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6 common dog breeds at high risk of health problems you probably didn't know about

From the Pug to the Dachshund, some of the nation's most popular breeds are at risk

a dog on sofa
Georgia Brown
Senior Lifestyle & Fashion Writer
2 days ago
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Before you make the decision to welcome a dog into your family, it's always important to carefully consider which breed is best suited to your lifestyle. 

While all dogs can be prone to common health problems like ear infections, fleas, parasites and joint issues with age, some breeds are more likely to develop health problems that require extra care and attention than others. 

While pedigree dogs are considered more in demand for their characteristics, selective breeding can seriously compromise a dog's quality of life. According to the RSPCA, pedigree dogs are often bred to emphasise desirable physical features in accordance with breed standards set by the Kennel Club.

"As a side effect of keeping different dog breeds separate, and focusing on breeding for appearance, there's a lack of genetic diversity within dog breeds. This lack of genetic diversity can increase the risk of inherited diseases like cancer and blindness," explains the animal welfare charity. 

If you're concerned about adopting a puppy, have questions about reputable breeders, or are worried about your pet, be sure to contact your local vet or animal welfare charity for advice.

6 dog breeds at the highest risk of health problems




The highly loveable Dachshund may look adorable, but the breed is sadly prone to painful and debilitating spinal and neurological problems that may require surgery to fix. The Dachshund's long body and extremely short legs mean they're likely to develop Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD), limiting their ability to walk.

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


great dane

Great Dane

These gentle giants are typically loved for their calm and loving nature to match their significant size. Due to the height, weight and mass of Great Danes, however, this breed can be prone to a number of genetic health conditions to be wary of. 

Hip dysplasia can be common in Great Danes that are overweight, while latest research suggests Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (an inflammatory bone disease) is increasingly common in large breed puppies. 

Care should also be taken when feeding and exercising Great Danes, which are prone to Gastric Torsion, a painful and life-threatening condition where the stomach twists on itself. This breed should ideally be fed multiple smaller meals rather than one large one - and at least half an hour should be given before any exercise. 


Woman Holding Collar of her Pug Dog Outdoors© Getty


Pugs have been selectively bred with extremely short and flat faces, which can lead to extreme difficulty breathing, heat stroke and fainting. Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) was the disorder with the highest risk in Pugs, with the breed almost 54 times more likely to have the condition.

The RSPCA have also raised awareness of the Pug's large prominent eyes and nose folds, which means they are at much higher risk of eye infections and ulcers around the eyes during their lifetime.


german shepherd

German Shepherd

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 will inherit painful 'Syringomyelia' which is a painful brain condition caused by the over-breeding of dogs with skulls too small for their brains. The disorder causes fluid-filled cysts to develop on the spinal cord, and can be incredibly uncomfortable for your pet.


A French Bulldog stands in flowers outdoors and looks happily at the camera.© Getty

French Bulldog

Similar to the Pug, the selective breeding of French Bulldogs has led to dogs with smaller airways and thinner nostrils becoming far more common - leading to a higher incidence of respiratory problems.

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