16 Dog Breeds That Can Help You Manage Stress & Anxiety, According To Experts
A lot of things have been said about dogs. We've heard that they are man's (or woman's!) best friend, and that we don't deserve them. A quick Google search will reveal countless sentimental stories about the role that canines have played in their owners' lives that will straight up bring you to tears. Beyond their basic snuggly, loving qualities, dogs have also been known to reduce stress and anxiety, so if you were looking for another excuse to adopt a new furry friend for yourself (because I sure am), check out this list of dog breed that can help with stress.
If you're finding yourself wondering just how legit these stress-busting claims are, allow me to share with you some expert commentary. Speaking with Bustle, psychologist and licensed clinical social worker Dr. Danielle Forshee confirmed that dogs can indeed be beneficial for a human's mental health. "Current literature reflects the well-documented effects of human-dog interaction, with benefits specifically related to anxiety, depression, and coping with stress," she says. "It has been shown that emotional support exists between humans and dogs similar to the emotional support that exists between humans."
According to Dr. Forshee, when we are upset or stressed, we benefit from being around other humans — and if we look at things from an evolutionary perspective, "the emotional support that humans receive from dogs may be explained by the fact that dogs have socially adapted to live with humans for more than 30 thousand years and are closely adapted to human social performance." Like humans, many canines can recognize emotional cues from their humans and adjust their behavior accordingly.
These breeds are particularly well-suited for reading and responding to stress cues. Also, they're really cute.
Commonly known as "Gentle Giants," Newfoundlands can weigh anywhere from 99 to 150 pounds, and if their adorably bear-like look isn't enough to convince you that they're well-suited to help with your stress, you should consider their calm, loyal personalities. Additionally, according to Dogs Online, Newfoundlands love the water — and since lakes and beaches are often recommended as a great place to go to ease your nerves, why wouldn't you want a pooch that doubles as a swimming buddy?
According to K9 Of Mine, Standard Poodles are smart, friendly, and optimistic — all qualities of a great emotional support animal. They also happen to be hypoallergenic, which means that they won't shed and cause additional stress by making a mess.
Corgis make a great companion for the Queen, but they're just as great to have around if you're a stressed out non-royal. Although these short-legged cuties can get rowdy occasionally, Dogs Online notes that they make great service pups because "few other canine breeds can rival the Corgi's affection and attachment to their owners."
Recognizable mostly for their size, Great Danes are perhaps underestimated for their stress relieving abilities. This breed is playful, affectionate, trustworthy, and quiet, per Dogs Online. What's not to love?
I'm not sure that any dog IRL is quite as cute as Lady the cartoon, but Cocker Spaniels do come pretty close... and they're good for stress and anxiety too. According to Dogs Online, these pooches are easy to train, difficult to spook, and highly motivated to please their owners. Cocker Spaniels are also good travelers, so you should have no problem taking them with you on errands and vacations so your anxiety is always minimal.
Boxers have a lot going for them as companions. Among their many positive traits, Dogs Online lists their loyalty, their emotional intelligence (they are very tuned in to human emotions!), and their tendency to act as oversized lap dogs. Because boxers hate to be left alone, they are great at making their owners feel needed, loved, and supported.
If you've been looking for an excuse since you were a kid to live out your Beethoven dog-owning fantasies, I think you've found your answer, as St. Bernards make the list of "best dog breeds to fight anxiety" from Dogs Online. These large, furry bundles of love are smart, protective, and good with children.
They say the best things come in small packages. Exhibit A? The Dachshund! The description of this breed from Dogs Online makes them sound more human than canine. Dachshunds are protective, cuddly, and firmly believe that they are part of the family just like you The only thing that seems like a potential red flag is their stubbornness, which I would expect can cause its own stress at times.
They look like giant panda bears and they can make you feel safe, too! Per K9 Of Mine, this large breed is calm, patient, and smart. If you can handle taking them on a walk, they could be great for your stress and anxiety.
Yorkshire Terriers may have a reputation for being small enough to fit in a purse, but their personalities make them well-suited for serving an important purpose as calming companions. "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," Dogs Online notes.
Golden Retrievers are my personal favorite dogs of all time, so I might be a little biased here, but the Internet backs me up. Both Dogs Online and K9 Of Mine rank Goldens among the best breeds for those dealing with stress and anxiety, largely because they love being around people. Golden Retrievers also require a lot of exercise, which will give you a good reason to get out more if your stress tends to keep you inactive or behind closed doors.
Bichon Frises are active, affectionate, and love being the center of attention, and their adorable antics might be just what the doctor ordered if you find yourself feeling stress or depressed, per Dogs Online.
If you prefer smaller breeds, a Havenese might be the perfect furry friend to take the edge off your feels. Yahoo actually calls the Havanese the single best dog for reducing stress, based on a study by the UK Kennel Club.
Simply looking at a GIF of a pug is often enough to make me feel better on a bad day, so I can only imagine that hanging out with one IRL would make all the difference. According to Dogs Online, this breed is cuddly, calm, and, well, amusing. Total mood lifters!
"This dog will bring out a smile on your face no matter what you're feeling," Dogs Online writes of Labrador Retrievers. Given this description, I'm not sure you can argue that they're qualified to help with stress!
Bernese Mountain Dog
Bernese Mountain Dogs are naturally happy and friendly (arguably too friendly with strangers, some might say), per Dogs Online. Also, I'm pretty sure that one look at their cute faces can knock down your stress and anxiety levels a few notches.