20 of The Best Dogs for Anxiety To Help You Feel Better

Last Updated on April 24, 2023

An emotional support pet can be any type of animal. However, dogs are typically the most common and fairly popular.

Many dog breeds can help you with your physical and mental needs, but some pups are better than others.

A woman hugs a white Golden Retriever dog
A Goldie offers comfort to its hooman

So, what are the best dogs for anxiety? Keep reading to find out.

Is a Dog Good for Someone with Anxiety?

The short answer is yes! A dog is good for someone with anxiety. In addition, it’s scientifically proven that human-animal interactions have health benefits for both humans and animals.

When humans and animals interact, psychological and physical benefits improve heart rates, blood pressure, and cortisol levels.

Whether you need help with your physical health, mental health, or emotional health, a dog can be there for you. This includes getting a dog to help with your anxiety.

Whether you get a service dog, therapy dog, or emotional support dog, they will need to be obedient, gentle, and calm.

They may or may not need professional training but will need to pass the Canine Good Citizenship Test at the least.

The many benefits to owning an emotional support dog to fight anxiety

A woman carrying and hugging a white Pomeranian dog
A woman cuddling with her Pom

Having an emotional support dog allows you to have comfort, knowing that you’re not alone. There are times when you may not feel like getting out of bed in the morning. However, you and your dog will care for one another.

Their presence alone can help reduce anxiety and stress levels. In addition, dogs will love you unconditionally and always put a smile on your face.

What is it about calm dog breeds helping people with anxiety?

Human-animal interactions activate the hormone oxytocin. This helps regulate the social bonding process. When your pooch looks at you, and you feel warm and fuzzy, that’s the oxytocin at work.

In addition, your pooch gets the same feeling, so it’s a win-win for everyone.

There’s more to it, though. For example, the physical contact you get from your dog feels good. Petting your pooch and cuddling with them can help ease anxiety.

Dogs will also provide unconditional adoration since they are incapable of judging. Therefore, they’ll be loyal to you forever.

Finally, dogs have a good sense of security, making their owners feel safer with their presence. They are a form of social support and also a diversion. 

What Dog Breeds are Best for People with Anxiety?

A woman hugging a Staffordshire Terrier in a car
A woman hugging her Staffordshire Terrier at the backseat of a car

Dogs are usually the life of the party. They’re adorable, sweet, and loyal to their family. However, some dog breeds are better suited to help with anxiety and other mental health needs than others.

Here are some of the best dogs for anxiety.

Best Toy and Small Dogs for Anxiety

First, let’s take a look at some of the best toy and small dog breeds. These small pups are great companions for anxiety.

1. Bichon Frise

A Bichon Frise sitting on a woman's lap
Source: @woo_bichonfrise_ju / IG

The Bichon Frise is one of the friendliest dog breeds in the world. These pups will always want to be by their owner’s side. They are easy to train and don’t shed too much, which is also a plus.

These doggos are always happy and will be sure to put a smile on your face.

2. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel standing and smiling
Source: @brunothe_cavalier / IG

If you want a calm lap dog, then the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel will be the perfect pooch for you. They are easy to train, easy to groom, and are friendly and loving all-around.

This is a great dog breed if you’ve never owned a dog before, and its small size is easy to handle.

3. Chihuahua

A white leashed Chihuahua with its eyes closed
Source: @ka000r1n / IG

If you’re on the go a lot, then you can certainly bring your Chihuahua a lot. While they’ll need plenty of early socialization from a young age, this pooch is affectionate and can help you with your emotional needs.

They love playtime and snuggles, though they don’t require too much exercise.

4. English Cocker Spaniel

A leashed Cocker Spaniel sitting under a yellow tree
Source: @thecockerspaniel.bono / IG

English Cocker Spaniels are all-around sweet, obedient, and happy. They have soft, silky fur that you can bury your nose into for cuddle time. This pup is easy to train, and they are great with children.

Of course, you’ll need to brush their fur regularly, but that in itself can be a therapeutic time.

5. Pembroke Welsh Corgi

A smiling Pembroke Welsh Corgi among lavender plants
Source: @sherlock_thecorgidog / IG

While the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is energetic and won’t do well in an apartment, there’s a lot to love about this pup.

This doggo is friendly with everyone (though they may take time to get used to other dogs), and they’re playful, affectionate and devoted to their owners. In addition, this pooch is smart and easy to train.

6. French Bulldog

A leashed, smiling French Bulldog looking up
Source: @minori.821 / IG

French Bulldogs are excellent lap dogs. They will snuggle with you all day long as they are affectionate and loving.

They have a stubborn side to them, but they’re easy enough to train and low-maintenance when it comes to grooming and exercise needs.

7. Pomeranian

A white Pomeranian smiling

Pomeranians will need a good amount of socialization to get used to strangers and young kids. Otherwise, they will shower you with love and affection.

You can bring this pooch anywhere with you, and they’ll be happy to be with you. They are intelligent pups and will make excellent lapdogs.

8. Miniature and Toy Poodle

A clothed, brown Miniature Poodle sitting
Source: @minipoodletimmy / IG

The Miniature Poodle and the Toy Poodles are similar to Standard Poodles. The only difference is that these are smaller pups, so if you want a Poodle but want a small dog breed, you’re in luck.

This doggo is hypoallergenic, calm, affectionate, intelligent, and friendly to all.

9. Pug

A leashed black Pug
Source: @hugothebestboss / IG

Pugs are adorable small pups that are considered to be human-like. They have big hearts and big personalities, so humans and pugs can get along easily.

This dog breed will easily bond with you. They’re loving, affectionate, and loyal.

10. Yorkshire Terrier

A Yorkshire Terrier comfortably sits on a chair
Source: @chloe.my.yorkie / IG

If you’d like to have a shadow following you around, then the Yorkshire Terrier might be the right dog for you. Yorkies bond quickly with their owners and will give their humans an abundance of love and affection.

However, they have a “tomboyish” attitude about them, according to the American Kennel Club.

Best Medium Dogs for Anxiety

Next, let’s take a look at some calm medium-sized dog breeds that help with anxiety.

11. Border Collie

A black-and-white Border Collie sits outdoors
Source: @ren_sk_e / IG

Border Collies are known for being the smartest dog breed in the world. While this pooch has high energy levels and isn’t recommended for first-time owners, it can do well for someone’s anxiety, depending on your needs.

In addition, this dog breed is fun-loving and will be loyal to its family members.

12. Collie

A blue merle Rough Collie looking up

The Collie is a herding dog, so they are always checking in on their family. They handle emotional cues well and will be right there beside you when something doesn’t feel right. This pooch will always be there for you.

They do require a bit of exercise, though, since they can be energetic.

13. English Bulldog

An English Bulldog lying on its stomach on a rug
Source: @archiethebritishbully / IG

The English Bulldog is another great choice. They will love nothing more than to cuddle on the couch with you and take a nap. This dog breed is kind and calm and will do wonders for your emotional needs.

14. Standard Poodle

A black-and-white Standard Poodle sits on the grass
Source: @mojitothespoo / IG

Standard Poodles help people in more ways than one. They are excellent companion dogs who are smart, friendly, and have a positive outlook. Dog owners can’t help but smile when they’re in the presence of this pup.

In addition, this dog breed has a hypoallergenic coat, so grooming needs are menial and helps allergy sufferers.

Best Large and Giant Dogs for Anxiety

Finally, we have some large and giant dogs that do well-helping anxiety.

15. Bernese Mountain Dog

A smiling Bernese Mountain Dog lying on the grass
Source: @anakin_padme_bernese / IG

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a gentle giant. They are calm and affectionate with everyone, including young kids and other animals. This doggo will be more than happy to go on a walk or sit outside with you.

Alternatively, they’ll be just as happy to cuddle on the couch beside you.

16. Golden Retriever

A Golden Retriever with another dog and a human
Source: @dudetherapy / IG

You can’t go wrong with Golden Retrievers as service dogs. This pup can easily pass the Canine Good Citizen Test. They are also calm, friendly, compliant and compatible with many other people and animals alike.

Golden Retrievers are great with young kids and will be loyal to the whole family.

17. Great Pyrenees

A Great Pyrenees lying on the grass
Source: @bromley_bear / IG

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the Great Pyrenees is affectionate, calm, patient, and smart. As long as you have enough room in your house for this large pup, they’ll make a great snuggling companion.

In addition, this pooch is great at reducing anxiety for people young and old. 

18. Greyhound

A leashed Greyhound smiling outdoors
Source: @buddy.thegreyt / IG

What’s great about the Greyhound is that they can easily pick up on their owner’s emotions.

So if you like to cuddle and want a lot of physical contact with your dog, then this pup will be more than happy to snuggle on the couch with you. 

19. Labrador Retriever

A chocolate Labrador Retriever looking up with a smile
Source: @max_is_agoodboy / IG

Labrador Retrievers are a popular dog breed for pet owners with anxiety. This is the best dog to have around children, the elderly, handicapped people, and even strangers.

In addition, the Lab is a loving, gentle, and all-around affectionate dog. 

20. Saint Bernard

A Saint Bernard lying on the floor
Source: @marcelo_saintbernard / IG

Also known as the Nanny Dog, these gentle giants are patient, loving, and eager to please. Saint Bernards are playful, calm, and affectionate to the whole family, including young kids.

This pooch may be a heavy shedder, but they have low grooming needs and moderate exercise needs.

Other Dogs for Anxiety

A Miniature Dachshund lying on fallen leaves
Source: @pippinthederbyshiredash / IG

The list of dog breeds that are great for anxiety disorders doesn’t end there. Any dog can be a comfort to humans for various needs, depending on what you need. So, here are some other best dogs for anxiety.

  • Boxer
  • Dachshund
  • German Shepherd
  • Great Dane
  • Havanese
  • Irish Wolfhound
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Maltese
  • Newfoundland
  • Old English Sheepdog

Mixed Breeds that are Good for Anxiety

In addition, there are mixed dog breeds that are good for anxiety, such as the hybrids listed below.

  • Australian Labradoodle
  • Maltipoos
  • Yorkie Poo
  • Goldendoodle

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

A Goldendoodle mix dog with a red accessory on its head
Source: @lucas_fluffy_mop / IG

Where can you find a good dog for anxiety?

You’ll be able to find a good dog for anxiety anywhere you can find dogs. Reputable breeders and pet stores will often have purebreds for adoption. In addition, rescues and shelters often have mixed breeds.

If there’s a certain dog breed you have in mind, specifically one from this list, you can call your local shelter or look up a breed-specific rescue.

An adult dog or a senior dog may be your best bet if you’ve never owned a dog before. Puppies require housebreaking and training. Chances are an adult dog, or senior will already be trained.

Despite their age, they will still love you unconditionally, lower your blood pressure, and have other positive effects on your life.

What personality traits should you look for in anxiety-lowering dogs?

Any dog can help soothe anxiety, but some breeds are better at it than others. For example, you don’t want your pooch to have a hyperactive personality, barks a lot, and is aloof.

Where searching for a canine companion for anxiety, your doggo should be friendly, outgoing, calm, affectionate, confident, loving, and loyal.

Can any dog become an ESA?

A Labrador Retriever puppy looking outside
Source: @thelabradoroakley / IG

Big or small, any dog can become an ESA. However, you may need an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional to confirm you have a condition that needs an ESA.

There’s no right or wrong answer as everyone has different needs and preferences.

If you’re unsure whether you want a big or small dog, there are a few things to consider.

For example, a small dog breed might be better suited for you if you want to take your dog everywhere with you, have never owned a dog before, or are nervous about finances.

In addition, a smaller dog might be lighter on the wallet than a big dog.

On the other hand, if you want a whole-body cuddle experience, you’re nervous about your safety and enjoy peace and quiet, then a large dog breed might be the right choice for you.

Of course, large breeds can, but they aren’t typically as yappy as some smaller breeds.

What are things to consider before choosing your dog for anxiety?

There are a few factors to consider when it comes to choosing a dog for your anxiety.

First, consider your needs, your lifestyle, and the temperament of dog breeds. Then, find a dog that matches your energy needs and lifestyle.

For example, if you have young kids at home, find a breed that gets along well with children.

You’ll want a dog that’s easy to train and one that bonds well with you. But, of course, this also means that you should consider the dog’s age and size.

Puppies, for example, require a lot of work, from basic training to housebreaking. That can be stressful in itself.

If you don’t think you have it in you to care for the energy needs of a puppy, then an adult dog might be the better option.

The dog’s size matters because you may prefer a large dog over a smaller dog breed. Alternatively, you might live in a smaller home where a giant dog breed might not be able to stretch its legs.

Finally, you want to be considerate of the financial cost of owning a dog.

Owning a dog as a family pet or companion is a lot of responsibility. The average cost of a dog can be anywhere between $500 and $5,000 per year.

This includes veterinarian bills, dog food, toys, accessories, grooming supplies or appointments, and more.

When it comes to owning a service dog, the cost is much higher due to training. For example, you can expect to spend anywhere between $15,000 and $30,000 for your service dog.

This cost is due to training and all the other things dogs need, such as vaccinations, food, toys, and the like. 

What are the differences between service, support, and therapy dogs?

Any dog can help reduce stress if you hand your pooch have a good bond with one another. However, there are different types of help a dog can give. For example, there are service dogs, support dogs, and therapy dogs.

Knowing the difference between these three terms will help you determine which type of dog you need.

First, let’s discuss service dogs. A service dog is individually trained to work or perform tasks for a certain individual with disabilities, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division.

A leashed yellow Labrador Retriever smiling
A Service dog – Source: @americasvetdogs / IG

For example, a service dog can be a guide dog, helping its blind owner get around.

Service dogs can also monitor their owner’s blood sugar levels, alert their deaf owner to sounds, opening doors for people in wheelchairs, and alerting owners of oncoming seizures.

Other similar tasks they do include reducing anxiety and aiding to alleviate panic attacks.

Training a service dog may take a few years. This is because they need to go through extensive training to become service dogs. You can train the dog yourself, or you can get them professionally trained.

Service dogs can also go anywhere the owner goes, as they are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

Next, let’s discuss therapy dogs. One of the biggest differences between therapy dogs is that they are trained to help others rather than their owners.

A leashed Golden Retriever standing
Source: @sitstayplay_cc / IG

For example, therapy dogs are often used in hospitals, schools, retirement homes, nursing homes, and elsewhere to help alleviate stress and anxiety.

These dogs help people who have gone through traumatic experiences.

These pups can also be trained in psychiatric services such as deep pressure therapy, reminding their owner to take their medication, watching their owner’s back in open areas, and tactile stimulation.

Psychiatric service dogs can help anxiety by creating a calming effect through deep pressure therapy or tactile stimulation, leading someone to you if you need help.

They can also aid you by bringing you something in the middle of a panic attack or bringing you medication during an anxiety attack.

An assistance dog wearing a uniform
Source: @pawtected_cic  / IG

Therapy dogs do not need to go through a vast amount of training, either. As long as they’re calm, comfortable with others, gentle, and well-behaved, they can be therapy dogs.

They also don’t need certification, but it wouldn’t hurt to have.

However, these pups are not protected by the ADA, so businesses and even landlords aren’t obligated to make accommodations for you even if you have certification. 

Finally, emotional support dogs are to provide comfort and support to their disabled owner. They don’t need to be trained in certain tasks as their main goal is to make their owner feel better.

A dog sitting on a car's passenger seat
Source: @elizabeth_benjamin1 / IG

When it comes to being legally protected, emotional support dogs are more protected than therapy dogs but less protected than service dogs.

They do not need to be registered, but it won’t hurt to have them registered. You may need a note from your doctor, therapist, or psychologist if you plan on bringing your emotional support animal elsewhere.

What breeds should you avoid if you’re looking for a dog for anxiety?

Not every dog will be the right fit to help you with your emotional or physical needs. For example, some dog breeds aren’t as affectionate or cuddly as some others.

For example, some breeds you may want to avoid might be the Shar-Pei, Kerry Blue Terrier, Pekingese, and Shiba Inu, just to name a couple. These dogs may not help aid your anxiety.

Is having a dog good for depression?

Yes, dogs are also good to have for depression. Like anxiety and other mental health needs, dogs can help their owners feel better and comfort them.

Some dog breeds that might be great for your depression could be the Great Pyrenees, Bernese Mountain Dog, or Saint Bernard, just to name a couple.

Which Dog for Anxiety is the Best?

A woman sitting close to a red Golden Retriever dog
A woman and her Goldie enjoys the lake’s calmness

Knowing what we know now, it’s a hard decision, isn’t it? However, keep in mind that there are no right or wrong answers when choosing the best dog for anxiety for you.

Make yourself a list of what you need and what you’d like in a dog. For example, do you want a puppy or an adult? Do you want a purebred or a crossbreed?

Would you prefer a large dog breed over a smaller one? Do you have the room in your home to have a large dog?

There are many factors to consider, and you’ll certainly want to make sure that you and the dog bond well with one another. Remember, dogs help our mental health just as much as we help theirs.

So, which dog will you choose to help with your anxiety? Let us know in the comments below!

Further reading: Other Dog Breeds Best for Companionship



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