When it comes to being the best emotional support dogs, tiny lapdogs don’t have the monopoly on comfort. Big dog breeds can offer the same companionship and cuddles as smaller-sized dogs. 

According to the Human-Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), pets improve mental health in people experiencing stress, sadness, or loneliness. Because dogs evolved living so closely with humans, they are especially adept at reading human emotions and nonverbal cues. A dog’s presence serves as a constant in times of upheaval. 

Ten Big Dogs for Emotional Support

It’s not surprising that big and cuddly dog breeds can give companionship, comfort, and emotional support. Here are a few large breed dogs that are known for showering their owners with affection:

Get Started

1. Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retrievers are popular as pets and assistance animals because they’re reliable, laid-back, and responsive to their owner’s emotions. Their temperament is even-keeled and not easily ruffled. This breed also likes to be petted and doesn’t mind prolonged periods of physical closeness. Labrador Retrievers also make excellent family pets because they’re patient with children. When it comes to emotional support, you can’t go wrong with a Labrador Retriever. 

2. The Great Pyrenees 

Although the Great Pyrenees was originally bred to keep sheep-stealing wolves at bay, these dogs are the gentlest of creatures. Their mellow temperament and fluffy white fur make them ideal cuddling companions. The Great Pyrenees breed is unlike other large breed dogs in that they don’t require a highly active lifestyle; these dogs are satisfied just relaxing all day and offering quiet companionship. 

A Great Pyrenees emotional support dog relaxing outdoors on the farm.
The Great Pyrenees may be impressive by size but is also extra cuddly.

3. Irish Wolfhound

An Irish Wolfhound cuts an imposing figure. Lanky and scraggly looking with crinkly fur, Wolfhounds look like they come straight out of a storybook. However, there’s nothing to fear with these gentle giants. They’re peaceful, calm, loyal, and enjoy looking after their owners. Despite their size — they can grow to 180 pounds — Irish Wolfhounds are quiet and easy to train. 

4. Newfoundland

A Newfoundland dog looks like a big fluffy teddy bear, which makes people want to hug this large breed dog. A male Newfoundland can weigh up to 150 pounds and look a bit intimidating, but they’re actually a gentle breed. These dogs have a reputation for being watchful and docile with children and their calm temperament. Rarely anxious or afraid, this breed remains calm in all situations and can provide emotional support.

5. German Shepherd 

Most people know German Shepherds make excellent guard dogs, but they’re fantastic at giving emotional support, too. German Shepherds are fiercely loyal and bond firmly with their owners. They’re also very intelligent and enjoy human interaction, ideal for anyone looking for some company. 

Need help? We can help! Get started here

6. Leonberger

Leonberger dogs aren’t the most well-known dog breeds, but they’re worth looking into for emotional support. These dogs bond strongly with their owners, and they tend to want to be around their owners at all times. Leonbergers are excellent with children and are easy to train. 

7. Golden Retriever 

Golden Retrievers are well-liked for a reason — they exude a sunny and fun disposition. They’re energetic, loving, and attentive to their owners. Because of their social and outgoing personalities, it’s hard to be around a Golden and remain sad. Don’t let the good looks and perky demeanor fool you, though. Goldens are also highly intelligent and exceptionally easy to train. 

Ten Best Big Dog Breeds for Emotional Support - Infographic - ESA Doctors
Ten Best Big Dog Breeds for Emotional Support

8. Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain dogs possess a calm and affectionate temperament. Always eager to please their owners, Bernese Mountain dogs don’t shy away from hard work. These dogs are exceedingly obedient and loyal to their families, and they’re protective of any children. Bernese Mountain dogs are perfect for emotional support. However, their thick fur coat and large size make them more ideal for homes in cold climates with a yard. 

9. Black Russian Terrier

Not all terriers are small. The Black Russian terrier can grow up to 140 pounds and was intended by the Soviet Union in the 1930s as a potential guard dog. The Russians bred loyalty and a protective instinct into these dogs, which remains today. However, rather than being anxious or aggressive, these dogs are calm. With its thick black fluffy coat, a Black Russian Terrier is an ideal dog for hugging.

10. Great Dane 

Great Danes are known as the “Apollo of Dogs” because of their size, temperament, and appearance. Rather than “cute” or “adorable,” words to appropriately describe a Great Dane are “stately” and “regal.” This breed is protective of its home and family, but it’s also friendly with humans and other dogs. 

A Great Dane emotional support dog watching over its handler in the park.
The Great Dane is one of the largest dogs and a steady, protective companion.

Big Emotional Support Dogs Come With Big Resposibilities

Before getting a big dog as an emotional support animal, there are a few factors to consider:

  • Big dogs, especially those with thick fur, need routine grooming and brushing.
  • They need enough space to exercise.
  • Moreover, the overall feeding costs are higher for larger dogs.

Are big dogs worth the extra responsibilities? For many people, the answer is a resounding “Yes.” You will need to evaluate yourself and decide based on your needs and environment if one of the above-mentioned big breed dogs makes the perfect emotional support animal for you.

Are you thinking about getting a pet for emotional support? Connect with one of our licensed mental health counselors at ESA Doctors. Discuss how a big dog may help you improve your mental health.

Qualify for a Big Emotional Support Dog Now by Applying for Your Emotional Support Animal Letter Online (linked)

Three easy steps to get an ESA Letter with ESA Doctors
Get Started Now Button

Get the Love and Support you deserve!