5 dog breeds at highest risk for health problems

Georgia Brown

watch yours dog Struggling with health issues can be the hardest thing a pet owner goes through – and unfortunately, some dog breeds suffer from it far more often than others.

While pedigree dogs are considered more in demand for their characteristics, selective breeding can seriously affect a dog’s quality of life. According to that RSPCAPurebred dogs are often bred to emphasize desirable physical traits in accordance with breed standards set by the Kennel Club.

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“As a side effect of separating different dog breeds and focusing on breed appearance, there is a lack of genetic diversity within dog breeds. This lack of genetic diversity can increase the risk of inherited diseases like cancer and blindness.”

Whether you decide to adopt or rescue your pup, it’s always important to be aware of his breed’s traits and any possible health complications so you can watch for the signs. Your pet could have a health problem and they could be missing out on treatment that will help them lead a more comfortable life.

Are you dying to adopt a dog but not sure which breeds need an extra attentive owner? Keep scrolling to discover more…


The very lovable Dachshund may look adorable, but unfortunately the breed is prone to painful and debilitating spinal and neurological issues that may require surgery to correct. The Dachshund’s long body and extremely short legs mean he’s likely to develop intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), which limits his ability to walk.

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According to the BVA, research shows that IVDD risk in dachshunds is 10-12 times higher than other dog breeds, with at least a fifth of all dachshunds showing clinical signs in their lifetime. Symptoms usually begin between the ages of 5 and 7 years.


Pugs have been selectively bred to have extremely short and flat faces, which can lead to extreme breathing difficulties, heat stroke and fainting. Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) was the highest-risk condition in Pugs, with the breed being almost 54 times more likely to suffer from the condition.

The RSPCA has also raised awareness of the pug’s large protruding eyes and nasal folds, meaning they are at much higher risk of eye infections and ulcers around the eyes during their lifetime.

German shepherd dog

Larger breeds, like the German Shepherd, are typically bred to be heavy and strong. Without careful breeding, this dog can be more prone to hip dysplasia, lameness, and arthritis.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

According to the RSPCA, up to 70% of Cavaliers inherit painful “syringomyelia,” a painful brain condition caused by overbreeding dogs with skulls too small for their brains. The condition leads to the development of fluid-filled cysts in the spinal cord and can be incredibly uncomfortable for your pet.

French bulldog

Similar to the Pug, selective breeding of the French bulldog has resulted in dogs with smaller airways and thinner nostrils being far more common – resulting in a higher incidence of respiratory problems.

If you have concerns about adopting a puppy, have questions about reputable breeders, or are concerned about your pet, contact your veterinarian for personalized advice.

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