While all dogs are at risk for heatstroke if allowed to overheat without treatment, some breeds are at a higher risk than others. This is mostly the breeds that aren’t able to cool down as quickly as others and are often the brachycephalic breeds. (Brachycephalic breeds are dogs that have shortened or “squished” faces. Because their muzzles and heads are shortened and widened but with the same amount of soft tissue as a regular dog, they often have difficulty breathing – therefore they have difficulty cooling down.)
So if you’re going to be out in the heat, definitely make sure you’re able to keep your pet safe, especially if they are one of these breeds. Remember, if you think your pet is showing signs of heatstroke, try your best to cool their ears, feet and stomach (with lukewarm or cool water, not ice-cold) and get them to the nearest veterinarian immediately.
#1 – Bulldog
Although originally developed as a working breed, the Bulldog (or English Bulldog) has a much shorter muzzle than it used to. They have developed into very large dogs that can suffer quite a few significant health problems, with breathing difficulties being one of them. Because of this, it’s recommended to exercise your Bulldog in the coolest temperatures possible.
#2 – Pug
The Pug is a small Chinese breed that was actually developed in Europe after its ancestors were imported there. It was a popular companion dog even as far back as the 16th century and remains so today. They are susceptible to breathing problems, however, and care should be taken to avoid heatstroke.
#3 – Boxer
Boxer – The Boxer is a working breed from Germany that actually still works quite well today. Although their muzzles have gotten shorter and more problems have arisen, they are still very active dogs that do quite well in warm weather. That said, they are a brachycephalic breed that is at a higher risk for heatstroke than other working breeds, such as a Doberman Pinscher or German Shepherd Dog.
#4 – Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is one of the smallest spaniel breeds, but full of enormous personality and affection. They are excellent lap dogs and do not do well with an excess amount of exercise simply because they don’t often enjoy it. Cavaliers are a brachycephalic breed and with their long coats are at a higher risk for heatstroke than average.
#5 – French Bulldog
The French Bulldog is similar in structure to its English cousin, therefore suffers the same breathing problems common in other brachycephalic breeds. French Bulldogs are active and fun-loving dogs, so care should be taken to make sure they stay cool enough to avoid heatstroke.
#6 – Akita
The Akita isn’t considered brachycephalic, but it does have a shorter muzzle than some breeds and a very thick coat suited for cold climates. Because of this and their relatively active nature, they are at a high risk for heatstroke when living in warmer climates.
#7 – Boston Terrier
The Boston Terrier is a fun, affectionate and goofy breed. Although they make wonderful companions and even successful agility and obedience dogs, they are prone to breathing issues that increase the likelihood of heatstroke in the breed.
#8 – Pekingese
The Pekingese is a Chinese breed bred primarily to be a lap dog, a job it still excels at today. The breed is roughly 2,000 years old and has been bred to meet a specific structural standard that can lead to a variety of health problems. Coupled with its long coat, the Pekingese is at a higher risk for heatstroke than average.
#9 – American Bulldog
The American Bulldog is a large working breed developed from crossing various other working and bully breeds. They are active, affectionate and make great guard dogs, but their conformation does lead to breathing difficulties and a higher risk of heatstroke.
#10 – Shih Tzu
The Shih Tzu is a very popular companion breed both as a purebred and when crossed with other breeds. They are affectionate, goofy dogs that make wonderful lap dogs. They are a brachycephalic breed and, accompanied by irresponsible breeding, are at risk for a large number of health problems. A higher risk of heatstroke is one of them.
#11 – Chow Chow
The Chow Chow is a medium-sized dog from China, notable for its extremely thick and fluffy coat. Although originally used as a guard dog, the breed can suffer from a multitude of health problems today. Because of its coat, heatstroke should be considered when taking the dogs into warm weather.
#12 – Bullmastiff
The Bullmastiff is a giant breed that appears far more imposing than it actually is. They are known for being deeply loyal but affectionate gentle giants. They are very large and brachycephalic, making them prone to heatstroke and special attention should be taken when working these dogs in hot weather.