If you’re looking for an emotional support dog, you may want to think about a small dog. With their compact size and cute barking, small dogs can brighten up any day. Whoever said that the best things come in small packages was probably talking about a dog!

What Is an Emotional Support Animals

An emotional support animal (ESA) helps owners cope with their mental illness or emotional disorder. Dogs make excellent ESAs because they’re attuned to human emotions and naturally gravitate to their owners — dogs are, after all, man’s best friend. 

An ESA and their handler are protected under federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA). These laws enable an ESA to reside with their handler in “no pets allowed” housing conditions. However, for a person to be allowed to own an ESA, a legitimate ESA letter from an LMHP is necessary. 

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Top 10 Small Emotional Support Dogs 

Unlike large dogs, small emotional support dogs can live in a living space of any size. Large dogs may find small studios or apartments challenging, but small dogs can fit both small city apartments and large country homes. The following is a list of the top 10 choices for small emotional support dogs.

1. Yorkshire Terrier

Coming in at about 7 pounds, Yorkshire Terriers look like they’re probably all fur. Yorkshire Terriers have an immediately recognizable fluffy coat and expressive eyes. Perky and lively, these dogs also enjoy sitting on their owner’s lap, receiving lots of love. Their feisty personalities and fierce loyalty make Yorkshire Terriers excellent ESAs. 

A Yorkshire Terrier Emotional Support Animal enjoying a dinner party.
The lively Yorkshire Terrier makes for a great Emotional Support Animal.

2. Toy Poodle

Toy Poodles appear posh and pampered, but they’re exceptionally sharp and intuitive. These dogs are so intelligent that the American Kennel Club believes they sometimes behave more like humans than canines! With an average weight of 6 pounds, Toy Poodles make ideal ESAs for tiny homes.

3. Maltese

With their silky soft white fur, Maltese dogs look like 3-8-pound snowballs. These affectionate cotton balls are loyal and attentive, but they’re also playful. Their upbeat personality and friendliness make them great ESAs for families.

4. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels — popularly known as CKCs — get their name from being a favorite choice for royalty. Their satiny soft fur and long floppy ears give them a distinctive look. Known to be cooperative lap dogs, these dogs love attention and affection. A Cavalier King Charles has an average weight of about 13-18 pounds but is still considered a small dog and excellent as ESA.

5. Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russell Terriers are compact and energetic dogs with big, expressive eyes. And unlike the previous dogs on this list, Jack Russell Terriers have short fur and only need basic grooming. These dogs weigh about 9 to 15 pounds — perfect for small spaces. These dogs like to run, however, so some social time at the park is a must. As an ESA, a Jack Russell Terrier can lighten the mood and get their handler out and about. 

A Jack Russell Terrier Emotional Support Animal playing with their owner.
Jack Russell Terriers are energetic and as Emotional Support Animals can get owners prone to hiding out into the world.

6. Bichon Frisé

Bichon Frisés are known for being photogenic and charming. Their big eyes and fluffy facial fur give them the appearance of a teddy bear waiting to be hugged. Charming and social, a Bischon Frisés enjoys attention and is also easy to train. Their white hypoallergenic coats are ideal for people who are allergy-prone but want a small emotional support dog.

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7. Alaskan Klee Kai

Adore huskies but don’t have the square footage for one? An Alaskan Klee Kai might be the dog you need. The Alaskan Klee Kai has the personality and looks of a husky in a snack-sized 15-pound body. These dogs need lots of running space nonetheless and are therefore ideal for active people who need an emotional support dog.

8. Pomeranian 

A Pomeranian is more than an adorable ball of fluff — it’s the CEO of its home. These dogs, at 3-7 pounds, have the personality of a dog ten times its size. Owners will need to train these dogs well to keep their bossiness in check, but Pomeranians offer a wealth of comic relief. Their crazy antics bring laughter to any home, and they make ideal small emotional support dogs. 

A Pomeranian Emotional Support Animal playing with a new toy.
The fluffy Pomerian makes for a perfect Emotional Support Animal for owners who need cuddles and joy.

9. Japanese Chin

The Japanese Chin is the dog of choice for Japanese royalty. A distinct plumed tail, short muzzle, and large dark eyes set it apart from any other dog. As fancy as this dog looks, however, it exhibits a quiet and observant personality. Happy to sit still and receive affection, the 11-pound Japanese Chin makes a great match for a quiet household looking for an emotional support dog. 

10. Chihuahua 

Last, but definitely not least, is the most popular of the small dog breeds: the Chihuahua. Chihuahuas weigh in at about 6 pounds and are known for their outsized personality. They are territorial, fiercely protective, and high-strung. But what makes them ideal as small emotional support dogs is that they are hardwired to be affectionate to one person — their owner. 

Best Small Dog Breed For Emotional Support - Infographic - ESA Doctors

Loving a Small Emotional Support Dog

Because of their size, small dog owners may allow behaviors that would otherwise be intolerable in larger dogs. To avoid the challenges that accompany behaviors like biting and nipping, small dogs need the same training and socialization larger dogs do. Obtain an appropriate small dog, and you’ll have the fur-ever emotional support dog you need. 

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