Why Do Aussies Pant So Much?

Australian Shepherd panting

At the dog park, I noticed an Australian Shepherd (Aussie) was panting a lot while playing with my Cattle Dogs and various other dogs. Of course, it’s normal for dogs to pant. It’s a dog’s way of regulating temperature since they don’t sweat in the same way that humans do. However, I started wondering why this particular Aussie was panting so much more than the other dogs at the park. 

Dogs do tend to breathe much quicker than humans anyway, but if you notice that your Australian Shepherd is panting a lot, this could be due to several reasons including following vigorous exercise, being too hot, feeling anxious, or feeling excited.

In this article, we will go over the main reasons why an Australian Shepherd may pant, the signs to look out for, and what to do when your Aussie is panting excessively. While it’s true that all dogs do pant, if you notice that your Australian Shepherd is excessively panting, there could be an underlying reason that requires medical attention. Read on for the top reasons for an Aussie to pant and what to do about it.

How Fast Does an Australian Shepherd Breathe Normally?

When you compare your Australian Shepherd’s breathing rate to the breathing rate of a human, you may think they breathe extremely fast. 

Your Aussie should be breathing at a rate of about 15 to 30 breaths per minute when they are in a relaxed state, aren’t too hot and do not have an underlying health condition. Normal adult humans take about 12 to 16 breaths per minute.

So when you listen to your dog’s breath compared to your own breath, you may feel concerned that it sounds quite fast. You shouldn’t be alarmed though, as it’s quite normal for Aussies to breathe at a faster rate than humans. 

Australian Shepherds are quite an active breed and they love to run and play. With this in mind, you may find that your dog breathes at a quicker rate quite often. If your Australian Shepherd is particularly excited, is feeling too hot, or has just been exercising, then their heart rate may increase. 

Reasons Why Aussies Pant

There are several different reasons why your Australian Shepherd may be panting. The table below highlights some of the main reasons why your Aussie may be panting with a little bit of information on each of the potential reasons:

REASON FOR PANTINGDETAILS
ExerciseIf your Australian Shepherd has been exercising, this is a very common reason why they may be panting. If your dog has just been on a run, hike, or rigorous play, then it is completely normal for them to be panting. 
OverheatedPanting is the way dogs cool down when they are too hot. If it is a hot day or if your Aussie is out in the sun, it’s normal for them to pant to cool themselves down. 
ExcitementWhen a dog feels excited, it’s very normal for them to pant. Your Aussie may start to pant when you mention their favorite activity like going for a walk or their favorite toy. This is a normal behavior in dogs. 
AnxietyDogs experience anxiety just like humans do. If you mention a visit to the vet or if your dog gets nervous about riding in the car, this may cause them to pant. This behavior is very normal for dogs. 

Steps to Take When Your Aussie is Panting Excessively

The first step to take when your Aussie is panting excessively is to try to determine the reason why they are panting. This is usually easy to spot as it may be related to an activity they have just done or a change in the environment. Below is a list of scenarios that may cause your Aussie to pant excessively and what you should do in each of those situations.

Your Aussie is Too Hot

Dogs don’t regulate their temperature the same way that humans do. The only real way that a dog can cool down is through panting. Aussies have quite thick coats and love to run around, so it’s quite common for an Aussie to feel too hot. When your Aussie becomes hot, they will pant excessively to cool down. This is completely normal. 

However, if your Aussie, starts to vomit or have diarrhea, then this could be a sign of heatstroke. The best thing you can do in this situation is to prevent them from taking part in any more activities and try to get them to relax. Try to find a cool or shaded area for them to relax in and give them plenty of water. If possible, shower them with some cool water to help them cool down faster. If you are worried that your dog may be suffering from heatstroke, you should call your vet. 

Your Dog is Anxious

If your dog is feeling anxious, nervous, or fearful, this can cause a reaction that includes panting. Anything that a dog finds stressful, such as a thunderstorm or a visit to the vet, could cause them to pant excessively. While panting is a very normal response to anxiety, excessive panting could be a sign that your dog isn’t handling the situation very well. 

A good way to help your Aussie through a state of anxiety is to offer them treats, make a fuss of them, and comfort them to help ease their anxiety. Try to create a more positive environment and make sure your dog knows that they are not alone and that you are there to comfort them. 

If your Aussie is particularly anxious about something, you can provide them with some natural products such as a pheromone collar or other anti-anxiety pet treatments. If your dog suffers from regular or ongoing stress or anxiety problems, then it’s a good idea to speak to your vet for some advice on the right steps to take. 

They Have Just Finished Exercising

Panting is a very normal response to exercising as it is the main way that dogs sweat. Exercising can make your dog very hot and out of breath, the same way that it would with a human. When this happens, your dog will pant to cool down. 

If you notice that your Aussie is panting after very little to no exercise, then this could indicate a more serious problem. In these cases, you should speak to your vet to determine what the issue might be. 

What Are Some Common Australian Shepherd Breathing Problems?

Although it’s quite normal for your Australian Shepherd to pant quite a lot, there may be something wrong if you notice them panting excessively for a lot of the time. If you think that your Aussie is panting more than normal, then it’s quite possible that there could be some underlying issue that is causing their breathing problems. 

Below is a list of some common types of breathing problems in Australian Shepherds. Try not to jump to conclusions too quickly. You should always check with your vet first for a proper diagnosis. You should also never administer any medications to your Aussie that haven’t been approved by your vet beforehand. 

Allergies

The most common type of breathing problem for Australian Shepherds is allergies. Dogs can suffer from allergies, similar to humans, with the most common causes of allergies being pollen and dust. 

When suffering from allergies, your Aussie may experience some mild respiratory aggravation which could cause them to start to pant excessively. Some other symptoms that may occur alongside panting are itching, scratching, sneezing, or biting their paws. If their allergies persist, it is recommended to consult a vet.

Irregular Heartbeat

Similar to humans, dogs can also experience Arrhythmia which is an irregular heartbeat. This is something that your Aussie can’t control and can cause them to breathe much faster than normal and can cause excessive panting. 

If you believe that your Aussie may be suffering from an irregular heartbeat, then you should take them to the veterinarians where they can be examined.

If your Aussie is suffering from an irregular heartbeat, then they will likely need medication to help control it. Your vet will be able to provide the best advice and a suitable course of medication to help ensure your Aussie lives a full, long and happy life. 

Heatstroke

Heatstroke is a very common cause of breathing problems for Aussie dogs. The Australian Shepherd breed is naturally a very active breed. Sometimes they may get a little too excited during hot weather and this could cause them to become too hot and suffer from heatstroke. 

Some signs of heatstroke in Aussies that you can look out for include drooling, haziness, vomiting, red gums, diarrhea, uncoordinated movements, or completely collapsing. If your dog is showing any of these signs alongside panting, then you should take them to the vet. 

Heatstroke can be very dangerous for dogs if it is left untreated. With this in mind, if you think your Aussie may be suffering from heatstroke, you should take them to the vet as soon as possible for appropriate treatment. 

Anxiety

Australian Shepherds can be quite a needy breed and tend to become very attached to their owners. Sometimes, if you leave your Australian Shepherd alone, this can cause separation anxiety. Your Aussie may also experience anxiety in other situations such as when they’re feeling stressed, or if they are not getting enough exercise. 

Anxiety can easily increase and cause your Aussie to start panting excessively. Positive reinforcement is the best course of action if you believe your Aussie is struggling with anxiety. You may want to reward them occasionally with treats and give them plenty of cuddles to help them feel calmer. Make sure you reward them with plenty of attention once they’ve calmed down. 

Lymphoma

Lymphoma is a type of cancer that can affect Australian Shepherds. This type of cancer attacks the white blood cells and can sometimes cause your Aussie to struggle with their breathing. This can lead to excessive panting or certainly panting that is much more noticeable than normal. 

Some other symptoms of lymphoma in Aussies include weight loss, tiredness, and swelling in the face and legs. If you notice any of these symptoms alongside difficulty breathing or excessive panting, then you should take your Aussie to the vets for a check-up. 

Cushings

Although it’s very rare, cushings is another problem that can affect Aussie dogs. This is a condition that involves your dog producing too much of a hormone called Cortisol. Cortisol alone is never a problem, however, it can be a problem when your dog’s body produces too much of it. 

This is something that will be diagnosed by your vet. Once diagnosed, your vet will usually decipher the best course of treatment which is usually medication.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy

This is, again, quite an uncommon problem in Aussies, however, it can happen and it does cause your Aussie to suffer from some breathing problems. Dilated Cardiomyopathy is a condition that causes your dog’s heart to become enlarged. This then causes the heart to struggle with pumping blood correctly and can result in problems with breathing and feeling exhausted. 

If you are worried about the health of your Australian Shepherd, then it is always worth taking them to a veterinarian so that you can be sure that there are no underlying issues that need to be treated. No matter what the outcome is, your vet will be able to help you with a course of treatment that will help to improve the health and life of your dog. 

When Is It Time to Call the Vet?

When your Aussie is panting a lot, it can be quite alarming. While most of the time panting isn’t any cause for concern, sometimes it could be an indication of something more serious. It’s important to know when you should take your Aussie to the vet for a check-up just so that you can be sure there isn’t something wrong. 

You should call your vet immediately if any of the following occur:

  • Your Aussie’s panting starts very suddenly
  • Panting is very heavy and persistant
  • If it seems like your dog might be in pain
  • If your Aussie’s gums or tongue look white, blue or purple (this could be a sign that they’re not getting enough oxygen)

Why Is My Australian Shepherd Puppy Breathing Fast While Asleep?

It can be quite normal for an Australian Shepherd puppy to breathe excessively in their sleep. If your puppy has been playing or exercising a lot before they fell asleep, then the excessive breathing may just be a sign that their body is catching up. Panting is never usually a cause for concern when an Australian Shepherd puppy is sleeping. 

Below are some other common reasons as to why your Australian Shepherd may be breathing fast in their sleep:

  • They are dreaming –  Sometimes your Aussie pup may start to breathe a bit faster or heavier when they are dreaming. This is completely normal.
  • They are growing quickly – Puppies grow quite quickly in the same way that human babies do. Rapid breathing is part of a puppy’s early development. 

If you believe your puppy is breathing erratically or if you are concerned at all about their health, then you should always contact your vet for advice. Even if it turns out to be nothing, it’s better to be sure just in case. 

Final Thoughts

Australian Shepherds are fabulous dogs that make loyal, obedient companions. As we’ve listed above, it’s quite normal for an Australian Shepherd to breathe heavily or pant. Panting is most often caused by being too hot, exercising, feeling anxious, or feeling excited and is not normally a cause for concern, however, it could sometimes indicate an underlying health problem. If you notice any other symptoms alongside the breathing problems, then it’s a good idea to speak to your vet for some advice. 

Jacqueline Hamel

I’m a lifetime dog owner of several breeds and a recent Cattle Dog enthusiast after adopting two puppy siblings Bindi and Banjo. Now, I’m on a mission to better understand Heelers and other herding dogs. Hopefully, through this blog, I can share the joy and lessons learned from these intelligent, protective, loyal, athletic, and intelligent dogs.

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