Research finds which cat and dog breeds are best for our mental health

Kathryn Wheeler
By Kathryn Wheeler,
updated on Apr 24, 2020

Research finds which cat and dog breeds are best for our mental health

From labs to ragdolls, which breeds are best for supporting us with our mental health?

First things first, let’s get one thing straight: all pets are perfect, just how they are – and at Happiful we're huge champions of always looking to rescue first. And studies have consistently shown the incredible effect that spending time with animals can have on our mental health.

Therapy animals have long been transforming the lives of those living with PTSD, anxiety, and depression, and from the comfort that is found in their company to the enforcement of routine, sharing your life with an animal has limitless benefits – with one study showing that petting a dog for just 15 minutes can lower our blood pressure by 10%.

But now, research compiled by Tombola has uncovered which cat and dog breeds could most help us improve our mental health. By looking at the characteristics of different breeds and analysing which would be beneficial for our mental health, they have created a guide to where we can find the most comfort.

So what was the conclusion?

Best dog breeds for supporting depression

These pooches will be there when you need them most.


  • Labradors are playful, happy, and respond really well to training – meaning their company is rewarding and their energy is infectious.


  • This breed is nicknamed the ‘velcro dog’ because they love being close to their humans. If you’re looking for a pooch who will stick by your side through thick and thin, this is the one!


  • Affectionate, loyal, and highly intelligent, poodles are perfect for cuddling up with in the evening and they’ll quickly become one of the family.

Best cat breeds for supporting depression

Cuddle up with these devoted cats.


  • These loving kitties may not be everyone’s first choice, on account of the fact that they are hairless. But having no hair means that they have a lower body temperature and love to be held close.


  • Ragdolls are calm, easy-going cats, known for going limp when picked up. They will be equally happy doing their own thing as they will be getting cosy with you.

Maine Coon

  • Often used as therapy pets, these large cats develop deep, solid relationships with their owners. A maine coon will be sure to watch over you, offering you the ultimate feline companionship.

Dogs that will get you out the house

These dogs will be sure to keep you active as they need two or more hours of exercise every day.

  • Border collie
  • Weimaraner
  • Springer spaniel

Dog with its head in on its owner's lap

petting a dog for just 15 minutes can lower our blood pressure by 10%

But whether or not your pet has made the ranking, the overall benefits of spending time with animals can’t be denied. And this is something that the Happiful team know first-hand. Throughout lockdown we have been turning to our furry (and feathered) friends for support and comfort. How exactly have they been assisting us? Meet our Happiful helpers:

Charlotte’s budgie, Zuko

This lively 'chickman' provides lovely background noise, and is always welcome company (and a much-needed distraction!)
Fun fact: Zuko is obsessed with tech. If you’re getting your phone out, make sure you look out from above!

Katie’s cats, Winnie, Luna, and Russy

These kitties can always sense when Katie is feeling off-balance, and all three will come and sit on her – the ultimate cuddly intervention.
Fun fact: We all need a hobby, and for Russy it's his obsession with nail files.

Emma’s border collie cross, Jess

Jess is the perfect excuse to get outside for a walk, and loves a snuggle in the sunshine. Her excited tail wags say it all!
Fun fact: Jess is scared of swimming, and will only venture in to fetch sticks if she can touch the bottom. Stay safe, Jess!

Wade’s cat, Sergi sergio pink nose, Prince of Pussy Cats, A.K.A Emeow Purski

According to Wade, Sergi’s tiny, fury, little head is great to squeeze!
Fun fact: Sergi isn’t actually Wade’s cat; he lives over the road with Wade’s brother and sister. But what’s better than a visit from a feline friend?

Alice’s cats, Midnight and Velvet

These moggies have the most soothing purrs, and have a preference to snuggle at all times.
Fun fact: Midnight loves the printer, and has even learned to photocopy paper so she can catch it as it comes out. Now, that cat's got talent.

Becca’s beagle, Winston

This high-energy pup needs a lot of fresh air and exercise, which helps Becca reap the rewards of the great outdoors. With a mischievous streak, life with Winston is full of laughs, and the cuddles are second-to-none.
Fun fact: Winston can’t sleep without his beagle cuddly toy. What a softy.

Claire’s cat, Dotty

Having someone at home with her all day has kept Claire from feeling lonely, and Dotty’s many antics have her in stitches.
Fun fact: Dotty doesn’t quite understand when she needs to retract her claws, and can often be found stuck to an array of soft furnishings. Aren't we all told we should be leaving a mark on this world?

Jo’s cat, Noah

A giant, ginger ball of fur, Noah has been making appearances in video meetings, and has been controlling Jo’s screentime by walking in front of it or sitting next to it, tapping Jo for attention.
Fun fact: Noah can high-five on command. A highly commendable skill – you go, Noah!

Lucy’s dog, Zac

Lucy’s walks with Zac really help her appreciate the moment. Zac finds joy in the small things – a perfect reminder to stay grounded.
Fun fact: Zac loves it when Lucy sings to him and, a dog of fine taste, can often be found with his nose in a copy of Happiful. You're our favourite, Zak.

When it comes to giving and taking, little is as rewarding as caring for a pet. And whether you’ve already found your perfect companion, or you’re looking to find one in the near future, it’s well worth celebrating the incredible connection that we share with our animals – each and every one of them.

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