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?
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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
- Compulsive behaviors
- Shaking, panting, drooling, and yawning
- Activity level changes
- Bathroom accidents
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.