling them to form deep bonds with their owners and provide comfort during distress." Because the poodle is such a bright breed, we recommend giving their brain a good daily workout by reading up on easy ways to teach your dog new tricks and engaging them in other forms of training, such as obedience and agility. 

4. Cavalier King Charles spaniel: Sweet-natured and placid, it's easy to see why the experts recommend the cavie as one of the best emotional support animal breeds. "This cuddly breed loves affection and has a calm demeanour. They are extremely gentle and friendly."

5. Shih Tzu: "Shih Tzu’s are known for providing emotional support through affection. As the breed is also outgoing and friendly, they also love being around people," says the team at A&T Trained Dogs.

6. Havanese: When it comes to the friendliest dog breeds that are perfect for families, couples and singles of all ages and stages, the havanese makes our list every time — and the experts agree! "This breed is very friendly and affectionate, making them extremely social dogs who thrive on human interaction, which can support their owner's loneliness by encouraging more socialising."

7. Bichon frise: The bichon frise is a charming dog and because they're so cheerful and playful, they're great for first-time owners. "This breed loves receiving attention and therefore makes a great companion dog. They have a happy and affectionate nature and are very friendly," the experts over at A&T Trained Dogs state.

8. Yorkshire terrier: "This breed is great for companionship as their small size means you can take them to various settings. They are also affectionate, protective and loyal. Often referred to as lap dogs, they constantly seek their owner's attention." 

9. Corgi: According to the experts, "corgis are known to form strong bonds with their owners, making them amazing companions. They are also extremely loyal, affectionate, friendly and sociable dogs, which could help their owners battle loneliness."

10. Pomeranian: If you're looking for one of the best dogs for introverts, the pomeranian is well worth considering. "This breed enjoys being close to their owner, both physically and emotionally, and develops a close attachment to them making them great emotional support dogs," says the team at A&T Trained Dogs.

If you've been thinking about getting a canine companion, Jayousi says the benefits dogs can offer us are huge.

“The relationship between humans and dogs is a powerful antidote to isolation — they are more than just pets, they become emotional anchors and a part of the family.” 

Still not convinced? Here's 32 reasons to adopt a dog (and number 22 is just the sweetest!)

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.