Do Dogs Have a Depression Detection Mechanism?

Can dogs feel depression? is a question that has been discussed for ages because of dogs’ seemingly uncanny capacity to perceive and respond to human physical and mental changes. While we can frequently understand how our dogs are feeling based on their behavior, can they do the same with us? Is it true that dogs can’t feel emotion, or is it just a myth?

Do Dogs Know When Their Owners Are Crying?

Dogs’ capacity to empathize with people is remarkable. In times of celebration, they share our elation, and in times of peril, they guard us (most of the time, anyway.) In this regard, studies have shown that dogs can detect when their owners are depressed, and many will react affectionately to them in an effort to lift their spirits.

A dog’s observation of our behavior might provide us insight into the “energy” we’re putting out on any given day, just as it does when we see theirs. However, they notably depend on their sense of smell to take in their environment and gain a feel for their emotional condition. Hormone synthesis and changes in brain chemicals like serotonin may be detected by scent as well.

Ever since dogs and wolves were first domesticated, man’s best friend has relied on their keen sense of scent to interpret their masters’ feelings. They are sensitive to our vocal tones, bodily odors, and facial expressions, enabling them to read our moods and provide reassuring feedback. Animals who would react in this way were more likely to be praised and retained as pets when humans first began domesticating wild canines.

Now in the year 2022, dogs and other animals are being taught to be people’s emotional support pals. There are now various kinds of sociable dogs, and many of these canine companions are very intelligent and perceptive, making them ideal service dogs.

If a dog understands that you’re feeling down, how do they show its sympathy?

If you suffer from severe depressive illness, your dog may want to cuddle up to you more than normal in an effort to ease your sadness. It’s possible they’ll try to spend more time with you in snuggle positions or by following you around the home. It’s possible that your dog will make a friendly approach to you as well.

The animal may approach you with its tail drooping, indicating that it is not really interested in what is going on around it. They may also demonstrate their approval by resting a paw or head on yours. When their owners are upset, some dogs may attempt to comfort them by cuddling and mimicking their actions.

Your dog may lick your face or hands and rub his nose against you if he learns you like kisses. They may bring you their toy to play with if you regularly engage in games of fetch with them. All of this demonstrates that dogs can sense when their owners are feeling down.

This is supported by science as well. In 2016, researchers from the University of Lincoln in the United Kingdom and the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil treated 17 domestic dogs with visual and auditory cues intended to evoke a range of emotions in both species. Facial expression photographs and voice or bark samples from untrained people were played at the same time.

Researchers observed that, like their human counterparts, dogs spent substantially more time gazing at the facial expressions that matched the audio clip’s emotional condition. This demonstrated that canines were able to integrate data from two senses into a unified understanding of human and canine emotions.

It is also worth noting that the animals in this research did not undergo any kind of training before to the evaluations, nor were they given any opportunity to get used to the visual or auditory cues that were used in the assessments. This research suggests that canine companions not only have an innate capacity to detect mood changes in humans, but also in other canines.

Dogs that Help with Depression

Perhaps you have a mental health issue and, now that you know dogs can detect things like depression, you’re considering obtaining a pet or an emotional support animal. So, we performed the legwork and identified the top seven depression-fighting canines.

CKC Spaniel, or Cavalier King Charles

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s friendly demeanor and penchant for human companionship have made them a popular choice among those seeking a means to combat sadness. They have been the lapdog of choice for aristocrats since the 1500s, and their reputation precedes them. For the simple reason that he loved them so much, King Charles II had these dogs christened in his honor.

These canines are wonderful companions for families with children since they are kind and simple to train. People with depression may find that the idea that they need to go for regular walks in order to maintain heart health is a source of motivation to get out of the house and get moving.

Labrador Retriever

The American Kennel Club has determined that are the most beloved kind of dog due to their high levels of sociability, vitality, and overall cuteness. Labrador Retrievers have webbed paws, an affinity for water, and a lot of endurance since dogs were originally trained to recover fishing nets and fish that had fallen from the hooks.

If you’re feeling down and out and could use a playful, high-energy dog, consider adopting one of them. They’re the best option for search and rescue dogs, guide dogs, and therapy dogs since they’re trustworthy, friendly, and easy to train.


Poodles are not only exceedingly attractive but also rather active. Before they became the stereotypical dog of the Parisian in every movie, Poodles were the most popular breed of hunting dog in several regions of Europe. They are water retrievers and are just as hearty as a Labrador.

Like Labrador retrievers, poodles are devoted to their owners and have an innate ability to make everyone around them happy. In addition, their intelligence makes them great therapy dogs. Performers by nature, Poodles are also very sociable, hypoallergenic, and quick to learn new skills. They tend to outlive other canine species, too, with an average longevity of 10–18 years.

Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers. Lord Tweedmouth, a fervent hunter who resided in the area of Loch Ness that inspired the creation of the Golden Retriever, is credited with popularizing the breed. He set out to develop a hunting dog with the same webbed feet as Labrador retrievers so that it could swim and recover game from both land and sea. However, they are now known for more than simply their hunting abilities.

The Golden Retriever breed is well-known for its extreme adoration and loyalty. They have a well-deserved reputation for obedience, intelligence, and good manners. Additionally, they are wonderful pets for families with kids. Because of their intelligence and loyalty, Golden Retrievers are often used as service dogs.

Yorkshire Terrier

The Yorkshire Terrier is an incomparable blend of adorableness and brains. Yorkies are one of the most loyal, trainable, and loving dog breeds because of the deep relationships they make with their human partners.

As a result of their tendency to form close bonds with their human partners, they are excellent therapy animals for depressed individuals. You should not adopt a Yorkie unless you can commit a lot of time to care for it. Yorkies are the ideal breed of dog for folks who have limited room for a pet because of their tiny size and high activity levels.


The term “The Velcro Dog” has been given to the Vizsla because of the dog’s propensity to cling to its human companions. These canines develop strong attachments to their owners and are unhappy when separated from them. While Vizslas are wonderful pets, those who are often absent from home should avoid adopting one.

Because they share a penchant for cleanliness with cats, Vizslas have the lowest likelihood of smelling like a dog. In addition, other than hip dysplasia, they don’t seem to have many serious health issues. Aside from that, they’re really intelligent creatures who like physical activity.



Although Pugs have a reputation for being (adorably) gloomy all the time, they are really one of the most upbeat breeds of dog and are a breeze to housebreak. They are great home pets despite their lack of athleticism compared to breeds like Vizslas, Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and Poodles. They’re not great in the water and need to get some exercise on land every day.

Keep in mind that they have trouble breathing and can’t stand being in the heat for long. Also, don’t tug on their collars, since it might irritate their eyes. This information is not intended to dissuade you from adopting a Pug; rather, it is important to make an educated choice when selecting a pet.

Need Expert Help for Depression?

The mental health advantages of pet therapy surpass any costs or inconveniences associated with providing proper care for your pet. Pets may be helpful in managing the symptoms of mental illness, but they are not a cure.

Please don’t wait any longer to get treatment if you or someone you know is dealing with depression or any mental health problem. In Florida, there are many options for mental health care, and our Banyan Mental Health facility is proud to provide a wide range of them, including disorder-specific programs. Our customers benefit from our use of a wide range of therapeutic approaches that have been shown to be effective in alleviating their symptoms.