11 Dog Breeds with the Most Health Issues for New Owners 
Updated November 16, 2023.
Bringing a dog into your home is a big decision, and as a new owner, it's important to consider all the factors that go into choosing the right furry friend for your family.
One of the key factors to consider is the breed's susceptibility to certain health issues. While all dogs require proper nutrition, exercise, and routine care, some breeds are more prone to developing specific health problems such as hip dysplasia, dilated cardiomyopathy, and certain types of tumors.
Even with the best care, health issues can arise, and some diseases may be difficult to predict at a young age. To help you out, we'll explore 11 dog breeds with the most health problems to help you make an informed decision about bringing a dog into your home. You'll learn everything you need to know about how to keep your furry friend healthy, including maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise, and annual wellness exams.
11 Dog Breeds With the Most Health Issues
3. French Bulldog
5. Golden Retriever
6. Doberman Pincher
7. Shih Tzu
8. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
10. German Shepherd
11. Siberian Husky
1. Boxer Health Issues
Boxers are a beloved breed known for their playful personalities and affectionate nature. However, like all dogs, they are prone to certain health issues. Here are the most common health concerns associated with Boxers.
Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (ARVC), is a heart condition that prevents the dog's heart from pumping blood to the rest of the body. Symptoms to watch for include an irregular heartbeat, coughing, shortness of breath, and fainting spells. Boxers affected by ARVC are at risk for sudden death due to heart failure.
Boxers are prone to several types of cancer, with brain tumors being one of the most common diagnoses. Depending on the prognosis, brain tumors can be treated with neurosurgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. Mast cell tumors are another type of cancer that can occur in Boxers, and surgery is often used to remove them. As with all breeds, early detection and treatment are key to improving the prognosis and extending the Boxer's life expectancy.
» Learn more about Boxer's common health issues and how to prevent them
2. Pomeranian Health Issues
If you are considering getting a Pomeranian, you must know about the common health problems often associated with irresponsible breeding practices. Pomeranians often experience breathing problems due to their small neck and windpipe, leading to a condition called collapsing trachea. Symptoms include coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. Using a harness instead of a leash while walking your Pomeranian can help reduce the risk of this issue.
Best Dog Insurance for Your Furry Best Friend
3. French Bulldog Health Issues
French Bulldogs are a popular breed, but unfortunately, they are prone to several health issues that can significantly impact their quality of life and lead to unexpected veterinary expenses. Most health problems associated with the breed arise as early as 2 or 3 years old. Here are some of the most common health issues in French Bulldogs:
- Ear infections: French bulldogs are particularly vulnerable to this condition because of their narrow ear canals and large ears. Symptoms include excessive scratching and redness inside the dog's ears. In severe cases, the dog's eardrum can rupture.
- Skin problems: The folded skin around the French bulldog's muzzle and nose can lead to dermatitis (skin inflammation). Signs of dermatitis include itching, biting, scratching of irritated skin, and redness and sores on the affected skin.
- Diarrhea: French Bulldogs are prone to digestive problems, making it important to monitor their diet. They are also sensitive to viruses and parasites, which can cause wet or bloody stools, weight loss, and fever.
4. Dachshund Health Issues
Dachshunds are adorable with their long, low-suspended backs and short legs. However, this unique body type also makes them prone to back problems such as slipped or herniated discs, a hereditary condition known as Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD). This condition can cause pain, hind leg paralysis, and even loss of bladder control. It's important to monitor your Dachshund's activity levels to prevent back injuries.
Dachshunds are also genetically predisposed to heart problems, with heart failure being the leading cause of death. Therefore, maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for their overall health. However, due to their love of food, this breed has the highest risk of obesity, making it particularly important to ensure they eat a healthy diet and provide them with regular exercise.
» Want to add a Dachshund to your family? Here is the 411 on them
5. Golden Retriever Health Issues
Golden Retrievers are a beloved breed known for their friendly and gentle nature. However, they can be fragile and susceptible to health issues. Here are a few common health problems that Golden Retriever owners should be aware of:
- Hip dysplasia: This is a common joint problem in Golden Retrievers. It causes pain, stiffness, and inflammation in the hip joint, and can lead to difficulty with everyday activities like climbing stairs and getting up from a sitting position.
- Cancer: A significant health risk for Golden Retrievers, with hemangiosarcoma being a common type of cancer that affects their blood vessels. Early detection is crucial for effective treatment.
- Skin conditions: Golden retrievers are prone to various skin conditions, including allergies. Regular grooming, bathing, and parasite prevention can help reduce the incidence of these problems.
6. Doberman Pincher Health Issues
Doberman Pinschers are prone to a specific health issue called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), which is an inherited and life-threatening heart disorder. This condition causes the heart to become too large and the muscles to become too thin, making it difficult to pump blood effectively throughout the body.
One of the most concerning aspects of DCM is that dogs may not exhibit any signs of problems until they are at least six years old. This is why responsible breeders screen their breeding stock for this condition to help minimize its occurrence in future generations. It's important to work with a reputable breeder who can provide health clearances for both parents before adopting a Doberman Pinscher.
7. Shih Tzu Health Issues
Shih Tzus are beloved for their cute looks and friendly personalities, but they are prone to certain health issues, including:
- Allergies and skin conditions: This breed is sensitive to allergens, which can cause itchiness, skin irritations, and dermatitis. Managing allergies may require a change of diet or medicated shampoos.
- Ear problems: Shih Tzus have large ears and narrow ear canals, making them prone to ear infections. Allergies, underlying diseases, or moisture in the ear canal can trigger these infections, making regular cleaning of the ears a must.
- Breathing problems: Shih Tzus have narrow upper airways, which can lead to breathing difficulties and the risk of developing collapsing trachea. In severe cases, corrective surgery may be necessary.
8. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Health Issues
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are prone to a few health issues, including eye conditions, patella luxation, and hip dysplasia. One primary health concern for this breed is dry eye curly coat syndrome, an inherited disease that affects the eyes, skin, and feet. Affected dogs may show symptoms at birth, and diagnosis usually occurs between 2 and 10 weeks of age. Symptoms include abnormal hair, eye, and nail development; a curly and rough coat; and a severe reduction in tears.
Another inherited condition that can cause blindness is Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), which is more common in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels than other breeds. Regular eye exams can help detect this condition early on.
Protection at Every Step
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9. Pug Health Issues
Pugs are generally low-maintenance pets, but it is essential to be aware of the symptoms of some common health problems that may impact them.
- Respiratory issues: Pugs frequently suffer from respiratory issues due to their brachycephalic (flat-faced) structure, which makes them prone to Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome (BAOS). Symptoms include gasping for air and struggling to breathe. The impact of this condition can be reduced by keeping your Pug cool in hot weather and maintaining a healthy weight.
- Bone and joint problems: Unfortunately common in Pugs due to their small legs and sturdy body. They're predisposed to develop a luxating patella, a condition that causes the knee to become dislocated. Signs include hopping, jumping, favoring one leg, and difficulty getting up and down.
- Seizures: Seizures can be a symptom of epilepsy in Pugs, with the main symptoms including lethargy and lack of muscle coordination. Medication can be used to control seizures.
10. German Shepherd Health Issues
German Shepherds are prone to various health conditions, and one of the most severe is bloat. Due to their large size and deep chest, their gastrointestinal system can swell, leading to issues with digestion and stool passage. Overeating is the most common cause of bloat, so controlling how much your shepherd eats is essential. In severe cases, bloat may require surgery. To avoid this condition, it's essential to monitor your dog's food intake and prevent them from overeating.
» What other health issues may affect your German Shepherd? Find out here
11. Siberian Husky Health Issues
The Siberian Husky is a beautiful and majestic breed with a few common health issues new owners should know about:
- Hip dysplasia: A common problem for Huskies, as their hip joints don't fit together well, leading to arthritis. Owners should watch for signs of stiffness or difficulty walking and seek veterinary care if necessary.
- Epilepsy: This is an inherited condition in the breed. While it can't be cured, medication can help manage seizures. In the event of a seizure, owners should turn off the lights and keep the room quiet, noting the duration of the episode and contacting a vet for guidance.
- Hypothyroidism: Thyroid issues are common in the breed. Hypothyroidism occurs when the body doesn't produce enough thyroid hormone, resulting in symptoms such as dry skin, hair loss, and susceptibility to skin diseases. Regular check-ups with a vet can help identify and manage this condition.
Handling Health Issues in Your Dog
Overall, it's important for new dog owners to be aware of the potential health issues that certain breeds may face. While some health issues are genetic, proper care and maintenance can go a long way in preventing or managing these issues. Regular visits to the vet, proper nutrition, exercise, and keeping vaccinations up to date are all essential for maintaining your dog's health.
Purchasing a pet insurance plan can also help alleviate some of the financial burden that may arise from unexpected veterinary expenses. By taking these steps, new dog owners can ensure that their furry friend is healthy, happy, and well taken care of for years to come.