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25 Most Unhealthy Dog Breeds

unhealthy dogs

A lot of dog lovers believe there is no such thing as a bad dog, only bad training. Although the right training and socialization can make a difference, it’s a reality that some dog breeds are only an expense due to their frequent illness. Watching your sick pet is one of the most frustrating and painful experiences. While you may want to pamper your pet and give him all the love, health issues could interfere with the life of your pet, not to mention the toll on your wallet. It is estimated that as of 2015, Americans spent over 16 billion on vet care. Medical emergencies could cost you anywhere from $3,000-$4,000. This is why it’s essential to know which breeds are known for health issues when choosing a furry companion. Purebred dogs may seem like an ideal option, however, the selective breeding leads to increased prevalence of inherited diseases. Here are 25 most unhealthy dog breeds.

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adorable little chihuahuas

Chihuahua

Chihuahuas are affected by three problems, mainly, an elongated soft palate, luxation of the patella, and hypoglycemia. Unfortunately, most of these problems are hereditary and shouldn’t be bred from. Luxation of the patella refers to the dislocation of the kneecap. The problem is noticeable as the dog ages. If this happens, you need to seek immediate veterinary treatment. Small dogs with elongated palates have difficulty breathing, instead, they snort, wheeze, and sneeze. In hot weather, you’ll realize that these dogs are susceptible to heat stroke. Blood sugars dropping drastically can be fatal in Chihuahuas.

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Dockers Shar-Pei Contest

Shar Pei

Being a developed breed, shar peis are known for certain consistent health issues. These dogs have folds of skin around their face, this leads to mound and rashes happening between the wrinkles. You’ll have to clean and dry these areas regularly as the feeling can be uncomfortable for this dog breed. Other problems such as hip Dysplasia, Entropion, and Swollen Hock Syndrome may occur in shar peis.

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Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

Saint Bernard

Being a large dog breed, this could be the reason Saint Bernard are at high risk of disease send problems. These dog breeds may become affected with cataracts, diabetes, ectropion, osteosarcoma, patellar luxation, cherry eye, and gastric torsion.

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Rottweiler

The Rottweiler is susceptible to different problems and it is essential for owners to be knowledgeable about these issues. Some of the problems include cancers of the bone, problems with immune system, gastric dilation, elbow dysplasia and joint disease. Rottweiler is also prone to hypothyroidism, meaning that the dog doesn’t produce enough of the thyroid hormone. This could severely affect their thinking ability.

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adorable little pug looking up

Pug

Pugs are characterized by a flat or short nose and are prone to elongated soft palate. Moreover, they are at a higher risk of heat stroke. The soft palate could also cause difficulty breathing, making activity and exercise difficult, yet it’s meant to prevent food being swallowed the wrong way. If the pug happens to swallow wrongly, this could make swallowing difficult. Pugs may also be affected with dog Encephalitis and hemi vertebrae.

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Standard Poodle

Standard poodles are at a risk of various health defects. Some of the health issues they may encounter include juvenile renal disease, sebaceous adenitis, thyroid disease, gastric torsion, bloat, and hip dysplasia. Poodles also have cancer, but the most common ones are Hemangiosarcoma and Fibrosarcoma. Wobbler’s syndrome and hypothyroidism are other problems common with the poodle. They also suffer from Addison disease, a condition where the animal lack adrenaline production leading to lack of appetite, vomiting and lethargy. This condition is easy to misdiagnose and may only be noticed once it reaches advanced levels.

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Doberman Pinscher

Doberman Pinscher is a breed of dog susceptible to various health problems.One of the problems they struggle with is gastric torsion and bloat that causes their stomach to expand and rotate. Other common problems include color dilution alopecia, hypothyroidism, and cancer. They also suffer from Wobbler’s syndrome, a condition that leads to the instability in the intervertebral area.

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German Shepherd

No one would think that the German Shepherd could be prone to any health issues. However, this dog breed is prone to elbow dysplasia and autoimmune disorders that affect their immune system. Other problems you will find with this breed include degenerative myelopathy which could lead to paralysis, vision problems and epilepsy.

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Labrador Retriever

Although Labrador retriever have a lifespan of up to 12 years, they are predisposed to cancer. This breed is also prone to exercise induced collapse, a genetic disorder that can only be realized through screening.

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A Golden Retriever, the 3rd most popular breed of 2016,

Golden Retriever

This type of breed suffers from hip dysplasia, a condition where the socket and ball joint ate malformed. Other health problems present in the golden retriever include elbow dysplasia and Sub-Aortic Stenosis. If this does not worry you then you might want to consider that the dog suffers from allergic reactions to certain types of foods and environments.

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Josh, a Newfoundland stands by his handler

Newfoundland

This type of breed is at risk of suffering from Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis, which is a heart condition that could lead to sudden death if left untreated. It also suffers from cataracts which may develop at any age. They are also prone to Addison diseases, cataracts and epilepsy. They also have a heart condition known as Subvalvular aortic stenosis which is where there is a narrow connection between the left ventricle and the aorta. This causes the dog to faint and even die suddenly.

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Bulldogs

Although bulldogs are loved by most people, they are predisposed to various genetically inherited congenital problems. The dogs are usually referred to as “the most extreme instance of genetic manipulation on any animal breed in the world.” Their issues, therefore, have been inherited from one breed to another as the cross breeding process got more intense. Some of the health problems. They suffer from include Muzzle pyoderma an infectious disease of the skin caused by the folding of skin on its body. It also suffers from hip and elbow dysplasia, and patellar. Bulldogs may also have some minor problems like cleft lip and cherry eyes. One in every five English bulldogs will get folliculitis a disease where hair follicles may become infected. They are also prone to valve infections and Circulatory Arteriovenous fistula.

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Three Basset Hounds rest on their bench

Basset Hound

Basset has a lifespan of 12 years and is susceptible to a range of genetic diseases. Moreover, they suffer from von wiliebrand, caused by a missing clotting protein and they also experience bloat from time to time.

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Crufts Dog Show 2016 - Day Two

Irish Setter

The Irish setters are beloved by people because they are friendly, they remain puppy-like their entire lives and they have an eye-catching mahogany colored coat. Like most dog breeds, these too suffer from hereditary conditions. Not all of them will get these conditions. Irish setters suffer from Quadriplegia with amblyopia due to a hereditary disorder. They are also likely to get epilepsy, although this can be stabilized with medication. This breed may get regular seizures and may have difficulty standing and walking. They also suffer from Canine Leukocyte CAD a condition that fights the immune system’s ability to fight diseases. They suffer from Gastric Torsion which is a life threatening condition that affects them if they are fed a large meal, eat rapidly or drink a lot of water in a hurry. This can be prevented by avoiding such scenarios.

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 A Beagle attends the American Kennel Club

Beagle

While beagles are the most adorable, friendly and probably even the funniest type of breed around, unfortunately, they tend to suffer from epilepsy which makes them an unfit breed especially if you have small children around. They also suffer from intervertebral disk disease where the jelly like substance in the discs pushes the spinal canal and causes pressure on the spine. This in turn causes paralysis, loss of sensation and lack of bowel and bladder control.

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Siberian Husky

Known for their high chances of being predisposed to a range of autoimmune disorders. These disorders affect the skin, causing sores, rashes and hair loss. They may also suffer from cataracts and glaucoma.

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2016 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

Shih Tzu

Patellar luxation and wobbly kneecaps are very common in toy the Shih Tzu breed. When they get patellar luxation, their kneecaps pop out-of-place, causing them to limp or skip a step. The kneecap goes back to its position on its own. However, for some severe cases, your dog may need to go through surgery to prevent arthritis and correct the kneecap problem.

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A boxer competes in the Westminster Dog Show

Boxer

Boxers are easy to train and socialize with. Nonetheless, they are at a higher risk of developing certain types of cancers, the common one being lymphoma. You may notice a bump on his body. The good news is that the cancer might be treatable. Catching these cancers early will make the treatment effective.

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Dachshund

Dachshunds have long bodies and this makes them prone to spinal disk problems and back injuries. Dogs with excess weight further worsens the problem by outing strain on the back.

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International Dog Grooming Championships

Cocker Spaniel

Characterized by furry, floppy ears, cocker spaniels are prone to ear infections as the ears do not breathe. You may need to trim the hair underside with clippers and clean the ears occasionally. While this dog is amongst the friendliest dog breeds, it is also prone to the highest number of diseases. It is known for a variety of identified orthopedic issues, liver diseases, epilepsy and heart diseases. Some of these conditions are genetic and will show on each dog while others develop depending on the environment the dog is breed in.

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Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terrier

Small breeds like Yorkie has a portosystemic shunt, which is a blood vessel birth defect. This means that the veins bypass the liver and the toxins remain in the body. This may lead to seizures, confusion, poor growth, and vomiting. The good news is that PSS may be corrected through surgery.

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Asian International Dog Show

Miniature Schnauzer

Miniature Schnauzers are predisposed to diabetes and you may notice that they drink too much water or have accidents in the house. You would have to make necessary diet changes and give insulin for the dog to live a normal life.

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Cheerio, Pomeranian, attends the Westminster Dog Show

Pomeranian

This type of breed is prone to adrenal gland disease that leads to hair loss. This starts when the dog is young. Alopecia X is caused by excess production of sex hormones but could be controlled through the use of melatonin supplements.

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German Shorthand Pointer

The German pointer suffers from aortic stenosis, which is narrowing of the aorta. This leads to a strained heat and could ultimately lead to irregular heart rhythm. When the condition is severe, the dog gets tired easily and becomes weak. This also shortens the lifespan of this breed.

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Great Dane

Great Danes are a giant breed and are at a risk of developing bloat, gastric dilation, or volvulus. This occurs when the dog’s tummy fills up with gas and twists, leading to trapped gas and food in the stomach. The dog pants, drools excessively after eating and paces around showing symptoms of bloat.

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2007 China All-Breed Dog Show And Training Contest Held In Nanjing

Shetland Sheepdog

Shetland breed are affected by the collie eye which interferes with the optic nerve and retina. If the symptoms are mild, this won’t interfere with their vision but severe cases could lead to blindness. Collie eye has no treatment and it’s widespread among the breeds affected by it.

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: A Maltese waits in the grooming area

Maltese

Maltese suffer from little white shaker syndrome, which is caused by inflammation in the cerebellum. This makes the dog shake and results in difficulty when walking. The condition is not painful for the dog and it’s treatable.

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Freddy the Boston Terrier

Boston Terrier

Boston Terriers have protruding eyes and this makes them prone to various eye problems such as the cherry eye. Cherry eye is a tear producing gland that is behind a fog’s eyelid. This breed is also at risk of cataracts, entropion, and dry eye.

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Mork, a 9-month-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel dog

Cavalier King Spaniel

Cavaliers are adorable but they are predisposed to mitral valve disease. This is where the valve between the ventricle and left atrium doesn’t close properly. This creates a passage for blood to leak backwards. Moreover, this strains the heart. Coughing and lethargy are some of the symptoms noticeable.

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french bulldog puppy

French Bulldog

Just like his American brother, the French bulldog is predisposed to breathing problems set to a narrow trachea, pushed-in nose, and an elongated soft palate. Too much exercise or extreme heat could make breathing difficult for this breed.

Finding the right dog breed doesn’t have to be complicated. Find out the potential health problems a certain breed may be exposed to and ask for recommendations from friends and family. Have the dog screened for breed-related health problems beforehand to ensure that you are prepared for any eventualities.

(Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images for the American Kennel Club)

Written by Camille Moore

Camille has a master's degree from Saint Joseph University's Writing Studies program. Her writing has been published on several websites, and she enjoys writing articles and short stories in her spare time. You can follow Camille on Twitter @CamealAshley.