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Why Is My German Shepherd Panting So Much (why & how to help)

A common concern for German shepherd owners is how much their GSD pants. And it’s understandable, as German shepherds do actually pant a lot more than other breeds.

This article fully explains why GSDs pant so much, if and when you should worry, and what you can do.

Normal Reasons Why German Shepherds Pant So Much

The main reason why German Shepherds pant is to cool themselves down. Other reasons include excitement, exhaustion, anxiety, reacting to unfamiliar events, or underlying health issues.

Although heavy breathing can be a worrying thing to see, there are actually many normal causes for it.

Why German Shepherds pant in the first place:
Most of the time, it’s to cool down. Panting is the primary way that all dogs cool themself down aside from sweating through their paws. But it doesn’t stop there…

Additional normal causes of panting:
Check out the following list of additional and very normal causes of panting or heavy breathing.

  • After playing or exercising
  • When excited or anticipating something
  • When meeting new people or dogs
  • When traveling in the car
  • After sitting in the sun or warm area
  • In response to unfamiliar events (sirens, fireworks, loud noises)

There are many additional reasons to spot your German Shepherd panting other than being too hot, so it’s worth keeping in mind before worrying.

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


4 Other Causes Of Excessive Panting

In more unfortunate situations, your German Shepherd might be panting due to something worse. There is a range of negative health issues that can cause unwarranted panting, so let’s take a look at them.

1. Stress & Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are two common issues that can develop in dogs, as easily as they develop in us! If anything is causing your German Shepherd to be stressed either temporarily or chronically then excessive panting might be something you see on a daily basis.

German shepherds are one of the world’s most intelligent breeds, and with this, comes a heightened level of sensitivity to their environment and their owner.

Many things can cause your GSD to be stressed or anxious, from being left alone too long, insufficient stimulation, and even in response to your personal feelings and emotions on any given day.

2. Dehydration & Heatstroke

I know this seems like it should fall under the “being too hot” category, but due to dehydration and heatstroke being so serious, it needs to have its own section.

If your German Shepherd is suffering from dehydration or heatstroke, it needs to be resolved ASAP. Fortunately, it comes with additional signs to look out for aside from excessive panting.

You may notice your GSD to have a bright red tongue, very thick or sticky saliva, weakness, and difficulty moving, lethargy, and may experience diarrhea or vomiting.

If you notice any of these symptoms along with panting in hot weather, call your veterinarian as soon as you can, and in the meantime encourage him to drink water.

3. Allergies

German Shepherds can suffer from a range of allergies that can cause panting.

Allergies can be dietary and food-related or they could be from allergens such as pollen, dust, mites, certain fabric conditioners, washing powders, or even perfumes.

If your German Shepherd has any known allergies this could very well be the cause. And don’t rule out underlying allergies yet to be discovered.

4. Other Health Issues

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

Although the chances of this actually being the cause of your German Shepherd’s panting is unlikely, it’s still worth keeping in mind.

If you can’t identify a legitimate reason as to why your German Shepherd is panting, and it appears to be excessive panting, then a trip to the vets is always advised to rule out health problems and underlying conditions.

Popular German Shepherd Articles:
How To Keep Your German Shepherd Cool In Summer
Which Breeds Best Get Along With German Shepherds

What’s Normal Panting vs Excessive Panting?

So how do you know if something is wrong? and how is excessive panting different from normal panting? These are important questions you are likely asking.

Excessive panting:
Unfortunately, there isn’t a specific rate of panting that can be considered excessive, so there’s no number of breaths you can count to give a definitive answer.

Ultimately, it’s very hard to define “excessive” panting compared to “normal” panting, so the better indicator to think about is the situation… is your GSD’s panting appropriate for what he’s doing right now, and the recent events leading up to now.

How do you know if something is wrong:
As excessive panting is hard to define, it all comes down to the situation and when your GSD starts panting.

If your German Shepherd has just finished playing, exercising, meeting new people, or basking in the sun, then of course he’ll be panting A LOT.

But if your GSD has been laying indoors, in a cool room, without anything happening for a while, and yet he’s still panting heavily, this could suggest an underlying issue.

I wish I could give you a more scientific answer as to when panting is “good” vs “bad” but it just comes down to whether it fits the situation or not.

When Should You Call a Veterinarian

If you think your GSD is panting A LOT when it just doesn’t fit the moment, then it’s a good idea to at least inform your veterinarian about it.

But please take your time to consider the situation and recent events before calling your veterinarian.

Consider the many situations when panting can be expected (as outlined near the top) and think about the recent events leading up to when you noticed the panting.

If the panting is heavy and you really can’t justify it, be sure to call your veterinarian.

Why Do German Shepherd Puppies Pant So Fast?

Another common question is when it comes to puppies. Many GSD owners will witness their puppy’s belly rising and falling at lightning speeds, especially when sleeping.

This is actually very normal and puppies are known to breathe at much quicker rates than adults.

This is mainly because puppies are unable to efficiently regulate their own body temperature for quite some time. This leads to a lot of ups and downs with their panting volume.

To put it into perspective, puppies when panting calmly and slowly may only pant around 30 times per minute, on the flip side, it’s also possible for them to pant 300-400 times per minute.

And even this, under the right circumstances, would be considered fast, but still normal. Yep, that’s pretty fast!

Thank you for reading!

Additional German Shepherd Articles:
11 Ways Your German Shepherd Shows You Love
Why Does My German Shepherd Follow Me Everywhere?


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.