7 Best Dog Breeds for Anxiety and Depression [Updated 2023]2023-01-03
With anxiety and depression rising at record levels nationwide, many are turning to alternative forms of relief. Some seek alternatives to prescription drugs, while others look for additional aids to use in conjunction with them.
Animals have long proven an excellent, if somewhat mysterious, source of anxiety relief and none more so than the trusty dog.
Dogs have demonstrated time and again that they can perform hugely versatile tasks, from mine detection to guide dogs for the blind. Still, their remarkable ability to provide emotional support and be responsive to a human companion’s distress in terms of anxiety and depression makes them stand out.
Here are seven of the best breeds for anxiety and depression.
According to Stanley Coren’s book The Intelligence of Dogs, poodles are the second most intelligent dogs after border collies. Their intelligence also makes them excellent for anybody suffering from mental health issues.
The breed that began life as hunting dogs for the French aristocracy has evolved into one of the most popular around. Their optimistic demeanor and super-friendly attitude make them a perfect companion around the house, but they are also more than happy going for long walks.
Poodles are also incredibly receptive to human emotions while having quite an extraordinary capacity to learn.
2. Golden Labradors
While some people can be picky about certain breeds, you’d have your work cut out to find somebody who didn’t like golden labradors. Alongside their cousins, the labrador retriever, they are among the most popular canines used as therapy, guide, and rescue dogs, and it’s not difficult to see why.
Their character is almost always wonderfully warm and friendly. Having a golden labrador by your side can make an enormous difference for those suffering from mental health issues.
Golden labradors also consistently rank highly in the Canine Good Citizen program, which aims to foster trust, obedience, and a friendly attitude in dogs.
Whether you are looking to swim, run or play, golden retrievers are always ready for action with one of those big sloppy dog smiles plastered across their faces.
Considering their tiny size and low maintenance, combined with their loving attitude and independence, chihuahuas make an excellent pet for anybody suffering from anxiety or depression.
Small enough to happily snuggle with you either on the sofa or in bed, they can also be remarkably in tune with the emotional needs of their owner.
Chihuahuas often get overlooked as service dogs because of their small stature. Still, they are often considered perfect for those suffering from emotional issues who could benefit from a constant source of support.
They may be small, but considering they are usually more than happy to sit in a small travel case, chihuahuas are perfect as easily mobile dogs in more built-up areas.
4. Yorkshire Terriers
The story goes that one day during World War II, Dr. Charles Mayo, who would later set up the Mayo Clinic, visited injured naval officers along with his Yorkshire terrier. The dog proved such a hit with the battle-scarred soldiers that it became the war’s cutest service dog, continuing in this capacity for another twelve years.
Yorkshire terriers can be a little on the feisty side when it comes to anybody passing nearby, but they are fiercely loyal to their owner and can be wonderfully doting. They are known to establish strong bonds and are more than happy to travel long distances in shoulder bags or travel cases.
Their desire to be with their owners as much as possible might be a little much for some. However, for those fighting depression, they can be an indispensable companion.
5. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are one of the most adorable dog breeds around. Thanks to their sweet, gentle, quiet, and affectionate nature, they have long been a firm favorite for those fighting anxiety or depression.
Once outside in nature, their spaniel roots usually take over. They can spend hours bounding happily through a forest, which can be excellent for those who find it difficult to motivate themselves to go out for long periods. Spaniels require a healthy amount of exercise, but so do humans, which often works well.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels were the favored lapdogs of the Scottish and English nobility as early as the 15th Century and would warm the laps and feet of their masters. King Charles II became so enamored with them that the breed eventually took his name.
Pugs might look like they carry a facial expression of permanent disdain or grumpiness, but they are, in fact, one of the most positive dog breeds. They even come with their own Latin motto: Multum in parvo (a lot in a little). It is perfect for this tiny package that provides so much.
Pugs are easily trained, easily adaptable to their surroundings, and wonderfully friendly. Their small stature is another great benefit, and they have quickly become one of the most universally adored dog breeds.
While their exact origins aren’t known, some of the earliest recorded evidence of pugs comes from China, where their wrinkled face was revered. Here, they earned the nickname ‘Prince Mark’ because of the similarity to the character used for a prince in Chinese.
7. Great Danes
From something tiny to something immense, last on our list but certainly not least nor smallest are the Great Danes. These majestic creatures are very different from other breeds on this list because of their enormous size. Grown adults can sometimes reach nearly 3ft in height at their shoulders and might weigh as much as 175lbs.
Their size means that they might not be the best breed for many people suffering from anxiety or depression who travel frequently. However, they are perfect for those who prefer larger and more athletic dogs. Great Danes are wonderfully affectionate for such enormous creatures.
Once adequately trained, Great Danes are calm and confident. They can be perfect for those with mental health issues looking for something other than the smaller dogs often used for this purpose.
Great Danes are also much more independent than other breeds on this list. If you’re the kind of person that needs a little time alone now and again, this breed, sometimes referred to as ‘the Apollo of Dogs,’ might be a perfect choice.
For those battling anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues, getting a dog might feel a little daunting. When you have a lot on your plate already, the last thing you want is to add to it. Still, the benefits to the mental health of having a dog are wide-ranging and include companionship, increased oxytocin production, and lower stress and fear levels.
Choosing the right breed of dog to help address mental health issues will often come down to personal preference and the lifestyle and type of personality you prefer.
Whichever breed you choose, register it with Service Dog Registration of America. You’ll gain access to our entire catalog of resources and materials that can make life with a service dog significantly easier. You don’t need to face anxiety and depression, and you’ll find things suddenly seem a little bit brighter with a service dog at your side.