12 Common Dog Breeds and Their Health Issues

  • Common Health Problems in Dogs

    The fortunes of dogs and men have been mutually entangled for millennia. Numerous distinct breeds of Canislupus familiaris exist today, owing to dogs’ remarkable adaptability and genetic fluidity. Dogs come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and temperaments, and this diversity has been achieved through selective breeding. Unfortunately, this practice occasionally yields undesirable results, including a higher incidence of certain hereditary defects, deformities, or infirmities within a given breed.

  • Labrador Retriever

    America’s top favorite dog is prized for its high intelligence and affectionate nature. In many ways, Labs are perfect family dogs: loyal, gentle, and playful. Health issues with this energetic breed are relatively few, provided the animal gets plenty of daily exercise. Under-exercised pets are prone to weight gain and an increased risk of cardiovascular complications due to obesity. Inherited defects include eye disorders such as retinal detachment, central retinal atrophy, juvenile cataracts, and extra lashes.

  • German Shepherd

    Another contender for America’s favorite dog breed, German Shepherds are exceptionally intelligent and easily trained. They excel at guard duty, but require plenty of stimulation and exercise to maintain optimal health. Chronic eczema is common among Shepherds, as is keratitis, an inflammatory condition that affects the cornea of the eye, possibly resulting in discomfort and/or poor eyesight. German Shepherds are also prone to hereditary hip dysplasia, a deformation of the hip socket that may lead to arthritis or lameness.

  • Basset Hound

    With their droopy ears and sad-sack eyes, these adorable dogs are plagued by problems related to their most endearing qualities: droopy skin that may interfere with vision; large, delicate ears that require regular inspection and cleaning; and a penchant for constant, enthusiastic sniffing (made all the easier by their short legs), which renders these relatively unintelligent hounds prone to a variety of inhaled bacterial, parasitic, and viral infections. Regular stool collection and analysis may be required to identify potential infections.

  • Jack (& Parson) Russell Terriers

    These highly energetic, intelligent terriers are well known for their relatively good overall health and notable longevity. While some larger breeds may live an average of 10 to 12 years, Jack Russells (and closely related Parson Russell Terriers) may live 14 to 16 years, provided they receive adequate, regular exercise. Inherited diseases include glaucoma, which may result in a gradual loss of vision.

  • Lhasa Apso

    Experts describe these elegant dogs as “robust,” but the Lhasa requires regular eyecare to maintain optimal health. Constant tearing is normal in this breed; the runny fluid must be gently cleaned from the eyes on a routine basis with isotonic (mild saltwater) solution. The Lhasa’s long flowing coat requires extensive brushing and combing to avoid snags and tangles. This breed is also prone to potentially serious inguinal hernias and a form of hereditary kidney disease.

  • Irish Setter

    Although their popularity is presently waning, Irish Setters are still ranked among thetop 10 breeds for playfulness and affection. These lovable redheads are considered hardy, but some hereditary diseases do occur. Ears require regular inspection and cleaning, as Irish Setters are susceptible to ear mite infestations. A serious hereditary neurological disorder known as quadriplegia with amblyopia occasionally manifests in puppyhood. Affected dogs experience difficulty standing and may suffer seizures or tremors. Hemophilia, a potentially dangerous blood clotting disorder, is also possible.

  • Yorkshire Terrier

    Known for possessing outsized personalities in an undersized package, “Yorkies” have flounced into American’s hearts; they are the third most popular breed in America. With silky blue/tan coats, and entitled terrier attitudes, they relish their roles as miniature divas. Yorkies are prone to digestive problems; diet should be carefully monitored. As with other toy breeds, trachea collapse is possible; symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing, and fatigue. A hereditary defect, portosystemic shunt, may cause toxins to accumulate in the blood, leading to behavioral and neurological problems.

  • Dalmatian

    Patient, gentle, and hardy, Dalmatians are famous for their association with firemen, and as the fictional heroes in a series of popular Disney movies. The most common hereditary defect in this breed is deafness, although reputable breeders are working to eradicate this problem. Urolithiasis—a tendency to develop crystal in the urine, and kidney or bladder stones—is another common problem that may require special diet and/or surgery to correct.

  • Cocker Spaniel

    The seperennial favorites are known for their flowing coats, but owning a supermodel’s tresses comes at a price; Cocker Spaniels require frequent bathing and brushing to keep their long hair free of tangles. Spaniels may become tangled in thickets; these areas should be avoided. Susceptible to ear infections and eye problems, Spaniels may also inherit a condition called seborrhea, which causes chronic waxy ear buildup, and a greasy, smelly and/or scaly skin and coat.

  • Pug

    Familiar for their flat, pushed-in face, pugs are generally a healthy breed that lives a long life. While the flat-fronted face is part of their charm, it can lead to breathing problems, which may develop into snoring at night or difficulty breathing in hot weather and humidity. The pug prefers living its days as a house companion, steering clear of extremely hot or cold temperatures—although moderate exercise is still essential, as this breed is known to become overweight.

  • Chihuahua

    Made famous by Taco Bell commercials, this tiny breed weighs in around 6 lbs. or less. A gentle breed that will pair well with an equally gentle owner, Chihuahuas can live a relatively long life for dogs—around 12 to 15 years. The Chihuahua is not exempt from health concerns, however, the most common being patellar luxation: kneecap injury. Other medical concerns include teeth overcrowding and hypoglycemia—from burning more energy than what is being taken in—commonly noticed by shivering, lack of energy, and problems with muscular coordination.   

  • Boxer

    Highly athletic, and originally trained for dog fighting, the Boxer is rumored to have acquired its name from the way it uses its front paws for nearly every activity, seeming to bat at objects as if sparring. This compact and muscular breed is susceptible to a number of conditions, though. Boxers are prone to heart-related and thyroid problems, as well as skin allergies. Other serious medical concerns include cancer, arthritis, hip dysplasia, and knee issues.

  • Summary

    Whether bred for their protectiveness and vigilance (think highly intelligent German Shepherds) or their fearlessness and short stature (think sturdy Welsh Corgis), or their eminent suitability to the pampered life (think mild-tempered and affectionate Cavalier King Charles Spaniels), there is a breed of dog suitable for virtually every environment and type of owner. Learn more about choosing the right dog breed for your lifestyle, and get tips to keep your dog happy and healthy.

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