Measuring Your Dog’s Target Heart Rate

The heart. It is one of the most amazing parts of your body. From the most mundane activity, to the most intense of workouts, your heart is responsible for delivering oxygen, the body’s fuel, to every cell in your body so you can perform these tasks.

The Human Heart

Your heart is a muscle about the size of your fist. In order to pump blood throughout the body, a baby’s heart needs to beat about 120 times per minute, and the average adult heart needs to beat at about 60-100 beats each minute while the body is at rest. This number is determined by a number of factors.

Athletic people have a resting heart rate that is towards the lower end of the scale; around 60 beats per minute (bpm). This is because they have developed their heart muscle so it is more efficient, and each beat of the heart pumps a little bit more blood than the average adult. An overweight or very inactive person has a higher resting heart rate; more like 80-100 bpm.

Your basal metabolic rate, or BMR, also affects how fast your heart pumps. This is basically a calculation of your body’s metabolism, and is determined by your gender, whether you smoke cigarettes, the amount of fat in your body, your height, the temperature of the environment, body mass and some other factors.

As you age, your resting heart rate increases. This is because the muscle loses strength, and does not pump as much blood with each beat, so it needs to pump a bit faster to get the blood circulating properly.

The Canine Heart

Your dog’s heart is very similar to yours. It is made up of all the same parts, and performs the same job. Dogs can also have many of the same heart diseases that affect humans.

Canine heart rates vary based on some of the same factors that affect human heart rate; except for the cigarette factor! Breed plays a very important factor, as the difference between the sizes of dog breeds varies dramatically. The smaller the dog, the faster the heart rate.

Just like human babies, a puppy’s heart needs to beat faster than its parents; up to 220 bpm. The average dog heart beat is anywhere between 60-160 bpm. A Great Dane will have a resting heart rate of about 60-80, while a Yorkie or Chihuahua can have a resting heart rate of 120-160. The average dog heart beat almost twice as fast as a human adult’s!

Just as in humans, a dog that is overweight will have a higher resting heart rate than a lean dog. Dogs that work in frigid, icy environments will have a higher resting heart rate in that environment, because the heart has to work harder to produce body heat. Dogs in hot, humid climates will also have a higher resting heart rate outside, because the blood has to pump harder to keep the pet cool.


Measuring Target Heart Rates

During exercise, your heart rate can increase dramatically, and usually settles around 150 bpm during light-to-moderate exercise. During the most strenuous activities, your heart can reach 200 bpm; with the maximum heart rate of about 220 bpm.

In order to get the most out of every exercise you do, doctors and exercise scientists have a way to determine the target heart rate for your workout. This uses a formula based on your age and the desired intensity of your workout. This helps you determine whether you are working too hard, or not hard enough, and will help ensure that you are actually burning calories, and not just wasting your time.


Heart Rate Monitors

Although you can easily measure your heart rate with your fingers and a watch, there are heart rate monitors made specifically for measuring heart rate during activity. There are many different types of heart rate monitors on the market today. There are wrist watches, belt clips, and other types of monitors, and many of these have connectivity with your computer, mobile phone or tablet. This can help you track your exercise routines; calories burned, and track your fitness progress. You can even share your results with friends, family, or your trainer relatively easily using social media connectivity.


Formula for canine target heart rate

There is currently a target heart rate formula for humans and horses, but there have been no scientific studies on the target heart rate of dogs. There is also no data to suggest a safe maximum heart rate for dogs. WooFDriver would love to develop a formula to determine his dogs’ target heart rate, so he knows that they are getting a sufficient workout, and where there peaks and averages are.

To develop this formula, much research will be needed. We will need to determine the safe maximum heart rate for each breed; we will need to determine what the appropriate levels are for moderate exercise and strenuous exercise; and we will need to determine the resting heart rate of athletic dogs vs inactive dogs.

This information could be used in so many beneficial ways. There is a serious obesity problem in this country, and it has started to affect our beloved pets. According to the Association for Pet Obesity, more than 50% of dogs are obese, and need serious help to lower their weight. Along with proper diet, this formula would enable veterinarians to monitor the exercise routines of their clients’ pets, and help them achieve their weight loss goals.

Currently, this possibility is in the initial stages of research. I have used a heart monitor of my dogs during our physical activities to watch how their heart is performing but am lacking the scientific studies to understand all the measurements.

I am excited at the prospect of accomplishing this daunting task, and am seeking to collaborate with a veterinarian, veterinary hospital, or veterinary school to research this topic in a properly controlled, scientific manner.


Please see my technical side on some of the equipment I use to measure my WooFPAK’S Health & Performance Levels on my WooFTEK website. Here’s The Link:

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