Common Dog Breeds with Health Issues

July 2, 2017 at midnight

By Shana Bohac

Every dog breed has its issues, but cocker spaniels, English bulldogs, Labrador retrievers and Yorkshire terriers seem to have more health concerns than other breeds. This factor makes them more expensive and higher maintenance.

As much as I love smushed-face dogs, they have some serious health issues that you as a pet owner need to be aware of. The genetic trait of flat little faces is known as brachycephalic. English bulldogs are the breed that seem to have to most issues. Flat faces are an attribute that makes them at risk for respiratory issues and abnormalities of the mouth known as elongated soft palates. Some are even born with collapsed nares. These respiratory tract abnormalities make them prone to breathing issues and overheating as well. They also have issues with eyes and eyelids.

Their third eyelid frequently protrudes, which is known as cherry eye, and they often have chronic dry eye issues. Their eyelashes also can have abnormalities that can lead to ulcerations of the cornea, which are very painful and require aggressive treatment. Joint issues, such as hip dysplasia, are also a common concern, and some bulldogs are born with ingrown tails that need to be surgically removed.

Cocker spaniels are another breed that have a whole list of health issues. They are prone to eye problems such as glaucoma, cataracts, retinal atrophy, cherry eye and eyelid disorders. Glaucoma is increased pressure in the eye. A cataract is cloudiness of the lens of the eye, which causes progressive blurring of vision. Retinal atrophy is a genetic disease that causes gradual vision loss. They are also prone to serious heart conditions, liver disorders, back problems and kidney stones. Cockers also have issues with their skin, including allergies, bacterial infection, dryness and yeast infections, particularly in the ears.

German shepherds have issues with elbow and hip dysplasia. They are also prone to heart conditions, cataracts, skin allergies, and spinal cord disease. They are also at increased risk of panosteitis, which is a bone disease that causes painful inflammation and remodeling.

Labrador retrievers and golden retrievers are beloved breeds that have many issues as well. They have chronic ear issues because of their love for the water. They are prone to joint disease, arthritis and hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a disease of the hip in which the ball and socket joint is malformed. They are also predisposed to inherited eye defects such as retinal atrophy, eyelash abnormalities and early onset cataracts.

Yorkshire terriers are very sweet dogs; however, they have a laundry list of health concerns. They are prone to tracheal collapse in which the windpipe closes due to weakening of the cartilage rings. This can cause exercise intolerance, coughing and a bluish tint to the tongue and gums. Yorkies can also have a hereditary defect known as a portosystemic shunt in which the blood bypasses the liver and causes toxins to build up in the bloodstream.

Whether you get a purebred dog or a pup from the pound, health issues may arise. The above mentioned breeds are just a few with a long list of health issues. It is best to research a dog breed before you purchase or adopt it so that you are fully aware of health and behavioral traits you are getting yourself into.

Dr. Shana Bohac is a veterinarian at Lakeway Veterinary Clinic in Edna. She works on both small animals and equine patients. Submit questions to



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