Does Your Red Heeler Pant a Lot? There Might Be a Deeper Reason

red heeler looking off into the distance

Commonly referred to as the Australian Cattle Dog, the Red Heeler is a hard-working, loyal dog breed popular for many farmers and families alike. These dogs were bred to be herding dogs but ended up being one of the world's most intelligent, alert, clever, and easily trainable dogs.

A distinct mark of a Red Heeler is a speckled pattern with solid red markings. Australian Cattle dogs are red Heelers, and as their name states, Australian Cattle dogs were born and bred in Australia.

Red Heelers are amazing dogs that are loyal and kind. These dogs are some of the most popular breeds in the nation, and they are the 10th most intelligent dog breed in the country. Red Heelers are happy in most places as long as they meet their daily exercise goals, but they might become anxious if they don't receive proper socialization training. Also, dogs adopted from rescues or shelters tend to experience stress and anxiety more than dogs raised in one home since birth.

Red Heeler

Red Heeler puppies are protective and loving. These puppies do great in homes of every type, whether single-family homes, families with young children, families with other animals, or hunters or ranchers. Red Heelers will become destructive if they aren't outside regularly, and they aren't content sitting at the house all day and need regular exercise to keep up with their high energy.

These dogs have a very independent personality and don't necessarily require a lot of affection, although they do appreciate treats for good behavior and verbal praise. Occasionally these dogs try to herd at home by nipping at the heels of family members, especially if they want something. These dogs are more likely to nip at the heels of children or visitors in a home.

Some Red Heelers are excellent watchdogs and can be very cautious of strangers. Some of these dogs will bark at newcomers and visitors but warm up to them over time; it just depends on the personality of that Red Heeler.

Red Heelers are naturally curious dogs, and they won't hesitate to run at the sight of something interesting. These large dogs should always be on a leash. As well trained and loyal as a Red Heeler can be, they might run away if a bunny ever hops into view and they are off-leash. These dogs are great fits for people who own a lot of land or have fenced-in yards.

red heeler standing in the grass

Red Heeler Overall Health

Red Heelers are herding dogs first and foremost and therefore need a lot of activity. These dogs aren't suited for apartment living, and without an open space or a job to do, they can become destructive in the house.

Red Heelers are overall very healthy dogs and can typically live as long as 15 years. Even though these dogs are overall quite healthy, some common problems they suffer from include eye issues, hip dysplasia, and deafness.

Red Heelers are a very spirited and energetic dog breed. Red Heelers can stand anywhere from 17 to 20 in tall at their shoulders. Some red Heelers can weigh anywhere from 35 to 45 pounds. Although, female Red Heeler puppies tend to be lighter and smaller than their male counterparts.

Even though Red Heelers are very protective and independent, they can be reserved around strangers and cautious in new situations. The best way to deal with this is to socialize these dogs at a young age.

Owners can socialize their dogs by planning to experience new environments and rewarding them for their behavior. Owners mustn't rush their dogs into anything that is a unique experience and only keep their tones light and happy.

What Causes a Dog to Pant

Dogs pant for many reasons, the most popular of them being exercise. Dogs don't sweat the same way people do, and they can only release heat through their paws and nose. Panting is the closest they get to sweating, and it's the best way for them to lower their body temperature because panting is a key way to reduce their body temperature. There are a few reasons why a dog might pant.

Excessive panting is usually a bad sign unless your dog has recently participated in many exercises. More severe cases of dogs that pant a lot can be life-threatening and scary for owners to witness. There are a few specific health conditions that can cause symptoms of rapid breathing. Conditions like heat stroke or poisoning can cause your dog to start breathing harder or pant even more after exertion. Sometimes dogs like Boston Terriers, Bulldogs, or Pugs are prone to have hard breathing after exertion, and this is because they have shorter snouts than most dogs do. However, owners tend to worry when dogs like a Red Heeler pant excessively. If there aren't any obvious reasons for a sudden change in their dog's breathing, then it's essential to call your vet right away.

red heeler laying on red leaves

Less Severe Reasons Dogs Pant

An average dog takes thirty breaths per minute, depending on its size. Knowing your dog's everyday breathing habits and how much they pant helps owners better understand their dog's overall health. Without knowing your dog's normal tendencies, it's hard to know what's excess and what's just normal. Owners will naturally come to know their dog's tendencies just by spending time with them, taking them on walks, and training them regularly.

A common reason dogs pant a lot is because they experience an injury. Dogs don't communicate the way people do; they communicate with body language. Dogs don't regularly whine when they get injured. The best way for owners to tell if the cause of panting is an injury is to look for other signs of pain. Dogs in pain might also show signs through enlarged pupils, reduced or completely absent appetite, or if they have a reluctance to lie down. Other signs a dog is in pain could be restlessness, anxiety, and they're licking or biting at the pain site.

More Severe Reasons Dogs Pant

Sometimes Red Heelers might have heavy panting symptoms because of chronic illness. Illnesses like heart failure, Cushing's syndrome, or respiratory issues can cause severe breathing and panting in dogs.

Cushing's syndrome is uncommon when a dog's adrenal glands produce too much cortisol. They'll experience symptoms such as heavy panting and excessive hunger, thirst, and urination when this occurs. They might have hair loss or develop a pot-bellied appearance, but overall you can treat this condition with adrenal suppressing drugs or surgery. They provide these drugs in small edible pill snack containers or other supplements.

Another reason your Red Heeler might have panting issues is respiratory disease disorders. A few respiratory disorders can cause a dog to pant or contract ammonia laryngeal paralysis and lung tumors. These conditions can cause heavy breathing, but the treatment depends on the individual condition and how far it has progressed.

A more uncommon reason your dog might have symptoms when they pant excessively is heart failure. Although it sounds scary, it is scarce, and dogs can suffer from heart failure and show signs, including difficulty breathing. Other symptoms a dog with heart failure might show will be exercise intolerance or coughing. Treatments for this condition vary based on each case but can include medications or ace inhibitors.

If your Red Heeler is suffering from heatstroke, you need to take action fast. Overheating is a medical emergency and is one of the more severe causes of death for dogs. If you think your dog has heatstroke, your response time can affect the likelihood of their survival. The best way to help a dog with heatstroke is first to understand all the signs of heatstroke. Dogs experiencing this condition will have glassy eyes, weakness, a fast heart rate, excessive panting, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, reddened gums, or mental dullness.

If you think your Red Heeler has heatstroke, you have to try to cool your dog down immediately. Move your dog inside or to a shady spot. You could also submerge your dog in cool water, but avoid cold water as this constricts blood vessels. You can also soak a towel in cool water and lay it on your dog's chest, neck and head. Don't spray your dog with a yard hose on hot days because the water inside a hose can reach near-boiling temperatures. You want your dog to cool off gradually to not go into shock. Owners can also try providing their dog's ice cubes to lick or eat to help calm them down. After your dog has a cooldown, you should immediately take him to the vet.

If your dog is suffering from heatstroke, the prognosis varies greatly on how quickly you get them to the vet. The best way to deal with heatstroke is to try to avoid it. Owners should know when it will be warm outside and avoid taking their dogs for walks, having them out in the sun, and having them in a hot car. Try to allow your dog to have an ice pack nearby or water bottles to drink. Some owners choose to buy vests that they soak for their dogs to wear in the summertime so their dog's fur is always a little cold and their dogs stay at a cool temperature.

red heeler laying in the grass

Stress and Panting

When dogs experience stress, there are a few common symptoms they might show. One of the more common symptoms is panting. Dogs can feel pressure if they're experiencing something new to them. Some dogs get very stressed around many people, when they meet new people, or are around loud noises. Some dogs get stressed around other animals or if they hear barking. All dogs are different when it comes to stress, and your Red Heeler might experience stress from a different event.

There are many different signs dogs in stress will show. If your Red Heeler has a sudden change in their posture, they might be stressed. Sometimes stressed dogs will tuck their tails or cower. Another sign a dog is stressed is pacing, shaking, whining, or barking. Dogs are primarily physical communicators, but they can still bark, whine, and cry to signal specific feelings to their owners. Sometimes stressed dogs might react by having bursts of shedding fur. Also, stressed-out dogs might try to avoid their owners or escape their homes. Occasionally stressed out dogs will rely on their owners to do something about the stress inciting event and might stand behind their owners or even nudge them.

No matter what causes it, your dog's stress will eventually pass after some time passes, and they won't pant as much. Some owners allow time to help their dogs calm down, and some provide supplements or calming treats.

Owners can provide safe spaces for their dogs to retreat to in times of stress. Some owners create safe spaces for their pets that are just dog beds in a quieter and more secluded area. Giving your dog a location to retreat to can help them experience less stress overall. Some owners give their dogs treats that calm them down.

Owners can also decide to go through a more permanent method to help their pets overcome stress. For example, many rescue dogs get severe separation anxiety and then go through a professional counterconditioning treatment to help them unlearn their anxious tendencies. Dogs that have chronic stress can also learn counterconditioning from professional dog behaviorists.

red heeler looking up at the camera

What Owners Can Do

The best thing owners can do is try to figure out the cause of their dog's panting. Most often, dogs pant because they are experiencing some stress, and Red Heelers should show other stress symptoms their owners can look for to understand the severity of their dog's condition.

The first step owners should take is to remove their dogs from whatever is stressing them out. Owners need to remember not to coddle their dogs too much as they might want space while they're stressed out. Owners should resist overly comforting their dogs and showering them with praise and treats. If owners want to calm their Red Heeler with treats, they can, but they need to make sure their dogs perform tasks to earn the treats. It may seem unfair, but turning a stressful moment into a training session might help a breed like the Red Heeler. These dogs desire to please their owners and complete a task, so it makes sense that this can distract them from stress so well.

Any Red Heeler owners should know they need to act fast in certain situations. Panting is a side effect of many health conditions, including life-threatening conditions like bloat. Typically conditions like bloat also show other symptoms, so excessive panting alone isn't enough to cause worry.


There are many different causes of excessive panting in Red Heelers, and the prognosis for their condition depends on its cause. If your Red Heeler is excessively panting because of a minor issue, they will likely return to their regular old self and be fine after some time has passed.

However, if your dog has excessive panting because of the more severe issues such as heart failure or Cushing's Disease, owners will need a veterinarian to help aid your dog. Veterinary medicine will be able to help your dog with its respiratory distress. A dog owner might come to find an underlying cause to their dog's breathing distress at the vet, such as heatstroke. Dog owners should always trust their instincts.

Red Heelers are overall generally healthy dogs, but they are still likely to suffer from heat exhaustion if left in too hot of a temperature. Any severe conditions a dog might be suffering from should be dealt with by a vet immediately. Try to take your dog to the clinic as soon as possible.

red heeler being pet by a person


Overall Red Heeler owners should note that the best thing they can do with a dog that has heavy panting symptoms is to take them to a vet as soon as possible. If you haven't been able to identify the cause of your Red Heeler puppy's panting, then your vet will be able to. Older dogs will struggle with panting more often than younger dogs.

You should call your vet immediately if your dog's tongue is blue or the gums appear blue-purple or white because these signs mean your pet isn't getting enough oxygen, and you should take him to the vet as soon as possible.

Typically excessive panting is due to more minor side effects that will eventually pass through and not affect your dog anymore, and it's normal to experience this. However, if you begin to get worried over your dog's excessive panting, it's always a good idea to call your vet to check in just in case.

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