Skip to Content

Do Dogs Hold Their Breath – Reasons & Considerations!

 Some dogs love to swim, and some of them will even dive under the water for things like toys. This information suggests that dogs will hold their breath when they dive under the water, but this still leaves many unanswered questions. As a result, many dog owners are likely asking themselves: do dogs hold their breath? 

Yes, dogs do hold their breath. Dog’s eventually learn to hold their breath when they put their face under water to avoid getting water up their nose. Similarly, dogs also commonly learn to hold their breath around smoke and when water gets splashed in their faces. 

Let’s take a look at the common reasons for dogs holding their breath and even dive into some other commonly asked questions about this topic.

Reasons Why Dogs Hold Their Breath

There are five main reasons why dogs sometimes hold their breath. These include swimming with their head underwater when they get water splashed in their face and around smoke. In addition to these reasons, sometimes dogs also hold their breath when they are scared or have some breathing problems. Here are the five reasons why dogs hold their breath. 

They are Swimming With Their Head Under The Water

If you try to breathe with your head underwater, you will have a tough time, and this is how drowning can happen. Well, the same is true for dogs, too, so they quickly learn that they should hold their breath when diving under the water. Since all dogs need to learn how to swim correctly, it is always recommended that you put a life vest on your dog and only let them swim in shallow areas when they are still young and new to the water. 

Your Dog Has Water In Their Face

Breathing in while water is being splashed in your face is highly uncomfortable, so dogs often learn that they should hold their breath during this kind of situation. Usually, this skill is learned pretty quickly for dogs that are often around water, even if they do not swim. 

Your Dog Is Around A Grill Or Campfire

No one likes breathing in smoke, not even dogs. As a result, many dogs hold their breath when they get a big whiff of smoke from a grill or campfire. This is especially true for dogs that are around these kinds of things often. 

Something Scared Your Dog

It is an instinct for humans to hold their breath momentarily when they are startled or afraid of something. Well, studies suggest that dogs do the same thing. This is especially true if they are suddenly startled by something such as a loud noise. 

Your Dog Has Breathing Problems

Although dogs with breathing problems will not be holding their breath on purpose, they can appear to be doing so at random times. Dogs can have breathing problems for a wide variety of reasons, but these kinds of ailments tend to be the most common in dogs with pushed-in faces and smaller airways.

Some examples of these breeds include the pug, the french bulldog, the boxer, and more. Some common signs of breathing problems in dogs include but may not be limited to: 

● noisy, open-mouthed breathing 

● Seeing the chest and stomach move while breathing

● Labored breathing 

Although some types of dogs can be more prone to breathing problems, any dog can develop this problem, and it can sometimes be a sign of a medical emergency. As a result, you should always take your dog to the vet immediately if they show signs of breathing problems. 

How Long Can Dogs Hold Their Breath 

Although the exact amount of time is unknown, it is suggested that dogs can hold their breath for a similar amount of time that humans can. That is the average person that has not trained themselves to hold their breath for an extended amount of time. 

Can You Teach A Dog To Hold Its Breath 

You can’t teach your dog to hold its breath on command. Even when doing things like swimming, dogs teach themselves how and when to hold their breath. 

Can Dogs Hold Their Breath Longer Than Humans

No, dogs cannot hold their breath longer than humans can. Many humans trained in things like competitive swimming can hold their breath much longer than dogs. 

Do Dogs Hold Their Breath While Sleeping

Although some dogs may hold their breath momentarily while they dream, this shouldn’t be a frequent occurrence. If your dog seems always to be holding their breath off and on while they are sleeping, this can be a sign of a breathing problem. 

Things To Consider

There are some other things to consider when dogs hold their breath, and both of these things surround dog swimming safety. These include knowing that not all dogs can swim and how to keep your dog safe while they are swimming. Here are some more things that you should consider about dogs holding their breath. 

Not All Dogs Can Swim 

As mentioned previously, brachycephalic breeds tend to have some breathing difficulties due to their pushed-in faces and restricted airways. In addition, these breeds also tend to have shorter legs and a thick chest. Both their body structure and their restricted breathing lead to a dog that cannot swim. These dog breeds include: 

● Pugs 

● Boston terriers

● Boxers 

● English bulldogs 

● French bulldogs 

● Shih Tzu 

● Pekinese  

● Chinese Shar-Pei 

● Lhasa apso 

● Brussels griffon 

● Bullmastiff 

● Chow chow 

● Australian bulldog 

● Dogue de Bordeaux 

If you have any of the above dog breeds, take extra care when your dog is around water. You should always put a life vest on them and keep them out of the water. 

How To Keep Your Dog Safe While Swimming

Even if your dog is not one of the brachycephalic dogs, you should still follow dog swimming safety tips. This is especially true if you have a puppy or a dog that is new to swimming. These include: 

● Have your dog wear a life jacket or vest

● Never leave your dog unattended while swimming 

● Always have a way for your dog to get out of the water (such as pool stairs) 

● Give your dog swimming breaks to prevent overexertion