4 min read


Why Do Golden Retrievers Breathe Heavy



4 min read


Why Do Golden Retrievers Breathe Heavy




Rocky and you go on runs every morning before you go to work. In fact, it is your favorite morning ritual. After your long morning runs, Rocky breathes heavily and you know it is completely normal because you are breathing heavily too. Yet, recently you have noticed that Rocky's heavy breathing occurs more often. Before he eats his dinner and before he goes to bed, his breathing is at a rapid pace just like it would be if he went on a long run with you. To you, this does not seem normal at all and you are beginning to worry about Rocky. Now, you have decided to go on your own search to understand why your Golden Retriever, Rocky, breathes heavily all of the time. 

The Root of the Behavior

Rocky does not sweat like you do. In fact, he sweats primarily through his paw pads, so it should be considered normal if he breathes heavily on a hot summer day. It is how Rocky will cool himself off after you go on a run or if he is in the hot summer sun. Yet, if it is not hot out or if he is at a normal temperature, then there may be other concerns that you want to pay attention to. Dogs have a similar respiratory system to humans, which means they should take anywhere from 15 to 50 breaths per minute. A sleeping dog would be closer to 15 while a warm dog might be closer to 50. Sometimes, your dog may breathe heavily because they have other issues going on in their body. You may notice your dog does this when he sleeps because of an intense dream he is having, which may cause over-excitement and even stress. Just as we may sweat and become overheated during stressful times, so do our dogs.

Golden Retrievers are especially prone to heavy breathing because they have high energy levels, but if you find that your dog is breathing heavily all the time, there may be larger issues going on. You want to pay attention to all symptoms your dog is displaying during their times of heavy breathing. Any additional symptoms will help with your dog's diagnosis. Some of the common illnesses that are linked to heavy breathing are Cushing's syndrome, mitral valve disease, congestive heart failure, cancer, and anemia. If you are afraid your dog has one of these diseases, you should set an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. Make sure to pay attention if your dog is lethargic, has excess thirst, dry skin, loss of hair, or depression. If your dog's heavy breathing is a one-time occurrence, you want to watch over your dog and analyze their meals and their environment. Heavy breathing can also sometimes come on from shock or poison which can be dangerous for your dog, so make make sure your dog's breathing is accompanied with normal habits.

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Encouraging the Behavior

It is important to watch over your dog if he is displaying heavy breathing. If you feel like Rocky is breathing heavily because he just went on a run, then there is no need to worry. Yet, if Rocky is waking up on a cold winter morning breathing heavily, you may want to watch over him. There is never a reason to encourage heavy breathing in your dog unless he is trying to cool down. Although you do want to allow your dog's heavy breathing because it can give you clues to your dog's physical state. 

Sometimes, your dog may breathe heavily because he is anxious or in pain. If this is the case, you need to observe your dog and provide him with comfort. Keep your dog calm and relaxed in a quiet and peaceful area in your home while you help your dog. It is important that you provide the best care that you can, and it is also suggested to check for any other symptoms that may accompany your dog's heavy breathing. Any worrisome symptoms can lead you to discover if there is a bigger issue at hand. If you cannot calm down your dog's heavy breathing, you need to take your dog into the veterinarian for a proper diagnosis. 

Other Solutions and Considerations

Heavy breathing is normal for Golden Retrievers, especially if they are exerting large amounts of energy. Yet, if you feel like there is something wrong, it is first suggested to watch your dog for other symptoms. If things do not clear up, you will need to cool your dog down. You can do this by bringing your dog into the shade or you can submerge your dog in a cool bath. If your dog's symptoms do not improve, you will want to take your dog to the veterinarian. Yet, check to see if your dog is getting enough oxygen first. If Rocky is drooling, if his eyes are glassy, and if his tongue is a purple or white-like color, he may not be getting enough oxygen and he may be in need of emergency care. 


Golden Retrievers are playful dogs but it is important to make sure that they are safe, happy, and healthy during all of their adventures. If you notice that your dog is having breathing issues, you will need to help your dog feel better. If you cannot get his breathing to slow down, it is time to see a veterinary professional. 

By a Golden Retriever lover Erika Seidel

Published: 04/26/2018, edited: 01/30/2020

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