Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Collapse During Exercise in Labrador Retrievers

Exercise Induced Weakness and Collapse in Labrador Retrievers

Labrador Retrievers, known for their boundless energy and playful nature, are among the most active dog breeds. Living with a Labrador often entails embracing their high activity levels and love for exercise. While many dogs naturally regulate their activity levels and stop when fatigued, some Labradors are so enthusiastic about exercise that they push themselves to the point of weakness and collapse due to exhaustion, a condition known as exercise-induced collapse.

This phenomenon typically manifests during periods of vigorous activity or excitement, while at other times, affected dogs appear perfectly normal. Symptoms usually emerge in young dogs aged between five months and three years, with no notable gender predilection. Labradors bred for field trials may exhibit a higher predisposition to the condition, especially those prone to excitement.

Exercise-induced collapse is more likely to occur in conditions of high temperature and humidity, particularly during activities such as upland bird hunting, repetitive retrieving, strenuous running, and intense play. However, any exceptionally intense activity can precipitate collapse episodes in susceptible Labradors.

Symptoms and Types

Manifestations typically arise after five to twenty minutes of intense exercise, excitement, or stress. They encompass:

  • Abnormal walking or running patterns (rocking gait)
  • Weakness in the hind legs
  • Dragging of the hind legs during running
  • Wide-based stance while standing
  • Excessive lifting of the feet during walking or running (hypermetria)
  • Tumbling over while running
  • Inability to move the head and all four legs after exertion
  • Stiffness in the front legs during collapse
  • Most dogs remain alert
  • Absence of pain during collapse
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Occasionally, confusion
  • Rarely, seizures and mortality
  • No symptoms observed between collapse episodes
  • Typically, recovery occurs within five to twenty-five minutes.


Exercise-induced collapse in Labrador Retrievers stems from an inherited condition, which follows an autosomal recessive pattern. Dogs inheriting two copies of the gene (homozygotes) are significantly prone to displaying clinical symptoms. Meanwhile, dogs carrying only one copy of the gene (heterozygotes) act as carriers, capable of transmitting the gene to their offspring. However, they are unlikely to exhibit symptoms of exercise-induced collapse themselves.


A genetic test is available to pinpoint the gene responsible for exercise-induced collapse in Labrador Retrievers. If your veterinarian suspects this condition, they may recommend the genetic test to confirm the diagnosis.

Additional tests your veterinarian might conduct include a complete blood count and biochemical profile to ensure your dog’s internal organs are functioning normally. Thyroid hormone levels may also be assessed to ensure they are within the normal range. Furthermore, other blood tests may be conducted to rule out other muscle-related diseases that could lead to collapse.

To assess if your dog is experiencing intermittent heart issues, your veterinarian may suggest using a special monitor for a day or two to monitor normal heart rhythms. Typically, these tests yield normal results in Labs affected by exercise-induced collapse.


In most cases of exercise-induced collapse, managing the condition involves avoiding activities that trigger collapse episodes. While complete avoidance of exercise may not be feasible, it’s crucial to cease all activity at the first indication of weakness during exercise. Providing water orally or spraying your dog with cool water can aid in lowering body temperature.

If modifying your dog’s activities proves ineffective or impractical, several other approaches may offer assistance. Some dogs experience fewer collapse episodes when their diet is altered and they gain a slight amount of weight. Neutering may also be beneficial if the dog is intact.

Additionally, certain medications may be beneficial in managing the condition. Your veterinarian can guide you in determining the most appropriate medication for your dog. While medications may not be effective for all dogs, they often reduce the frequency or severity of collapse episodes in many cases.

Living and Management

Continuous vigilance over your dog’s condition is key to ongoing treatment and prevention. Upon observing signs of exhaustion and potential collapse, immediate cessation of all activity and prompt cooling of your dog are essential.

If your dog’s condition can be managed simply by adjusting its activity level, you may need to maintain this regimen for its lifetime. For dogs prescribed medication to alleviate symptoms, regular follow-up visits to the veterinarian are necessary to monitor the medication’s effects on internal organs. Adhere closely to the medication instructions provided, making any adjustments only after consulting your veterinarian. Typically, the frequency of collapse episodes tends to decrease with your pet’s age.


Avoiding activities that lead to weakness and collapse in your dog is paramount. For dogs diagnosed with exercise-induced collapse, it’s crucial to refrain from using them for breeding purposes, given the hereditary nature of this condition.

Scroll to Top