For people who experience the world intensely, adding the responsibility of a dog into the mix can be tough. However, studies show pets—especially canines—can actually reduce stress and lower blood pressure, sometimes simply by gazing into a person’s eyes. Dogs have even been known to ease homesickness! The key? Picking the right breed. Here’s a list of the ten best dogs for highly sensitive people.
Let’s start small, with the Chihuahua. These tiny (most never weigh more than six pounds) pups pack in a ton of personality. Shedding is minimal, and firm training early solidifies good habits. Like most dogs, Chihuahuas need daily activity to stay fit and happy, but unlike larger breeds, indoor playtime suffices (translation: no crazy dog parks). They live 14 to 16 years and will enjoy most of that time snuggling on laps.
More commonly referred to as Yorkies, these dogs are super affectionate, energetic and friendly. They are also hypoallergenic, which is a plus whether you let their coats grow floor-length or not (specialty grooming is a must if a Yorkie’s coat is long, so keeping it trimmed is a less daunting choice). Short, daily walks are enough to keep these pups happy and they can live up to 15 years.
CAVALIER KING CHARLES SPANIEL
The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is a gentle breed. This dog is incredibly adaptive to its owner’s lifestyle (meaning they’re cool with going out or staying in, depending on what you feel like doing). They love nothing more than pleasing their human and really only require daily walks to stay active. Side note: Going for walks is known to relieve stress, so any dog that requires leisurely strolls is a smart investment.
Medium-sized dogs attentive to their humans, Shiba Inus weigh anywhere from 17 to 23 pounds and are the most popular choices for canine companionship in Japan. Yes, they need a lot of exercise, but once they’ve had time to run around a bit, they know how and when to relax at home. They also love lavishing their humans with attention, though they can be a bit reserved with strangers. So, perfect for introverts!
This dog is a stellar choice for very low-key people or anyone who lives alone. Basset hounds are loyal to the bone and very patient. Walks are nice, but then they are content to sleep and snuggle until the cows come home. If you’re someone who needs a little more space, these dogs are ideal because they show love without being smothering.
As anyone who’s ever heard of Lassie knows, Collies are dedicated family dogs who excel when surrounded by loving people. They can live up to 14 years, too. During that time, these graceful pups ideally will have a yard to run in, though regular walks and visits to a dog park feel just as good.
OLD ENGLISH SHEEPDOG
Talk about a mellow dog! Old English sheepdogs are fluffy house dogs with an adaptable nature. They deal well with children (patient and gentle) and adults (smart and obedient). After a waltz around the block, they’re ready to snuggle up inside for a nap or a grooming sesh (brushing their coat is a must).
Possibly the most sensitive of all breeds, greyhounds are noble, quiet creatures who prefer calm people and zen environments. They are independent dogs, so they don’t need too much attention, but they are also very loving and provide a lot of comfort to their owners. Pro tip: Many rescue greyhounds are former racing dogs who have spent their lives in crates between races and seek mutual companionship.
Golden retrievers are literally rays of sunshine in dog form. These friendly dogs love life and are often top choices for seeing-eye-dog and therapy work. To strengthen the bond between human and dog, owners should go through obedience training with their goldens. This builds trust and establishes routine, two things that can ease anxiety in humans.
Now, the biggest dog on our list. Newfoundlands are 120 pounds of pure devotion and even-tempered friendship. They are super sweet, highly trainable and rarely aggressive. Sensitive owners who enjoy hiking and swimming will find a perfect companion in Newfoundlands. These gentle giants have a lot of love to give. Remember Nana in Peter Pan? Newfie.
(Here’s one thing to remember about large canines: They don’t live as long as smaller pups. The life expectancy of a Newfoundland is nine to ten years, which is still a good chunk, but know thyself when picking a dog and veer smaller for longer life expectancy.)