7 Best Dog Breeds If You Are Fighting Depression or Anxiety

How do dogs really help fight against anxiety or stress related issues?
When you’re feeling down, there’s nothing like a comforting furry friend to talk or snuggle with to help lift your spirits. Companion animals are often recommended as a way to reduce daily stress and symptoms of depression for those individuals suffering.  There is strong scientific and anecdotal evidence that looking at, caring for and petting pets, especially dogs, can reduce tension and improve moods in humans. MRIs, urine and blood tests have shown increases in certain hormones like oxytocin and decreases in the stress hormone cortisol.
Dogs are always happy to see you and often seem to intuitively understand you and your feelings. They can sense when you need help or love without you having to say anything. They can also be good listeners and don’t judge you.
Dogs require daily care and activity, which can help improve mood. They can be a great reason to get out of bed.  When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain and trigger a positive feeling in the body. They can also help improve your social life and reduce loneliness if you go to the dog park or do activities with your dog.
Alongside treatment, pets may help people who suffer from mild to moderate symptoms of depression find comfort. It is really hard to narrow it down, but here are a few breeds we have seen while researching and filming Talent Hounds that really can make a difference.
 7 Best Dog Breeds If You Are Fighting Depression or Anxiety collage

LABRADOR RETRIEVER

The Labrador Retriever is perhaps one of the best dog breeds for people who are suffering from anxiety issues. Because of this breed’s dependable nature, they’re one of the most popular service dogs today. They have beautiful soft faces with big brown smiling eyes.
Labradors are best known for their intense bonds with their owners. They are non-aggressive, friendly with strangers, eager to please, intelligent, gentle, easy to train, loyal, and dedicated. This dog will bring a smile to your face no matter what you’re feeling. They do need regular exercise so this could be great for those suffering from anxiety because, you’ve got to take them out to throw the ball, play fetch or take long walks.
They do need regular exercise so you’ve got to take them out to throw the ball, play fetch or take long walks which may help lessen anxiety.
We are always moved by wonderful stories of the Service, Special Skills and Therapy Dogs like NSD Chester.

GOLDEN RETRIEVER

TH Smiley+boy2

Smiley Knows How To Make You Smile

Very similar to the Labrardor Retriever, the “Golden” has an amazing even, loyal and tolerant temperament but is also a very intelligent dog. Which is why they make a great addition to the family, but are also very capable working dogs. Bred to work with people, Goldens definitely love to please their family, they like nothing better than to be showered with praise and to be close by to their loved one/s. They have a lovely soft coat and beautiful gentle friendly faces. I love looking at them, even in photos and definitely feel happier around them.
golden retriever
They really need regular exercise. For people with anxiety and/or stress related illnesses, getting a Golden Retriever could be an excellent solution. Because they need to be out and exercised every day it can definitely help an anxiety sufferer. Like the Labrador retriever, Goldens love to chase the ball, play fetch or take long walks which for anxiety sufferers is a great way to lessen the stresses and enjoy the great outdoors. We met so many amazing Golden Therapy, Service and Surfice Dogs including Flicka (PTSD), Surf Dog Ricochet (PTSD and Kids with Special Needs), Parker and many more.

POODLES & DOODLE MIXES

The Poodle is a highly intelligent, loyal, sociable and trainable dog who makes an excellent companion. They come in various sizes and are definitely one of the most talented dogs we know. We love this tribute to Autism Assistance Dog Guide Keats.

The Goldendoodle is a “designer dog” or “crossbreed” which means it’s a hybrid dog breed of a Poodle and a Golden Retriever, blending some of the traits from both wonderful breeds.

The Labradoodle like our best friend Bocker, is a cross between the labrador Retriever and the Poodle. Bocker is an incredible Therapy Dog who brings smiles and lifts moods wherever he goes from hospitals to hospices.
Then there are Cockerpoos like little King, and Maltipoos like Maya. The doodles and these other poodle crosses are known to be affectionate and gentle dogs that have gained mass popularity since first being developed in 1990’s. They are usually highly social and intelligent dogs who get along well with everyone and love attention. They do require lots of socialization and enjoy companionship, so they are perfect for getting you out of the house to socialize on walks or at puppy play dates. Their naturally gentle and patient nature and makes them a wonderful family companion and great for those needing extra affection and loyalty.

PUGS

tongueouttuesday-Kilo7

Kilo the Pug’s Smile Always Warms My Heart

Pugs are generally at peace with the world. They will bark (in their odd way) when visitors arrive, but they will soon revert to snuggles and snorts when fussed over. They are a friendly and comedic breed, providing mischief and giggles a plenty. If they’re not entertaining you, they’re looking for food or some affection.
fishstick the rescue pug closeup

Fishstick the Rescue Pug

With that cute head tilt and expressive eyes, you can’t help but say awww… And although they can be a little stubborn, it’s easy to get past that with a treat and some tender loving care. Pugs really may be great companions especially if you do suffer from stress and anxiety. They bring humor, calm, and a wonderful feeling to lift your spirit. I call Kilo my velcro buddy. He is often by my side as I work and definitely relieves stress (most of the time LOL).

YORKIE

yorkie

Cute Yorkie Wearing A Tea Cup Tutu Design

One of the top reasons this breed is a popular choice for those struggling with anxiety is due to its ability to form close bonds. Yorkies will become your shadow as you go from room to room at home. With minimal exercise needed, other than a short walk and playtime, these dogs suit both apartment and house living. Comical, playful and loving, you’ll never feel alone when you have your Yorkshire Terrier around. However, if you’re someone who enjoys your personal space, then this may not be the breed for you. We featured adorable Lucy, the world’s smallest working dog, in our Dogs Make a Difference Episode.

BICHON FRISE

The Bichon Frise often gets overlooked and isn’t always the first option when it comes to choosing a canine friend for anxiety sufferers. If however ,you are looking for a less allergic option, you may
still want to give this breed a chance. This high-spirited and energetic dog lives its life to please its owner. The Bichon Frise has an active and lively personality and is highly sociable around adults and children. This is a breed that loves attention and wants nothing more than to spend time with its loved ones. Another personality plus, Bichons needs for exercise are running around the house with a toy or a game of chase. Walks are great and they’re love for people and animals helps make your time outdoors a friendly adventure.

BOXER

Tanum gets a kiss

Handsome Tanum was a rescue from The Boxer Rescue of Ontario and has been loving every moment with his forever family Watch our Hot Diggity! video recap of the All About Pets show where we first met Tanum!

Believe it or not, Boxers are just really big gentle loving lap dogs. They will stick to their owners as much as possible, following them around the room. Boxers hate to be left alone and can suffer from separation anxiety. This need to be with their owner may positively help those suffering from anxiety. Boxers also need exercise a couple of times daily, a mutually beneficial walk for both you and your dog. All in all one of the best breeds around for someone with anxiety, but you must be comfortable with this big energetic dog breed.
Gizmo
Other special mentions go to Rescues and Mutts, plus Gizmo from Gizmo’s Frens who is one of the busiest cutest therapy dogs we know, as well as his girlfriend Zoey, Chopper the Boston Terrier Biker Dog; Buster the Chihuahua; Hudson, Elle and Xena the Pit Bulls and Ginger the Ganaraskan.
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26 Comments

  • This is a great post! My dogs have been helping me with my depression and anxiety issues. They are mixed breeds but they are so funny and they definitely make me laugh. They are one of the main reasons I get out of bed every day!

    • Profile photo of Talent Hounds

      I agree- Kilo the Pug gets me up out of bed, gives me cuddles, gets me off the couch every few hours and makes me laugh

  • Robbi 1 year ago

    As a poodle mom I certainly agree that poodles are great for depression. Henrietta keeps me going when I have hard times and she helped me deal with all of my breast cancer surgeries and treatments. Love this post.

  • These are wonderful breeds. My most special dog friends were a German Shepherd – she got me through my teen years, and my frenchie Lou, who made me laugh. And so did Dukey, a heinz 57 – probably part golden retriever. (wish we had dna testing for dogs back then, I always wondered what he was.)

  • This is an interesting list. I think all dogs are a great help in alleviating depression.

  • This post is so informative. I plan to share it with my daughter. I had no idea a Boxer would fall under this category.

  • Mr. N is definitely my shadow. He always wants to be my side!

  • Good post – and we agree that dogs are great for depression! They are empathic and really meet a person on their own terms!

  • I think any animal (dog or cat) can help ease anxiety but it’s interesting that you recommend specific breeds. Great article.

  • This is a great post, Layla is a HaShiPoo and makes me laugh and take long walks, she is a rescue and after Baby passed I never thought I would love a dog the way I had loved her but it happened 🙂

  • Wonderful post! It is such a great topic. I have heard so many times people say how their dog saved their life while they were going through a tough time in their life! Thank you for shinning light on this topic! 🙂

  • I believe all dogs can help. But me have anxiety myself, i can say nothing is better than a fluffy saint bernard to give kisses and cuddles when your havin a bad day!!

  • Our companions are definitely great therapy. Interesting to learn more about how specific breeds provide comfort.

  • Such a great post. Dogs are the best medicine for all ails.

  • Well I have to say that I agree with this list. Though there are many dogs out there, mixed or pure breed that are amazing for their people. It comes down to loyalty and love, qualities that not all people are capable of showing.

  • Labs and Retrievers are great dogs for depression – their easy going attitude and sweet demeanor are perfect for someone suffering for sure.

  • These are awesome breeds. Dogs really help fight depression.

  • Awesome post. What wonderful dogs 🙂

  • My baby is a shi-poo and I can tell you that she readily helps make all days much better for both my husband and I. What a fun post though and what cute babies!

  • Very interesting. I know my two cats help with my anxiety and depression episodes.

  • These are all excellent dog breed choices. Honestly, I think any dog breed or breed mix can help a person with anxiety or depression if they have the right temperament and personality. Even my high energy Husky is an awesome Therapy Dog, she calms people down and helps relieve stress. Although, I have the say the Golden Retriever seems to be a born Therapy Dog type of breed. Nearly all the Goldens I’ve met, including my childhood dog, seem to have that quality in them.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  • Summer Abruzere 10 months ago

    Where did you begin looking for help to find a dog for depression / Anxiety?

    • Profile photo of Talent Hounds

      A dog is not a substitute for medical advice. If you need a service dog, you need to speak to a service dog organization in your area. If you need a therapy dog and companion, would speak to a local expert/trainer or rescues. I did a lot of research about what breeds would suit my lifestyle then I spoke to local rescues.