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10 Best Dogs for People with Depression: What To Know

2022-01-11

Throughout human history, dogs have been by our side as loyal companions through thick and thin. Canines have a unique ability to show unconditional love and loyalty to their owners. More recently, licensed mental health professionals are starting to realize the benefits dogs bring to those struggling with mental disorders

A canine can help someone cope with the symptoms of depression and even bring more joy and purpose to their life. Continue reading below to learn about the ten best dog breeds for people with depression and how to choose the right one for you. 

10 Best Dogs for People with Depression

While all dog breeds can bring more happiness to humans, some have more natural abilities for helping those with depression. Here's a breakdown of the best breeds for depression support:

1) Border Collies

One issue people with depression struggle with is the lack of motivation to get outside. In that case, the Border Collie is an excellent breed to get you up and going. 

The Border Collie is chock-full of energy and is hyper-intelligent. The smartest dog in the world was a Border Collie by the name of Chaser. Needless to say, there's seldom a dull moment with these furry companions. 

You can spend time training and teaching your Bordie Collie new tricks and feel satisfaction when they learn impressive skills. As long as you're willing to give being active and engaging a try, a Border Collie is a fantastic breed for coping with depression. 

Other than their peppy personality, Border Collies are also known to be quite affectionate. If you lack a good cuddle buddy, then look no further. 

That said, collies tend to be shyer than other breeds, so you'll need to begin socializing at a young age. Inviting friends over to meet the new pup and taking it to the dog park are both excellent for socializing — a benefit for the canine and its handler!

2) Golden Retrievers 

Golden Retrievers are one of the most lovable dog breeds out there. It makes sense considering their extreme loyalty, goofy smile, and playful personality. Like the Border Collie, Goldens also love to get out of the house and exercise.

One remarkable aspect of Retrievers is that they always have a youthful spirit, even far beyond puppyhood. They're also known to be extremely good with kids and house guests. 

However, adult Golden Retrievers can also be extremely hard working. This breed is highly trainable and intelligent, making them excellent house pets.

These traits are what make the Golden Retriever the third most popular dog breed in the United States. That said, you should only think about adopting a Golden Retriever if you're ready for daily walks and adequate playtime. 

3) Sighthounds

Unlike most dog breeds, sighthounds rely on their sight as their primary sense (hence the name). Some Sighthounds you may be familiar with are greyhounds, whippets, and Italian Greyhounds. They are exceptionally quick on their feet and known for their distinctive small heads and slim waists. 

Ironically, Sighthounds are known to be quite lazy. While most people picture them whipping down a racetrack, many Sighthounds prefer a nice relaxing day on the sofa. So, if you're into lazy cuddles, the Sighthound may be the perfect breed for you. 

Another benefit of Sighthounds is that they don't shed much hair and aren't prone to significant health issues. In other words, you get the loving companion you need without the high maintenance you'd get with other breeds.

Furthermore, the Sighthound is exceptionally loyal and loving. Those with depression can always come home to a caring furry roommate, adding more joy to their lives. 

4) Pugs

Let's be honest—walking past a pug without stopping to admire its cuteness is nearly impossible. These compact pups carry a wide range of outstanding traits, making them excellent dogs for those struggling with depression.

For starters, pugs have a fantastic sense of humor. They love to play around and entertain their owners whenever possible. If you're having a bad day, your adorable little pug is sure to bring a bit of joy. 

Although pugs are purebred, you can still find them in rescue shelters. There are many reasons to adopt a rescue, but one is that these canines go through a lot. You might be able to share some empathy if you are also having a hard time. 

Pugs are known to be quite sensitive. They need adequate attention and don't like to be left alone for extended periods. So, consider this if you have a busy schedule. 

5) Corgis

Corgis were originally bred to help herd cattle, sheep, and other livestock. As a result, they have high intelligence and are incredibly easy to train. Corgis are also great with children and other pets, making them a lovely new companion for your home.  

They are pretty active, so you'll need to ensure you provide them with enough playtime and exercise. What's more, corgis are relatively small and can live well in apartments and condos. As long as you have a grassy area, you can take them at least once per day, and they can live comfortably in your dwelling. 

Due to their intelligence and trainability, they make excellent pets, even if you're a novice dog owner. On top of that, they provide unconditional love and loyalty, which can help those coping with symptoms of depression. 

6) Standard Poodles

One misconception about poodles is that they are naturally divas. Due to dog shows, many people think poodles are high maintenance and don't like socializing with humans or other animals. However, their personality is the complete opposite. 

Poodles love to play and snuggle just as much as any other breed, and their obedience and intelligence make them outstanding performers. Their dedication and eagerness to learn can spark motivation in their owners. If you're up for the challenge, your pet poodle could be the most impressive canine at the dog park. 

An added boon of these dogs is their fur, which you can clip to be shorter. Their fur is one of the most hypoallergenic of any dog. You don't need to worry about dog-related allergies when they shed (which they seldom do). 

They combine that with their unconditional love to make excellent dogs for anyone struggling with depression or other mental health disorders. 

7) Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

If a dog breed can win over the love of royals, you know they're doing something right. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is full of love and loyalty combined with a sporty and outgoing personality. They are known to be one of the friendliest breeds out there, making them great with kids, guests, and other pets. 

What's more, they are adorable with their flappy ears and bold eyes. It's almost impossible not to crack a smile when your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel comes to greet you at the door after a long day.

Since they were bred to be companion dogs of kings and other royal members of society, it's no surprise that they make excellent partners for emotional support. However, they are known to take off after small critters. So, it's best always to walk them on a leash. 

8) Labrador Retrievers

The irresistibly lovable labrador retriever is the most popular dog breed in the United States. It makes sense when you consider its unique charm. Not only are they adorable, but they're also loyal, loving, intelligent, and endlessly playful. 

When you have depression, you can lose sight of all that's worth living for in the world. However, the presence of your labrador retriever will make that feeling crumble and add a sense of joy and purpose to your life. 

While Labrador retrievers are relatively large (55-80 pounds), they're easy to train and can live in a wide range of dwellings. That said, they are eager to learn and play. As a result, you'll need to ensure that you have the time and means to provide them with enough exercise and attention. 

In return, they will give you unconditional love and loyalty for as long as you need it. 

9) Vizslas

While vizslas aren't the most recognizable breed, their popularity continues to grow in the United States. They are rugged yet adventurous pups that love to spend time outdoors. Vizslas have been close companions of Hungarian sportsmen for centuries, helping them hunt and manage other animals. 

Due to their intelligence and trainability, they make fantastic pets. The only catch is that you'll need to accept that your vizsla needs to spend a lot of time outside. That's not to say they don't love a lazy Sunday on the sofa like most of us, but you'll need to provide them with adequate exercise. 

Vizslas also create strong bonds with their owners, so be ready to match up that kind of love for your new furry roommate. 

10) Staffordshire Terriers

If you're looking for an intelligent and confident canine, look no further than the Staffordshire terrier. They have an impressive amount of courage that will make you feel safe whenever they're around. That said, they are incredibly friendly to humans and other animals. 

Known for their broad jaws and strong posture, Staffordshire terriers are agile, athletic, and full of love. Few dogs enjoy playtime and walks more than this breed, so be ready to commit to getting out of the house every day. 

Not only are they highly trainable, but they also love physical challenges. Whether it's tug-of-war or jogging in the park, they will always be by your side. 

If you're struggling with depression and find it difficult to get out and about, then the Staffordshire terrier may be the best dog for you. 

Benefits of Dogs for People with Depression

There are various ways a dog can help someone struggling with depression, such as:

More Exercise

Exercise has proven to help alleviate symptoms of depression. Moreover, it's good for your body and helps keep you healthy throughout your life. Dogs love and need to exercise daily, so having one is a surefire way to get you up and moving. 

You can add more regular exercise to your schedule, which will help with your depression and keep your pup from bouncing off the walls. 

More Socializing

Dogs are a fantastic conversation starter. Whether you're at the dog park or just walking around your neighborhood, people are bound to come up to you and your pup. 

While the idea of socializing can seem exhausting and scary, it helps boost confidence and alleviate symptoms of depression

Sense of Purpose

When you have a dog, they rely on you for everything from food, shelter, and love. Research has shown that having a sense of purpose in life should help aid you in the battle against depression. 

What's more, you no longer need to cope with your depression alone. Your canine companion can help you through the bad times and share the good times with you.

How to Choose the Right Dog Breed

Here's a quick guide on how to choose the right dog breed:

Consider Your Living Space

You need to think about your ability to provide your new pup with reasonable accommodation. If you live in an apartment, larger breeds may not be the best idea. Think about your available living space and find a suitable breed. 

Think About Your Schedule

While some dogs are more independent, others require tons of attention. If you have a busy schedule, you should probably not select a dog that struggles with being alone. You can also try to change your schedule to have enough time to spend with your pup. 

Factor in Your Activity Level

As you can see above, dogs love to exercise. If you aren't the most psychically active or have a disability that prevents you from moving around, you should find a breed that doesn't mind being mostly inactive. 

Conclusion

No doubt, depression can be challenging, but the universe has blessed us with dogs to help us cope. Not only can they help with your depression, but they can also improve your overall well-being.  

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, consider registering an emotional support animal with the ESA Registration of America.