When thinking about adding a new dog to your family, one of the things you’ve probably considered is the common health issues each dog breed has. Are Beagles susceptible to ear infections? Is an Australian Shepherd prone to hip issues? Which breeds experience poor eye health? These health problems should not be the ultimate determining factor in whether or not you move forward with adding a dog to your family but knowing these breed health concerns can help you plan for any challenges that may arise in the future.
While your dog is not guaranteed to experience a condition specific to its breed, it’s essential to know if you’ll be able to mentally and financially handle the treatments and care that comes with the health issue. We’ve compiled a list of the dogs with the least health problems to help you determine the next breed that is right for you and your family.
Australian Cattle Dog
Known for cattle herding, the Australian Cattle Dog is energetic and able to work or exercise for long hours. This breed is perfect for families who enjoy hiking, camping, and outdoor activities. Australian Cattle Dogs are high achievers and independent, making them trustworthy enough to be left alone with a herd. They should be given plenty of mental and physical stimulation so that they don’t become bored and cause mischief. Weighing an average of 35 to 50 pounds and standing at 17 to 20 inches at the shoulder, these dogs are a medium build. With two layers of either a red or blue coarse coat, this breed can survive a wide array of harsh conditions, including rain.
Australian Cattle Dogs are bred to live an average lifespan of 10 to 13 years. While they are generally one of the healthiest dog breeds, they have some major health concerns, including canine hip dysplasia (CHD), elbow dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and deafness. They may also struggle with lens luxation and cataracts. It’s important to discuss your Australian Cattle Dog’s specific health needs with your vet to ensure they have a long, happy life.
Bred in Europe and mistakenly assumed they originated from Australia, the Australian Shepherd is an intelligent, obedient, and athletic dog. They’re commonly found working on farms, competing in competitions, or working as service dogs. Because of their high-energy and work mentality, they require regular and frequent exercise and activities that create mental stimulation. They have a strong impulse to herd and may not be suitable for pet owners who like to relax or have young kids. The Australian Shepherd’s average height is 18 to 23 inches, and it weighs about 40 to 65 pounds, making it a good-sized medium dog.
Australian Shepherds live an average of 12 to 15 years. They are prone to health conditions, including hip dysplasia, Collie Eye Anomaly, and hypothyroidism. The American Kennel Club recommends getting your Australian Shepherd hip, elbow, and ophthalmologist evaluations. Remember to watch your pup’s weight and regularly clean their teeth and ears.
The “barkless dog” originated from Egypt then Africa as a hunting dog. Later, this breed became popular in the United States as a show dog. The Basenji has a sturdy build with a wrinkled forehead and curled tail. Because of its long legs, the Basenji runs fast. This breed of dog is brilliant, inquisitive, and stubborn. It gets along well with other dogs but does not interact with its own breed. If this dog does not receive enough physical and mental exercise, it could become aggressive or get into trouble from trying to seek this stimulation. The Basenji can be an indoor dog as long as it gets time to run outside freely or go for long walks. At only 20 to 25 pounds and 16 to 17 inches in height, the Basenji is a relatively small dog.
With an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years, the Basenji often struggles with hip dysplasia, PRA, and Fanconi syndrome. This breed may also experience other minor health issues, including umbilical hernia, hypothyroidism, and persistent pupillary membranes (PPM). The Basenji is a sighthound, prone to chasing after prey they see. Because of this, they often experience injury and sometimes death. Be sure to keep your Basenji in an enclosed area or on a leash during exercise.
With a calm temperament and a keen sense of smell, the Beagle is a top choice for many pet owners and hunters alike. At an average of 15 inches in height and 20 to 25 pounds, Beagles are relatively small. They are very pack-oriented, requiring the company of humans and other dogs. They’re also adventurous and need regular exercise so that they remain healthy. Because of their tolerant behavior, they are good pets for families with kids.
As one of the healthiest dog breeds, the Beagle lives an average of 12 to 15 years. A Beagle pet owner should watch for these health issues later in the dog’s life: glaucoma, epilepsy, hypothyroidism, patellar luxation, cherry eye, or deafness. The Beagle may also suffer from intervertebral disk disease. Regular hip, thyroid, and eyes tests from your local vet will help detect these conditions early on.
The smallest dog breed and one of the dogs with the least health problems, the Chihuahua is a loyal companion and highly devoted to its owner. This sassy dog is intelligent and protective of its family. Chihuahuas need minimal exercise (a little playtime around the house or a short walk a day is plenty for these little-legged friends), and their coat (which can vary from short to long) does not require much grooming. They weigh between 2 and 6 pounds and are 6 to 9 inches in height.
The Chihuahua has an average lifespan of 14 to 18 years. This breed may experience health conditions such as hypoglycemia, patellar luxation, or keratoconjunctivitis Wicca (KCS). If you decide to get a Chihuahua, keep your eye out for symptoms of these conditions and openly discuss treatment options with your vet if a symptom does present itself.
A highly friendly and sociable dog, the Havanese makes for a great companion. Bred in Havana, the Havanese is the only dog originating from Cuba. This dog is known for its long, silky hair and pluming tail that curls over its back. It weighs an average of 7 to 13 pounds and is 8.5 to 11.5 inches in height. Extraordinarily bright and eager to please, the Havenese is easy to train. This breed enjoys spending time with people and does not do well left alone for long periods of time. This pup is also very sensitive and does not need to be scolded harshly.
As one of the dogs with the least health problems, the Havanese has an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years. While it is a healthy dog breed, pet owners should be aware of signs of deafness, elbow dysplasia, or patellar luxation in their Havanese. Regular visits to the vet and having their ears, eyes, and hips tested can help detect these conditions early enough to start treatment. It’s also recommended to feed your Havanese high-quality food and treats.
Full of personality and known as a sled dog, the Siberian Husky is one of the dog breeds with the least amount of health problems. This breed of dog loves hiking, walking, and jogging with its owners. While a Husky is playful, energetic, adventurous, and eager to please, this pup also tends to wander and escape, loves to chew or carry things in its mouth, and may attack small animals. Siberian Huskies are very social, which makes them not the greatest watchdogs. They are also highly intelligent, which means they need to have a “job” (something that stimulates their mind). As a larger breed, the Siberian Husky weighs between 35 and 60 pounds and is 20 to 23 inches in height.
The Siberian Husky can live an average of 12 to 16 years, which is considered long for dogs of large breeds. It’s important to note that while your Husky could have a long life, he may also be susceptible to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, PRA, cataracts, or hypothyroidism. PetMD recommends finding a local vet and emergency hospital and getting pet insurance so you can be prepared for any health-related issues with your Siberian Husky.
Keeping Your Dog Healthy
No matter which dog breed you decide to add to your family, you should be aware that whether your dog is healthy or unhealthy can’t always be determined right away, especially if you get a puppy. The best way to care for your pup is by taking them to the vet for annual visits and any time they show symptoms of a health condition. While veterinary medical treatment can be expensive right out of your own pocket, pet insurance is available to help you cover any emergency vet bills or unexpected health issues. Protect your furry friends (and your budget!) with Odie Pet Insurance. Our affordable policies provide customized coverage so you can get exactly what your pup needs. Get started today by submitting a quote!
5 Dog Breeds That Vets Worry About Most
Now that we’ve shown you the dog breeds with the least health problems during ownership, here are five dog breeds that vets worry about most. If you’re looking to bring a new pup into your home, you may want to avoid the breeds on this list unless you’re prepared to shell out on health expenditures. Sure, pet insurance can help mitigate much of the cost, but these unhealthiest dog breeds may be something to stay away from if you’d rather not deal with possible health complications and issues.
Some people think that it’s as simple as not getting a mixed breed, but even purebreds are prone to health issues because of their genetics. That said, there are no guarantees, and just because you choose or don’t choose a breed on this list, you could have no health problems or many — it depends on a lot more than just the breed you pick.
This large breed is a beautiful and majestic example of a large dog breed, but they’re also commonly referred to as the heartbreak breed because of their short lifespans, which tend to average about eight years. Some of this is because of their large size but it’s also due to their propensity to develop bloat, a life-threatening condition that can cut off blood supply. Great Danes are also prone to dilated cardiomyopathy, or a weakening of the heart.
They’re certainly cute and trendy right now, but French Bulldogs tend to develop respiratory problems due to common breeding practices. They’re also short-nosed, meaning they’re a brachycephalic breed, which can lead to congenital breathing problems that may need surgery to correct. Furthermore, because of their breathing challenges, they can get overheated and winded easily in hot weather, so they’re not recommended in hot climates unless you have climate control.
Next up on our list of dog breeds with the most health problems is the Rottweiler. Like Great Danes, they’re a large breed, which can present health problems later in life, but, unfortunately, they’re also prone to cancer. While cancer is possible with any dog breed, it’s very common in Rottweilers, particularly at a young age. Sometimes chemotherapy and other treatments can help keep the cancer at bay, but it can be expensive, especially if you don’t have the right coverage.
Another much beloved breed that you may want to avoid if you’re concerned about health problems is the German Shepherd. Loyal, smart and easy to train, German Shepherds are popular with police departments and for personal protection, but they’re also prone to health issues because of their breeding. From orthopedic problems that can make it difficult to walk to sensitive digestion issues that can make it hard to eat and keep food down, German Shepherds also suffer from epilepsy, eye issues and degenerative myelopathy, a spinal cord issue that commonly affects older dogs.
As one of the most popular breeds worldwide, a Golden Retriever is friendly, lovable and always wants to play, but they’re also prone to cancer more than other breeds. Some studies have shown that over 60 percent of Golden Retrievers pass away due to cancer, and that’s something that is noticeable in the life expectancy of a Golden Retriever, which used to be in the high teens but that has come down to around 10 in the last half-century or so. It’s unclear why Golden Retrievers are more susceptible to cancer than other breeds, but it’s important for owners to be aware of this change.