Best and Worst Breeds for HSP Dog Owners

Considering a new addition? Here you will find the 5 Best and 5 Worst dog breeds for dog owners who are highly sensitive people (HSP) or empaths.


Katie Abendroth

2/16/20245 min read

brown and white long haired small dog lying on red and white textile
brown and white long haired small dog lying on red and white textile

Best and Worst Breeds for HSP Dog Owners

Here you will find the 5 Best and 5 Worst dog breeds for HSP dog owners. Being a highly sensitive person (HSP) comes with challenges and rewards.

What is a highly sensitive person (HSP)?

Dr. Elaine Aron is the OG Trailblazer on this topic in the field of psychology. If you want to do a deep dive, check out her website here or watch the following video for an interview with Dr. Aron:

In summary, an HSP is a normal, innate trait found in up to 20% of the population.

HSPs are highly attuned to the environment and emotions of others, so things like bright lights, being rushed, violence on TV, or chaotic can be overwhelming.

It is not the same as sensory processing disorder. We are emotionally reactive and process information deeply.

HSPs have positive aspects, such as:

  • Highly empathetic

  • Appreciative of delicate smells or art

  • Attuned to nature and animals

  • Imaginative

  • Many labeled “gifted” in childhood

Are you an HSP Dog Owner?

Check out this quiz to see if you are an HSP dog owner. But to make the relationship between dogs and humans the best it can be, it is important that you pick the right breed for your HSP personality and family dynamics.

Also, if you are an HSP who rents your apartment or home, make sure to check on what breeds are allowed and if there is additional expense for having a dog. Check to see if there are weight restrictions for having a dog in your housing unit.

HSPs may find that the exuberance of puppy energy is overwhelming. In this case, consider adopting an older dog who gets fewer “zoomies,” but still needs a loving home.

So if you are ready to explore types of breeds for your personality, check out the 5 best & 5 worst breeds for HSP dog owners.

5 Best Dog Breeds for HSP Dog Owners

1. Shih Tzu

Best pick if you work remotely.

Jokes about how to pronounce their name aside, Shih Tzus are the best all around companion breed for HSP dog owners. Bred as companions for Chinese royalty, these dogs literally just vibe. Also, they are happiest when you are curled up and ready to snuggle, so they would be more than happy if you work from home.

Shih Tzus weight 9-16 lbs. and live for 10-18 years. They are great with older kids (if not handled roughly), other dogs, and are terrific emotional support. This best-selling orthopedic bed is the perfect fit for a shih tzu to curl up at your feet. This is a top couch potato breed and they don’t require much exercise.

2. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Best pick if you have kids.

Another great all around pick. According to the American Kennel Club, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have both spunk and affection.

Also bred as companion dogs for royalty (British in this case), they have a great temperament and calm demeanor.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels weigh 13-18 lbs. and live for 12-15 years. Since they are bigger than shih tzus, they are great with young kids, and other pets.

3. Golden Retriever

Best pick for active owners.

The Golden Retriever is a classic, all around great dog. If you already live an active lifestyle, and exercise helps you manage your HSP characteristics, this is the dog for you. Also, they are famously great with kids, other pets, and highly intelligent.

Golden Retrievers weigh 55-75 lbs. and live 10-12 years. Since they need lots of mental stimulation and exercise, this Chuckit Sport toy is a great way to burn energy at home or the dog park. If you want a similar breed without the shedding, a Goldendoodle may be the right pick.

4. French Bulldog

Best as an only pet.

Frenchies, or French Bulldogs, are popular for their calm temperament and affectionate disposition. They don’t bark much and will help channel calm energy to their HSP dog owners.

French Bulldogs weight 20-25 lbs. and live 10-12 years. They may be prone to health issues so be sure to find a reputable breeder.

5. Havanese

Best for City Living.

Havanese are native to Cuba and are easygoing, affectionate, and easily trainable. They don’t bark excessively and need only minimal exercise, making them great for city dwellers or apartment renters.

Havanese weigh 7-13 lbs. and live on average 14-16 years. Although they have minimal shedding, they need to be groomed regularly. These dogs are silly, making them an entertaining breed for HSP dog owners to come home to if you’ve had a rough day.

5 Worst Breeds for HSP Dog Owners

Everyone wants to find a great breed for their family and lifestyle, but HSP dog owners can have problems with boundaries. This may mean taking in more pets than you can afford, or adopting breeds that increase your stress.

While the following breeds may be great for individuals, there are general characteristics that may not be a great match for HSP energy.

1. Australian Cattle Dogs

Australian Cattle Dogs or Blue Heelers/ Red Heelers are great dogs, but not for everyone. They are extremely active breeds that need lots of mental stimulation. While they are highly intelligent, don’t expect to come home to them and relax. They need a lot of exercise, attention, and space to get their energy needs met.

2. Border Collie

While they are friendly and affectionate, owners must commit significant time and energy to meet the needs of a Border Collie. These are working dogs all the way, so they can be destructive or unhappy if not given an opportunity for work or training.

3. Siberian Husky

Siberian Huskies, and other arctic breeds, evolved to exhibit extreme endurance. That means in modern homes, they have a lot of energy to burn. Huskies also have a distinctly loud bark, that can be stressful if you have sensory sensitivities to noise.

Finally, Huskies have a strong prey drive and may be reactive to smaller animals when leash walking, making for a stressful experience for HSP dog owners.

4. Russel Terrier

Russel Terriers are sporty dogs who were bred to hunt foxes, and are tireless. Although they “keenly intelligent,” they can jump, run, and play for hours non-stop. If you are an HSP who needs to decompress in a calm environment after a long day, Jack Russel Terriers may be not be an ideal energy match.

5. Belgian Malinois

The beautiful and highly trainable Belgian Malinois are usually associated with K-9 or military work.

Due to their intelligence and high energy needs, an HSP dog owner might find this breed overwhelming.

The epitome of a working dog, this breed can get unhappy and destructive if not kept busy. Since they are watch dogs by nature, HSP owners may find it hard to manage them on walks if they are reactive to strangers or other dogs.


I hope this list helps you make the best decision for your personality and family if you consider adding a new dog to your pack. There really are no bad dogs, but choosing the best breeds for HSP owners can reduce everyone’s stress.

Another idea is to adopt an older dog, if the youthful exuberance of a puppy may overwhelm your energy reserves. Hopefully, you will make this decision carefully and enjoy the unique companionship of a soulmate pet!

Top Rated Products for HSP Dog Owners

Orthopedic bed perfect for companion breeds

Chuckit Sport toy burn your dog’s energy, even if you are worn out

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