Top 5 Gentle Giants: Best Large Dog Breeds for Anxiety and Depression

Feeling blue? You’re not alone. Millions of people struggle with anxiety and depression daily. But here’s some good news: man’s best friend can also be man’s best therapist. Dogs are known for their ability to lift spirits, provide comfort, and reduce anxiety.

If you’re considering a four-legged friend to help manage your mental health, you’ve made a great choice. But not all breeds are created equal. It’s important to choose a dog that’s suited to your lifestyle and emotional needs.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the best dog breeds for anxiety and depression. We’ll delve into the traits that make them ideal companions in your journey towards better mental health. So, sit back, relax, and let’s find your perfect furry friend.

Key Takeaways

  • Having a dog can greatly help those struggling with anxiety and depression. They offer constant companionship, a source of comfort, and can improve both physical and emotional health. Their presence aids in breaking the cycle of negative thoughts that feed mental health issues.
  • Choosing the right dog depends on several factors. These factors include the dog’s temperament, which should match your personality, your living conditions, and the time you can commit to caring for your pet.
  • Smaller dog breeds such as Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Shih Tzu, Pomeranian, and Bichon Frise are recommended for those who live in smaller spaces, or prefer dogs with less physical demands. These breeds offer attributes like adaptability, companionship, and a relaxing effect that can help manage anxiety and depression.
  • Medium dog breeds like Labradoodles, Golden Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, and Brittany Spaniels are great options if you crave deeper connections. These breeds are known not only for their loyalty but also for their high need for exercise and their natural ability to connect with humans, which are all beneficial for managing mental health.
  • For those who prefer larger dog breeds, German Shepherds, Boxers, Labrador Retrievers, Saint Bernards, and Newfoundlands are some of the best options. These breeds are known for their attributes such as loyalty, friendliness, calmness, and their ability to offer protection.
  • While the size and breed can influence a dog’s behavior and traits, every dog has its own unique personality. So, consider meeting different dogs to find one that connects with you the best.
  • Owning a dog comes with responsibility and commitment, but the emotional and mental health benefits they offer make them worth the effort. Dogs are more than pets – they are family, loyal companions, an invaluable source of unwavering love and support.

Large dog breeds like the Newfoundland and Great Dane are renowned for their calming presence, which can significantly benefit individuals with anxiety and depression, details of which can be explored at American Kennel Club. To understand the therapeutic benefits of pet ownership, refer to expert insights on ASPCA. Those considering adopting a large breed can find specific breed advice and rescue options at Petfinder.

Benefits of Dogs for Anxiety and Depression

The ways in which dogs can help with anxiety and depression goes beyond what you might initially anticipate. Scientists and researchers have unfolded the potential benefits of a canine companion in managing mental health issues like anxiety and depression over the years.

Your Constant Companion

A dog isn’t just another member of the family. They are your trusty companions, waiting for you at the end of a long day. They offer the gift of unconditional love and loyalty which is especially important when you’re battling mental health issues. In the face of overwhelming anxiety or crushing waves of depression, a constant companion like a dog can make it a little easier to cope.

A Source of Comfort

You don’t have to explain your feelings or hide your tears from a dog. All they want is to comfort you in their own way. Whether it’s an affectionate lick on the face, resting their head on your lap or simply sitting by your side, dogs have a unique way of conveying their empathy.

Physical and Emotional Health Booster

Dogs need daily exercise, and as their owner, you’ll get dragged out for daily walks whether you’re in the mood or not. But these daily walks aren’t just good for the dog. Physical activities enhance your mood by releasing endorphins – the body’s natural antidepressants. Exercise also counters stress by lowering cortisol levels.

Getting out of the house and being active also helps break the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression and anxiety.

So, having a dog does more than giving you a reason to get out of the house. It helps you stay active, promotes better sleep habits and directs your energy to care for another being, all of which are beneficial for your mental health.

There are countless benefits to having a dog when dealing with anxiety and depression. Let’s dive deeper into this topic and discover which dog breeds can be especially beneficial for your mental health needs.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Dog

When you’re choosing a pet to help manage anxiety and depression, there’s more to consider than just breed. Individual needs and lifestyle play a pivotal role in the decision-making process. Below we’ve assembled a few factors that may sway your decision in one direction or another.

Firstly, consider the dog’s temperament. It’s vital to pick a dog whose temperament matches with yours. If you’re a calm and introverted person, a dog with a similar demeanor could make an ideal match. On the other hand, if you’re more outgoing and lively, a high-energy dog might be the best fit.

Next, look at your living conditions. Can your current home accommodate a new dog? Size and space can determine the type of dog you can keep. While smaller dogs are generally better for apartment-living, if you’ve got a spacious house and yard, think about getting a larger breed.

Lastly, always consider the time and energy required for your new furry friend’s care. Some dogs demand heavy exercise, while others can be content with a daily walk. Every dog breed comes with its unique requirements.

TemperamentMatch your pet’s character to your personality
Living ConditionsSize and space influence dog breed choice
Time CommitmentCertain breeds require more care and attention

Best Small Dog Breeds for Anxiety and Depression

As you navigate the world of dogs to find your perfect anxiety and depression companion, your living conditions might necessitate a smaller dog. An advantage to choosing smaller breeds they require less space. They’re easier to manage in apartments, small houses, and urban conditions. So let’s dive into the best small breeds for mental health therapy.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

They’re known for their adaptable temperaments and outgoing personality. These petite pups form strong bonds with their owners, providing comfort and companionship that’s indispensable for managing anxiety or depression.

Shih Tzu

They were bred for companionship, so it’s in their nature to be loving, loyal, and comforting. The Shih Tzu’s relaxed temperament often has a calming effect on individuals, which is remarkably beneficial when managing mental health conditions.


Despite their small size, they have a big personality! They’re energetic, playful, and affectionate – great traits to bring positivity into your lifestyle. Pomeranians also respond well to training, which can give you a sense of achievement and purpose.

Bichon Frise

They’re friendly, cheerful dogs that love to play and entertain their owners. Their positive energy can bring lightness and joy into your life. Plus, they’re hypoallergenic, a plus point if you have allergies but still need the comforting presence of a canine companion.

Dog BreedCharacteristic
Cavalier King Charles SpanielsAdaptable and outgoing
Shih TzuRelaxing effect
PomeranianRespond well to training
Bichon FriseCheerful and hypoallergenic

These are just a few recommendations for you to consider. Study the breed, understand their needs, and determine if it’s a good fit for your lifestyle and personality. Remember, it’s important to match your energy and temperament with that of your prospective pup.

Best Medium Dog Breeds for Anxiety and Depression

If you have space for a slightly bigger dog and you’re searching for a canine companion to help manage anxiety and depression, medium sized dog breeds could be perfect for you. Medium dogs bring different benefits from small dog breeds, such as being more active and engaged, making them suitable companions for those dealing with mental health problems. Let’s delve into some top picks for medium-sized dogs that are renowned for their impact in lessening anxiety and depression.

The Labradoodle is a prime choice to consider. This designer breed combines the best qualities of the Labrador Retriever and the Poodle – making it both intellectual, loving and loyal. Labradoodles are also hypoallergenic like Poodles, a vital element for some owners.

Let’s not forget the Golden Retriever, one of the most popular dog breeds in the U.S. Golden Retrievers are not only friendly, reliable, and trustworthy, but they’re also adept at forming strong bonds with family members, including those who suffer from mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.

The Cocker Spaniel is another breed you might want to consider. Cockers are fun-loving, compassionate and playful, and they can fit into almost any living condition. Their soft, silky coat also provides a soothing texture many find calming.

Lastly, the Brittany Spaniel is a breed that’s often overlooked. Brittanys are highly intelligent, energetic, and great at picking up on human emotions, making them well suited to being emotional support animals.

Each of these breeds has unique characteristics that make them the best medium dog breeds for anxiety and depression. They all require consistent exercise and mental stimulation for their overall health and happiness.

LabradoodleGolden RetrieverCocker SpanielBrittany Spaniel
Need for ExerciseHighHighModerateHigh
Connection with HumansDeepDeepModerateDeep

Best Large Dog Breeds for Anxiety and Depression

Moving up in size, let’s explore the large breeds that are great for anxiety and depression.

German Shepherds, originally bred for their herding skills, are known for their intelligence, loyalty, and versatility. They’re protective, ensuring your safety at all times. With a German Shepherd by your side, you’ll always have a loyal friend and protector.

Boxers, on the other hand, are high energy and fun-loving. They’re always ready for a game or a run. Great choice if you crave the structure that exercise offers. A Boxer’s playful energy might just be the mood boost you need.

Consider the Labrador Retriever. It’s known for its friendly and outgoing nature. No wonder it is one of the most popular breeds worldwide. Apart from being playful, they’re also incredibly patient, making them perfect for someone dealing with anxiety and depression.

Saint Bernards are gentle and kind. Their patient and calm demeanor can pay dividends for someone struggling with their mental health. Their large size offers comfort in the form of a warm hug during tough times. Do note, they require minimal exercise, so may not be suitable if you’re after a running partner.

Finally, let’s not forget the ever loyal Newfoundlands. Often termed as “gentle giants,” these dogs carry an aura of calmness. They are perfect companions for long, thought-provoking walks, where their calm energy can create a space for introspection and peace.

Remember, while the breed can influence a dog’s behavior and traits, every dog has its unique personality. Put in the time to meet different dogs, understand their traits, and find one that connects with you the best.

Just like us, dogs need love, care, and attention, understanding this, ensures you’re ready to take the next step towards owning a dog. Already have a dog? Excellent! You may explore training methods or dog parks for a better bonding experience.

Invest time and effort, observe the love and companionship they offer, and you’ll understand why they’re man’s best friend.

While owning a dog requires commitment and comes with added responsibility, the emotional and mental benefits are immense. Dogs aren’t just pets – they’re family, loyal companions, and a source of unwavering love and support.


So there you have it. Whether it’s the intelligence of a German Shepherd, the playful energy of a Boxer, the friendly patience of a Labrador Retriever, or the gentle kindness of a Saint Bernard or Newfoundland, the right dog can truly make a difference in managing anxiety and depression. Remember, it’s not just about the breed. It’s about the unique personality of each dog and the bond you form with them. This bond can offer immense emotional and mental health benefits. So don’t wait. Take the first step towards finding your perfect canine companion today. Your mental well-being will thank you.

What large dog breeds are beneficial for managing anxiety and depression?

Various large dog breeds can manage anxiety and depression effectively. Notable ones include German Shepherds, Boxers, Labrador Retrievers, Saint Bernards, and Newfoundlands. Each breed has unique qualities that can help alleviate mental health issues.

Why are German Shepherds good for managing anxiety?

German Shepherds are known for their intelligence, loyalty, and protective nature. These qualities can provide a comforting presence, contributing to the management of anxiety.

How do Boxers help in boosting mood?

Boxers are high-energy, playful dogs. Their playful nature can lift spirits and lead to a happier, more positive mood.

How do Labrador Retrievers assist in coping with mental health issues?

Labrador Retrievers are incredibly friendly and patient. These traits make them ideal companions for individuals dealing with mental health issues.

Why are Saint Bernards considered comforting?

Saint Bernards are gentle and kind dogs. Their calm presence can be very comforting, making them a great choice for those seeking emotional support.

How do Newfoundlands promote a sense of calmness and introspection?

Newfoundlands, or “gentle giants,” can inspire a sense of calmness. Taking them on long walks allows time for introspection, which is beneficial for mental health.

Why is understanding each dog’s unique personality important?

Each dog breed has a unique personality. Understanding these unique traits can help an individual choose a breed that complements their lifestyle and emotional needs. This understanding fosters a beneficial bond benefiting both parties’ emotional and mental well-being.