There are few things in life quite as rewarding as owning a dog. However, the downside is knowing that you’ll eventually have to watch as your best friend suffers from health problems in his autumn years.
Personally, we’d prefer to delay that problem as long as possible — but that may not be an option with the breeds on this list.
Below, we’ve listed 25 of the dog breeds that have the most health issues. They’re still great dogs, of course, but they’re also expensive — and it’s heartbreaking to watch them suffer.
1. Bernese Mountain Dog
These big pups are very nearly the perfect pet — if it weren’t for their ridiculously short lifespans, that is. Due to generations of inbreeding, cancer runs rampant in their genes, and many Berners can only expect to live 4-6 years as a result.
2. English Bulldog
You know how English Bulldogs have that adorably smushy nose? Yeah, well, that nose is terrible for their health. It makes them prone to all sorts of respiratory issues, and they’re also likely to suffer from obesity, hip dysplasia, and skin allergies.
These gorgeous dogs are prone to a rare condition that prevents their blood from clotting properly, so regular bumps and bruises could prove to be incredibly dangerous. Weimaraners also suffer from spinal problems and hip dysplasia.
4. Cocker Spaniel
These small dogs boast a serious array of health problems, including glaucoma, patellar luxation, and gastric torsion. Cocker Spaniels may be tiny, but they can hurt themselves with all the gusto of a dog many times their size.
5. Doberman Pinscher
These missile-shaped mutts often suffer from cancer, gastric torsion, hip dysplasia, hepatitis, and more. Many people believe that Dobermans are a dangerous breed — but maybe that’s just because they might be contagious.
Like English Bulldogs, the Bloodhound’s most adorable trait is also his Achilles’ heel. This breed’s droopy eyes are incredibly prone to diseases like dry eyes, glaucoma, and eyelid deformities.
7. Toy Poodle
These incredibly intelligent dogs aren’t quite smart enough to figure out how to stay out of the vet’s office. Toy Poodles are known to suffer from bladder stones, seizures, and low blood sugar.
Newfies are big, lovable, and ticking time bombs, apparently. They have a number of significant health issues, including heart ailments and spine problems, not to mention hip dysplasia and all the other issues big dogs commonly suffer from.
This relatively new designer breed may be popular due to the fact that it’s hypoallergenic, but many owners are learning the hard way that Goldendoodles is prone to a heart condition called Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis, which can be fatal if not treated.
Like many snub-nosed dogs, Boxers suffer from a host of respiratory conditions. Unfortunately, they’re also likely to suffer from lymphoma and mast cell tumors. Luckily, these dogs are natural-born fighters.
11. Shih Tzu
You wouldn’t think it, given how low these dogs are to the ground, but they have very unstable kneecaps, so orthopedic surgery is common among the breed. Shih Tzus also have a host of eye issues, including corneal ulcers and infections.
12. Pit Bull
These dogs can have thyroid and heart conditions, and hip and elbow dysplasia are common. A much less serious — but no less pesky — condition that many Pit Bulls struggle with is skin allergies, which run rampant in the breed.
13. Siberian Husky
Given how hard these dogs work out, you’d think they’d live forever. However, Siberians are plagued by a number of conditions, including cataracts, hypothyroidism, and progressive retinal atrophy.
14. Golden Retriever
These lovable pups are unfortunately prone to cancer, and they can also struggle with hip dysplasia, skin diseases, and thyroid conditions.
These dogs aren’t necessarily prone to health problems on their own, but since they steadfastly refuse to turn down food, they can quickly become obese. As a result, heart conditions and structural issues like hip dysplasia are common in Rottweilers.
16. Basset Hound
You have to be careful when feeding these dogs, because they have a tendency to suffer from bloat. Basset Hounds also have weak joints, and their floppy ears need lots of TLC to prevent issues from forming deep inside the canal.
17. German Shepherd
You may have noticed that German Shepherds’ backs are unusually low to the ground near the tail. This leaves them prone to all sorts of spinal issues, as well as problems with their hips and femurs.
If you’ve noticed that there are several flat-nosed dog breeds on this list, you get a cookie. If you’re a member of a flat-nosed dog breed, you get respiratory issues, problems with strenuous activity, and a propensity to develop infections in the muzzle. Oh, and if you’re a Pug, you can add painful eye bulging to the list, too.
19. Chow Chow
Chow Chows are so fluffy, it can be hard to tell when they’re actually fat, too. As a result, they suffer from a host of orthopedic issues, like hip and elbow dysplasia and patellar luxation.
20. Labrador Retriever
While these dogs may seem invincible, that sense can get them into trouble, as they can suffer from a condition called Exercise-Induced Collapse. It’s exactly what it sounds like, and it can be fatal, so it’s important to have your Lab screened before letting him run as much as he wants to.
21. Saint Bernard
Like all giant dogs, these pups can suffer from structural issues like hip dysplasia and back problems. Saint Bernards also have higher-than-usual rates of cancer and cardiac disorders, too.
22. Shar Pei
The cutest thing about Shar Peis is all the wrinkles on their faces. Don’t get too close, though, because those folds are hotspots for bacterial infections. These dogs are also prone to entropion and swollen hock syndrome.
23. Irish Setter
If you do a lot of cross-breeding in a small country like Ireland, you’re bound to run into some genetic issues. These Setters are known to suffer from hereditary conditions like quadriplegia, epilepsy, and seizures.
24. Great Dane
It’s an unfortunate fact of life that the bigger the dog, the more likely they are to have serious health problems. Dogs don’t get much bigger than Great Danes, and these pooches often suffer from bloat, cancer, and something called Wobbler’s Syndrome.
These miniature mutts have some intense health issues, including lots of dental and eye problems. Most disturbingly, though, they can suffer from portosystemic shunt, a condition that can cause the bloodstream to become toxic (we’re pretty sure that’s not good).
What Should You Do If You Have a Dog That’s Prone to Health Issues?
It’s important to note that, even if a breed has a tendency to suffer from a certain condition, that doesn’t mean that your individual dog will. However, knowing the breed’s weaknesses can alert you to what to look out for, and you can talk to your vet about how to prevent some of the most common ailments.
Ultimately, no dog is completely safe from health issues. If your pup’s breed is on this list, though, you may want to start setting aside a little bit of money to handle any vet bills that are in your future.
Featured Image Credit: Felipe Cespedes, Pexels
Emily started this blog out of pure passion. She LOVES her 3 dogs; Chew Barka, Cooper & Nelson, and spends countless hours every day playing with them.
When she’s not nerding out on dogs, you’ll find her on a snowboard or in the kitchen baking chocolate brownies.
She’s been featured in PetAware, Dogtime, and ModernDog.
- 1. Bernese Mountain Dog
- 2. English Bulldog
- 3. Weimaraner
- 4. Cocker Spaniel
- 5. Doberman Pinscher
- 6. Bloodhound
- 7. Toy Poodle
- 8. Newfoundland
- 9. Goldendoodle
- 10. Boxer
- 11. Shih Tzu
- 12. Pit Bull
- 13. Siberian Husky
- 14. Golden Retriever
- 15. Rottweiler
- 16. Basset Hound
- 17. German Shepherd
- 18. Pug
- 19. Chow Chow
- 20. Labrador Retriever
- 21. Saint Bernard
- 22. Shar Pei
- 23. Irish Setter
- 24. Great Dane
- 25. Maltese
- What Should You Do If You Have a Dog That’s Prone to Health Issues?