A dog's breed can affect pain sensitivity

Dog breeds differ in pain sensitivity. The College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University published a recent study on pain sensitivity and dog breeds.  

Dog owners and veterinarians have different perceptions of breed-specific pain tolerance. The study looks at 10 dog breeds.  The following are from pain sensitivity questionnaires sent to dog owners and veterinarians

Average Pain Tolerance 
(Rank from Low to High pain tolerance )

For example, for dog owners, Maltese is the most sensitive to pain (low pain tolerance) and pitbull is the least sensitive to pain (high pain tolerance)

Rank By Veterinarians
By Dog Owners
1 Chihuahua Maltese
2 Siberian Husky Chihuahua
3 Maltese Jack Russell Terrier
4 German Shepherd Boston Terrier
5 Boston Terrier Border Collier
6 Jack Russell Terrier Golden Retriever 
7 Border Collie Siberian Husky
8 Golden Retriever German Shephard
9 Pitbull Labrador Retriever 
10 Labrador Retriever Pitbull


The study took it one step further. 

It recruited 149 healthy adult dogs of the10 dog breeds The scientists then measured each dog's sensitivity to external stimuli of pressure and temperature.  They also measured their individual emotional reactivity by exposing the dogs to unfamiliar objects (a moving and noise making stuffed monkey) and people (a stranger in a loud phone conversation prior to noticing and calling the dog over) and certain stressful situations (mock vet visit)   

The scientists want to see if the tests results are in line with veterinarians' perceptions. Overall, the tests results from the 149 dogs are not consistent with what the veterinarians believe.  One interesting note is that veterinarians’ pain sensitivity ratings were positively associated with dog approach scores for the disgruntled stranger test.  It suggests the way dogs greet strangers may be a factor influencing veterinarians’ ratings of pain sensitivity across dog breeds.



Rachel M. P. Caddiell1,Rachael M. Cunningham, Philip A. White, B. Duncan X. Lascellesand Margaret E. Gruen

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