Canine bloat is a scary situation where a dog’s stomach fills with air and can even begin to twist, cutting off blood flow to vital organs and inhibiting breathing. Emergency surgery is often done in severe cases of bloat.
While any dog might be at risk of bloat, certain breeds are more likely to bloat because of size and body type.
So what are the dog breeds that can bloat?
Large dogs, weighing around 100lb, with deep or barrel chests are more prone to suffer from bloat. Breeds that are most likely bloat include the Great Dane, Standard Poodle, Basset Hound, Gordon Setter, Irish Setter, Irish Wolfhound, Weimeraner, Dobermann, German Shepherd, Old English Sheepdog, Newfoundlander, Saint Bernard, and the Boxer.
In this article, we will not only look at these 13 breeds of dogs, but also describe what bloat is, what it looks like, and if there is anything you can do to prevent it from happening to your dog.
What Is Bloat (Or Gastric Dilatation And Volvulus)?
In humans, we think of bloat as just uncomfortable extra gas making our stomach stretch. Dogs can get gassy too, but watch out for severe or painful bloat in dogs. It can be fatal in some cases if veterinarian action is not immediately taken.
When dogs bloat, their stomach fills with gas or food causing stretching and abdominal pain. Normally when a dog eats, their food enters their stomach in the upper abdomen where it is broken down by digestive enzymes before entering the small intestine and digestive tract.
However, when bloat occurs, your dog’s stomach fills with air so it begins to distend, causing blood flow to be cut off from the stomach. In severe cases, the stomach twists and requires emergency surgery. This is called Gastric Dilation and Volvulus, or GDV. When this happens, food cannot move to the intestine and blood flow can be cut off not only from the stomach but from other organs.
Besides a painfully swollen abdomen, other symptoms of bloat include:
- Dry heaving
- Pacing, whining, and sudden anxiety
- Drooling and panting
- Being protective of their belly
- Downward dog or play bow position
- Pale gums
Bloat is a serious condition and requires immediate emergency veterinarian care. Dogs can die within hours of symptoms. For more information, please check out this video.
13 Dog Breeds That Can Bloat
According to veterinarians Krista Williams and Ernest Ward, bloat overwhelming affects large, deep-chested, or barrel-chested dogs. These dogs have large rib cages and big chests.
Deep-chested dogs have large oval-shaped chests with narrow rib cages tucked at their waist like in the picture below.
Meanwhile, barrel-chested dogs have very wide chests that resemble a barrel and do not have the distinctive tucked waist of deep-chested dogs.
We have an in-depth article about deep-chested vs. barrel-chested dogs if you are interested. But what they have in common is a very large chest that makes them more susceptible to bloat than smaller dogs.
Besides large chests, dogs that are at risk of bloating:
- Weigh over 100 pounds.
- Eat quickly
- Eat one meal a day
- Are underweight
- Have a family history of GDV
- Have an anxious personality
- Are older (over the age of 7)
While all dogs can be at risk of bloat, (elderly smaller dogs have even suffered from GDV), here is a list of the 13 most common breeds that can bloat.
1. Great Danes
This deep-chested dog is also known as one of the largest dogs in the world. Great Danes can weigh almost 200 lbs and are often taller than the average person when they stand on their hind legs.
Despite their large imposing size and history of hunting large game like wild boar, Great Danes are typically easy-going dogs and make great family dogs. They tend to like people but will alert if they are worried about a threat.
However, because of their size and their deep-chested body, Great Danes are prone to bloat. In fact, GDV is one of the biggest killers of Great Danes. If you have one of these magnificent dogs, make sure you know the symptoms of GDV so you can take them to the veterinarian as soon as you notice symptoms.
2. Standard Poodles
The Standard Poodle is a large deep-chested dog known for their glamorous hypoallergenic coat and intelligence. Generally very obedient, these large athletic dogs are popular in the show ring but as sport dogs.
Originally bred for waterfowl hunting, the Standard Poodle enjoys having a job and is generally a healthy breed.
However, because they are extremely active dogs with a deep chest, standard poodles on the larger side (they should only weigh between 41 and 71 lbs) are prone to bloat. Feeding your active Poodle at least an hour after activity will help reduce gastrointestinal problems like GDV.
3. Basset Hounds
While they might be the shortest dog on this list, the Basset Hound is still a heavy-set dog with a deep chest on short stubby legs. Known for their signature ears that trail the ground, Basset Hounds have sweet dopey faces and a gentle yet stubborn disposition.
Besides Bloodhounds, Basset Hounds are some of the best scent trackers in the world. Because they are so distracted by smells, these hound dogs are not great off-leash.
Basset Hounds are also known to overindulge in food, and in larger deep-chested dogs eating too much food too fast can lead to bloat. Make sure you keep your Basset Hound at a healthy weight and that they do not eat their food too fast.
4. Gordon Setters
This beautiful black and tan long-haired Scottish bird dog is called the “black avenger of the Highlands” by the AKC. They are large and athletic dogs, with deep chests and can weigh upwards of 80 lbs.
While they love to spend the whole day hunting in rough terrain and weather, they are also cuddling dogs with their family and are considered nanny dogs.
Like many dogs on this list, the Gordon Setter is an active dog who needs to have time between exercise and eating because they are prone to bloat.
5. Irish Setters
The Irish Setter is the stunning red-headed cousin of the Gordon Setter. This gorgeous Irish gun dog has a long liver-colored coat that needs daily brushing and maintenance to keep it from getting matted from all their daily outdoor adventuring.
As a friendly dog and energetic dog, the Irish Setter does well in an active family-oriented household. They are a larder breed at around 75 lbs and are deep-chested.
Besides bloat, Irish Setters are susceptible to other common health issues that affect large dogs like hip dysplasia.
6. Irish Wolfhounds
Irish Wolfhounds are giant sighthounds who were originally bred to chase and hunt large game in Ireland. They compete with the Great Dane as the largest dog in the world and males can weigh over 180 lbs.
Despite their ferocious-sounding name, Irish Wolfhounds have become family and farm dogs throughout Ireland over the past century. They are loyal family dogs that are great with children.
Like other sighthounds and large dogs that were bred for their endurance and to run, Irish Wolfhounds have very deep chests. That, along with their extra-large size, makes them a breed very prone to bloat.
Known as Germany’s “sleek and swift Gray Ghost,” the Weimaraner is an all-purpose gun dog that also makes a great family dog. They are known for their obedience, good temperament, and beautiful silhouette.
These short-haired beauties are very trainable and will hunt, hike, run, swim, and happily do any number of dog sports with you. They are very energetic and do best with an owner who includes their pet in their active lifestyle.
Because of their deep chest that gives them the power and endurance to hunt or run all day, bloat or GDV is a very common health issue. If you own Weimaraners you should be aware of the symptoms of bloat.
The Dobermann is a beautiful short-haired black and tan dog originally bred as a guard and companion dog. Dobermanns are known as one of the most trainable dogs and are both loyal and protective of their owners.
In more recent years, the aggressive traits that made them excellent guard dogs have been selectively bred out. They still have their loyal temperament, but the modern Dobermann makes a great family dog who, while still aloof, is very tolerant of strangers.
As an active breed, the Dobermann has a deep chest that gives it the endurance to keep up with their owner all day. They can also be very large, almost 100 lbs. The body type of this breed makes them prone to bloat.
9. German Shepherds
From herding to police work or obedience to family life: the German Shepherd is one of the most recognizable breeds in the world. German Shepherds tend to be a smart, confident, and easily trainable breed that is very popular with those who love to work with dogs.
German Shepherds are very active and have a lot of energy. These muscular large dogs (males can be over 90 lbs) require an active owner to keep up with their active lifestyle.
Unfortunately, these beautiful dogs are prone to some major health issues. The most common is hip dysplasia. A good breeder will test and try to breed out these genetics. German Shepherds also have a body type that makes them susceptible to bloat.
10. Old English Sheepdogs
Despite their size, Old English Sheepdogs are known for being very friendly. They love training and excel at all sorts of dog sports and obedience.
Underneath all of their hair, Old English Sheepdogs are very athletic and have a deep chest that is so closely correlated with breeds that can bloat.
Bred to help fishermen in the frigid waters of Newfoundland, the Newfoundlander is a cold-weather warrior with a thick coat and webbed paws. While they might not work with fishermen anymore, they are still incredible working dogs who are popular with water search and rescue teams.
At almost 150 lbs and covered in thick long hair, the Newfoundlander loves to be outside but prefers a colder climate. They make wonderful family dogs and enjoy either training or being a couch potato.
Between their large size and barrel-shaped chest, the Newfoundlander is a breed that will easily bloat. Precautions should be taken with their exercise and feeding schedule to prevent GDV.
12. Saint Bernards
The Saint Bernard is another very recognizable breed. This patient, intelligent, yet powerful 180lb dog is known for loving children and also being the hero of the Swiss Alps rescuing lost alpiners.
While the Saint Bernard might have a gallant past, nowadays they are happy with short walks rather than an excursion to the top of a mountain.
Unfortunately, their giant body and deep chests put them at risk for several health concerns including arthritis and hip dysplasia. And according to the AKC, any “Large and deep-chested breeds can develop bloat, a sudden, life-threatening stomach condition.”
Boxers are large dogs known for their affection and are popular as a family dog. They have a unique look with a squarish-shaped head and a powerfully muscular body.
Build as a working dog, the Boxer is barrel-chested and weighs over 80 lbs. This means this breed is known to easily bloat.
How Can You Prevent Bloat?
So if you have one of these magnificent breeds, what can you do to best prevent your dog from suffering from bloat? While the exact cause of GDV is not always clear, there are some preventative measures you can take in your daily routine to keep your dog at their healthiest.
- Feed multiple meals a day. Break up your dog’s big meal into 2-3 meals.
- Inhaling air while eating or drinking too fast has been linked to bloat. There are special bowls that help slow down overzealous eaters as well as many DIY methods like rolling their food in a towel or hiding it in a cardboard box.
- If your dog likes to drink a bowl of water after eating, take it away. Too much food and water in their stomach can contribute to excess air which can cause bloat, and in severe cases, their stomach twisting.
- Try to avoid heavy exercise after your dog eats. A walk around the yard or block is probably fine, but robust exercise on a full stomach can lead to bloat.
Most importantly, if you have a breed that is at risk for GDV, know what the symptoms look like so you can take them to the veterinarian as soon as they start bloating. GDV is a very serious condition and dogs can die within a couple of hours of starting to show symptoms.
Any dog breed can be at risk for bloat. Eating or drinking too fast or exercising your dog after a meal can cause their stomach to fill up with too much air. Too much air in the stomach can cause discomfort or worse, a trip to the emergency veterinarian clinic.
However, because of their size and massive shaped chests, the deep-chested and barrel-chested dogs on this list are at even more of a risk than the average dog.
Hopefully, this list of dog breeds that can bloat will highlight a potential medical issue that your dog is at risk for so you can look out for symptoms. If you happen to own one of these breeds, please adjust their feeding and exercise schedule to help prevent bloat.