For many prospective dog owners, the choice of their pet comes down to which pup they connect with the most. The moment you lock eyes with a puppy, you know you’ve found the one. However, picking out a new member of the family should involve more than an intuitive feeling. Dog owners might be heartbroken when they find out their furry friends are genetically predisposed for a difficult disease. Worse, you might not learn this information until years after the adoption.
Dogs that are predisposed to health problems should still be adopted and given wonderful lives, but it’s a good idea for pet owners to understand the potential risks and health needs their pets might face down the road. Familiarize yourself with different types of dog breeds and their associated ailments to ensure your new companion lives a long, healthy life.
Here’s a quick rundown of the most common health problems in some of the most popular dog breeds:
- Mast cell tumors in Boxers: Your cute little Boxer pup might be at risk of developing mast cell tumors later in their life. Mast cell tumors are caused by a form of skin cancer that leads to rapid replication of mast cells—white blood cells that contain histamine. Manipulating these tumors could release histamine in your dog’s body, causing organ damage and other problems like stomach ulcers. Surgery is usually needed to remove the tumor before it releases histamine or spreads to other parts of the body.
- Ear infections in Cocker Spaniels: Cocker Spaniels are known for their long, floppy ears. More than any other dog breed, they’re also known for recurring ear infections. Ear infections aren’t life threatening but can cause your pup a whole lot of pain and discomfort and might lead to hearing loss if they go untreated. Ear infections are relatively easy to spot because of symptoms like itching, swelling, pus and a foul odor coming from your dog’s ears. Treatment usually includes medication, but some pups might need surgical removal of the ear canal to prevent severe infections.
- Bladder stones in Dalmatians: Anyone who’s ever suffered through a bladder stone would never wish it upon someone else, especially not their dog. Unfortunately, purebred Dalmatians are predisposed to a series of bladder stones. The condition can quickly turn fatal if your dog fails to pass the stone out of their urethra because it hinders the dog’s ability to urinate. If this happens, your Dalmatian will need emergency surgery to remove the bladder stones. Owners can help prevent bladder stones by feeding Dalmatians a special diet.
- Narrow nasal passages in Bulldogs: Dog owners fawn over the adorable snore that comes from their Bulldogs. However, their characteristic snoring won’t seem so adorable when you realize the poor pup might not be receiving enough oxygen through their airways. Breeds with a scrunched-up face are born with brachycephalic syndrome. In other words, Bulldogs have abnormally narrow nasal passages that make it difficult to breathe. Surgery can expand nostril openings and internal passageways to maximize airflow.
- Cancer in Golden Retrievers: Many prospective dog owners get caught up in the idea of adopting a purebred Golden Retriever but don’t realize these dogs are some of the most susceptible to cancer. These pups are particularly susceptible to hemangiosarcoma, which causes tumors in the spleen. Golden Retrievers also commonly experience a type of cancer called lymphoma, which can be treated with chemotherapy if detected early enough.
- Tracheal collapse in Yorkshire Terriers: Many people don’t realize that Yorkie pups are likely to experience tracheal collapse at some point in their life. Tracheal collapse is a condition that shrinks the windpipe and makes it nearly impossible to breathe. The condition develops slowly over time and eventually can become fatal. The onset of tracheal collapse makes its presence known when Yorkshire Terriers develop a cough that sounds like a honking goose. Severe cases call for open surgery, which can be prevented by inserting a stent in the windpipe.
- GDV in Great Danes: Gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV) is most prominent in Great Danes due to their large barrel chests. The disease occurs when a Great Dane’s stomach bloats with air and gets contorted into an abnormal shape. GDV poses an immediate threat to your dog’s life and requires emergency surgery. During the medical procedure, surgeons will tack the stomach in place to prevent GDV from happening again.
Knowing the risks associated with popular dog breeds is very important for the next time you consider adding a canine companion to your family. Remember that many purebreds are born with genetic disorders that have no cure, and treatment can only lessen their symptoms. This list of breed-specific conditions is simply a starting place—many other dog breeds are at risk for acute and chronic diseases. Be sure to do your research before bringing home a pup!