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14 Dog Breeds That Are at a Higher Risk for Heat Stroke

Chow Chow


When the weather starts heating up outside, it’s tempting to enjoy some summer fun with your dog. But too much fun in the sun can lead to heatstroke, causing significant problems for your canine companion. Some dog breeds are more susceptible to heat stroke than others, but it’s essential to take precautions with any dog when things get hot.

Any dog can end up with heat stroke, but flat-faced breeds are especially prone to issues from too much heat. The main reason is because of how their facial structure affects their breathing. Larger dogs and older or obese dogs also are at higher risk of heat stroke. 

The best way to protect your pup from heat stroke is to understand which dogs have a higher risk. Next, make sure you know the warning signs for heat stroke and what to do if you suspect your pet might be hot under the collar.

What Dogs Are at Higher Risk of Heat Stroke?

Some dogs, including larger canines, senior pets, and overweight pups, will struggle more with the heat. Older dogs can't typically get rid of excess heat as effectively as younger dogs. This reduced ability is due to their limited respiratory and cardiovascular function.

However, on the flip side, younger dogs and puppies can also be more susceptible to heatstroke simply because they're more active. Active dogs love to run and play and won't realize until it's too late that they're getting overheated.

Giant breed dogs are more likely to get heatstroke than smaller dogs because larger bodies tend to lose body heat more slowly. Therefore, larger dogs can usually regulate their body temperature better in cold temperatures, not hot weather. 

Similarly, obese dogs can also be at an increased risk for heatstroke because they can’t regulate their body temperature effectively.

In addition to the factors mentioned above, there are several dog breeds that are more at risk of developing heatstroke. 

Many are brachycephalic breeds (flat-faced), while others have thick, double coats. Also, dogs with darker coats absorb more heat than those with lighter coats.

Shih Tzu

14 Dog Breeds With Higher Risk of Heatstroke

If you have one of the following breeds, you might want to take extra precautions when temperatures start to rise. 

Chow Chow

The Chow Chow's thick, double coat makes them a prime target for heatstroke. The layered coat makes it challenging to release excess heat, keeping the heat trapped in the body. 

Shih Tzu

This majestic pup would prefer to lounge on your lap inside, which is for the best. The Shih Tzu is one of many flat-faced breeds that struggle when it gets hot because it's more difficult for them to cool themselves. Dogs cool down by panting, and brachycephalic breeds already work harder to breathe due to their shorter facial structure. 


If you've got Pekingese, keeping them cool when it gets hot is essential. They can't cool themselves as effectively as other breeds and will overheat faster than many other pups.


The Pug is another short-snouted dog that already has breathing issues. So, when it gets hot, they can't keep up with the heat and won't be able to cool down before heatstroke starts to take over.

French Bulldog

The French Bulldog has an extremely short breathing system, making this breed highly susceptible to heatstroke. It's best to leave your Frenchie inside once temperatures start to hit 85 degrees unless you’re going for a short walk. 

American Bulldog

Bulldogs can overheat quickly, even in temperatures of 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Their shorter muzzles make it harder to release extra heat by panting, so the excess heat can take its toll quickly.

English Bulldog

On top of having a flat face, the English Bulldog tends to be lazy — making it a poor match for the heat. These dogs don't usually like to exercise and are often dealing with obesity factors, adding to their increased risk for heatstroke.

Boston Terrier

Boston Terriers aren't very good at regulating their body temperature. Plus, their smaller airways make it tougher to get rid of excess heat through panting.


When it's humid, Greyhounds can end up with heatstroke at just 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Their sleek and slender bodies increase their risk.

Golden Retriever

Goldens love to play, but their thick, double coats make it hard for active Retrievers to stay cool. It's better to keep the play indoors during the hot parts of the day.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

This regal breed doesn't tolerate heat well and is very sensitive to summertime heat. They're also a brachycephalic breed, so trying to pant and breathe when it's hot becomes a tiresome ordeal for these pups.


The highly active Akita wants to play and spend lots of time outside. But they also have thick coats. Put these two qualities together, and you've got a recipe for heatstroke if you're not super careful.


This giant pup can handle the cold well, but not the heat. Plus, Bullmastiffs have short snouts, making it hard to cool down and regulate their body temperature when it gets scorching.


The Boxer's short snout and broad head make panting to cool off challenging. They're also very active dogs, and heatstroke warning signs might sneak up on you if your Boxer starts to run and play outside when it's hot.

Boxer outside

Warning Signs Your Dog Is Overheated

Dogs show very similar warning signs to humans when dealing with heatstroke. Here's what to keep an eye out for:

  • Excessive panting
  • Staggering or not able to stand
  • Vomiting
  • Bloody stool
  • Unresponsive
  • Excessive drooling
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Dry nose
  • Gums very red
  • Seizures or tremors
  • Blood coming from the mouth
  • Coma

What to Do if You Think Your Dog Has Heatstroke

If you suspect your dog has heatstroke, immediately carry them to a cool location. Make sure the area is shady and has adequate circulation. Call your vet immediately and take your pup's temperature if you can do so.

If your dog’s temperature is 105 or over, you need to try and reduce your dog's temperature, but not lower than 103 degrees. Sponge your pup with cool water (not ice water), or use the hose. Retake the temperature. If you can't reduce the temperature, take your dog to the vet. You may also want to take your dog to the vet even if you can reduce their temperature just to make sure everything is ok.

Tips for Preventing Heatstroke in Dogs

Prevention is the best way to avoid heatstroke. Always ensure your dog has access to a bowl with fresh, cool water. Try a polar bowl to keep water extra cool. It's also important to provide a shady spot outside for your pup. Consider setting up a fan for them.

Don't exercise or play with your dog outdoors when the temperature rises. If you have a dog more susceptible to heatstroke, avoid spending too much time outside when the weather exceeds 80 degrees.

When it's time for a potty break, take your dog out on a leash and keep it short (just long enough for them to do their business). If you have a dog with an increased risk of heatstroke, stick to your yard and surrounding areas to make sure you're not out longer than necessary.

One Cool Canine

Heat stroke can be deadly, but it's also highly preventable. With the proper precautions, you and your precious pup can enjoy a fabulous summer. For more helpful tips, check out the rest of our blog. You’ll find resources for caring for your pets, spending quality time with them, and keeping them happy.


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