dog breed health problems are more common in certain breeds

10 Common Dog Breed Health Problems


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If you’re looking for dog breeds without health problems you might be in a bit of a pickle. This is because dog breed health problems can happen to all dogs, whether they’re pedigreed or mongrel.

Having said this, you can help buffer your beloved pup from medical issues it’s prone to – especially when you know what you’re looking for.

It’s important to know health conditions in dogs are often more heavily weighted in some dog breeds over others. And generally speaking, purebred dogs have a broader spectrum of health risks than mixed breed dogs.

This doesn’t necessarily mean your Labrador is going to get hip dysplasia or that your Dachshund will suffer from IVDD. It just means there’s a high prevalence of the condition among all Labradors and all Dachshunds. And, better still, it means you know which dangers to help safeguard them from so you can tailor your dog’s exercise, diet and health checkups accordingly.

Because prevention is better than cure, let’s look at some common health conditions that tend to affect some breeds more than others.

Dog breed health problems for these 10 breeds

There are 224 recognised dog breeds in New Zealand. We’ll never fit them all in one article, but to pave the way we’re starting with these 10 household dog breeds:

  1. Cocker Spaniel
  2. Yorkshire Terrier
  3. Doberman Pinscher
  4. Dachshund
  5. Golden Retriever
  6. Labrador
  7. Chihuahua
  8. Pug
  9. German Shepherd
  10. Boxer

The below info should provide some of your map to proactive pet parenting. Let’s prevent dog breed health conditions before they happen, and learn how to manage them if they do!

1. Cocker Spaniel health problems

Cocker Spaniel is prone to eye and ear dog breed health problems

Cocker Spaniels are prone to dog breed health problems that affect their eyes and ears. Their soft floppy ears need regular cleaning to prevent them from developing infections. This could be because their ears are covered and more moisture gets trapped, allowing for bacteria to flourish.

Whatever the case, a good cleaning is to a Cocker Spaniel what an apple a day is to a person. Read how to clean dog ears or ask your vet to show you how.

Cocker Spaniels can also tend to suffer from eye problems like cataracts and glaucoma. The best path to prevention is regular vet check ups to detect problems at early onset.

2. Yorkshire Terrier health needs

Yorkie dog breed health problems can affect digestion

Yorkshire has given us two great things: pudding and Terriers. Let it be known, however, that while these two share their provenance, the Yorkshire Terrier should not be fed the Yorkshire pudding. In fact, the most common health issues for Yorkies are intestinal and digestive conditions.

And by now we’ve probably all read or heard how digestive issues and wheat (aka Yorkshire pudding) are frenemies.

If you’re a Yorkie pet parent, speak to your vet about a cohesive diet plan to safeguard against digestive issues. Other concerns are trachea collapse and Portosystemic shunt (PSS). PSS is a congenital blood vessel birth defect where blood bypasses the liver and toxins don’t leave the blood properly. Often PSS can be corrected through surgery.

3Doberman Pinscher and DCM

 dog breed health problems for Doberman Pinschers include DCM

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is an incurable heart condition that’s fairly common in Doberman Pinschers. While this may sound mortifying, it can be successfully managed with monitoring and medication.

Routine annual check-ups with your dog’s vet are the best path to effective management and careful management of DCM can allow your Doberman to live a happy and healthy life.

If you’ve ever wondered what the difference between Doberman and Doberman Pinscher is, there isn’t any! Doberman Pinscher is the original name, and in the U.S a trend started of shortening it to a standalone ‘Doberman’.

4Dachshund health problems

Dachshund dog breed health problems include IVDD

With their shorter legs and longer torso, it’s no wonder Dachshunds are affectionately called sausage dogs. Their unique proportions are actually a product of breeding dwarfism, which can lead to skeletal disorders. With this breed the most common of these skeletal conditions is IVDD in Dachshunds, which affects their spines.

A great way to protect these pawsome pups from developing back issues is to keep them on level ground and help them avoid jumping on and off furniture, in and out of cars, and climbing stairs. You can either help them over these little hurdles by carrying them over or give them a non-slip doggy ramp.

Another great way to protect them is to keep their weight in check. Work with your vet on tailoring a Dachshund dog diet that meets their age requirements.

5. Golden Retriever skin conditions

Golden Retrievers are prone to allergies

Golden Retrievers are friendly and sensitive best friends. They’re also fairly prone to allergies, and in particular skin allergies. Allergies can be the result of environmental stress and can be tackled in various ways.

Try exclusively using hypoallergenic bathing and grooming products. Flea treatment in NZ should also be a regular part of your routine pet care. You’ll find some great lifestyle tips that prevent and cure allergies in our article on dog skin conditions.

Another lifestyle safeguard is to avoid letting your water-loving Golden play in stagnant water that’s more likely to carry aggravating bacteria and allergens.

6. Labrador Retriever fitness and food

Labradors are prone to becoming overweight

Fitness and food are key lifestyle factors for Labrador health. While this is the case for all dogs, Labs are especially prone to weight gain and obesity. Obesity is a concern as this can lead to the development of diabetes in dogs and cats.

Too much weight is also a burden on a dog’s musculoskeletal system so it can cause joint problems that limit movement. The best way to moderate dog weight is to ensure energy intake and usage are balanced. So if you like to reward your Lab (read about the benefits of positive reinforcement dog training) with treats, stick to healthy ones.

Find out which treats are healthy in our article on National Pet Obesity Day.

7. Chihuahua health issues

Chihuahua dog breed health problems include breathing issues

Despite their tiny proportions, Chihuahuas have enormous personalities and are extremely confident and brave. Sadly, these pint-size pups often suffer from windpipe or tracheal collapse. Look out for signs of breathing difficulties, reduced activity, snoring or a honking sounding cough.

Collapsing trachea can often be treated with medication, but because it can worsen over time surgery is sometimes needed down the line so your Chihuahua can have a new lease on life. Take a proactive approach with regular checkups and discussions with your vet and always pay attention to their breathing.

8. Pug health problems

Pugs can have breathing difficulties

Over time, the Pug has gradually been bred for a flatter face. This unique look can unfortunately cause severe breathing conditions, such as Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS).

These conditions are becoming widely recognised as dangerous, as they can lead to overheating and suffocation. In New Zealand and Australia, restrictions on flying with pets include some limitations for Brachycephalic dog breeds. Read our article on flying with pets to find out more.

If your Pug is having difficulty breathing or you suspect they may be, it’s time to consult your vet. There are a range of surgical and non-surgical treatments to enable you and your Pug to breath a deep sigh of relief.

9. German Shepherd health problems

dog breed health problems in German Shepherds include hip dysplasia

The German Shepherd is well known for its loyal devotion to guarding loved ones. And like many purebred dogs it has a limited gene pool that contributes to certain hereditary conditions. Hip dysplasia in dogs is one of the more typical hereditary conditions that many German Shepherd face.

Take a holistic approach to prevent hip dysplasia through a balanced and mineral-rich diet plus the right amount of exercise. Consider excising your dog without walking to limit pressure on their joints while keeping them active.

Also scroll down to see why buying from an ethical breeder is important to dog health.

10. Boxer dog health needs

Boxer dog breed should be safeguarded against cancers

Like Pugs, Boxers are another brachycephalic dog breed prone to breathing problems. They’re also prone to cancers like mast cell tumours and lymphoma.

Boxer dog parents will do well to book regular vet visits as the earlier cancer is identified the easier it can be to treat. Speak to your vet about how to check your pup for any type of new lumps and bumps or other signs of sickness. Then you can proactively take part in safeguarding your Boxer’s long-term health.

Dog breed health problems and ethical breeders

Buying from ethical dog breeders helps limit dog breed health problems from the get-go. That’s because ethical breeders conduct routine health checks on their breeding dogs to reduce any chance of hereditary health problems being passed from parent to puppy.

A good breeder really wants their puppies to be healthy specimens and live a long and prosperous life, so doing your research on the right seller is a vital part of pet adoption. Read up on how to avoid puppy mills in New Zealand.

Get dog insurance early on

Hereditary conditions often only surface later in a dog’s life. If you buy your dog insurance plan before these develop, your plan will cover these conditions too (after a waiting period).

So if you’re wondering is dog insurance worth it, know that it can be a lifesaver and the sooner you get it – and the younger your pet is – the better. Plus, with PD Insurance you one or more months of free dog insurance when you sign up with us online.

Why wait? Simply click on the orange button to get your fast, easy online quote.

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