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Specific Health Problems In Dog Breeds

When you visit New Market Animal Hospital, there’s one thing you’re going to find out very quickly: we love animals! You really have to when you’re a vet for pets, and no matter the kind of dog you bring to us, we’ll offer up the best local vet care available.

Becoming a veterinarian takes years of special schooling, and during that time we’re not just learning about the health problems that befall all dogs. We also learn about the health concerns that are common in particular breeds. In many cases, particular maladies are common in specific dog breeds because they are passed along genetically. Other times, the problems arise because of the physical attributes of the animals, such as excessive wrinkles.

What Happens With Purebreds?

Dogs have been bred for specific purposes for thousands of years. People would want a dog to do specific work, such as the ability to swim, fight, track, or even turn a meat spit. People would find a dog with that physical trait and breed it with another dog with that trait, and they would often get puppies that could do the job even better than their parents. If you repeat this process over decades or centuries, you can end up with dogs that are specially made for the task at hand. Other times a dog wasn’t necessarily bred in order to do a job but to create a look that people found pleasing.

Problems arose — and still arise — when people took shortcuts. Instead of breeding dogs from different families, they would breed dogs from the same litter. While it was a faster way to get the traits that were wanted, it also made the chances of regressive, negative genetic traits coming to the surface in the form of health problems that are common in certain breeds. This is known as inbreeding. Some animals handle inbreeding fairly well — rodents and bed bugs come to mind — but dogs can, and do, suffer when it keeps happening. Special care has to be taken in order to alleviate the problems associated with inbreeding as much as possible. But just because registries try to avoid inbreeding in the future doesn’t mean that the damage from the past isn’t still causing health problems in pets of today.

Common Health Problems In Purebred Dogs

Dog breeds are kind of like car brands, in that some have more problems than others. While we’d never call any dog a lemon, it’s vitally important that you find a local vet who is aware of the problems that a dog might have. Knowing the propensity for these problems beforehand can help a dog owner treat their pets accordingly and maybe even prevent some of these problems. We love dogs, and our New Market vet clinic is ready to help your pet no matter what breed they are.

Is any dog immune from the reckless inbreeding that occurred in purebreds in the past? While we’ll talk about the healthiest dogs lower down on this page, it seems that most purebred dog breeds have some sort of health problem that they’re more likely to suffer from. Here are some of the most common problems we see in these popular breeds.

English Bulldogs

Bulldogs were originally bred in order to have a retracted nose during the unfortunate sport of bull baiting from centuries ago. Such a nose allowed them to hold onto a bull’s neck while still letting the dog breathe. People tend to like bulldogs today because they’re low-energy, and some people find their smooshed faces cute.

Even if you love English bulldogs (and bulldogs in general), you can’t help but notice that they have health concerns that have to be addressed. The primary one is that their shortened noses lead to brachycephalic airway obstructive syndrome. This means that they can’t breathe as well as many dog breeds, leading to their low-energy nature which leads to obesity. Not being able to breathe quickly, i.e. pant, means that they are prone to overheating and heat stroke. Other problems that plague bulldogs are teeth problems and excessive wrinkling that can lead to infection. Bulldogs often cannot mate naturally, and many puppies have to be born by cesarean due to the large heads of the puppies.


Though they have similarities to English bulldogs, pugs don’t suffer nearly the same problems as their larger cousins do. But they are still brachycephalic, meaning that their short skull can lead to breathing problems. (This is also true of other breeds such as Boston terriers, Shih Tzus, Pekingese, boxers, and Chow Chows.)

Because pugs are relatively active dogs, they’re less likely to become overweight and suffer from breathing problems. But due to their short-faced nature, they are often able to pant less efficiently and might suffer from heat stroke. And while their large eyes make them cute, they are also the dog most likely to have an eye pop out of the socket.


Dachshunds, which means “badger hounds,” were bred to track and flush out badgers. The long body allowed them to get into holes that other dogs couldn’t, and it’s this same shape that has gotten them the name weiner dogs.

As cute as the long back is, it also leads to back problems in many dachshunds. The best way to avoid this is to keep your dog fit. Extra weight on the belly pulls the spine down, hurting the dog and causing it to be even less active. If your dachshund is overweight, be sure to talk to your New Market vet clinic soon.

Doberman Pinschers

Dobermans are one of the dogs most susceptible to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a heart condition in which the heart’s chambers don’t pump blood efficiently. This problem often catches Doberman owners by surprise, so don’t be surprised if your New Market vet clinic suggests you have an annual screening done for your dog. Medication can often help the problem, but the problem has to be diagnosed first before any action can be taken.



Goodness, beagles are cute. Unfortunately, they’re also more likely to have epilepsy, a brain problem that causes seizures. Luckily, this can often be treated with anti-seizure medicine from your local vet.

Lhasa Apsos

Eye problems are one of the biggest health concerns for dogs, but some dogs are almost guaranteed to have some sort of ocular problem. Lhasa Apsos will often suffer from eye problems which often require the owner to clean away the runny fluid, and veterinarian intervention will likely be necessary at some point. Lhasa Apsos are also susceptible to hereditary kidney disease.


German Shepherds

Highly trainable and very energetic, there’s a good reason why these are the most common type of guard dog around. Unfortunately, some specific health problems have been bred into them over the years. These include hip dysplasia, a common problem with large dogs that often leads to arthritis. Even scarier is degenerative myelopathy, a spinal cord disease that eventually leads to paralysis.



Chihuahuas are often prized because of their small stature and gentle nature. And even though they are small, they sometimes suffer from a condition that affects larger and heavier dogs: luxating patella. This means that the kneecaps on the rear leg are loose and slip out of their grooves. Chihuahuas are also known for their bad breath, which is usually due to the species’ likelihood for having teeth that are too large for their mouth. This lets food get trapped in the gaps and decay, leading to plaque, tartar, and tooth decay.


Basset Hounds

Basset hounds might be cute with their floppy ears and wrinkly faces, but it’s these exact traits that cause many of their problems. Such wrinkles require constant attention from the owner, because not cleaning these areas can lead to infections. Bassets are also known for getting intervertebral disc disease, which can become very painful condition if left untreated. This can also cause bassets to not move around as much, leading to obesity.

Cocker Spaniel

Basset hounds aren’t the only dog breed whose ears have to receive special treatment. Cocker spaniels are also prone to ear infections. Cocker spaniels are also known to be at an increased risk of heart disease, liver disease, and epilepsy. On top of that, they are also prone to get eye disorders such as glaucoma and cataracts. If you have a cocker spaniel, you should always be sure to inform your local vet of any specific problems you notice in the health of your dog.



We can understand why people like boxers. They’re an energetic and friendly breed, and probably the most active of all brachycephalic (short-skulled) dogs. Their propensity and their use of their front paws for many of their daily tasks makes them very human-like.

Unfortunately, boxers are known to have a high incidence of hereditary health problems. The two most common that affect them are problems with their hearts and thyroids. But they are also more susceptible to dysplasia and cancer than many other dog breeds. Our vets for pets offer new cancer screenings that are of particular interest to our boxer owners.  


It’s no wonder why Dalmatians are such a popular breed. After all, they’re associated with firetrucks and Disney movies, two things that kids absolutely love.

When it comes to health problems, Dalmatians are primarily known for their propensity to become deaf. (This is a hereditary problem and is not associated with the loudness or firetruck sirens, by the way.) They are also known to be more likely to develop kidney and bladder stones, so be sure to talk to your vet if your Dalmatian seems to be in distress while urinating during walks.

Siberian Huskies

All dogs have their ancestry in wolves, and few dogs look more like wolves than the noble Siberian husky.

But just because a dog looks like a wolf doesn’t mean that human tinkering hasn’t made it susceptible to certain health problems. Huskies are more likely to have autoimmune disorders, and many of these can affect the skin and cause hair loss, most often on the face. Such conditions can also lead to sight damage, so don’t delay contacting your local animal hospital if you notice any hair loss with your husky.

Yorkshire Terriers

Yorkshire terriers, aka Yorkies, are the third most popular breed in America. Their small stature and outsized personalities have gained them millions of fans, but they also have very weak digestive systems. This means that they’ll often need a very specialized diet in order to stay healthy.

Yorkies are also known for tracheal collapse, which can lead to breathing problems and a characteristic cough. They can also suffer from liver problems that cause toxins to accumulate in the blood.


Larger breeds such as Rottweilers are more prone to joint problems such as arthritis, elbow dysplasia, and hip dysplasia. They can also be more prone to osteochondritis dissecans, which occurs when the cartilage can’t keep up with a puppy as it grows. Your local veterinarian may be able to perform surgery in order to help with this problem.

Great Danes

Gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV) is a condition where the stomach fills with gas and twists, leading to a potentially life-threatening condition. This occurs most often in the largest dog species, which makes Great Danes particularly susceptible. A Great Dane’s large size also makes it more likely to have hip dysplasia.


Does your white Maltese shake uncontrollably, and does it get worse during times of stress? This might just seem like a little quirk of the breed, but it’s actually a medical condition called “little white shaker syndrome,” aka idiopathic steroid responsive shaker syndrome, that affects small breeds. Strangely, this particular syndrome almost exclusively affects small dogs that are white. While the exact cause isn’t known, the theory is that it is an autoimmune disorder that affects neurotransmitters from the brain.

The good news is that your local vet will probably be able to treat the problem with corticosteroids, and most dogs get better within a week.

Labrador Retrievers

To follow through on the car analogy we started above, Labrador retrievers are like the Toyotas of the dog world. Not only are they the most popular, but they’re also not prone to many problems! But if you treat your Toyota poorly, even these reliable cars can show problems; the same is true for Labradores.

The most common problem associated with Labs occurs when they are underexercised. This can lead to weight gain and joint disease brought on by obesity. This problem can get even more painful for Labs who are genetically disposed to elbow and hip dysplasia.

What Are The Healthiest Dog Breeds?

We’re not saying that the above breeds shouldn’t be considered when choosing a dog; who could imagine a world with Labradors? Every dog will need to see your local vet eventually. No matter what dog you end up getting, it will need proper, regular care from our New Market vets. After all, no dog is perfect!

But if a person is picking a particular breed of dog and wants to avoid as many health problems as possible, here are a few of the breeds that they might want to consider. You’ll probably notice that dogs that have been bred to work have fewer health problems than those that have been bred for looks.

Border Collies

The most intelligent dog is also one of the healthiest! While border collies can get eye diseases that plague most breeds — collie eye anomaly being specific to them — collies aren’t known for the life-threatening diseases that can plague other dogs. For a medium-sized dog, they tend to average a very-respectable 14 years on average (average for medium-size dogs is about 11 years). Just be sure you have enough room for them to be active!


Australian Cattle Dog

Another very intelligent dog, the Australian cattle dog (also known as the blue heeler) is also a long-lived pup at around 15 years. They can suffer from some eye diseases, but in general, this dog breed is very healthy.



Australian Shepherd

There’s just seems to be something about cattle dogs that makes them not suffer from many of the hereditary diseases that affect many dogs. The Australian shepherd is another fine example of a dog that doesn’t often carry with it health problems that could make it die suddenly.




We know that this page is about purebred dogs and the health issue you should discuss with your local animals, but the fact can’t be ignored that one of the easiest ways to avoid many of the problems we’ve talked about are less likely to occur in an animal from a variety of dog breeds. When more genetic variation is introduced, it’s much less likely that a dog will have these problems.

It’s important to remember that getting a mutt doesn’t mean that the health problems will go away entirely. It’s still possible that a puppy born to a beagle and Lhasa Apso parents could have epilepsy or kidney disease that the parents were carrying genetically; still, the chances are lower than if both parents were carriers as often happens with inbreeding. (This is true in most cases. Certain breed combinations can actually exacerbate health problems, so you might want to do your research.)

What Can Be Done For A Purebred Dog?

We get it. You might have your heart set on a particular breed of dog. Maybe you’ve had dachshunds your entire life, and there’s nothing that’s ever going to convince you to get any dog other than a wiener dog. That’s fine! But there are some steps to take to make sure you get a healthy dog and keep them as healthy as possible.


Whenever you get a dog, you should always know what you’re getting into. Before you pick your dog up, know as much as possible about it so that you can learn about potential health problems. It’s also vitally important to know what a breed needs in order to keep it healthy. For instance, you shouldn’t get a border collie if you live in a small apartment, and you shouldn’t get a bulldog if you live in an unairconditioned house in Florida.

When doing your research, you’re off to a good start just because you’ve read this page supplied by your New Market vet clinic! There are even more detailed sites out there regarding dog health, many of which get much more technical about how to choose which animals to breed. When you know what to look for, you’re more likely to head to see your local vet if something seems amiss.


Registries of pets are one of the best ways to know who the parents were. Keeping track of the parent dogs and making sure that they don’t have recessive traits that could cause health problems can create healthier puppies.

If the parents show signs of a particular genetic malady, the puppies are exponentially more likely to also show it. Lineage not only lets you know that you’ve gotten an actual purebred dog but can also ensure your dog isn’t as prone to the health problems that caused their parents problems.

Genetic Testing

Before the advent of genetic testing, you could never be quite sure if a dog was likely to pass along recessive genes to their puppies. But thanks to current genetic testing opportunities, it’s much easier to see if a parent has a health problem waiting in its genes.

Knowing a dog’s genetic makeup can help breeders choose which dogs to breed. In fact, some breeders will be able to show you the parent’s genetic chances — or impossibility — of passing on a certain genetic health problem to their puppies.

Regular Visits To Your New Market Vet

We can’t stress this enough: you should always schedule regular veterinary visits for your dog. No matter how much research you do so that you can watch for signs of illness in your pet, your local animal hospital will always be able to see maladies you might not be familiar with. Yes, you should bring your dog to your New Market vet when something is wrong, but be sure you don’t miss regular appointments.


Eating and Exercise

Be sure to research — and talk to your local vet — about how much food your dog should be eating, as well as how much exercise they need. Some dogs simply require more outdoor time, while others absolutely must stay in on hot days due to their brachycephalic airway obstructive syndrome. Labradors are more likely to become obese, so listen to your veterinarian if they suggest putting your dog on a diet.

Talk To Your New Market Veterinary Clinic Today!

We want to be a part of your dog’s life, because seeing your dog more often means that we’ll be able to keep better tabs on his or her health. Whether you have a purebreed or the mixiest-mutt around, we’d love to see them here in our New Market veterinary clinic. (If you’d like, you can also check out our Pet Health Checker for cats and dogs to find out what might be wrong.)

Is it time for your dog’s physical? Or perhaps you’ve noticed them not acting like themselves lately? If that’s the case, it’s time to schedule an appointment with New Market Animal Hospital. We offer a great variety of medical services to dogs and cats, including emergency care, cancer screenings, and surgery. We look forward to seeing you both!