Why Do German Shepherds Breathe Heavy?

Why Do German Shepherds Breathe Heavy?

Panting is often a normal occurrence that most canines like the German shepherd will do when relaxing after a long, rigorous exercise session or after getting excited.

Since dogs don’t have sweat glands on their faces, they will often use their mouths to cool their bodies. And such a physiological process is normal. However, it can become a concern for most pet parents if they note their German shepherds breathe heavily.

As a new pet owner, you may be concerned about why your German shepherd breathes heavily now and then. And is it an abnormal process? Keep reading to learn more about why dogs like the German shepherds will pant heavily.

Whey and Why Do German Shepherds Breathe Heavily

They Have Been Exercising

What happened when you ran for an extended period or played a demanding game? You probably had to pant for 5-10 minutes. Often such a scenario can also happen to your German shepherd.

After your dog is involved in a demanding strenuous exercise, he will probably breathe heavily or pant to cool himself. If your German shepherd stops breathing heavily after a few minutes, then there is no need to become worried. However, if your German shepherd continues breathing heavily 2 hrs after the exercise session, then there is a need for concern.


Dogs like the German shepherds are susceptible to heatstroke because of their double coats. If your dog has been in the sun for a long time, he may probably get a heatstroke. And one of the signs of a heatstroke on German shepherds is panting. Another sign of a heatstroke is drooling, increased heart rate, and fainting.

Such dogs with heatstroke will need urgent medical care.


Like us human beings, some medical conditions can make your German shepherd breathe heavily.

Some of the health conditions include heart failure, Cushing syndrome, and respiratory disease.

  • Heart diseases like dilated cardiomyopathy, heart failure, and heartworm disease can cause your German shepherd to breathe heavily.
  • Respiratory diseases- condition like asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia can cause rapid breathing on your dog
  • Cushing disease- Cushing’s disease happens when the adrenal glands produce excess cortisol.

Your Dog Has an Allergy

Allergy to food or other irritants can make your dog breathe heavily. So, for example, if your German shepherd was okay, but started breathing rapidly after you introduced particular food, then there must be a particular ingredient that didn’t do well with your dog’s body.

You can affirm that by removing certain foods and access how your dog reacts.

Your Dog Has Consumed Poison

Poison contains organophosphates as the key ingredient. And certain organophosphates, when consumed by animals or even people, cause respiratory system collapse. So with that, if your dog consumed poison, then most probably he will start breathing heavily as the air passage is compromised.

Such a dog who is having such symptoms needs urgent medical attention.


Dogs also have emotions. And excitement is one. Your dog may be excited when you are about to give it its favorite toy or when you want to go for a walk with it.

Some German shepherd will show their excitement by breathing heavily.


Some medications have severe side effects, and one of them is panting. So if your German shepherd was not breathing heavily before you give it the medication, however, it started presenting with such signs when you started it on the medications, you will have a clue what’s the culprit.

What to do if your dog is breathing heavily

Diagnose the Root Cause

Before you structure ways of stopping the panting, you will need to research what triggered this behavior on your dogs. Is it food, medication, disease, or excitement? From there, you will get a starting point for rectifying the current situation.

Keep Your Dog Cool

If it’s a heatstroke causing your dog to breathe rapidly, then you need to ensure it is kept cool. If it’s in an enclosed area, then you can take it in a shaded area or under a tree and make sure you have removed any obstructions.

Talk to A Veterinary

Qualified personnel can be in a better position to diagnose what’s causing your dog to breathe rapidly. Be ready to answer a few questions from the veterinary. For example, the vet may enquire about the dog’s history of whether it has ever happened again and when it started.

If it’s a medical condition promoting your German shepherd to breathe rapidly, then your dog will need urgent attention from the vet.

Final Words

It’s often normal for a German shepherd to breathe heavily for a few minutes when it’s hot or after exercising. However, if your dog won’t stop breathing heavily, then you need to consider talking to a veterinarian about your dog’s current situation.

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