Do Border Collies Reverse Sneeze? (And How To Deal With It)

Picture this. You wake up in the middle of the night terrified to death because you’ve just heard what you can only describe as “the honking horns of hell”.

You can’t see a thing, but you quickly turn on the lights expecting Satan himself to pop up, only to find your pooch staring at you back in embarrassment as it snorts its way back to consciousness.

The honking sounds were coming from your dog all along! Congratulations, you’ve probably just witnessed your Border Collie reverse sneezing

Why does this happen? In this post, we’ll be going over common questions like “do Border Collies reverse sneeze”, “what is reverse sneezing”, “is reverse sneezing dangerous” and much more. Let’s check it out.

Do Border Collies Reverse Sneeze

What Is Reverse Sneezing In Dogs?

Reverse sneezing in dogs (also called paroxysmal respiration) happens when the soft palate of the dog’s mouth gets irritated and causes spasms.

These spasms, narrow the trachea making it harder for the dog to breathe. As a result of this, the dog will make forceful inhalations through the nose which causes the reverse sneezing.

So in a sense, reverse sneezing is exactly what it sounds like: Instead of your dog expelling air out of its nose like it would in a sneeze, it’s inhaling air through its nose repeatedly at a very rapid pace.

The compression of the airway makes it more difficult for the air to go through, which causes that dreaded honking sound.

If you’ve never heard your dog reverse sneezing, it can be pretty terrifying because of how intense and strange the noise is. You might think your dog is in big trouble, when in fact it’s probably only gotten some irritation in its nose or throat and the episode will most likely be over very quickly.

Reverse sneezing usually lasts around 30 seconds to a minute or so (it’ll definitely seem longer to you) and usually stops after the dog has swallowed a few times.

There is no real treatment to completely get rid of reverse sneezing, but there are some commonly used remedies, which we’ll be mentioning later on. 

Do Border Collies Reverse Sneeze?

Reverse sneezing is common for all dogs, and Border Collies are no exception. So yes, Border Collies do reverse sneeze. With that said, different breeds of dogs are more prone to reverse sneezing than others, and some dogs are more allergic than others to different things. As such, you may find your Collie having this problem every spring, every so often, just sometimes or almost never.

Anything goes and every Border Collie is different.

This event seems to happen more often to smaller dogs like Poodles and Chihuahuas, and dogs that have a shorter snout like Boxers and French Bulldogs (because of how their facial bones are).

Border Collies don’t fit either of those categories since they’re mid-sized dogs and have longer snouts. Based on this, you should expect to see less reverse sneezing in general from Collies.

Is Reverse Sneezing Dangerous?

Reverse sneezing is for the most part, not dangerous at all and perfectly normal.

With that said, you might want to visit the vet the first time that your Border Collie does reverse sneeze, so as to get an official diagnosis and rule out any other conditions. This way, if your Border Collie does reverse sneeze again, you can both recognize it and know what you should do about it.

Reverse sneezing in dogs can easily be confused with kennel coughing and tracheal collapse though. The difference between these is that your dog will have its mouth closed when reverse sneezing, so keep an eye out for that.    

Reverse sneezing may in some cases be the sign of a more serious underlying health condition like nasal tumors which is why you want to check with a vet if the reverse sneezing becomes more prevalent.

Also, if you have multiple dogs and all of them start reverse sneezing at similar time periods when they otherwise wouldn’t have, it’s likely something like nasal mites may be involved and that most of, if not all of your dogs have them.

Nasal mites are easily treatable with nasal shots though, so there is no real need to worry.

What Causes Reverse Sneezing In Border Collies?

Although we’re still uncertain as to exactly what causes reverse sneezing in dogs, it seems to be that anything that could generally trigger a common sneeze, could also be the culprit of the dreaded reverse sneeze.

Some of the more common triggers for reverse sneezing in dogs include:

  • Pollen from specific plants.
  • Dust in the air.
  • Smoke.
  • Nasal mites.
  • Grass, seeds or dirt caught in the nasal passages.
  • Thin nasal passages. 
  • Elongated soft palate.
  • Other allergens.

The triggers may also come from internal sources like nasal secretions or nasal infections.  

As we briefly mentioned before, reverse sneezing in dogs, although generally not harmful, is not something that can be cured, so you might have to learn to live with the fact that some things will simply trigger it in your dog regardless. 

What you can do though, is try as best you can to prevent it from happening in the future by changing some habits or by trying to figure out what the specific triggers are.

How To Prevent Your Border Collie From Reverse Sneezing

Unfortunately there is not much you can do to completely taper or prevent your Border Collie from ever reverse sneezing again, since we can’t pinpoint to one specific reason for it happening in the first place.

Plus, if reverse sneezing happens because of allergens, then every individual dog can have a different reaction which then makes each dog its own case. It’ll most likely happen spontaneously, without much you can do about it.

With that said, here are a list of thing to consider to help deal with your Collie from reverse sneezing, and to help it in case it starts reverse sneezing:

Antihistamines & Steroids

If your pup is dealing with reverse sneezing very often, your veterinarian might give it antihistamines, steroids and other anti-inflammatory medicine, to help a bit. 

Antihistamines aren’t even all that common as a treatment for reverse sneezing. It’s meant for more serious allergic reactions, so if your vet doesn’t prescribe you anything for the sneezing don’t get too alarmed.

Identify Possible Triggers

Another way to try to prevent reverse sneezing in your Border Collie, is by identifying and recognizing possible triggers.

This is actually pretty hard to do, as you’ll most likely not see an immediate response from your dog, not to mention the fact that it can be multiple things at once which makes the trigger a lot harder to spot.

With that said, the idea here is to try to recognize what it is that triggers your dog to start reverse sneezing by exposing your dog to it and then trying to remove that thing completely, whether that be a smell, a specific plant, a specific place or action or food or piece of clothing.


In some cases, very frequent reverse sneezing might be caused by foreign objects, which is why your dog could use a Rhinoscopy.

This procedure involves using a little camera to check the nasal cavities of your dog for anything suspicious. If your vet finds anything that shouldn’t be there, the removal of it can make reverse sneezing disappear completely.

Lots Of Love

Worst comes to worst, if you’ve come to terms with the fact that your pooch will occasionally reverse sneeze, then some petting and love while the sneezing is happening should be very effective.

While your Border Collie is reverse sneezing, you’ll want to hold onto its mouth and pet the back of its head and neck for it to calm down.   

Border Collies need attention and can sometimes get a little anxious. So having their owner by their side can be very effective in calming it down, especially if it’s a pretty violent episode.

Another thing you can do is to try covering your dog’s nostrils. This will most likely force your dog to swallow, which will help clear the irritation faster. 


All in all, reverse sneezing sounds a lot worse than it really is. Border Collies do in fact reverse sneeze, and trying to prevent them from ever doing so again would be like trying to prevent it from sneezing regularly: You’ll probably never be able to do it.

It’s a natural, harmless response that your Border Collie has, and only in some rare cases will it need further inspection.

Obviously if you suspect your dog has gotten something foreign stuck in its nose, has nose mites or might be reverse sneezing more than it should, you should always consult a veterinarian just to be safe.

If you want to help your pup out during the episode, then give it some gentle massages on the back of the head and neck, or keep its mouth closed for a bit with your hands and try covering the nostrils briefly until it’s over.  

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