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Top 10 Dog Breeds that Don’t Do Well in Hot Weather

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When it comes to narrowing down which dog breeds struggle the most in hot weather, you might be surprised that those who made the list aren’t all extra-large and double-coated. The truth is, there are a number of factors you need to take into consideration when determining if your pooch is designed to thrive in warm weather or should avoid it altogether. And its not just down to comfort. Heat-stroke is serious and for those determined pooches that refuse to call it quits when they’re having fun, it can have serious consequences.

So, which breeds are considered “low-hanging fruit” when it comes to not being able to deal with extreme heat? Of course, any of the flat-faced breeds such as Bulldogs, Pugs, and Shih Tzus are going to make the list. These dogs suffer from brachycephalic airway syndrome (also known as BAS), and their tiny nasal passages and soft palates seriously limit their ability to move hot air out of their system in order to cool down. In fact, this physical impediment makes it tough for them to breathe, period. Any strenuous exercise with this type of dog should be structured to allow for plenty of catch-his-breath breaks and on hot days, it should be avoided altogether.

Then, we look at those cold-weather dogs with thick double-coats designed to keep the heat in. Great in colder temperatures, but dangerous in the heat, when it can take a dog’s body temperature dangerously high. And unfortunately for many of these breeds, grooming is typically restricted to daily brushing to eliminate any loose hair. Shorter clips – as you might do for a Poodle – just don’t work with this type of fur and can run the risk of not only damaging the coat, but increasing the dog’s risk of heat-stroke or sunburn.

And finally, just like humans that carry around a few extra pounds and realize it’s no longer fun when temperatures soar, dogs can experience the same challenges. In fact, there are a number of breeds that have a propensity for packing on the weight, and it can have serious consequences if they head out for a nice long walk on a too-hot day.

So, let’s take a look at which breeds should be chilling by the a/c versus hitting the bricks.

  1. Bulldog

Whether you’re living with an Old English or a French, this flat-faced pooch naturally tops the list of brachycephalic dogs that just can’t handle the heat. He’s not only working with a diminished ability to breathe during hot weather, but with the stockier build of the Old English, it can make him prone to heat stroke. These dogs are known for snorting and snoring as they breathe while at rest. Imagine their struggle in the heat. If you still want to keep your pet physically active when temperatures start to creep up, invest in a good quality cooling vest that can help prevent him from over-heating. And always use a harness on brachycephalic dogs, as collars can further restrict air flow. (Photo credit: Life In Pixels/Shutterstock)

2. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Let’s take a look at a breed of dog that isn’t brachycephalic, but still struggles when it comes to heading out into the heat. This winsome little spaniel’s biggest issue is that he can be prone to obesity. And while we’d all like to think that a good walk will do him good by helping to work off a few calories, the reality is that fat cells insulate and on a hot day, that’s the last thing he needs. If you’re like a number of pet parents with a pooch that could stand to lose a couple pounds, why not introduce some fun indoor activities that will help keep him mobile but safe on super-hot days. And save all those long walks for cooler days. (Photo credit: Hollysdogs/Shutterstock)

3. Pomeranian

This tiny, fox-faced pooch faces two serious challenges when it comes to dealing with hot weather. The most obvious one is that super-dense coat that acts like a thick, heavy layer of insulation to keep him uncomfortably warm in hot weather. While you can brush it out to remove loose hair and get some air movement across his little body, this just isn’t a breed that can be clipped down to a short and sassy cut. He’s stuck with the fuzz. His second issue is that tiny muzzle that makes it difficult to effectively pant out sufficient hot air to cool him down. Best to keep him well hydrated and indoors with the a/c until heat waves pass. (Photo credit: pattarawat/Shutterstock)

4. Boston Terrier

Here’s another classic brachycephalic dog that is challenged to breathe at the best of times. In fact, owners can tell you how badly they snore even while at rest! As a result, its best to keep him busy and active inside versus outside on hot days. The challenge with this little guy is that he’s full of energy, so you need to find a way for him to burn it off to prevent destructive behaviors. If you do decide to tire him out by tossing a ball in the yard, be sure to monitor the situation. Signs of exhaustion should end the session immediately. Or consider using a timer to keep play time down to short, controlled intervals. (Photo credit: Dee-Ann Kaaijk/Shutterstock)

5. Chow-Chow

Like a number of other heavy-coated dogs, this big boy can be bathed and trimmed up, but you’ll never see him sporting a clean-shaven look for the summer. In fact, shaving would irrevocably damage his beautiful coat and leave him vulnerable to not only sunburn, but heat stroke. Yes, his fur serves as protection and without it, his skin has zero defense against the sun’s damaging rays.  Your best bet is to keep him well hydrated, brushed out (so cooler air can circulate across his skin surface), and indoors on super hot days. And you only want to get him out to stretch his legs during cooler mornings or evenings, when the sun is not full-on. (Photo credit: otsphoto/Shutterstock)

6. Boxer

Anyone who lives with the animated Boxer knows that playtime can go on forever. This breed is not one to give up willingly when “fun” is happening – and that includes when they begin to suffer the effects of heat exhaustion. Because this flat-faced pooch with a determination to just keep going, is also challenged with breathing issues, you need to be the one to step in and prevent him from over-taxing himself on hot days. Walks are great for this type of dog, but cooling vests are recommended when temperatures are spiking, along with a portable supply of fresh water. Better still, schedule walks for early morning or evenings – when its cooler, more comfortable, and he can get in a good work-out. (Photo credit: Michael Lofenfeld/Shutterstock)

7. Bernese Mountain dog

This big, gentle dog struggles with the heat at the best of times because of his thick, black coat that seems to just absorb the rays from the sun. In fact, he’s known to prefer the cool of shade regardless of the season, and prefers to be much less active when its hot outside. While large dogs still require exercise, you should take your cue from him. Look for opportunities to keep him active but comfortable. Keep walks short, and schedule them for when temperatures drop in the evening. If you want to bring him out of doors, invest in a good cooling mat to help regulate his body temperature. (Photo credit: Txema Gerardo/Shutterstock)

8. Pug

Pugs are particularly challenged during heat waves because of their tendency toward obesity. Those extra pounds of fat act as insulation to keep the heat in around his core and make him susceptible to heat stroke. And with flat-faced breeds, their inability to use panting to effectively cool off, means this little dog can seriously struggle when the temperatures rise (particularly if he has a black coat and is dealing with heat absorption). The best bet on super-hot days is to keep him indoors with the a/c running. Find fun activities to keep him busy and for walks that are absolutely necessary, keep them short and use a harness to prevent further restriction of airways.

9. Siberian Husky

While you may think the biggest challenge with this breed is that heavy, double-coat that would be unbearable in the heat, that’s only part of the problem. The bigger issue is that this is a working breed that needs to keep busy and active. Not easy, when outdoor temperatures are peaking and indoor playtime just isn’t going to cut it. This dog needs rigorous exercise to keep him happy and healthy, so plan all excursions in the early morning or late evening when air and sidewalk temperatures have dropped. Get him hydrated before you head out, and bring a supply of water with you. You should also plan to take shorter routes, and even hose him down before heading out. (Photo credit: Yuttana Jaowattana/Shutterstock)

10. St. Bernard

For those who think a dog isn’t a dog unless he weighs upwards of 75 pounds, its understandable you’d gravitate toward the iconic St. Bernard. But when the heat is on, extra diligence is needed to keep him safe and comfortable. Did you know that his mouth is the largest, most effective means of cooling him down? Whether he’s lapping from his water-dish, or cleaning up a licking mat, he’s known to swish water around in his mouth to help maximize the cooling effect. Now, for a dog his size, plan to devote substantial floor space to keeping him comfortable – cool ceramic tiles in a kitchen or bathroom are ideal. Or if you need to get him out from underfoot (this big boy knows that laying around helps prevent over-heating), consider an air-conditioned kennel that he can safely retreat to when temps climb. (Photo credit: Aneta Jungerova/Shutterstock)


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