Shaking in Their Paws: Unveiling the Most Anxious Dog Breeds

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Anxiety in dogs, especially prevalent in the most anxious dog breeds, is a common yet frequently disregarded issue, posing countless challenges for pet owners. Dogs, being our loyal companions, experience emotions akin to ours, and anxiety can appear through a wide array of mannerisms.

These odd behaviors not only affect the quality of life for our furry friends but also create difficulties for their owners as they try to navigate the complexities of managing an anxious dog. Because certain dog breeds are more prone to anxiety than others, understanding specific breeds and tendencies is crucial for both soon-to-be and current dog owners. 

The following information will allow for informed decisions when selecting a suitable breed, early identification and intervention for anxiety-related issues, and, ultimately, calmer life for the fluffiest member of the family.

We will unveil the most anxious dog breeds, discuss the factors contributing to anxiety in these breeds, and provide tips on how to help sensitive canines.

So, let’s embark on this enlightening journey together and discover how we can support our loyal companions in overcoming their fears and anxieties.

Anxious Dogs

In dogs, anxiety manifests as unease, nervousness, or fear, which can stem from various environmental, social, or genetic factors.

nervous dachshund on a white background

Just like in humans, anxiety can significantly impact a dog’s overall mental, physical, and emotional.

For a more detailed look at the general subject of anxiety in dogs, we have a thorough article that explains everything you need to know about how it affects dogs and their quality of life.

Importance of Knowing Which Are The Most Anxious Breeds.

Recognizing which breeds are more susceptible to anxiety is essential for several reasons.

It helps potential dog owners make informed decisions when choosing a breed that suits their lifestyle and living conditions.

Different dog breeds - most anxious dog breeds

Current owners can identify and address potential anxiety issues early on, ensuring a better life for their pets.

Highlighting breed-specific anxieties can contribute to better breeding practices, reducing the occurrence of anxiety in future generations.

The Most Anxious Dog Breeds

Here’s a list of the most anxious dog breeds:

  • Lagotto Romagnolo: Energetic and intelligent, this breed’s anxiety stems from separation from their human companions.
  • Dachshunds: Prone to anxiety due to their territorial nature, which can lead to heightened nervousness in unfamiliar environments.
  • Jack Russell Terrier: Often experiences anxiety from a strong desire for social interaction, making them sensitive to changes in routine and environment.
  • Chihuahua: Small but feisty, this breed’s fears are typically a result of their vulnerability to larger animals, they are also prone to noise anxiety.
  • Bichon Frise: Known for their cheerful disposition, they can develop separation and social anxiety.
  • Border Collie: As intelligent working dogs that like to herd, they can become anxious when they lack mental stimulation or physical activity.
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: A loving and affectionate breed, prone to separation anxiety due to their strong need to spend time with their owners.
  • Cocker Spaniel: Their gentle and sensitive nature makes them susceptible to anxiety, especially when exposed to sudden noises or environmental changes.
  • French Bulldogs: Prone to anxiety due to their brachycephalic features, which can cause respiratory issues and increased stress levels.
  • German Shepherd Dog: Known for their loyalty and protective instincts, they can develop anxiety when they lack purpose or are not properly socialized.
  • German Shorthaired Pointer: Highly energetic and intelligent, this breed can experience anxiety when not given ample opportunities for physical exercise and mental stimulation.
  • Havanese: Their strong bond with their owners can lead them to develop separation anxiety, making them sensitive to changes in routine and environment or being left alone for long periods.
  • Maltipoo: These adorable, loyal furballs can face separation anxiety due to their strong bonds with owners. Proper socialization and routines help ease their worries.
  • Italian Greyhound: A delicate and sensitive breed, they are prone to anxiety when exposed to loud noises, harsh weather, or unfamiliar situations.
  • Labrador Retriever: As friendly, outgoing and active dogs, labradors can develop anxiety when they lack sufficient socialization or physical activity.
  • Pug: Affectionate and charming, Pugs crave companionship and dislike being left alone. Ensuring proper socialization, mental stimulation, and a consistent routine can help reduce anxiety in these endearing, sociable dogs.
  • Toy Poodle: Intelligent and affectionate, this breed is likely to suffer from separation anxiety or a lack of mental stimulation and socialization. They don’t like spending long periods of time alone.
  • Whippet: Graceful and agile, this breed can experience anxiety when lacking exercise or mental stimulation. Sensitive to loud noises and unfamiliar environments, Whippets may also develop separation anxiety.

Symptoms of Anxiety in Dogs

Recognizing the signs of anxiety in dogs is crucial for early intervention and providing the necessary support to ensure your pet’s well-being. 

signs of dog anxiety

Common indicators of anxiety in dogs can range from subtle changes in behavior to more apparent signs, which may vary from dog to dog.

By closely observing your dog’s actions and behavior, you can identify the patterns that signal anxiety and appropriately address the issue.

Some typical signs of anxiety in dogs include:

Dogs may exhibit more subtle signs like:

Paying attention to these cues is essential, as they may be your dog’s way of communicating unease.

Observing these signs in your dog in various situations and noting any shifts in behavior or body language is essential.

Familiarizing yourself with your dog’s typical demeanor will help you recognize deviations that may indicate anxiety.

Keep in mind that it’s important to consider the context of the situation, as some behaviors might be normal under certain circumstances but could signify anxiety in others.

The importance of recognizing these signs early cannot be overstated. Early detection of anxiety allows for timely intervention, which may prevent the issue from escalating and causing more significant problems for the dog and the owner.

By understanding your dog’s anxiety signals, you can take steps to create a calming environment, implement training techniques, or consult with a professional to help your furry friend overcome their anxiety and enjoy a happier, healthier life.

The Role Genetics Plays in Certain Dog Breeds

Genetics plays a significant part in dog anxiety because inherited traits can predispose certain breeds to a higher likelihood of experiencing stress and anxiety-related behaviors.

genetics - most anxious dog breeds

These traits have been passed down through generations due to selective breeding for particular characteristics or purposes. As a result, some specific dog breeds may be more prone to certain types of anxiety than others.

Working breeds like Border Collies and German Shepherds have been bred for their intelligence, high energy levels, and strong work ethic.

These characteristics make them excellent working dogs, but they also come with a heightened sensitivity to their environment and a need for mental and physical stimulation.

Without fulfilling these needs, these breeds may develop anxiety due to their inherent predispositions.

Many dog breeds have been selectively bred for their companionship traits, such as loyalty and attachment to their human families.

Breeds like Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Havanese are known for their strong bonds with their owners, which can make them more susceptible to separation anxiety.

It’s essential to understand that genetics is not the sole determinant of anxiety in dogs.

Environmental factors, early life experiences, and individual temperaments also contribute to the development of anxiety, and we’ll cover this later in the article.

However, recognizing the role genetics plays can help owners anticipate potential issues and take the best course of action to address any puppy anxiety-related behaviors. 

Coping with Anxious Dog Breeds: Tailored Approaches and Natural Remedies

Helping our canine companions cope with breed-specific anxiety requires a combination of tailored approaches and natural remedies.

top of a german shepherds head

By understanding the specific needs of different breeds, we can implement more effective strategies to alleviate your dog’s anxiety and ensure they feel secure and content.

Some methods for coping with the most anxious dog breeds include:

  1. Routine and structure: Establishing a consistent daily schedule can help dogs feel more secure and reduce anxiety. This may consist of regular feeding times, exercise, and playtime. Breeds that thrive on routine, like Border Collies and German Shepherds, may benefit significantly from such structure.
  2. Mental and physical stimulation: Engaging your dog in activities challenging their mind and body can help alleviate anxiety. Puzzle toys, agility courses, and interactive play can significantly benefit high-energy breeds like Labrador Retrievers and German Shorthaired Pointers.
  3. Socialization: Gradually introducing your dog to new people, animals, and environments can help reduce anxiety from unfamiliar situations. This approach can be efficient for breeds, such as Jack Russell Terriers and Toy Poodles, requiring much social interaction.
  4. Comfort items: Providing your dog with a safe space or comfort items like a familiar blanket or toy can help them feel more secure and alleviate separation anxiety. Breeds with strong attachments to their owners, such as Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Havanese, may find solace in these items.
  5. Natural remedies: Some pet owners turn to natural remedies, like calming chews or supplements containing ingredients such as chamomile, valerian root, or L-theanine. These remedies can help soothe anxiety in various breeds but remember to consult your veterinarian before using them to ensure they are safe for your specific pet.

Our blog features another article dedicated to anxiety solutions that delves deeper into various techniques and remedies for coping with canine anxiety. We highly recommend reading it to gain further insights into helping your furry friend.

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 Seeking Professional Help: When and How

In some cases, despite our best efforts to manage and alleviate our dog’s anxiety, professional help may be necessary to ensure the well-being of our furry friends.

Vets checking out a nervous dog

Recognizing when to seek assistance and understanding the available options is essential for providing the most effective care for the most anxious dog breeds that are struggling.

When to seek professional help

  1. Persistent anxiety: If your dog continues to exhibit signs of anxiety despite your attempts to address the issue, it may be time to consult a professional.
  2. Intense or worsening symptoms: If your dog’s anxiety symptoms become more severe or lead to self-harm or aggression, it’s essential to seek help immediately.
  3. Inability to cope: If you struggle to manage your dog’s anxiety, reaching out to a professional can provide additional support and guidance.

Available professional help

  1. Veterinarian: Your dog’s primary veterinarian is a valuable resource for addressing anxiety issues. They can assess your dog’s overall health, rule out any underlying medical conditions, and recommend appropriate treatments or therapies.
  2. Veterinary behaviorist: A board-certified veterinary behaviorist specializing in animal behavior can provide in-depth assessments and tailored treatment plans to address your dog’s anxiety. They may suggest behavioral modification techniques, medications, or a combination of both help your pet.
  3. Certified dog trainer: A dog trainer can work with you and your dog to plan and implement training methods to address anxiety-related behaviors. They can teach you to utilize desensitization, positive reinforcement techniques, and other strategies to help your dog feel more secure and confident.
  4. Pet therapist or animal communicator: Some pet owners work with pet therapists or animal communicators to better understand what’s happening with their dog’s emotions and needs. These professionals can offer insights into your dog’s anxiety triggers and suggest personalized coping strategies.

Seeking professional help is a responsible and caring decision that dramatically benefits your dog’s emotional health. By working with experts, you can ensure your pet receives the most effective treatment and support.

When Genetics is Not The Issue

Genetics is just one reason why your dog has anxiety. Some types of anxiety arise for other reasons, here are three examples:

Travel Anxiety: Placing your dog in an enclosed metal box on wheels and hurtling along at great speed doesn’t come natural to dogs, neither does flying a 40,000 feet in the air or bobbing about in the middle of the ocean. Traveling in this manner is alien behavior to dogs, some enjoy it and some are terrified. It’s hard to pin this sort of anxiety on a specific breed.

Senior Anxiety: Older dogs that are slowing down, getting creaky in the joints and starting to forget where they left their squeaky toy that they can’t hear anymore. They are prone to age related anxiety, and may be suffering with Canine Cognitive dysfunction, leaving older dogs increasingly confused and scared.

PTSD through Trauma: Another form of anxiety that isn’t breed related. Any dog can develop this type of anxiety under the certain circumstances, as any breed of dog can find themselves confronted with a scary incident, or involved in a horrific accident, or be the unfortunate victim of abuse.

Final Thoughts

Understanding if particular breeds suffer from anxiety is crucial for prospective and current dog owners. This knowledge allows for informed decisions when selecting a suitable breed of dog, and plays a vital role in early identification and intervention for anxiety-related issues. 

Close up of a german shepherds head - most anxious dog breeds

By recognizing the signs of anxiety in our canine companions, we can implement tailored strategies to help them cope, whether through establishing routines, providing mental and physical stimulation, or utilizing natural remedies.

Addressing anxiety in dogs is essential to ensuring their emotional well-being and enhancing the bond between pets and their owners.

Seeking professional help, when necessary, demonstrates a commitment to your dog’s welfare and can lead to more effective, long-lasting solutions.

Our goal, ultimately, should be to help our furry friends lead balanced, comfortable lives, and understanding their unique predispositions to anxiety is a significant step toward achieving this objective.


All information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not meant to replace your veterinarian's advice.
Jen Smart

Jen is the founder of, a leading resource for managing and treating anxiety in dogs. With over a decade of experience in working with rescue dogs, Jen holds diplomas in Understanding Canine Anxiety, Canine Holistic Health & Therapy, CBD Oil for Animals, and Zoopharmacognosy. Her expert insights help dog owners navigate the challenges of anxiety with compassionate, innovative solutions. Follow Jen’s guidance at Anxious Canine for a calmer, happier dog.

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