We often pick our dog for particular physical traits that they possess - that smashed in face, their long bodies, their large build. At the same time, some of our favorite qualities in them make them prone to certain health issues. We've spelled out the common health issues of popular dog breeds, so you know what to expect and can preemptively catch the warning signs if any of these health issues start to arise. Let's get into it.
Bulldogs - What we love them about is their husky build and their smashed-in faces, but alongside that aodrable face often comes a slew of respiratory problems. Bulldogs have small nostrils and an elongated soft palate, which in benign cases leads to snoring, but in more serious cases can lead to life-threatening emergencies if they get overtired, overheated and can't get in enough oxygen. So take it easy on your bulldog this summer and don't overdo it with the exercise. They're the perfect lazy, apartment breed.
Pugs - Pugs, like bulldogs can face respiratory problems, but more commonly, they can face serious eye problems. If a pug gets into an accident or fight with another dog, their eyes can pop out of their sockets. If this ever happens to you, cover the eye with a damp cloth and rush to urgent care. Your dog might end up having permanent eye damage depending on the severity of the injury.
German Shepherds - Many large breeds are prone to hip dysplasia, which causes pain, arthritis and problems walking. Beneath the surface, the joint's ball and socket don't fit together properly. Adult dogs with healthy hips are likely to have puppies with healthy hips - it's genetic, so if you're adopting a puppy, you can ask if the parents have been screened for hip dysplasia.
Shih Tzus - Toy breeds like shih tzus are prone to patellar luxation aka wobbly knees. What happens in these cases is that the kneecap sometimes pops out of place, which causes your pup to skip a step or limp their way along. The kneecap typically pops back into place on its own, but in some severe cases, it may require surgery to prevent further damage down the line.
Cocker Spaniels - We love them for their floppy ears, but those big, furry ears are predisposed to ear infections. Here's the good news: you can prevent ear infections. You can do that by cleaning your dog's ears every couple of weeks or flipping his ears back to let them get some air. You can also trim hair on the underside of the ears with clippers to make sure the ear canals are dry.
Poodles - Many poodles are at increased risk of glaucoma, which is an eye disease caused by built up fluid in the eye. That buildup of fluid causes pressure, pain and in severe cases, blindness. If glaucoma is caught early, it can be treated with medication. Catch it too late though and surgery, and in even more severe cases removal of the eye, may be required.
Chihuahuas - A common problem in toy breeds, a collapsing trachea can cause that honking noise you hear in your dog when she gets excited. With collapsing trachea, the cartilage that holds the trachea (the windpipe) open is weak, so the trachea flattens. Some dogs are okay their whole lives even if they have a collapsing trachea, but others might have more serious breathing issues and will require medication or surgery to prop the trachea open.
Dachshunds - They have those wonderful hotdog shaped builds, but because of their long bodies, dachshunds are at higher risk for back injuries and spinal disk problems. Prevention is the best medicine here. Keeping her at a healthy weight through proper portion control and regular exercise can prevent excess weight from putting strain on the back. Also, when you can, try to prevent her from climbing stairs or jumping down from furniture.
Dobermans - DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy) is a serious heart condition where the heart's chambers are stretched and don't pump blood effectively. DCM is genetically more common in Dobermans than in other breeds. Oftentimes, owners don't know their dog has DCM until their dog collapses, so many vets suggest annual screenings for Dobermans in particular. Medications can help regulate heart rhythm and improve the heart's ability to pump, but it will be a chronic, lifelong condition that has to be managed.
Pomeranians - They have their luscious coat, but Pomeranians are also predisposed to an adrenal gland disease called alopecia X, which causes hair loss. You'll notice Alopecia X when your dog is young. If a dog with alopecia X hasn't been spayed or neutered yet, carrying out those procedures can often cause hair to grow back because the hair loss is caused by excess production of sex hormones.
Great Danes - A breed that does surprisingly well in apartments, Great Danes are at risk for gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV). When GDV occurs, the stomach fills up with gas and then twists, which traps food and gas in the stomach. If you see your dog, panting, pacing and drooling excessively right after eating, call your vet. GDV will need to be corrected with surgery and can be fatal if it's not treated right away, so head to urgent care if that's what you're suspecting.
French Bulldogs - Like the English bulldog, French bulldogs with their smashed in faces are prone to breathing problems. The technical term is brachycephalic airway syndrome, which is a set of breathing problems resulting from that pushed-in nose and elongated soft palate. Again, like the English bulldog, keeping him indoors on hot summer days, so he doesn't overheat or get too much exercise is the best way to ensure he doesn't get out of breath and run into danger.