Choosing a Breed for a Canine ESA

Emotional support animals are helping lots of people process and live with their mental health disorder. As dogs have long been touted as man’s best friend, it’s no surprise that many in need of an ESA are opting for a canine companion. However, selecting which breed of dog to get can be challenging.

There are many things to consider when choosing a breed to act as your canine ESA. While there is no right or wrong answer, as everything depends on your unique requirements, there are a few things to consider.


Some dogs have longer lifespans than others. This can be a result of the prevalence of certain diseases and wellness issues in certain breeds, the size of the dog, and a number of other factors. The healthiest dog breeds alive today are often considered to be the best choice for an ESA, as the illness or death of a support animal can be catastrophic to someone with poor mental health.

Alternatively, there is a lot of reward to be gained from adopting a senior dog who would otherwise be spending their last days in a cage at the local shelter. If you adopt one of these dogs, you’re aware of the short time you have together and can prepare accordingly.


Size isn’t only relevant to the lifespan of your animal. It’s also an important consideration when looking at your living space. While emotional support dogs are often able to override any rules surrounding limitations on pets in apartment buildings with a no-pet policy, you need to think about the animal itself.

It isn’t fair to keep a large breed, like a Great Dane, cooped up in an apartment. While your large breed may bring you a lot of comfort and joy, it’s selfish to think of just your needs. Even if you can hook your Great Dane up to a harness for a walk every morning and every night, the time in between can be hard on the gentle giants.

Energy Levels

As with a large dog, there are some considerations regarding the energy levels of the breed you’re considering. If you’re someone who will be able to keep up with an energetic breed, by all means, get out and get moving. If, however, you are someone who often experiences days where you can’t get out of bed, having a calmer breed might be a better choice.

Pugs and Bulldogs are often content to curl up in bed and relax with you as you rest, whereas Huskies and Dalmatians seem to always want to be moving. A breed that is a bit more moderate may be ideal if you have bad days, but are open to the suggestion of a relaxing-yet-energizing walk.

Rescue or Breeder

The “adopt don’t shop” movement is a powerful campaign that encourages dog owners to adopt rescues rather than buy from a breeder. While the reasoning behind this is valid, you will need to make your own choice on the matter. If you have your heart set on a certain breed, you might need to make the investment and choose a breeder.

If, however, you are open to loving a mixed breed dog or any pooch who needs a home, adopting is the right choice. There’s something powerful about an ESA and it’s human rescuing one another. Before adopting, discuss the dog’s history with the shelter and make sure that it will fit well into your family. Some rescue dogs have experienced trauma and do better in a home that is free of other animals or children.

Whichever breed you decide upon, treat your canine ESA with love and gratitude. Having a support dog can be an amazing resource for overcoming the challenges those with mental health issues face.