Just as human genetics put us at higher risk for various health issues, the health challenges that you might face with different breeds of dogs can be somewhat predicted, monitored, and perhaps avoided.
If you wanted to choose a dog based on the probability of good health, you might be best to adopt a mixed breed or a working dog that is still used for its original purpose like a Foxhound or Australian Cattle Dog.
In a post on the 10 Healthiest Dog Breeds, Jennifer Coates, DVM veterinary advisor to petMD.com had an explanation for those choices. “A recent study showed that mix breed dogs were significantly less likely to develop ten genetically based diseases, including some types of heart disease, musculoskeletal problems, allergic skin disease, and hyperthyroidism.”
As for those working dogs she said, “When breeders focus on function instead of just good looks, they naturally weed out the dogs that develop debilitating illnesses or injuries.”
Examples of Health Issues by Breed
Breeds with bulging eyes, like Pugs and Boston Terriers, are at risk for eye problems. Have your vet brief you on what to do if an accident causes your dog’s eye to dislocate from the socket.
Giant Breeds, like the Great Dane, do have shorter life spans and must be fed carefully to prevent bloat and rapid puppy growth that can cause Wobbler Syndrome (a neurologic disease). Bloat is also a problem with German Shorthaired Pointers.
Dachshunds can have back problems. Mitral valve disease is common in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Greyhounds suffer from malignant bone cancer more than any other breed. Epilepsy can occur in Poodles along with hypothyroidism, Addison’s disease, and Cushing’s syndrome.
Here's That Link to More Information for Your Dog
The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association has published an extensive, cross-referenced “Guide to Congenital and Heritable Disorders in Dogs." Once you know about the conditions that might occur in your dog, you can work with your veterinary team to keep a watch and take preventative steps.
Should you have your heart set on a particular breed, (like the adorable King Charles puppy above) despite what you learn about health issues, work with a responsible breeder who will be open about how their breeding program has addressed these issues. Ask for multiple references to people with dogs from their line who are free of the conditions.
Words: Penny & Ed Cherubino (adapted from a previously published City Paws Newspaper column)
Photos: ©2011-2016 Penny & Ed Cherubino