5 Dog Breeds Prone to Anxiety: How to Help

Some dogs are more anxious than others. They include Chihuahuas, Border Collies, and Labrador Retrievers. Yet, you have options for soothing your fearful friend.

Jan 31, 2024By Thalia Oosthuizen
dog breeds prone to anxiety how to help

We’ve all heard that dogs are like pure happiness wrapped up in fur, right? But not all pooches are created equal in the chill department. It’s true; some dog breeds are more high-strung than others.

Chihuahuas, Border Collies, and even the loyal Labrador Retriever can struggle with anxiety––and for completely different reasons. Here, you can learn about these anxious doggos and what options you have for soothing a nervous four-legged pal.

Why Certain Dog Breeds Are Predisposed to Worry

Bichon Frise Standing on a Concrete Wall
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Ever wonder why some dog breeds are as cool as a cucumber, while others are a bit more fidgety? Well, there are a lot of different reasons.

First things first, it's in the genes! Just like we inherit our folks' quirks, our furry pals get handed down traits that can crank up the anxiety meter. Take Chihuahuas, for example. Those pint-sized powerhouses may be tiny, but their nerves can match a cat on a hot tin roof.

Then comes temperament. Labrador Retrievers, the life of the doggy party, thrive when with their families. But leave them alone for too long, and their party vibes might turn into a solo blues jam. It's not that Labs can't handle the solo life; they just prefer the company of others!

Shetland Sheepdog Sitting in Long Grass
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Last but not least, smarts play a part. Brainy breeds like Border Collies need more mental action than a Sudoku fiend at a puzzle convention. Without enough mind games, anxiety can sneak in and stir up trouble.

So, next time your pup looks a bit more on edge than the neighbor's chilled-out Golden Retriever, remember: it's not just about too many treats or too few belly rubs. It's the special mix of genes, temperament, and brains that make each pup a true original!

1. Labrador Retriever: More Than Meets the Wag

Labrador Retriever With Black Chew Ring in Mouth
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Labrador Retrievers, those adorable goofballs in the doggy world, are famous for their friendly vibes and tails that just won't quit wagging. But let us tell you, behind that wag, there might be a heart that's prone to a bit of anxiety. Labs, bless their social souls, are like party animals, and when they're left solo, anxiety can sneak up quicker than you can holler "fetch."

Labs crave human time like we crave a good burger. So, if they're left to their own devices, that's a big ol' warning sign right there. And let's talk about loud noises – thunderstorms or fireworks? Yeah, those can turn their joyful tails into quivering fluff faster than you can say "sit."

2. Chihuahuas: Tiny Bundles of Nerves

Adult Chihuahua Being Held by Woman
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You are probably all familiar with the Chihuahua, the little powerhouse of the dog crew. Don't let their pint-size stature fool you – these pups pack personality punches and some serious cases of the jitters. Let's dig into what makes them tick and why they're prone to those nail-biting moments.

Whether they're strutting through the city or chilling in the 'burbs, Chihuahuas soak up the vibes around them. A small change in environment can flip your tiny tail-wagger from cool to a bundle of nerves.

Hang tight, Chihuahua moms and dads! We've got your back: It's all about a combination of patience, getting what makes them tick, and maybe tossing in a few bonus snuggles for good measure.

3. Border Collie: The Genius with a Sensitive Soul

Adult Black and White Border Collie Standing in Snow
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The Border Collie, the brainiacs of the dog crew, are absolutely adorable, but they can be a little on the anxious side. Yet, being super smart comes with its own set of challenges, and every now and then, it can tip into anxiety territory.

Ever catch a Border Collie giving you that look, those deep, soulful eyes practically screaming for a mental challenge? Well, a lack of brain games can stir up anxiety in these clever canines. Those brains buzzing are almost always filled with excitement and anxiety.

Time to amp up your Border Collie's world with activities that go beyond the usual stroll around the block. Keep those minds engaged and their tails wagging in pure joy. Taking your dog for long runs and partaking in breed-specific sports (like herding) is the ultimate chill pill.

4. Shetland Sheepdog: A Sea of Sensitivity

Shetland Sheepdog Sitting in Winter Snow
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Shetland Sheepdogs rock those fancy coats and turn heads with their stunning looks. But underneath that glam, they've got themselves a sensitive side. What makes 'em tick when it comes to noise and stimuli? Nerves, so it's important for you to figure out how to set up a chill space that keeps their anxiety in check.

Socializing a Sheltie? Buckle up because that ride's got its own twists and turns. It is essential to understand they have unique social needs. Don't worry; we have some tips on boosting their confidence in all sorts of situations.

It’s all about knowing your dog’s limits. If your dog shows signs of stress while at a dog park, perhaps think about socializing them in a more intimate setting. If they struggle with separation anxiety, setting up some puzzles while you’re gone can work wonders.

5. Bichon Frise: A Fluffy Ball of Separation Anxiety

White Bichon Frise on Bench by Lawn
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These pups are all about forming tight bonds, but that means when you gotta leave, separation anxiety can swoop in like an uninvited guest. So why do these fluffy pals get a serious case of the worries? They need their humans close by as much as possible.

The Bichon Frise is all about routine and predictability. Discover the magic of setting up a solid schedule that's going to keep your Bichon Frise grinning from ear to ear, anxiety-free. It involves treats, playtime, and a whole lotta love.

Transform Your Anxious Pooch into a Zen Master

Labrador Retriever Standing on Grass near Sea
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Ready to turn your furry buddy's anxiety into a chill vibe? Check out these tail-wagging tips:

  • Set up a zen zone with cushy bedding, and toss in a sock that carries your scent for extra comfort.
  • Play some calming tunes, white noise, or nature sounds to drown out those stress-triggering noises.
  • Test out the soothing power of essential oils like lavender or chamomile.
  • Bust out interactive chew toys, puzzle feeders, or a good ol' game of fetch to keep your furball distracted and radiating positive vibes.

Just remember, as the big boss of the canine comfort crew, you've got the tricks to transform those anxious wiggles into a swagger of confidence!

Thalia Oosthuizen
By Thalia Oosthuizen

Thalia has been a freelance writer for over a decade and a dog (and animal) lover for over 30 years. She grew up on a farm where, at one stage, she had 15 dogs. She currently has one dog, Avery - an adorable pavement special with an extra toe on each foot, and two rescue cats - Boris and Mango. In her spare time, Thalia enjoys running, cycling, swimming, and reading