If you are looking for a dog that will benefit your mental health, these are the breeds that should top your wishlist.
A huge number of us decided to welcome new puppies into our homes over the last few years – Kennel Club figures show dog ownership has soared to record levels.
There are a whopping 221 different breeds of pedigree dog to choose from, alongside numerous crossbreeds, so there’s plenty of thinking to do before you select your family’s latest addition.
Our lifestyle has a huge bearing on which type of dog will work best for us – if you have limited space you might want to look at small dogs, while the more elderly pet owner should place certain breeds at the top of their wishlist.
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But if you are looking for a dog to benefit your mental health you should consider one of the breeds that are proven to make good emotional supprt animals.
These are gentle, laid-back and sociable pets that provide their owners with therapeutic benefits, including anxiety relief and making them feel more comfortable in certain social settings.
They’re also thought to sense when you are not at your best, lavishing you with extra affection to help you feel better.
Here are the 10 most empathetic breeds of dog, according to the American Kennel Club.
1. Labrador Retriever
The Labrador Retriever is arguably the most empathic breed of dog, with an innate skill to know how their owners are feeling. They are gentle, friendly and eager to please. Anybody who has ever owned a Lab will know that they can make any situation seem slightly better. Their Golden Retriever cousins also make wonderful therapy dogs. Photo: Canva/Getty Images
Another small dog able to provide support in most social settings, the Chihuahua needs little in the way of exercise so is perfect for people who are less mobile. Photo: Canva/Getty Images
3. Yorkshire Terrier
For a smaller emotional supprt animal it's hard to beat the Yorkshire Terrier. Yorkies are very affectionate and are easy to travel with, making them great mobile anxiety easers. Photo: Canva/Getty Images
4. Border Collie
One of the most intelligent dog breeds, the Border Collies is used to responding to cues to herd sheep. This extends to sensing when something is wrong with their families and quickly offering comfort in the form of affection. Photo: Canva/Getty Images