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10 Empathetic Dog Breeds That Can Sense When You Are Sick or Sad

Which are the most empathetic dog breeds?

Although all dogs provide endless companionship and love, some breeds are more empathetic than others. It’s like they have a sixth sense so finely tuned that they can tell when you’re sick or sad.

From golden retrievers to labradors, there are many empathetic dog breeds that will excel at making you feel better in times of stress—and understand how you feel.

Some canine breeds are particularly well-known for offering emotional support due to their loyal, friendly, affectionate, and gentle nature. Of course, it’s important to know that any dog’s attitude and behavior depend on its socialization, training, and individual personality.

On that note, here are some of the most empathetic dog breeds!

empathetic dog breeds
Photo by michaelheim from Shuttersotck

1. Maltese

The tiny Maltese is one of the most empathetic dog breeds and provides excellent emotional support. Famous for their show-stopping coats, these dogs make playful, charming, and adaptable companions.

They are very affectionate, intelligent, and trainable. Eager to please their owners, Maltese dogs can learn basic commands quickly and are very good with children.

As one of the most empathetic dog breeds, they can be good emotional support companions, especially for those who are less mobile, due to their sweet nature, gentle characteristics, and compact size. Maltese dogs also tend to bond easily and love to receive attention from their owners, too.

2. Labrador

As one of the most popular dog breeds in the country and the world, it’s no wonder the loveable Labrador is also one of the most empathetic dog breeds.

As temperament goes, these dogs are laid-back and happy, and nothing seems to bother them much. They are dependable, trustworthy, and always there to lick your face—especially if they feel something’s wrong with you.

Labradors are a versatile breed, and because of this, alongside their outgoing nature, they make excellent emotional support dogs for children and adults and are well suited as therapy and guide dogs too.

I mean, who doesn’t love Labradors, right?

3. Great Dane

Also considered gentle giants, Great Danes have a moderately playful and affectionate personality, making them one of the most empathetic dog breeds.

With its towering physique, this dog may be appealing for someone who wants a four-legged companion or a buffer zone when interacting with other people. However, the Great Dane is by no means unfriendly, but as a guard dog, their protection, affection, and loyalty lie with you first.

They tend to be aloof with those they don’t know, yet very friendly with their owner. Their compassion and affection are endless, and they love spending time with their family. As an intelligent breed, these dogs are also easy to train. By the way, here’s a best-selling guide that can help you train your puppy.

4. Golden retriever

The golden retriever’s No. 1 skill set is loyalty. Their classic cuddle involves an upward gaze and a heart-melting, heavy chin on the lap. There’s no way you don’t feel better when your golden retriever comes to you and does that.

This form of bonding and emotional support, paired with unbridled excitement when arriving home, makes this companion one of the most empathetic dog breeds.

According to mental health experts, a routine of walking, feeding, and grooming a dog provides stability. Golden retrievers are excited to see you, but like all dogs, they are also eager to get some exercise and stretch their legs, and after you take a few rounds of fetch and take a stroll together, your companion will be content to hang out with you.

Their soft coats and affectionate nature make them a great therapeutic four-legged friend. Similarly to Labradors, they have long been excellent therapy dogs, offering emotional support to their owners.

Keep reading to discover other empathetic dog breeds!

yorkshire terrier
Photo by Valerie Nik from Shutterstock

5. Yorkshire terrier

Yorkshire terriers also make the list of some of the most empathetic dog breeds. In addition to being one of the cutest lap dogs, the Yorkie is an excellent candidate as an emotional support dog for many reasons.

To begin with, Yorkies are portable. They are small puptarts at just five to seven pounds and eight inches tall—basically, perfect for when you need a confident and spunky sidekick to help you feel better in times of stress.

They are also energetic, playful, and very affectionate snugglers. While Yorkies are protective of their owners, they aren’t indimidating guard dogs by any means. In other words, they are great watchdogs and will alert you to anything weird or suspicious with a hearty bark.

6. Havanese

If you’re looking for a soft and furry four-legged companion, the Havanese may be exactly what you want. As one of the empathetic dog breeds, they have a calm temperament and are renowned for their unparalleled affection.

They have an innate ability to sense the emotions of their owners, providing comfort during times of distress. Their genuine concern for their human friends is a trait that makes them unique among emotional support animals. In fact, they have had the nickname “velcro dogs” for a long time due to how much they love to be and spend time with their owner at all times.

Similar to other empathetic dog breeds, a Havanese dog’s unconditional love and calm demeanor create a safe haven when you face turbulent emotions or are dealing with certain health issues.

7. Standard poodle

The standard poodle is about 50 to 60 pounds, making it the largest of the three sizes of poodles. If you’ve ever seen one, and chances are you did, you may think they look too fancy and self-absorbed to be emotional support dogs.

Not at all—poodles are actually very empathetic dog breeds. They are eager to please, lovey-dovey, and easy to be around 24/7. Poodles have an average life span of around 16 years.

When it comes to grooming, these dogs have hair that grows like humans, and they don’t shed, which is a plus. They have an uplifting personality and are often goofy, which will surely rub off and brighten your day.

Poodles are also very smart and can usually sense when their owners are ill or sad.

8. The Great Pyrenees

The Great Pyrenees, also known as the Great Pyr, is loved for their sweet disposition and gentle, calm behavior. Known most as a working dog, specifically a livestock dog, this is also one of the most empathetic dog breeds thanks to their gentle demeanor.

With great physical strength comes great responsibility not to misuse it, and the Great Pyrenees is a four-legged companion that seems to get this instinctively.

They are a popular choice for protection dogs and family guard dogs for exactly this reason. They are famously kind and gentle and will happily provide emotional support to their owners without complaint.

The Great Pyrenees dogs are not particularly active, which makes them a great fit for people who prefer a leisurely stroll over countless rounds of fetch.

Photo by Maria Galutva from Shutterstock

9. Corgi

Next on our list of empathetic dog breeds are Corgis. These dogs are playful, easy-going, and happy, making them a wonderful choice for an emotional support canine friend.

In fact, watching a Corgi play can bring joy and entertainment to anyone. Seeing them zip with their rotund hind ends and short legs can easily bring a smile to your face. These dogs can also sense when something’s off with you, and they will try to cheer you up.

You can have your pick of two types of Corgis—the Pembroke Welsh Corgi and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi. The latter is slightly larger and has a fox-like bushy tail, while the former has a docked tail.

Both types share similar temperaments—playful, fun-loving, affectionate, and clever with a touch of boldness.

10. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavaliers were originally created to be companion dogs, so their genetics run deep as warm-hearted comforters. They are well-mannered, cute, and petite in size, making them great apartment dogs.

So, if you’re looking for empathetic dog breeds and live in a metropolitan area, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is an excellent pick for a canine friend. These dogs have floppy ears, soft coats, and expressive eyes that make them a pleasure to hold and shower with love.

Dogs of this breed completely fall in love with their owners. When people look into their eyes, many swear they can see an empathetic soul looking back at them.

If you liked our article on empathtetic dog breeds, you may also want to read Here Are 10 Low-Energy Dogs That Will Guard Your Home.


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