Dog breeds

5 dog breeds with the highest risk of health problems

Georgia Brown

watch your dog Battling health issues can be the hardest thing for any pet owner to go through – and unfortunately, some dog breeds are far more likely to suffer from them than others.

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While purebred dogs are considered more in demand for their characteristics, selective breeding can seriously compromise a dog’s quality of life. According to RSPCApurebred dogs are often bred to exhibit desirable physical characteristics 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 breeding for looks, there is a lack of genetic diversity within dog breeds. This lack of genetic diversity can increase the risk of hereditary diseases like cancer and blindness.”

READ: 6 beloved royal dog breeds: Corgis, Spaniels and more

Whether you choose to adopt or rescue your puppy, it’s always important to be aware of their breed’s characteristics and possible health complications so you can spot the signs. Your pet may have a health problem and may be missing the treatment that will help them live a more comfortable life.

Desperate to adopt a dog but don’t know which breeds require a very attentive owner? Keep scrolling to find out more…


The very lovable dachshund may look adorable, but the breed is unfortunately prone to painful and debilitating spinal and neurological issues that may require surgery. The dachshund’s long body and extremely short legs mean that it is susceptible to developing intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), which limits its ability to walk.

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


Pugs have been selectively bred with extremely short and flat faces, which can lead to extreme breathing difficulties, heatstroke and fainting. Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) was the highest risk disorder in Pugs, with the breed almost 54 times more likely to have the disease.

The RSPCA has also sensitized the Pug’s large, prominent eyes and nose folds, which means they are at a much higher risk of eye infections and ulcers around the eyes in their lifetime.

German shepherd

Larger breeds, like the German Shepherd, are usually bred to be heavy and strong. Without careful breeding, this dog may 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’, a painful brain condition caused by overbreeding dogs whose skulls are 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.

french bulldog

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

If you’re concerned about adopting a puppy, have questions about reputable breeders, or are worried about your pet, be sure to contact your veterinarian for personalized advice.

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