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Is your dog's heart rate normal? Heart rate, respiratory rate, and body temperature can provide indications of your dog's health.

What Is a Normal Heart Rate for Dogs?

Your dog may have a figurative heart of gold (well, except when he's tearing holes in your socks), but he also has a real heart, and you may be wondering what the normal heart rate is for dogs. It's smart to be informed about details like this, as a heart rate that is too fast or too slow could indicate a health issue.

Is your dog's heart rate normal? Heart rate, respiratory rate, and body temperature can provide indications of your dog's health.

What is a Heart Rate?

A heart rate is simply the number of times a heart beats in one minute. Veterinarians use this number and other “vitals" like respiratory rate and body temperature as a basic indication of a dog's overall health.

Normal Heart Rate for Dogs

Just like your heart rate, your dog's heart rate will vary depending on his level of physical activity. But overall, your dog's resting heart rate tends to be faster than yours. The size of individual dog breeds affects their normal resting heart rate; small dog breeds generally have higher heart rates than medium-sized or large breeds.


Small Dog

Medium Dog

Large Dog

60–100 beats per minute

100–140 beats per minute

80–120 beats per minute

60–100 beats per minute

These numbers are simply guidelines, as everyone (human or canine) is a unique individual. When a dog is in good athletic condition, the effectiveness of his heart increases, so it doesn't have to beat as much to do the same amount of work (this happens in humans too). The result is that a fit dog might have a resting heart rate as low as 50 beats per minute. On the other hand, a resting heart rate that is consistently too low may also be an indication of a health problem that should be checked out by your pet's veterinarian. Likewise, heart rates regularly on the high side should also be investigated; it could mean your dog is ill or stressed.

How to Check Your Dog's Heart Rate

Curious about your own dog's heart rate? It's easy to determine what his resting heart rate is—just make sure you do it in a calm, “normal" way that won't make him stressed or suspicious, which might accidentally throw off the results. Also, checking your dog's heart rate when you know he is healthy can help confirm what is “normal" for him. (Illnesses can cause the heart rate to go up.)

To start, place your hand on your dog's left side, near the front leg, and set a timer while you count heartbeats. A whole minute is a long time for your dog to lay still and for you to count, but happily, you don't have to wait that long. You can simply count heartbeats for 15 seconds (a quarter of a minute) and then multiply that result by four.1 This will give you your dog's heart rate in beats per minute. You might want to try this a few different times to create an average. Remember, your dog's heart rate will be much higher during exercise (or shortly afterwards).

When resting, it should fall somewhere in the indicated range. To help your dog relax, you can always consider supplying him with an orthopedic pet bed or an elevated, heated cot. Puppies that have been recently weaned may still miss the sound of their mother's heartbeat and might be reassured by a device that mimics this sound, especially when the sound is designed to match the rate of the mother's heartbeat. K&H is the only brand that offers heartbeat toys and beds in different heartbeat rhythms specifically designed to mimic the breed size's typical heartbeat.

Those Wily Whippets

One dog breed has a particularly unique heart rhythm—a type of sighthound known as the Whippet. These are elegant, energetic dogs that know how to power nap when the need arises! Whippets (which look like small Greyhounds) are naturally athletic yet are known to have an irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia, which is most prominent when the dog is at rest. If you own a Whippet, don't be alarmed if you notice their resting heartbeat is not perfectly rhythmic.2 By the way, Whippets love nothing better than a warm, cozy, heated dog bed to rest in!

Many factors can impact an individual dog's heart rate, but by recognizing what is a normal heart rate, you can keep an eye out for potential changes down the road. And one thing is certain: your dog will always have a permanent place in your heart!

1. Becker, Marty. Vetstreet. “Check Your Dog's Vital Signs at Home," 9 March 2012

2. Europetnet. “Whippet,"

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