Why Do Golden Retrievers Pant So Much?


Is your Golden Retriever panting a lot more than it should? I started to wonder about the answer to this question when I took my Golden Retriever, Bella to the dog park one day and noticed that she seemed to pant a lot more than the other dogs that were there that day.

Seeing her in comparison to the other dogs there had me wondering if I should take her to the vet, or if this was just one of those things that varies by dog breed. After researching, I found that Golden Retrievers do in fact pant more than most other dog breeds.

Why Do Dogs Pant?

Before I explain the Golden Retriever’s specific panting situation, it’s important to know why all dogs pant. Panting is a completely normal behavior for a dog because panting is how your dog regulates their body temperature.

Dogs don’t sweat through their skin like humans; instead, dogs sweat through their paws and nose. With such little outlets for sweat, a dog can get very hot very fast. By drawing in breaths of fresh air frequently, your dog is able to stay cool.

Why do Golden Retrievers pant so excessively?

Golden Retrievers pant more heavily than most dog breeds for two main reasons. One is that this breed has a coat that can be heavy and store more heat than other types of dog coats because it’s insulated. To make up for this extra heat, Golden Retrievers pant more to stay cool.

The second reason is that Golden Retrievers generally have a higher energy level when compared to most other breeds. Because Goldens love to play, run, and hunt, they can overheat faster than a dog who is more content to cuddle and relax.

Which then, in turn, can result in a lot more panting than you may expect.

Do other dog breeds pant as heavy as a Golden Retriever?

The short answer is Yes. Dog’s that have double coats like a Golden Retriever are known to pant more. Also, dogs that have short snouts tend to pant more as well.

Here’s a list of some dog breeds that tend to pant heavier than other dogs.

  • Akita
  • Huskies (Siberian and Alaskan)
  • Pomeranian
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Bulldog
  • Terriers
  • Japanese Chin
  • Boxer
  • Pug

I could add many more breeds to this list, but just note that in general if your dog has a double coat or has a short snout they will probably pant heavier than other dogs.

When does a dog’s panting become a problem?

While it’s perfectly normal for your dog to be panting on a hot day or after exerting large amounts of energy, there are times when panting is a sign of a much bigger problem. Heavy panting can be a symptom of Cushing syndrome, mitral valve disease, congestive heart failure, cancer, and anemia.

If you see that your dog is experiencing any of the following symptoms it may be time to see a vet.

Panting Particularly Loud or Harsh.

Panting is a normal behavior in dogs, but there are times when panting can be very labored and lead to your dog coughing. While certain circumstances might cause your dog to pant slightly more heavily, if your dog is really struggling to take a full breath, it’s a bad sign.

You can tell the difference by paying attention to your dog’s normal breathing patterns on a regular basis and watching for anything abnormal. Most dogs will take anywhere from 15 to 50 breaths per minute. If your dog is breathing at a higher rate than that, you may want to take him or her to the vet.

It’s Cold Outside

 If it’s cold outside and your dog hasn’t exerted much energy then they shouldn’t be panting. Your dog should only pant if he’s getting hot. Any other reason is cause for concern.

Excessive Thirst and Urination

Panting combined with excessive thirst and urination means your dog is not retaining its water. This could be a sign that your dog is suffering from heatstroke.

Dry Skin or Loss of Hair

A healthy dog will have a healthy coat. If your dog is losing hair and (or) has dry skin, it’s an indicator that something needs to change. Dry skin and hair loss can be a symptom of many things, but if you combine these symptoms with panting your dog may be suffering from Cushing syndrome.

Lethargic or Depressed

Again, any time you have a young dog and they are acting tired or depressed, you should probably take them to the vet. Dogs that are young, happy, and healthy shouldn’t be having problems with eating, going for a walk, or playing a game of fetch.

Symptoms of lethargy and depression can be signs of many problems. However, the combination of panting, lethargy, and depression can be signs that your dog has Cushing syndrome, consumed poison, has anemia or is experiencing heart failure.

A Purple or White Tongue, Drooling, and Glassy Eyes

If your dog’s tongue is purple or white in color, their eyes are glassy, or they’re drooling excessively it can be a sign that your dog is not getting enough oxygen. If this is happening, skip the vet, and immediately visit an emergency clinic.

What to DO when your dog is panting heavily

If your dog is panting heavily and you’re worried or you want them to stop there are a few things you can do.

1. Bring Your Dog Cold Water

In most cases, if your dog is panting heavily, they’re just hot. Giving your dog cold water can help them cool down quickly and stop their panting.

2. Give Your Dog a Cold Bath

Like bringing your dog cold water, a cold bath can also help your dog cool down quickly.

3. Take Them to A Shady Spot

If you’re on a walk on a hot day, notice your dog is panting heavily, and you don’t have access to water, let your dog take a break in the shade. The summer sun can be too hot for many dogs.

Letting your dog take a breather can keep him or her from overexerting and overheating.

4. Comfort Your Dog

 If your dog is panting heavily, it could be a sign that your dog is anxious, in pain, overexcited, or overstressed. Soothing your dog can help them calm down and return their breathing to a normal pace.

5. Check Your Dog’s Environment and Meals

 Panting can be a sign that your dog has ingested poison or came in contact with something they’re allergic to. Check all the areas your dog has been in to make sure they didn’t eat something they shouldn’t have.

6. Call The Vet

 If all of the above techniques fail, and your dog is still panting excessively. You need to call your vet. Your dog could be suffering from a major disease or heart condition that needs to be treated as soon as possible.

What NOT to do when your dog is panting heavily

If your dog is panting heavily, there are some things that you should avoid at all costs.

Forcing Your Dog to Stop Panting

Panting isn’t a sound that anyone particularly enjoys, but dogs pant as a way to regulate their body temperature. By putting a muzzle on your dog or yelling at them to stop panting, you will stress your dog out and cause them to overheat.

Taking Your Dog Walking on Asphalt

Asphalt can be extremely hot in the summertime. When you walk your dog on hot asphalt, you not only cause them to overheat, but you risk damaging their paws as well.

While your dog still needs regular exercise, on hot days you should avoid sidewalks and streets and stick to the grass.

Shaving Your Dog

As I mentioned earlier, part of the reason Golden Retrievers pant so much is their heavy thick coats. Many owners that have dogs with double coats think they can help their dog out by shaving their thick coats in the summer. However, this does more harm than good.

If you shave your dog’s coat, you will be exposing them to contaminants that can dry out their skin and to the sun which can cause skin cancer in your dog. You are more than welcome to take your dog to get a doggy haircut or trim, but a full-on shave is more harmful than helpful.

Conclusion

Dogs pant all the time and certain dog breeds pant more than others because of their coats, energy levels, or snouts. In general, if your dog is panting a little heavier than normal you have no reason to worry, but there are some important signs you should look for if the panting persists.

If you have properly soothed and helped your dog cool down and they still pant heavily, it may be time to consult a vet.

Most Golden retriever panting cases can be boiled down to a very happy dog that got a little too excited. I’m happy to say that Bellas panting was just a case of high energy and excitement at visiting the dog park. With a little cold water, she was panting back to her normal self.

Rachael Summers

Rachael Summers is the Founder and Senior Editor at Retrievers R Us. She is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! She loves iced coffee, hammocks, and puppy-cuddling!

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