5 Dog Breeds That Are Susceptible to Heat Stress

Dogs heat stress bulldog pugWhen you are selecting a dog breed that will mesh well with your lifestyle, it’s important to consider which pets are susceptible to developing heat stress. If you are an outdoor person, if you need a running companion, or if you envision going on long walks with your dog, do your research about the breeds of dogs that can handle this kind of exercise. Some will fare better than others, and those that can’t handle such habits shouldn’t be subjected to them. You can certainly maintain your high-energy outdoor workouts and still love a canine that is prone to hot-weather distress – opposites do attract, after all. Just don’t expect your best friend to keep up with you if you want to avoid an emergency visit to the vet

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Know Your Dog Breed’s Risk of Heat Stress

All dogs, like people, can develop heat stress. Spend too much time exposed to the sun or without the proper hydration and you, along with your dog, can develop health problems. While some brachycephalic dog breeds are diminutive and others hefty, the doggies in this category that are most prone to heat stress are all known for their short noses, broad skulls, and structural issues of their upper respiratory system. But there are other elements that can impact a dog’s reaction to heat, including the weight of their coat.

Heat-related medical problems, however, are easily avoided by following a careful activity regimen – and by really knowing your dog and not exposing him to weather that he can’t handle.


They’re playful, but they’re also a little lazy. They’re portly and snuffly. Pugs are lovable characters, but they have a seriously hard time cooling themselves off with panting. When it’s hot, these fellas should not be exercised outdoors. In fact, if you’re a pug owner – or would like to be – it’s a good idea to use a harness that goes around their middle rather than a leash around their neck when you do walk them so you don’t obstruct their breathing.


Your boxer is tough, but he’s delicate when it comes to overheating. A snub-nosed dog, the boxer has more flesh in his mouth and throat which prevents him from panting as efficiently as needed to prevent overheating. Splashing him with water can help him cool off, but it’s a good idea to avoid going outside at the hottest times of day with this heat-averse pet.


Soft, fluffy, and oh so sturdy-looking, the super-thick coat of the Akita – which is no doubt one of the things you love most about this breed – does not serve him well in the hotter months. Akitas are better suited to colder climates where their insulating coats can help them rather than make them susceptible to heat stress. A climate-controlled environment, plenty of water, and cool shade are necessary to keep these dogs in good form when it’s super-hot.


Whether you love the English bulldog or the French bulldog, these heavyweights are weak when it comes to hot weather. Also part of the brachycephalic group, the English bulldog in particular is prone to fatal heat stroke, though both breeds are at an extremely high risk for heat stress. All outdoor exercise should be off the table when it’s hot outside. Keep them cool indoors so they stay safe – and maintain their toughness.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

If this toy dog’s breed name doesn’t give it away as “high-maintenance,” the dog’s reaction to excessive heat or cold will. Like many toy breeds, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s pint-sized figure just can’t handle very high or low temperatures. Keep them in a climate-controlled environment and figure out way to exercise indoors, in comfort and luxury of course.

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Preventing Heat Stress

Of course, the above-named breeds are not the only dogs that react poorly to heat. From Shih-Tzus to Pekingese or any dog in between, too much sun and heat can be detrimental to your pet’s well-being. If you know the day is going to be a hot one, walk your pet outside as early in the morning as possible and in the evening after 7 p.m. when it’s cooler. Even then remember that sidewalks hold heat and excessively hot days can still impact your dog in the evening – their paws will feel the heat from the cement.

Keep the water supply cool and unlimited, and keep strenuous workouts on the back burner. And never, ever leave your dog in a parked car unattended – not in the hottest time of the year, not ever. Above all, know the signs of heat stress: Is your dog panting excessively, digging, inflamed ears and gums, or exhibiting uncoordinated walking? 

Always pay attention to unusual behaviors in your pet, and educate yourself about the particular difficulties with the breed of dog you own and love. If you suspect heat stress or heat stroke in your pet, no matter what breed, visit the Northpointe Veterinary Hospital, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for fast and comprehensive care.