Purebred Dog Health Problems: Why Are They Sicker?

April 22, 2023
Annette Thompson

When it comes to purebred dog health, many factors contribute to the overall well-being of these beloved pets.

In a recent article, it was discussed that a number of people choose to adopt a mixed-breed dog rather than a purebred dog because of the health issues that many purebred dogs have. Some researchers in the study suggest that factors like age, breed standard, and temperament also influence the decision. It’s important to know the pros and cons so that you can make an educated decision on if you are willing to risk the emotional and financial burden that can occur with a purebred dog, especially when considering adopting a puppy.

Humans have selectively bred dogs to have certain desired physical traits, but this has resulted in many health problems for the dogs. For example, pugs have been bred for generations to have short, flat faces, which leads to breathing difficulties. These breathing problems are so severe that some veterinarians recommend corrective surgery for all short-nosed dogs. Additionally, pugs suffer from various other health issues such as exercise intolerance, eye problems, dental disease, skin infections, and spinal deformities. These health problems arise from inbreeding, which is done to maintain the purity of a breed. However, breeding for purity instead of genetic diversity and favorable temperament is ethically problematic, especially when it results in unnecessary suffering for the animals.

Understanding the issues of purebred dog health is essential for responsible pet ownership; with this knowledge at hand, you can better care for your furry companion while also contributing positively toward improving their quality of life.

Health Problems in Purebred Dogs

Selective breeding has led to numerous health issues in purebred dogs, such as dislocating kneecaps, heart problems, and malignant bone tumors. Inbreeding and bad genetic luck have caused these breeds to possess more disease genes compared to mixed breeds. Let’s explore some of the common health concerns faced by small and large dog breeds.

Frequent Skin Infections Due to the Unique Folds of Chinese Shar-Peis

The wrinkled appearance of Chinese Shar-Pei dogs may be endearing; however, these very folds contribute significantly towards frequent skin infections. Bacteria thrive within these warm creases leading to inflammation called pyoderma. Symptoms include redness, itching, hair loss as well as an unpleasant odor emanating from affected areas.

  • Cleaning: Regularly cleaning your Shar-Peis wrinkles using pet-safe wipes or a damp cloth can help prevent bacterial buildup.
  • Drying: It is crucial to thoroughly dry the skin folds after cleaning or exposure to moisture, as dampness encourages bacterial growth.
  • Veterinary Care: Consult your veterinarian if you notice any signs of infection. They may prescribe antibiotics, medicated shampoos, or recommend dietary changes for your pet’s well-being.
Chinese Shar-Peis

Diabetes Mellitus Risk for Samoyeds

Samoyeds, a beautiful and friendly breed known for their thick white fur, unfortunately have an increased predisposition towards developing diabetes mellitus. Insufficient insulin production or its ineffective utilization can result in high blood sugar levels, which is the cause of diabetes mellitus in Samoyeds. Symptoms of diabetes mellitus in Samoyeds can include extreme thirst, frequent urination, unexpected weight loss even with a regular appetite, and listlessness.

To manage this condition in Samoyeds effectively, owners must monitor their pet’s diet closely by providing balanced meals with proper portions of carbohydrates and proteins while avoiding sugary treats. Regular physical activity is also essential for managing diabetes in Samoyeds, as it helps keep blood sugar levels balanced. Veterinarians may prescribe insulin injections if necessary. It’s important to remember that diabetes can occur due to various factors, including genetic mutations passed down from one generation to the next. The incidence of diabetes can also differ between male and female dogs, highlighting the influence of sex on this disorder.

Increased Vulnerability of Australian Terriers Towards Diabetes Mellitus

Australian Terriers are another breed at higher risk for diabetes mellitus. These small yet energetic dogs require careful monitoring of their health due to this vulnerability. Similar to Samoyeds’ management plan mentioned above; diet control plays a crucial role in preventing or managing diabetes among Australian Terriers. This breed has certain features that make it popular among dog owners, but responsible breeding practices are essential to reduce the risk of passing on mutations, especially when it comes to health issues like diabetes mellitus.

  • Maintain a consistent feeding schedule with measured portions.
  • Provide high-quality, low-fat dog food with appropriate carbohydrate and protein levels.
  • Avoid feeding table scraps or sugary treats that can spike blood sugar levels.

In addition to proper diet management, regular veterinary check-ups are essential for early detection of diabetes mellitus in Australian Terriers. If diagnosed, your veterinarian will develop a treatment plan which may include insulin injections and close monitoring of blood glucose levels at home using a glucometer designed for dogs. This care is especially important for purebred dogs, as many of them come from animal shelters where their health history may not be well-documented.

Degenerative Myelopathy Affecting Mobility of Some Purebreds

Degenerative myelopathy (DM) is a progressive spinal cord disorder that primarily affects older dogs such as Boxers, Pembroke Welsh Corgis, and German Shepherds. DM causes gradual paralysis in the hind limbs leading to complete immobility over time. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this condition; however early diagnosis and supportive care can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life for affected dogs.

Hearing Loss in Dalmatians And Other Breeds

  • Dalmatians: Known for their unique spotted coats, Dalmatians have an increased risk of congenital deafness. Approximately 15%-30% of Dalmatians are affected by hearing loss in one or both ears, which is linked to the gene responsible for their coat pattern.
  • Other Breeds: Apart from Dalmatians, breeds like English Setters, Border Collies, and Australian Cattle Dogs also have a higher prevalence of hereditary deafness. Regular hearing tests can help identify any issues early on and ensure proper care for these dogs.

Sudden Death From Cardiac Disease in Doberman Pinschers And Boxers

Some purebred dogs are more susceptible to sudden death due to cardiac diseases such as dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). This condition affects the heart’s ability to pump blood efficiently and can lead to congestive heart failure. Both Doberman Pinschers and Boxers are at an increased risk of developing DCM compared to other breeds, such as the French Bulldog, which can face issues like bloat. Regular veterinary check-ups that include cardiac evaluations can help detect any abnormalities early on and initiate appropriate treatment plans, ensuring the best possible outcome for your pet, from birth onwards.

Small Breed Health Concerns

Smaller dog breeds, while adorable and often easier to manage in terms of size, face a range of health problems that are unique to their stature. Some common issues include high blood pressure, low gastric torsion rates leading them vulnerable against kidney diseases; liver damage is another prevalent issue found within this group specifically because they’re so petite.

Norway even banned the breeding of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels in February 2022 due to their health issues. Since they have a tendency of developing genetic diseases, the Oslo district court decided to ban the breeding of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels to reduce their suffering.

Dislocating Kneecaps and Heart Problems Among Small Dog Breeds

Small dog breeds like Pomeranians, and Yorkshire Terriers are prone to a condition called patellar luxation or dislocated kneecap. This occurs when the knee joint slides out of place, causing pain and limited mobility for the affected dog.

In addition to patellar luxation, many small breed dogs are susceptible to heart problems. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, for example, are known to suffer from a heart condition called mitral valve disease (MVD). This disease occurs when the heart’s mitral valve does not close properly, leading to blood leaking back into the left atrium and causing the heart to work harder.

High Blood Pressure and Kidney Disease in Small Dog Breeds

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can be a significant concern for small breed dogs. This condition may lead to various complications such as heart disease or stroke if left untreated. Additionally, hypertension has been linked with an increased risk of kidney disease, which can cause severe damage to the kidneys over time and ultimately result in renal failure.

  • Breeds at Risk:Terriers, Poodles, Dachshunds, Schnauzers, Bichon frises and spitzes
  • Symptoms: Lethargy, nosebleeds, dilated pupils or sudden blindness due to retinal detachment caused by high blood pressure
  • Treatment Options: Medications like ACE inhibitors or calcium channel blockers prescribed by your veterinarian

Liver Damage as a Common Issue Among Smaller Dogs

Liver damage is another health problem frequently seen among smaller dog breeds. The liver’s essential role in detoxification can be compromised when it is damaged or diseased, resulting in a variety of health issues. One common liver condition among Yorkshire Terriers is Portosystemic Shunt (PSS), which occurs when blood bypasses the liver due to an abnormal connection between the portal vein and another vein in the body.

  • Breeds at Risk: Yorkshire Terriers, Maltese, Pomeranians
  • Symptoms: Stunted growth, vomiting or diarrhea, seizures
  • Treatment Options: Surgical correction of shunts; dietary modifications and medications prescribed by your veterinarian

It is essential for dog owners with smaller breeds to be aware of these potential health concerns and take preventative measures like regular veterinary check-ups. Being knowledgeable about potential health problems associated with your pup’s breed and consulting a vet can help keep your canine companion in good shape.

Large Breed Health Challenges

When it comes to large and giant dog breeds, they face their own unique set of health challenges. These issues often lead to reduced mobility or an increased risk of falling, impacting the overall quality of life for these gentle giants. Common health issues, such as osteosarcoma and hip dysplasia, are more likely to affect large breed dogs than smaller breeds.

Malignant Bone Tumors Prevalent in Large Dog Breeds

Large dog breeds such as Great Danes, Rottweilers, and Rhodesian Ridgebacks are more prone to developing malignant bone tumors like osteosarcoma. Osteosarcoma is an aggressive form of cancer that often affects long bones in large dogs’ legs.

Owners of purebred dogs must be especially vigilant about their pet’s health, given the potential for medical issues arising from inbreeding.

Chronic Eye Irritation and Infection in Bloodhounds

Bloodhounds were bred selectively to have a great sense of smell and to have an excessive dropping facil skin. The loose skin around their eyes can cause entropion or ectropion – conditions where the eyelids roll inward or outward respectively. Regular eye examinations with a veterinary ophthalmologist are necessary to prevent the development of painful and vision-impairing conditions in Bloodhounds. It is essential for breeder involvement in maintaining your Bloodhound’s ocular health.

Hip Dysplasia Affecting the Movement of Big Canines

Hip dysplasia is a common genetic disorder that affects large and giant breed dogs, causing abnormal development of the hip joint. This can lead to arthritis, pain, and decreased mobility over time. Breeds such as German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, between others, are particularly susceptible to this condition.

Bigger canines may have health issues that are distinct, such as hip dysplasia and bone cancer, which could influence their agility and wellbeing. Large breeds such as Great Danes, Rottweilers, Irish Wolfhounds and Saint Bernards are more prone to bone cancer while hip dysplasia is common in German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and Bernese Mountain Dogs. Understanding these risks can help owners work with their veterinarians to develop preventive strategies for a happy healthy life for their beloved canine companions.

Frequently Asked Questions Purebred Dog Health

Do purebred dogs have more health issues?

Yes, purebred dogs tend to have more health issues compared to mixed breeds. This is due to the limited gene pool and selective breeding practices that often result in genetic disorders and other health problems being passed down through generations. However, not all purebreds will experience these issues. So adopt a rescued mixed dog from the global south.

Why do purebred dogs have health issues?

Purebred dogs are prone to health issues because of their narrow gene pool caused by selective breeding for specific traits. Inbreeding can lead to a higher risk of inherited diseases and physical abnormalities, as harmful genes become concentrated within the breed population.

What diseases do purebred dogs have?

Purebred dog breeds may be predisposed to various diseases such as hip dysplasia, heart disease, cancer, eye disorders like progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), autoimmune diseases like diabetes mellitus or Addison’s disease, neurological conditions including epilepsy or degenerative myelopathy (DM), among others. The specific risks vary depending on the breed.


Purebreeding practices have taken us into this situation where dogs get sicker by the idea that there are “perfect” specimens, ideology that has been brought by the American Kennel Club and the brithish Kennel club for the idea that certain breeds are asociate wth social status and the economic interests of puppy mills for selling purebreed dogs .

For this reason, and more, the best thing to do is to adopt a rescue dog, even better if that dog is a mixed dog from Mexico. In Bone Voyage we take those dogs out of the street, give them shelter, spaying and neutering next to all the basic healthcare they need.

So if your looking to adopt have a look to the good looking dogs we have for adoption, and we will fly them to an airport near you. Also, if you are not ready to adopt, please consider donating so we can keep rescuing and giving food to dogs in need.

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We fly dogs to Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, Seattle, Portland, plus any other city we have a flight angel for.