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Best Small Dogs for Emotional Support: Top Breeds to Consider

Choosing the right emotional support animal can be a significant decision, especially when you’re looking for a small dog that fits your lifestyle perfectly.

Dogs have long been known to provide emotional support and companionship, which can be particularly important for people dealing with stress, anxiety, and other mental health challenges.

The size of the dog also plays a vital role, as smaller breeds tend to adapt better to various living situations and are generally easier to manage.

There are a wide variety of small dog breeds that can serve as exceptional emotional support animals. Each breed has its own unique set of characteristics and temperaments that could match your needs, making it essential for you to consider the specific qualities you desire in an emotional support dog.

Factors such as a dog’s energy levels, adaptability, and sociability can not only provide you with the support you need but also complement your lifestyle seamlessly.

In this article, we will explore some of the best small dog breeds for emotional support, focusing on their traits and personalities to help you make an informed decision.

By understanding your own preferences and requirements, you can select the ideal companion that will assist you in managing your emotions and improving your overall well-being.

Importance Of Emotional Support Dogs

Emotional support dogs play a vital role in providing comfort and companionship to individuals experiencing mental health challenges. They can offer tremendous benefits in dealing with anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and loneliness.

Their affectionate, loving nature, and gentle temperament make them ideal companions for those in need of emotional support.

Having an emotional support dog by your side can be a source of both solace and strength, especially during times when your mental health feels overwhelming.

These loyal animals can sense your mood and may provide comfort by sitting next to you, cuddling, or even resting their head on your lap.

Not only do emotional support dogs provide an unwavering companionship, but their presence can also have a positive impact on your daily life.

Engaging in activities with your dog can encourage you to maintain a routine, get outdoors, and be more socially active – all factors that contribute to better mental health.

In addition to the emotional benefits, a well-suited emotional support dog can help you manage anxiety and cope with stress more effectively. Caring for your furry friend can serve as a welcome distraction from negative thoughts, and their unconditional love can boost your confidence and sense of self-worth.

When selecting an emotional support dog, it’s essential to consider breeds known for their loving, gentle, and loyal demeanor. Small dogs, in particular, can be an excellent choice due to their adaptability to various living situations, making them great companions for those seeking emotional support.

Recommended Small Dog Breeds For Emotional Support

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are known for their friendly and affectionate personality, often called the ultimate lap dog. Their size and temperament make them ideal for apartment living.

While they aren’t hypoallergenic, their sweet nature and obedience make them great emotional support dogs.


Poodles come in various sizes, but the toy and miniature varieties are perfect for those seeking small emotional support dogs. These intelligent dogs have a reputation for being hypoallergenic, making them excellent companions for individuals with allergies. Their keen sense of intuition and adaptable personalities will put you at ease.

Yorkshire Terriers

Yorkshire Terriers, or Yorkies, are small dogs with a big personality. Their energetic and playful nature can provide a sense of comfort and joy. They are also hypoallergenic, making them great for those with allergies. With proper training, Yorkies can be obedient and emotionally supportive.


Chihuahuas are one of the smallest dog breeds, making them perfect companions for limited living spaces. Due to their size and character, Chihuahuas often develop strong bonds with their owners. They may require some patience during obedience training, but once they build trust, they will show their nurturing and intuitive nature.


Corgis have a unique combination of loyalty and playfulness. Their cheerful temperament and affectionate character make them wonderful emotional support companions. Their small size and adaptability are also suitable for apartment living. Keep in mind, though, that Corgis do shed periodically throughout the year.


Pugs are known for their charming, easygoing personalities. Their small size and love for human companionship make them ideal emotional support dogs.

Pugs are suitable for apartment living, and their unique expressions and cheerful attitude will undoubtedly bring positivity into your daily life.

Remember, when choosing a small dog breed for emotional support, factors like personality, temperament, and compatibility with your living situation should be considered. It’s essential to connect with your dog to ensure a lasting, emotionally supportive bond.

Health, Training, And Traveling With Emotional Support Dogs

Health And Grooming

Taking care of your emotional support dog (ESA) is essential to ensure their health and overall well-being. Regular grooming is necessary to maintain a clean and healthy coat for your ESA. You should frequently brush your dog’s fur, trim their nails, and give them a bath as needed.

Pay attention to specific health issues that may affect small dog breeds, such as dental problems and hip dysplasia.

Scheduling regular veterinarian visits is important for keeping up with vaccinations and early identification of any health concerns. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle for your ESA, you’ll be improving their quality of life, which in turn, strengthens the bond you share as a team.

Training Needs

Proper training is vital for emotional support dogs. Although ESAs don’t have the same strict training requirements as service dogs, they must be well-behaved and obedient in various settings. Follow basic obedience commands such as sit, stay, and come, and ensure that the dog doesn’t exhibit any aggressive or disruptive behavior.

Socialization is also crucial for ESAs. Introduce your dog to different environments, people, and other animals gradually. This will help them become more adaptable and capable of providing emotional support when faced with unfamiliar situations.

Travel Considerations

Traveling with your ESA can be smooth and stress-free, provided you plan and prepare in advance. Most airlines permit ESAs on board, but this requires specific documentation from a licensed mental health professional.

Check the airline’s policies and guidelines regarding ESAs before booking your flight.

Some countries have strict regulations on bringing animals, so research the destination’s policies and ensure your ESA’s vaccines are up-to-date. Having all required paperwork and a comfortable, properly-sized carrier will make the traveling experience easier for both you and your emotional support dog.

Legal Considerations Of Having An Emotional Support Dog

When you decide to have an emotional support dog, it’s essential to be aware of the legal protections and requirements related to emotional support animals (ESAs). Two primary laws protect individuals with disabilities, including those with emotional support dogs: the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Under the FHA, landlords are required to make reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities, including allowing ESAs, even in no-pet housing.

To have your emotional support dog acknowledged under the FHA, you’ll need to provide an emotional support animal letter from a licensed mental health professional stating your need for the ESA due to a mental illness.

When it comes to the ADA, the legal protections differ slightly. Emotional support dogs are not considered service animals under the ADA, which means they are not granted the same access rights as service animals.

For example, emotional support dogs might not be allowed in certain public spaces like restaurants or stores.

It’s important to note that not every disability qualifies for an emotional support dog. According to the ADA, a disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

If you believe you qualify, seek guidance from a mental health professional who can assess your situation and provide an emotional support animal letter if deemed appropriate.

In summary, having an emotional support dog comes with legal considerations under both the FHA and ADA.

Ensure that you follow the requirements set forth by these acts and obtain the necessary documentation from a mental health professional to protect your rights and the well-being of your emotional support dog.

Hi, my name is Jane Davis and I love dogs. In fact, I own a labrador retriever named Max. When I was growing up, we always had dogs at our house. They provide us with such unconditional love and companionship, and I can't imagine my life without one by my side.

This website does not provide pet medical advice. For professional advice regarding your pet's health, please consult a licensed veterinarian in your local area.