Canine Pain Sensitivity: Exploring Differences in Dog Pain Perception


Ever watched a tiny Chihuahua yelp at the slightest touch and a stoic Labrador seemingly shrug off a bump? It makes one wonder: Do different dog breeds feel pain differently? Let’s dive into a recent study that sought to answer this very question!

The Age-Old Debate

For ages, veterinarians have had their theories about which dog breeds are more sensitive to pain. Surprisingly, their beliefs often don’t match what most of us think. And here’s the kicker: until recently, there wasn’t much scientific evidence to back any of these beliefs!

The Groundbreaking Study

Researchers from top institutions, including North Carolina State University and Duke University, decided to get to the bottom of this. They embarked on a mission to understand if our furry friends, based on their breed, have different pain thresholds.

What They Did:

  1. The Test: They used a method called quantitative sensory testing (QST). Think of it as a ‘pain meter’ that gauges how much discomfort a dog feels when exposed to a stimulus.
  1. The Subjects: They included a mix of breeds – from the feisty Chihuahua and majestic German Shepherd to the playful Border Collie and loyal Golden Retriever.
  1. The Findings: Here’s where it gets interesting. While the vets’ beliefs didn’t always match the test results, there were indeed differences in how breeds reacted to pain. And guess what? How a dog greets a stranger might influence how vets perceive their pain sensitivity!

The Science-y Bit (Simplified!)

Imagine using a gadget that measures when you feel too hot or cold. That’s what QST does, but for pain in dogs. When humans use it, they say when something hurts. For dogs, they might pull away their paw or give a little yelp. Previous studies have shown that this method can even detect if, say, a dog with a joint problem feels more pain than a healthy one.

Why This Matters

Understanding that not all dogs are created equal when it comes to pain can change the game. It means vets and pet owners can tailor how they care for and treat their pets. After all, wouldn’t you want to know if your furry friend is more sensitive to pain than others?

Looking Ahead

The world of canine pain sensitivity is vast and still somewhat mysterious. As science continues to explore this realm, we can hope for even better care for our four-legged pals. Who knows what we’ll discover next?

*Inspired by the study: “Pain sensitivity differs between dog breeds but not in the way veterinarians believe” by Caddiell RMP, Cunningham RM, White PA, Lascelles BDX, and Gruen ME (2023).*


Caddiell RMP, Cunningham RM, White PA, Lascelles BDX, and Gruen ME (2023). Pain sensitivity differs between dog breeds but not in the way veterinarians believe. Front. Pain Res. 4:1165340.*

Some More Cool Blogs

Sign up now to unlock 10% exclusive offer

While you wait, enjoy uplifting pet stories, sustainable pet care advice, weekly sustainable world news, and delightful updates 💌.