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Stress in Dogs: 6 Breeds Prone to Stress

Man comforts stressed Golden Retriever dog

Just as personality traits and health issues can be hereditary in dogs, stress also has a genetic component. Research by Milla Salonen found that dog breeds show significant differences in prevalence of stress-related traits, “suggesting a strong genetic contribution.” 

Understanding their dog’s predisposition for stress can help pet parents prepare for and help their pup address and manage this stress. So, which dog breeds are prone to experiencing stress? What can dog parents do to help? 

Table of contents 

Stress in dogs: Why breed matters 

Many of the health, physical, and personality traits that dogs possess today have been refined through many generations of breeding. Some desirable attributes like attentiveness in herding dogs, or sociability in companion breeds, can be accompanied by a predisposition to stress. Lap dogs, for example, can easily become stressed when separated from their humans.  

Unfortunately, stress can cause dogs to display problematic behaviors like excessive barking and aggression. This leads to dogs being surrendered to shelters, which is likely to make stress worse, notes DVM360. Additionally, long-term stress in dogs can cause serious immune, gastrointestinal, and other health issues, according to the Veterinary Information Network. It is important to understand breeds’ predispositions for stress in order to prepare for and manage their stress. 

How can you tell if your dog is stressed? 

Stress can take a serious toll on your dog, as well as your household. Left unaddressed, stress can escalate to aggression. Recognizing cues from your dog that they are stressed can save them from discomfort and avoid potentially dangerous stress responses. Some common signs of stress in dogs include: 

  • Tense posture and facial expressions  
  • Vocalization  
  • Compulsive behaviors  
  • Shaking, panting, drooling, and yawning  
  • Shedding  
  • Activity level changes  
  • Bathroom accidents 
  • Avoidance  
  • Destruction  
  • Aggression 

You know your dog best. Be on the lookout for any behavior that seems out of character for your dog because these may signal that your dog is experiencing stress. 

Dog breeds prone to stress 

According to Salonen’s research, certain dog breeds are more likely to suffer from stress than others. Some of these breeds include: 

  • Border Collie – Collies are natural born working dogs. As livestock herders, they are very attuned to their surroundings. Because of this, they can exhibit stress-related responses to sounds and visual cues. Collies also thrive on structure and working alongside their humans, often making them sensitive to unknowns and prone to experiencing separation-related stress. Their high energy levels mean they need at least two hours of exercise throughout the day. Collies do not do well when cooped up inside all day. Providing physical activity with a game of fetch and mental stimulation by training new commands can tire these dogs out, reducing stress. 
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – These dogs are companion canines and enjoy spending lots of time with their people. With this, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels commonly show signs of stress when away from their families for extended periods of time. Give your dog early socialization, as well as gradual desensitization and counterconditioning to make them associate alone time with positives like special toys or high-value treats.  
  • German Shepherd – These dogs are fiercely loyal and love being with their people. Originally bred as herding dogs and more recently trained for service as police and military canines, German Shepherds are protective and always on alert. This can lead to stress, particularly separation-related stress responses. According to the AKC Canine Health Foundation, this breed is prone to exhibiting compulsive behaviors such as pacing. Slowly build your dog up to longer periods of time alone without stress with gradual desensitization. 
  • Jack Russell Terrier – Much like Border Collies, these dogs were traditionally bred to work closely with humans and consequently love being with their people. They are also very active and sensitive to their surroundings. This is an unfortunate combination for being alone. These dogs often suffer from separation-related stress. This stress can manifest as chewing, excessive barking, or any destructive or disruption behavior. Make sure your dog has plenty of physical and mental stimulation before leaving them home alone. 
  • Labrador Retriever – These sweet, lovable dogs are very social and affectionate. Their need for constant connection and companionship makes them wonderful family dogs. However, this can also make them prone to separation-related stress. Labs do not usually do well when left alone for long periods of time. While you are using desensitization and counterconditioning methods to address your Lab’s separation-related stress, consider leaving them with family so they have a friendly face to hang out with.  
  • Vizsla – Often affectionately referred to as “Velcro Vizslas,” these dogs are incredibly attached to their people. They require a lot of socialization. These dogs can also be prone to separation issues. Puzzle toys that provide mental stimulation, distraction, and rewards (treats!) are helpful in teaching your dog to like being alone.  

How can ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA help stressed dogs? 

ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA chews, soft gels, and oils can offer support for dogs’ generalized stress by helping their stress levels decrease and return to a normal state of balance. CBD and CBDA truly calms without sedating, which is key to allowing dogs to handle stressful situations.   

For dogs who experience situational stress, ElleVet’s Calm & Comfort chews act quickly to provide maximum support in particularly stressful situations like fireworks, grooming, or vet visits. When given 1.5 hours ahead of a triggering event, these chews are extremely effective in addressing dogs’ acute level of stress. With this, ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA can lead to improved overall well-being and a reduction of their stress response over time. 

As always, consult your veterinarian if your dog shows signs of stress. For any questions about ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA products or how CBD can help your canine friend live their best life, give us a call (844-673-7287) or send us an email ([email protected]). We are here to help. 

Any health or medical information in ElleVet blogs is from a variety of public and reputable sources. This information is an educational resource only and is not a substitute for expert professional care.