There’s no better friend in times of anxiety than a dog. They love unconditionally, they understand even without saying a single word, and they will definitely do anything to make you feel better.
While you may probably bond with any type of dog, there are breeds that are naturally better suited for reducing anxiety and stress in humans than others.
The following list contains the seven best dog breeds that positively impact people’s mental health and help them increase dopamine and reduce anxiety. Let’s see why!
How To Choose The Right Breed
According to Bert et al1, therapeutic use of animals positively correlates with reducing stress, pain, and anxiety in humans.
However, before jumping straight to the list, there are a few things that you need to bear in mind. Even though there’s more than one dog breed that might help you reduce anxiety, you first need to spare some time to evaluate what specific breed would be right for you.
Three things are crucial in this regard – the size, the trainability of the dog, and its overall temperament. While some people look for a large, active dog breed for therapeutic use, some rather prefer having a smaller dog with fewer physical needs.
Whether you chose a lap dog or a large dog – it’s really up to you! Bear in mind that there are perfect therapy dogs on both sides of the coin, so don’t despair. Choosing the right breed in terms of size will most definitely help you adjust your pet to your lifestyle preferences.
While large dogs are naturally more prone to outdoor activities, smaller dogs are more likely to enjoy their time indoors.
Trainability of a dog is a very important factor if you’re looking for a dog to help you reduce anxiety. Generally, dogs that are naturally more trainable, such as GSDs or Labs are more likely to test well on training programs, such as the Canine Good Citizen one.
Even though all family dogs will eventually become as affectionate as possible, their trainability is quite crucial for therapy.
Did you know that according to the 2012 study2, human-animal interaction directly affects your oxytocin system? In other words, oxytocin helps you regulate your social processes, and dogs are there to help you get there faster.
There are some naturally extroverted and sociable breeds that might help you with anxiety a lot better than other dogs. That’s why it’s really important to look into the overall temperament of a dog before choosing one for yourself.
What Are The Best Breeds For Reducing Anxiety
#1 Labrador Retrievers
Aside from being among the best family dogs in the world, Labs are just natural therapists! These canines have a naturally high level of intelligence and intuition, and they don’t need much to adapt into your lifestyle.
Labs are easy-going, affectionate, and they will do anything to please their loved ones!
You can find a plethora of Standard Poodles in the roles of being a service dog and a therapy dog.
According to the American With DIsabilities Act (ADA), service dogs are considered individually-trained dogs to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.
The reason why Poodles are so popular in this regard is because they’re naturally obedient and task-oriented pets that are easy to train. The bonus is that Poodles have an allergy-friendly coat and they can be great both indoors and outdoors.
#3 Golden Retrievers
Both male and female Golden Retrievers are just perfect for people looking for an active dog that will help them reduce anxiety and boost their activity level at the same time.
Goldies don’t mind getting occasionally wet in the rain or jumping into a lake if that implies you feeling better. They will accompany you anywhere you go, including walks, hikes, road trips, and so on.
Goldies love challenges, but the most important thing in their life is their hooman!
#4 German Shepherds
I can’t think of a more impeccable dog breed than a German Shepherd, really! They are smart, obedient, trainable, and always ready to please their hooman! In fact, GSDs are proud members of the club of the smartest breeds in the world for a reason!
These black and cream canines will be equally affectionate and eager to take you out of the house, which is why GSDs are not only good for reducing anxiety, but also for creating healthy habits in your life!
Among all Chinese breeds, Pugs are probably the best family dogs ever! Even though they’re not as active as their aforementioned counterparts, Pugs have other powers up their sleeve!
These cute little royal dogs are always ready to cuddle with their owners, and they make pawfect lap dogs. After only a short session of cuddling with a Pug, your anxiety level will be significantly reduced!
#6 American Pit Bull Terriers
Probably one of the first things that pops into your mind when you see a Pitbull is that this is an aggressive dog breed. Well, as much as they might be aggressive when not socialized and obedience trained, the reason why Pits are so stigmatized is because of their violent past.
The truth is these doggos were mainly used for dog fights throughout history, while their true potential was neglected.
American Pit Bull Terriers are today widely used as therapy and service dogs due to their natural intuition. They are life-savers, excellent therapists, exquisite service dogs, and on top of all that – amazing family dogs!
Okay, Chis are no GSDs or Labs, but you should never neglect their true potential! These tiny dogs are perfectly capable of making you feel better with their charming eyes and their cat-like personality.
Chis bond with their hoomans amazingly and they create a positive atmosphere anywhere they go. The downside, though, can be the fact that they are prone to a wide range of health issues.
Dogs are naturally capable of helping people reduce their anxiety and stress level, and they make excellent therapy and service animals!
While people can bond with all dogs on the same level, the truth is that some breeds are better in this regard than others.
If you’re coping with anxiety – I would definitely suggest you get one of these seven dog breeds, as these canines are proven therapists and excellent companions anywhere you go or in anything you do!
- Bert, F., Gualano, M.R., Camussi, E., Pieve, G., Voglino, G., Siliquini, R. (2016). Animal assisted intervention: A systematic review of benefits and risks. Eur J Integr Med. DOI
- Beetz, A., Uvnäs-Moberg, K., Julius, H., Kotrschal, K. (2012). Psychosocial and psychophysiological effects of human-animal interactions: the possible role of oxytocin. Front Psychol. DOI