THE BLOG
01/07/2016 01:44 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Common Health Problems in Six Popular Dog Breeds [Infographic]

Every breed of dog is unique which can make the task of choosing a breed difficult. Some dogs are small and full of energy while others are large and lazy. Certain breeds of dog have thick, fluffy coats that require a great deal of maintenance while others shed minimally and only need occasional grooming.

If you are considering getting a dog, you have many things to think about. Not only do you need to consider the size and energy level of the breed but you also have to think about its health. All dogs are prone to developing certain health problems, many of them genetically inherited conditions, but some breeds are healthier than others. Before choosing a dog breed, be sure to consider its average lifespan as well as any common health problems it might be prone to developing. Here is an infographic of common health problems in 25 most popular dog breeds.

Source: DogPsycho.com.

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Below is a list of six popular dog breeds including the health problems they are most likely to develop.


1. Chihuahua

The Chihuahua may be small, but these dogs pack a lot of personality and energy into their small frames. Not only is the Chihuahua one of the smallest breeds, but it is also one of the oldest breeds in existence. Because the Chihuahua is an ancient breed, it has not been subjected to a great deal of inbreeding like some breeds - this makes it a very healthy breed, not prone to many inherited conditions. The health conditions most likely to affect the Chihuahua are primarily related to its size. Chihuahuas frequently experience dental problems because their mouths are so small. The size of their jaw commonly leads to crowding which can increase the risk for periodontal disease - dental care is incredibly important for Chihuahuas and other toy breeds.

Other health problems commonly seen in the Chihuahua breed include seizure disorders, hydrocephalus, tracheal collapse, hypoglycemia, and patellar luxation. Seizures in Chihuahuas can be caused by a number of different factors. Epilepsy is a common cause of seizures in this breed, though they may also be related to brain tumors. Hypoglycemia is a condition in which the dog has difficulty maintaining healthy blood sugar levels - if the dog's blood sugar drops too suddenly, it too can lead to seizures. Hydrocephalus is a different kind of health problem caused by an accumulation of spinal fluid in the brain. This condition can be very painful for the dog and it can cause convulsions in addition to various mental deficits. Patellar luxation is a musculoskeletal issue in which the kneecap (patella) slips out of place, causing pain, changes in gait and eventual lameness.

2. Siberian Husky
The Siberian Husky is a medium-sized dog breed known for its thick double coat and its wolf-life appearance. In addition to being one of the most popular dog breeds out there, the Siberian Husky (Husky for short) is also one of the healthiest dog breeds. This breed has an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years and it is less prone to serious health problems than many other breeds. Most of the health problems to which this breed is prone are genetically inherited, so responsible breeding practices are important for maintaining the health of this breed. Some of the health problems most likely to affect the Husky include eye problems, skin problems, seizures, and gastric dilation volvulus. Skin problems affecting the Husky breed typically include allergic reactions, inflammation, itchy skin, and sores - these problems may be exacerbated by excessive licking and they are often secondary to some kind of autoimmune disorder.

The most common eye problems affecting the Husky include corneal dystrophy, juvenile cataracts, glaucoma, and progressive retinal atrophy. As the name would suggest, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is a progressive condition that worsens over time and it can lead to total blindness. Juvenile cataracts typically develop early in Huskies - before the age of 2 - and they can also lead to blindness if left untreated. Gastric dilation volvulus is a condition that commonly affects larger breeds and it occurs when the abdomen fills with air, causing the stomach to twist on its axis. This causes a restriction of blood flow to the stomach and other internal organs which can become fatal if not promptly treated. Common symptoms of this condition include distension of the abdomen, excessive drooling, rapid heartbeat, even coma and death. To prevent your Husky from developing this condition you should not feed him large meals and you should avoid strenuous activity and drinking large amounts of water within one hour of a meal. Some experts say that feeding the dog from a raised bowl may also help by preventing the dog from swallowing too much air as it eats.

3. German Shorthaired Pointer
The German Shorthaired Pointer is a medium- to large-sized breed known for its spotted coat and hunting skills. This dog breed was developed during the 19th century in Germany and it is one of the healthiest dog breeds. The German Shorthaired Pointer is prone to developing various inherited conditions like epilepsy, hip dysplasia, skin problems, and eye disorders - this breed is also prone to gastric dilation volvulus, aortic stenosis, and infections secondary to injuries received in the field. Epilepsy in dogs is a brain disorder then is often inherited but can sometimes be caused by lesions in the brain. Dogs with epilepsy may experience seizures any time of day or night (even when they are unconscious) and they can last anywhere from 30 to 90 seconds. Large-breed dogs like the German Shorthaired Pointer are particularly prone to cluster seizures which occur at regular intervals of one to four weeks.

Some of the eye disorders known to affect the German Shorthaired Pointer breed include ectropion, entropion and progressive retinal atrophy. Ectropion occurs when the lower eyelid rolls outward and entropion occurs when the lower lid folds in, causing irritation and scratches to the surface of the eye. Both of these conditions can lead to excessive tearing and the potential for ulceration of the cornea. Aortic stenosis is a heart condition caused by the narrowing of the aortic valve - this leads to an obstruction in blood flow through the heart. This condition occurs in varying degrees of severity with minor cases responding to medical treatment. Over time, however, this condition can put dangerous strain on the heart, leading to irregular heart rhythm and a reduced lifespan.

4. Labrador Retriever
The Labrador Retriever is a large-breed dog and it is consistently ranked as one of the most popular breeds in the country according to AKC registration statistics. This breed is known for its friendly personality and lively temperament as well as its penchant for mischief. The Labrador Retriever is generally a very healthy breed and it has an average lifespan between 10 and 12 years which is on par with other dogs of its size. The health problems most likely to affect this breed include obesity, patellar luxation, hip and elbow dysplasia, eye problems, and hereditary myopathy. Large-breed dogs like the Labrador Retriever are more prone to developing musculoskeletal problems than smaller breeds. Hip dysplasia is a condition in which the head of the femur (thigh bone) slips out of its groove in the hip socket. As is true for patellar luxation and elbow dysplasia, this can lead to pain and early arthritis in the joint. Some cases can be managed with anti-inflammatory medications but surgery may be the only permanent treatment option.

All dogs have the propensity to become obese if overfed, but the Labrador Retriever is particularly prone to gaining weight. Once a dog becomes obese it is harder for the dog to exercise which makes shedding excess weight difficult. To keep your dog from gaining too much weight, follow the feeding recommendations on your dog food package and avoid giving him too many treats and table scraps. Obesity can not only impact your dog's mobility, but it can also increase his risk for developing other health problems like musculoskeletal issues, osteoarthritis, and diabetes. Hereditary myopathy is a type of muscular disease that occurs when the muscle fibers fail to function correctly. This is an inherited condition and it generally leads to muscle weakness which can cause abnormalities in the dog's gait and sudden collapse. Treatments for this condition are generally aimed toward relieving symptoms and may include physical therapy to strengthen the muscles.

5. German Shepherd
The German Shepherd is a large-breed dog known for its black-and-tan coat as well as its intelligence and trainability. This dog has an average lifespan of 9 to 13 years which is on par for other dogs of its size, though it is prone to several inherited conditions which can shorten its lifespan. During the breed's development the German Shepherd was subjected to inbreeding which resulted in an increased risk for hereditary health problems like hip dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, and Von Willebrand disease. Degenerative myelopathy is a neurological disorder which causes damage to the spinal cord, leading to progressive weakness of the limbs and loss of coordination. This disease unfortunately has no cure and in many cases it leads to complete paralysis of the effected limbs.

Von Willebrand disease is an inherited bleeding disorder caused by a deficiency of Von Willebrand factor (vWF). Dogs with Von Willebrand disease have trouble with blood clotting so even minor injuries may lead to significant blood loss. Having this disease makes surgery very risky for German Shepherds and they often require blood transfusions to restore blood lost during surgery. Another condition to which the German Shepherd is prone is exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. This is a degenerative disease affecting the pancreas which causes a deficiency in the production of the digestive enzymes needed to properly digest food. This condition cannot be cured, but treatment with supplements can lead to an improvement in symptoms.

6. Yorkshire Terrier
The Yorkshire Terrier is a small companion breed known for its lively temper and long, silky coat. These little dogs have very long lifespans averaging around 15 years. Like any breed, however, Yorkshire Terriers are prone to developing certain health problems. Some of the most common health problems seen in this breed include patellar luxation, tracheal collapse, portosystemic shunt and various eye problems. Tracheal collapse is fairly common in small breeds and it occurs when the cartilaginous rings in the trachea are weakened or malformed, causing the trachea to flatten or collapse. Mild cases of tracheal collapse can be treated medically, but severe cases may require the surgical implantation of a tracheal stent to prevent collapse.

Portosystemic shunt (PSS) is a genetic malformation of the portal vein - the vein that carries blood to the liver for filtration. The liver is responsible for filtering out toxins but, in cases of portosystemic shunt, the blood may bypass the liver and the unfiltered blood may go on to poison the dog's heart, brain, and other organs. This conditions typically manifests with symptoms including poor appetite, loss of coordination, occasionally vomiting, seizures, even coma or death. Some of the eye problems most common in Yorkshire Terriers include distichiasis (ingrown eyelashes), retinal dysplasia, and cataracts. A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the dog's eye which can lead to a partial loss of vision. Cataracts can form in one or both eyes and they usually develop slowly. Some cases can be treated surgically but even if the dog doesn't receive any treatment it will likely adapt easily to a loss of vision.

When choosing a dog breed it is important to think about more than just the dog's appearance and temperament. Thinking about the health problems to which the breed is prone can be very important because it will affect the dog's lifespan. Many common health problems in dogs are genetically inherited, so be sure to get your dog from a reputable breeder who follows responsible breeding practices to reduce the risk for congenital conditions.