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Top 5 breeds that are most susceptible to heatstroke in hot weather

An adult and puppy boxer sit together dog-serious

Never leave a dog in a car on a hot day.

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Hot weather can be a nightmare for dogs but there are five breeds for whom it's even worse, take a look here to find out which they are – and how to help them.

By Dr Jo de Klerk, BVetMed (Hons) MScTAH MRCVS

Published on the 20/04/2021, 06:30

It may not come as a surprise that dogs are not as good at cooling their bodies down as we humans are. This is for many reasons, such as the fact that dogs can only sweat through their paws, they are covered in hair and their most effective way of cooling is by panting. Yet some dog breeds find it particularly difficult.

The most common reason for this difficulty is because of the shape of their face. Short-nosed dogs, known as brachycephalic breeds, can struggle to breathe and produce enough airflow to cool themselves down. But any dog who gets too hot can develop heatstroke, which can be fatal.

Dogs can die when left in cars on hot days

A situation where a dog is particularly prone to getting heatstroke is if they are left in a car in the sun. This should be avoided at all costs, as it can rapidly lead to death. But it is also possible for dogs to get heatstroke from simply lying in the sun, or over-exercising in the heat. If you're at all worried, contact a vet.

Breeds of dogs who have problems with heatstroke

Here are five dogs who are especially prone to heatstroke and so if you have one of these you should take special measures to keep your pet cool on hot days.

Shih Tzus


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A great companion breed, the Shih Tzu is not fond of exercise. They are in all senses of the phrase the ideal lap dog and will enjoy nothing more than snuggles. They can quickly become too hot, and this is mainly due to the squashed shape of their skull. Pekingese and Lhasa Apsos are similar in size and shape, and are also at risk of heatstroke.

French Bulldogs


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Another short-nosed breed is the Bulldog. Whether English, American or French, the Bulldog can quickly get out of puff. When they do, they struggle to keep their temperature at a safe level. Due to their brachycephalic skulls, Pugs and Boston Terriers are also at high risk of heatstroke.



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The Boxer is an active dog and is not as prone to the problems associated with other brachycephalic breeds. Yet they will still struggle when very hot to keep itself cool. Be aware, some Boxers are bred with shorter muzzles than others.

Chow Chows

Chows are also considered brachycephalic and, to top it off, have incredibly thick coats. This makes them extremely susceptible to heatstroke. They do better in cold climates and will definitely need access to shade, water and, ideally, air conditioning in warmer temperatures.



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Akitas are large dogs with shorter snouts than your typical spitz-type breeds. They also have very thick double coats, which makes them, along with many other spitz breeds, such as the Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, and Samoyed, very susceptible to heatstroke.

What can I do if my dog doesn't do well in hot weather?

If you own a dog that doesn’t do so well in hot weather, then you should pay extra caution to ensuring they stay healthy when the temperature rises. Exercise them in the coolest part of the day, such as early morning or late evening, and keep his exercise gentle. If they appear to be struggling, you can cool them down by placing wet towels over them or showering him with water. Yet never place extremely cold water on them to cool them down, as this will be a shock to the system.

When should I talk to a vet?

If your dog is showing any signs of heatstroke or struggling with the heat, you should immediately talk to a vet to get advice on how to cool them down. Signs of heatstroke include agitation, red or pale gums, distressed panting or breathing, vomiting, excessive drooling and seizures. Heatstroke can quickly be fatal and requires urgent veterinary attention.