Dog Breeds and Their Health Problems
When adopting a new pet, dog breeds and their health problems are a consideration. We all want our dogs to be as healthy as possible, and educating ourselves on what to expect can help us to plan for the health care of our four-legged friends. This article isn't meant to cover all the different dog breeds and their health problems (that would be a huge list!)... but we hope to summarize a few of the more common health concerns.
Of course, just like with people, there are many other health issues that could potentially occur. Always bring your dog to the vet for an in-person examination if he's showing signs of illness or injury (please don't rely on information found on the internet - only with a thorough physical exam can your vet advise you on what to do next!).
- Large dogs such as German Shepherds, Malamutes, Golden Retrievers, etc. are more prone to a condition called hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia can result in lameness, pain, and arthritis. Some dogs with hip problems can be successfully managed with health supplements and management of their exercise routines, while others may need pain medication or even surgery.
- Dogs with deep chests such as the Basset Hound,
Bernese Mountain Dog, Newfoundland Dog, Boxer, Great Dane, Akita,
Doberman Pinschers... are more prone to Gastric Dilatation Volvulus,
also called bloat. Bloat is a condition that appears more often in
dogs with broad chests. This is a life-threatening condition where the stomach
distends and may twist. Bloating is a medical emergency and must
be treated immediately in order to save the dog's life.
Bloat develops suddenly in a dog that seems healthy and active. Sometimes it occurs right after heavy exercise, or a meal (or large amount of drinking) before or after heavy exercise. Symptoms include restlessness and inability to lie down comfortably, unsuccessful attempts to vomit, and an enlarged, 'tight' and painful belly. In later stages the dog may appear weak and show signs of breathing problems.
Bloat is a medical emergency - immediate treatment is necessary!
- Small breed dogs such as the Chihuahua, Beagle, Minature Pinscher, Yorkshire Terrier, etc. are more prone to to a luxating patella or "dislocation of the kneecap". Sometimes the dog will not appear bothered by it, while other dogs may experience pain whenever the knee pops out. This condition can be surgically corrected by an orthopedic veterinary surgeon. Recovery time is often several weeks, but once healed, dogs will usually do very well.
- Brachycephalic breeds (dogs with pushed-in faces or "snub" noses) such as the Pekingese, Pug, Boston Terrier, Shih-Tzu, Boxer, and Bulldog have a few more challenges than most. They may experience respiratory (breathing) problems; eye and eyelid problems (due to eyes that protrude more than most dogs); susceptability to heat stress, exhaustion, or stroke; dental problems (shorted muzzle doesn't leave much room for teeth); skin fold infections; and difficult labor.
And finally, remember that just because a certain breed may have a higher incidence of certain health problems... it does not mean that they'll necessarily get it! Likewise, although a particular breed "usually" isn't susceptible to certain conditions, he could still develop it.
Our dogs, regardless of their health issues, are still our pals... so consult with vets, adoption counsellors, and breeders prior to making a decision to adopt a purebred or mixed-breed dog. Plan accordingly for his health care needs (pet insurance is available, too), and you'll enjoy many years of happy companionship. Pets are a lifetime commitment!