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Border Collie Panting: What’s Normal & When To Worry

Watching your Border collie panting to no end can be very worrying! I know the feeling…

It’s normal to be wondering what IS normal, and what ISN’T.

This article explains why your Border collie is panting heavily, how to help them, and if it’s something you need to worry about.

Heavy panting in border collies mostly happens when they’re too hot and trying to cool down. Other reasons include being stressed, anxious, dehydrated, sick, or in response to unfamiliar events.

Normal Reasons Why Border Collies Pant

Let’s discuss the “normal” causes for heavy panting seen in Border collies.

Aside from hot weather and exercise, there are a few more justified causes of quick breathing.

Common reasons why your Border Collie may pant quickly:

  • After playing or getting excited
  • When anticipating something (food or walk)
  • When meeting new dogs or people
  • When traveling in the car
  • After sitting or laying in the sun
  • In response to unfamiliar sounds or events

All of these situations may cause your BC to suddenly start panting.

And in most cases, this would be completely normal and nothing to worry about.

The vast majority of panting will be explained by one of the causes listed above.

border collie panting

4 Additional Causes of Heavy Panting

Heavy panting could indicate a few issues, so let’s take a look below.

1. Stress or anxiety

Border collies are a breed that gets stressed easily and quickly. This can also bring on anxiety and excess nerves.

A typical reaction to stress and anxiety is heavy panting (along with many other signs).

As I’ll explain further below, watching out for when the panting starts is crucial to understanding the cause.

A stressed collie may only start panting out of place when a particular event or trigger occurs.

If it’s more of a chronic stress issue, then panting may happen all the time.

Many things can cause collies to become stressed and anxious:

  • Lack of stimulation
  • Lack of interaction
  • Lack of socialization
  • Being left alone too long
  • Outside noises
  • An unsettled household

Further information PetMD

2. Dehydration or heatstroke

If your Border collie is dehydrated or suffering from heatstroke, it needs to addressed ASAP.

Heavy panting is just one classic sign of dehydration and heatstroke.

Let’s take a look at the others:

  • Loss of skin elasticity
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting with or without diarrhea
  • Reduced energy levels and lethargy
  • Panting
  • Sunken, dry-looking eyes
  • Dry nose
  • Dry, sticky gums
  • Seizures
  • Disorientation
  • Weakness
  • Headshaking

AKC source

If witness multiple signs happening that may suggest dehydration or heatstroke then its crucial to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

In the meantime, encourage your Border collie to drink as much water as possible.

While dehydration is more common (and less serious) than heatstroke, it’s still something that should be avoided as much as possible.

3. Allergies

Border collies are known to suffer from a range of allergies most of which can cause heavy panting as a reaction.

Allergies can be food-related or from things such as pollen, dust, mites, certain fabric conditioners, washing powders, & perfumes.

Keep in mind that allergies can develop slowly over the cause of years.

While your collie might start life allergy free, it’s possible for them to have one later on in life.

4. Health issues

Certain health issues can also cause heavy panting:

Cushing’s Disease, heart disease, and pulmonary disease all have excessive panting and heavy breathing as a symptom.

Of course, this is very difficult for us to diagnose at home and the only way to know is to keep up with bi-yearly health checkups.

Health issues will always come with additional symptoms too.

If you notice any of the following it’s important to speak to your veterinarian:

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Food refusal
  • Unexplained behavioral changes
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Whining
  • Quick weight gain or loss

Dog Panting Explained (Helpful Video)

Normal Panting vs Excessive Panting

So, how do you actually know what’s “normal” vs what’s excessive panting.

Excessive panting

There isn’t a set amount of breaths that would warrant “excessive panting”.

The only way to know if panting is a sign of something bad, is to take it in context.

Does your Border collie have a reason to be panting so quickly and heavily?

If they have just exercised, played with another dog, or been laying in the sun then it’s likely that the quick panting is justified and will eventually slow down.

It’s all about considering the recent events leading up to the quick panting.

How do you know if something is wrong?

Again, it’s crucial to consider the events leading up to the panting.

If your Border collie has been relaxing in a cool shaded room, and nothing interesting has happened recently, then they should not be panting heavily.

If your BC has just been playing, running, sunbathing, or experiencing a new situation, then quick panting can be explained.

Just keep in mind that quick panting can take some time slow or calm down.

Your Border collie may need to relax in a cool calm room for several minutes for the panting to slow.

If she remains in a hot area, the panting may continue.

So to confirm: knowing if something is wrong is all about the situation and considering the recent events leading up to the heavy breathing.

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Why Do Border Collie Puppies Breath So Fast?

If you’re asking about puppies in particular, there’s one main difference to know.

Aside from all of the above information being the same for both adults and puppies, puppies are prone to quick heavy breathing more so than adults.

Border collie puppies will breathe heavily and quickly due to the fact they are unable to properly regulate their own body temperature for many months.

Regulating their own body temperature takes them a while to learn, in the meantime, they’ll be breathing extra quickly to handle this.

This is actually very normal and to be expected in growing puppies.

Of course, keep a close eye on your puppy and ensure they are not in any visible discomfort.

If you do sense something is wrong do not hesitate to call your veterinarian.

Thanks for reading! Back to more Border Collie articles


Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.