Discover dogs: six breeds to benefit your mental health
Explore the wellbeing power of pups, and find out which breeds might best suit your lifestyle. It’s time to start barking up the right tree
Friendship has long been considered a tonic for our mental wellbeing, and research from The Kennel Club, the UK’s largest organisation dedicated to dogs, shows that canine companionship in particular can positively impact how owners feel, and improve their wellbeing.
The survey revealed that 95% of owners find that their dog improves their mental health and wellbeing generally, with two in five owners crediting their dog with easing feelings of loneliness. It is no coincidence that over the past couple of years, during periods of lockdowns and social isolation, many people struggled with loneliness, and thus the UK saw an unprecedented rise in dog ownership.
Dogs help throughout our lives, from teaching responsibility to younger children to developing compassion among teens, and helping adults find or maintain a purpose and structure in their lives. One can never underestimate the power of a dog in getting their owner out for their daily walkies! And who can forget their ability to remind us of the power of unconditional love, often when we need it most.
No matter what the breed, age, size, or shape, it’s clear dog owners unite in agreement on the benefits of having a furry friend in their lives. However, for those ready for dog ownership, and seeking a breed particularly renowned for their loveable, friendly, and supportive nature, The Kennel Club has shared some suggestions to help find the therapeutic four-legged friend you might be looking for. Of course, an individual dog’s behaviour will be dependent on training, socialisation, and personality, but the following can serve as a useful guide to help you find your own canine companion.
These dogs have a big heart. Perfect for families, they are known for their friendly nature, and their confidence can be infectious. They are intelligent, which often means they pick up on their owners’ emotions, and tend to enjoy training, too. They are large in size, so love a long walk, which can benefit you both by getting you out in the fresh air and reaping the benefits of being in nature!
The loveable Labrador has long been a family favourite – their happy and playful nature makes them a wonderful companion. Their historic background as a fishing dog makes them highly trainable and intelligent, meaning they can make wonderful assistance and therapy dogs, too.
A small but smart dog, the Maltese is a great choice for anyone in a smaller living space, and perhaps not as able to go on the long walks required by larger breeds. Their loveable nature and sweet characteristics make them a welcome companion to have around the home and by your side. Their long and soft coat requires lots of grooming, which many can find to be a calming and therapeutic task.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Staffordshire Bull Terriers can make a wonderful family pet, and are known for providing much emotional support to their owners. They are highly intelligent, sensitive, and affectionate, especially with children.
The Havanese is a small dog requiring less walking, around 30 minutes a day, and a smaller garden, making them a good choice for urban dwellers. They are highly affectionate, but have lively and intelligent characters, too. They can offer valuable companionship for anyone, though those who are more introverted can benefit from their friendly nature.
Greyhounds can be a more independent breed at times, but still tend to be affectionate, sensitive, and docile, making them a supportive pet and best friend for the right owners. The breed tend to enjoy a slower pace of life in general, though equally love to whizz around the park or garden as well!
Of course, it’s important that prospective owners carefully consider whether their lifestyle suits dog ownership, and, if so, to research all aspects of different breeds, to ensure they can meet their dogs’ health and wellbeing needs. With the current cost of living crisis, would-be owners must consider the financial aspects of ownership and the associated costs of a pet and whether it’s something they can commit to for the long-term.
The Kennel Club runs London’s biggest dog event, Discover Dogs, which, across two days, will showcase more than 150 diverse breeds to help those considering owning a dog start their search, and make an informed decision. Everyone is welcome to meet and greet the breeds, speak to experts, and ask questions to current owners. The popular Cuddle Corner also provides visitors with de-stressing and comforting canine cuddles with their favourite breeds. So, even if you aren’t ready or able to take those first steps towards dog ownership, you can still reap the wellbeing benefits at this unique event.
Discover Dogs 2022 takes place at the Excel London from 15–16 October. Tickets can be purchased at discoverdogs.org.uk, and find more information about the mental health benefits of dog ownership at thekennelclub.org.uk.
Photography | Golden retriever: Flick.digital, Maltese: Lecinska-Ruchniewicz, Greyhound: Mark Blyth.
If you are struggling with your mental health, visit the Counselling Directory or speak to a professional counsellor.