The 15 Least Healthy Dog Breeds

Dog ownership comes with a lot of hidden costs — dog food, cute accessories, grooming appointments, and doggy daycare days really start to add up, especially if you have multiple pups. But all those costs pale in comparison to the most expensive aspect of dog ownership: vet bills.

Annual checkups and vaccinations are pricey enough. When you add chronic medical conditions to the mix, the costs can quickly skyrocket out of control. In fact, pet owners spent more than $66 billion on vet care last year, with emergency visits costing anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 on average.

Purebreds are more likely to carry inherited diseases from cancer to hip dysplasia. And while no one can predict if your pet will contract a disease, there are measures you can take to prevent pet illness. Keep your dog healthy all year long by feeding him high-quality food and never skipping his wellness checkup.

If you want to take extra steps to keep vet bills to a minimum, you should also avoid the breeds that are most likely to suffer health problems. Read on to see the breeds that are most likely to suffer from chronic ailments.

1. Miniature Poodle

Just because a dog has a long life span doesn’t mean that it’ll be healthy that whole time. Take the Miniature Poodle, for example. Poodles have a decently good life expectancy but that life is likely to be plagued by all kinds of eye-related issues, from glaucoma to cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, and abnormal eyelash growth, all of which could lead to eventual blindness.

Poodles are also prone to epilepsy and a degenerative bone disease that could cause immobilization in dogs.

Next: This large breed might have a heart attack.

2. Newfoundland

On average, larger breeds live shorter life spans and are also more prone to certain health issues than smaller dogs. That’s also true with the Newfoundland. These gigantic dogs have conditions including hip dysplasia, epilepsy, cataracts, and a blood clotting disorder called Von Willebrand’s Disease.

Most large breeds also suffer from heart issues related to their size because the heart has to work so much harder pumping blood through their bodies. Newfoundlands may develop Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis later in life or could even have a heart attack, just like a person.

Next: These loyal protectors fall victim to common dog diseases.

3. Rottweiler

A Rottie is great at protecting your home, making this breed a popular option for families. But Rottweiler’s are likely to have a few health concerns including hip and elbow dysplasia along with a condition called Osteochondrosis, a bone disorder. Older Rottweilers may also develop arthritis or bone cancer.

Next: This breed is one of America’s most popular.

4. Labrador Retriever

One of the most beloved dog breeds in the country also suffers from a fair number of health conditions. Labs don’t have particularly long life spans, and over the course of their short lives they’re likely to develop problems such as cancer, bone disorders, dysplasia of the hip, elbow, and shoulder, muscular dystrophy, diabetes, retinal atrophy, cataracts, and pyotraumatic dermatitis (also known as hot spots).

Next: This breed’s short stature is part of the problem.

5. Basset Hound

Unfortunately, the adorably short stubby legs of your Basset Hound may lead to some pretty serious health problems. Their leg length contributes to foreleg lameness and foot cysts or other infections. Gastric Torsion coupled with Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (bloat) is incredibly common in Basset Hounds and, left untreated, could lead to death.

Other issues include eyelid and lash deformities, ear infections, blood clotting disorders, and glaucoma.

Next: A lovable pup who might get cancer.

6. Saint Bernard

This gentle giant only lives for an average of nine years. Saint Bernards suffer from a variety of health issues including a high likelihood of bone cancer due to their large size. They also have high instances of hip and elbow dysplasia, gastric torsion, diabetes, epilepsy, and cardiomyopathy.

Next: This incredibly popular breed isn’t likely to stay healthy all the time.

7. Golden Retriever

This family favorite could have you visiting the vet more frequently than you want to. Goldens have very similar health issues to Labs, including hip and elbow dysplasia, cataracts, cancer, heart problems, and epilepsy. They’re also prone to have seasonal allergies which could mean you have to keep your pet on steroids or administer allergy medication to avoid issues like hot spots from constant scratching.

Next: Genetics are to blame for this breed’s health problems.

8. Bulldog

A bulldog’s cute flat face is an example of a genetic manipulation that can lead to a whole lot of problems for these little guys. Some hereditary and congenital diseases associated with bulldogs are an elongated soft palate, hip dysplasia, an internalized tail, irregular tear duct production, dislocated shoulder joints, collapsed nostrils, and Cherry Eye, an eyelid abnormality.

Next: This breed can develop tumors that spread quickly.

9. German Shepherd

This large breed has a lot of the same issues as others on the list, including cataracts, cardiomyopathy, pyotraumatic dermatitis, Von Willebrand’s Disease, and skin allergies. They’re also more likely to develop Cauda Equina, a rare spinal cord disease, and cancerous tumors that can spread quickly through their bodies.

Perianal Fistulas (openings in the anus that cause ulcers) and Progressive Posterior Paresis (a bone issue that causes difficulty walking) are also common in German Shepherds.

Next: Some people are surprised by how many health problems this breed has.

10. Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniels are apt to have a lot of different health concerns, including orthopedic issues, glaucoma, cataracts, albinism, liver disease, cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, kidney stones, skin abnormalities, gastric torsion, and Fold Pyoderma caused by bacteria trapped in the skin folds.

Due to the extensive nature of a Cocker Spaniel’s potential health problems, it’s recommended that you make frequent visits to the vet so you can treat any of the prospective health conditions before they get out of control.

Next: This breed is recommended for experienced dog owners only.

11. Chow Chow

This breed suffers from various orthopedic issues such as hip and elbow dysplasia, cataracts, glaucoma, gastric torsion, and stomach cancer. When buying from a breeder, be sure your Chow Chow is CHIC certified to reduce your risk of your pooch suffering from these conditions.

Next: Big dogs have big problems.

12. Great Dane

One of the largest breeds, the Great Dane, is also prone to a shorter lifespan and a few common large dog ailments such as hip and elbow dysplasia, arthritis, hypothyroidism, Wobbler syndrome, and bloat.

Next: The next breed may have drug sensitivities.

13. Miniature Australian Shepherd

This smart and friendly breed is healthier on average than some other dogs on the list, but you’ll still need to watch out for the genetic malformations of the hip socket (hip dysplasia). Aussies also have a propensity for various eye diseases, epilepsy, and a sensitivity to certain drugs.

Next: He has a cute face and a host of breathing problems.

14. Pug

Like the Bulldog, a Pug’s flat nose and short face can cause a number of respiratory issues. The Pug’s head shape means they may have an elongated soft palate and could suffer heat stroke more easily than other breeds.

Next: A breed that swallows too much air and could die from it.

15. Doberman Pinscher

Dobermans can suffer from a wide range of maladies, such as bloat and gastric torsion, cancer, hypothyroidism, color dilution alopecia, Wobbler’s syndrome, hepatitis, and von Willebrand’s disease. They are also likely to swallow air, which could even be fatal.

Read more: These Are the 15 Healthiest Dog Breeds

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