Since emotional and mental illness has become more widely known, much of our appreciation should be given to therapy dogs. Because we share such a strong bond with these animals, the levels of oxytocin (the love hormone) and cortisol (the stress hormone) is closely associated with our interactions with our pups.
Some dogs have the uncanny ability to reduce our stress and anxiety levels. They offer a large amount of emotional support and can help combat depression as well as help the elderly and the disabled.
This being said, not all dogs have this ability. Some dogs are better suited to being your emotional support dog than others. Some rambunctious babies are too busy having the time of their lives to properly comfort you. Let’s take a look at some breeds that provide great support for those who need it.
1. Labrador Retriever/Golden Retriever
This comes as no shock at all. Labs and Goldens are just so incredibly sweet with good temperament. The two breeds are very similar so I’ve lumped them both into the number 1 spot. They are always super happy, easy to train, and eager to please. As a larger breed, they naturally need more exercise, and this drags the sullen person outdoors into the sunshine and immediately lifts their mood.
2. Poodle & Labradoodle
The poodle also makes it on our list for being so incredibly positive all the time. They are very intelligent animals and love to be social. Poodles love being around their humans, and for those who need emotional support, having constant company can really make them feel better. Being a hyper-intelligent breed, poodles also make great service dogs. Labradoodles are a mix between Poodles, and our “Top Dog” – the Golden Retriever.
Pugs have the cutest mugs. Even though they have a permanent grumpy look, they rival the Poodle with their positive attitudes. They have a funny personality with lots of excitement. Pugs are positive pooches and love the company of their human. They don’t require too much exercise, so on the days you feel lazy, they are great to curl up with.
4. Yorkshire Terrier
No, they didn’t just make it on the list because they are adorable. Well, of course, their appearance does help to a certain extent. They have the tendency to be super loyal and form very strong bonds with their humans. These tiny Yorkies are so easy to carry around so they never have to leave your side! Their size also makes them a great fit for any type of home. Whether it’s an apartment in a big city or a farmhouse in the country, they’ll fit right in!
We all know Queen Elizabeth II loves Corgis. The rest of us might like their cute little hineys. These pups are generally even-tempered and very affectionate. They don’t need too much action and are great with the elderly or the disabled.
6. King Charles Spaniel
This breed was bred to be a loyal companion dog of King Charles II. They love to interact with people and have an even temperament and obedient nature. They are super friendly and are great for kids with mental health issues or emotional problems.
7. German Shepherd
This pup isn’t so much an emotional support dog, even though they are super friendly and loving, but German Shepherd dogs are mostly used for police work and catching the bad guys. They are very loving and also remarkably intelligent. Their intelligence allows them to be easily trained and they can adapt to many situations. Their number one trait is their fierce and unwavering loyalty.
8. The Beagle
The beagle, we associate these cute floppy-eared pups with their excellent sense of smell. They get along well with other animals and form very tight bonds with everyone in the family. They are easy-going in nature and very even-tempered. Being easy to train and very loving, these are all excellent traits in a therapy dog.
9. Saint Bernard
Have you seen Beethoven the movie? If you have, you would know these gentle pups are loving giants. The Saint Bernard dog is very laid-back and easy-going. Your child could climb all over it and he will just lay there just waiting for their next hug. Very protective and obedient in nature, these patient pups are as great as child therapy dogs.
This adorable pooch rounds out our list. The pom is a spitz-type dog with a curled tail, pointed ears, and a permanent smile forever plastered on their faces. These loving dogs are full of energy and very sweet in nature, great for anyone who needs a forever best friend. They return your affection 10-fold, and can easily accompany you everywhere you go in a dog backpack.
Related: Pomeranian-friendly dog food.
Therapy dogs have a number of functions, from helping those with emotional and mental issues to those with physical needs. They are our forever best friends we can always depend upon. How will we ever return their kindness? Many organizations allow dogs to come in once in a while to lift people’s spirits, improve morale and to lighten the mood.
Some dogs can even detect seizures and save the lives of their humans. If you have a pet, or a therapy dog or both, remember to cuddle it tightly tonight and thank your pup for all it has done for you.
Here are some top tips on traits to look for in a therapy dog. Do they have the right temperament for you? Are they fit for your living situation and weather conditions? Do they have the strength and energy required to properly assist you? This will help you narrow down the breeds most effective for your needs.
Did You Know
You must also take your personality into account when it comes to therapy dogs. It’s all about connection. Make sure you’re able to form a strong bond with the dog breed you choose. Match your dog’s personality to your own. A reputable dog trainer or breeder can help you find a good match.