Shelter Dog Meal Donation Count:

Learn More

11 Dog Breeds at Highest Risk for Heat Stroke

Written by: Molly Weinfurter
Molly Weinfurter is a writer for iHeartDogs, and she’s passionate about helping animals in need. She volunteers for Bailing Out Benji and a local dog rescue.Read more
| Published on July 14, 2020

All dogs can get heatstroke, especially during the sweltering summer months of the year. If you’re wondering how likely it is for your dog to get heatstroke, then the risk might depend on their breed. Certain dog breeds are more prone to heatstroke than others. Some of the most at-risk dogs are brachycephalic breeds. Brachycephalic refers to dogs with flat faces, making them prone to breathing problems. Overweight dogs, dogs with thick coats, and senior dogs are also more prone to heatstroke. So, the following breeds are the most likely to get heatstroke because of one or more of these reasons.

Heatstroke in dogs occurs when your pup’s body temperature rises above a healthy condition. Common symptoms are excessive panting, a rapid heart rate, and dehydration. If your dog is suffering from heatstroke, it’s important to bring them into a cool location and give them water. In most cases, you should visit the vet too. They can ensure that your dog isn’t suffering from any heat stroke-related problems.

#1 – English Bulldog

English Bulldogs are one of the many brachycephalic dog breeds. This causes them to have a hard time breathing, especially in extreme heat. Additionally, these dogs are also known to be lazy and rarely athletic. Like most dogs, they also can’t resist some extra snacks. For these reasons, English Bulldogs can become overweight and out of shape. That’s what makes this dog breed more likely to get heatstroke than other short-nosed breeds.

#2 – Pug

Black Pug Heat Stroke
Image: @GSS-1987 via Wikimedia Commons

Like English Bulldogs, Pugs have short snouts. It’s common for them to be overweight too, but they have much more energy than you’d expect. They love to run around and play, which can cause shortness of breath. Thus, playing outside in the summer needs to be done in short segments to keep your Pug safe. Also, Pugs with black coats are even more at risk because their dark, shiny coats soak up heat.

#3 – French Bulldog

Image: @CarlosVarela via Flickr

The French Bulldog, also referred to as a Frenchie, is another brachycephalic breed. They have high energy like a Pug, which can cause breathing problems. They need to take plenty of breaks during exercise sessions. Otherwise, running around when the sun is out could pose a huge threat to your pup.

#4 – Boston Terrier

Boston Terrier outside

Boston Terriers have some of the shortest snouts. This is a huge problem since they love to run around and play. Some Bostons have a bad habit of begging for treats, which can also cause them to be overweight. On top of that, they also have a lot of dark coloring in their coats, which soaks up the heat on a warm summer day. All this together means this dog breed is prone to heatstroke.

#5 – Shih Tzu

long-haired Shih Tzu panting

Shih Tzus often have long, thick coats, which makes summer days uncomfortable for them. A summer trim from the groomer can help them cool down a bit, but it won’t remove the problem. This breed has a flat face and a lazy attitude, which causes them to gain excess weight. After all, most Shih Tzus would much rather nap than go for a run. These pups cannot tolerate hot weather well, so they need lots of water and air conditioning.

#6- Pekingese

Image: @RobBixby via Flickr

Like the Shih Tzu, the Pekingese also has a long, fluffy coat and a short snout. They also gain weight easily due to their love for taking naps inside. Even if you try to exercise them more, they can be quite stubborn. Trimming their hair in the summer and limiting their time in the sun could help prevent heatstroke for this dog breed.

#7 – Boxer

Image: @PedroRibeiroSimoes via Flickr

Boxers are much larger and more energetic than the above breeds. This alone means they can get heatstroke easily. They love to run around and play every chance they get. Unfortunately, that can be difficult with their short snouts. They often don’t know when to take a break from playing, which could make them dehydrated. Provide them with plenty of water every time they exercise to keep them safe. As they get older, they could gain some weight too, but it’s not as likely.

#8 – Chow Chow

Chow Chow Outside

The Chow Chow’s coat is the main reason they get hot so often. These dogs have thick, fluffy coats like bears. But you should never shave their coats, no matter how hot they seem. Chow Chows have double coats, which means they have a protective outer layer and a thick undercoat. Shaving their double coats could make them hotter without that essential protection. On top of that, they also have a short snout too. Keeping them out of the heat as much as possible is the safest option.

#9 – Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever Panting

The Golden Retriever isn’t a dog with a high risk of heatstroke unless they’re overweight. These dogs love to eat, so without proper exercise, they can gain too much weight. They also have a thick double coat like a Chow Chow, so they should never be shaved. Also, this breed is prone to laryngeal paralysis, which is when the larynx doesn’t open or shut properly. This can also make it harder for Golden Retrievers to breathe.

#10 – Labrador Retriever


Like Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers are food-motivated. They can become overweight due to overeating. On top of that, they often have black coats, which soak up the sun. They also have laryngeal paralysis, which can increase the risk of heatstroke. Labs love to play, but it should only be in moderation during hot days.

#11 – Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel might be small, but this breed is full of love and affection. So, they’d much rather cuddle with their loved ones than exercise. This could lead to weight gain. Also, their snouts are short, putting them at risk when they do go outside. They also have thick, fluffy coats that could be hot in the sun.

All dogs can get heatstroke, but these dogs are all more likely to suffer from it. If you keep your dog in shape and give them plenty of water, they can be much safer outside. Your dog can get heatstroke even if you’re careful though, so keep that in mind during hot summer months.

Featured Image: @AmberRosenbaugh via Flickr

Recent Articles

Interested in learning even more about all things dogs? Get your paws on more great content from iHeartDogs!

Read the Blog