Disease and Popular Dog Breeds

veterinarian doctorOne responsibility that comes along with pet ownership is knowing what potential health threats your pup may be facing.  This knowledge will help inform other choices you make for your canine companion, like choosing a vet and the food and care you give your dog.

Many dogs suffer from maladies that afflict specific breeds.  Knowing what these diseases are can help you get a leg up on them and help you provide preventative care to your dog.  Below is a partial list of diseases that affect some of America’s most popular breeds.  Always seek a professional veterinarian’s diagnosis when your pet has an issue.  The items listed below are for general awareness and in no way suggest a self-diagnosis.

Labrador Retrievers

  • Hip dysplasia – A malformation of the hip that can lead to arthritis and lameness
  • Gastric Torsion – Also known as “bloat”
  • Hot Spots – Localized, moist, reddened bacterial infections of the skin
  • Progressive Retinal Degeneration – Degeneration of cells at the back of the eye that can lead to blindness
  • Hemangiosarcoma – A malignant cancer that forms in the blood vessels

German Shepherds

  • Gastric Torsion
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Panostetitis – An inflammation involving the bones of young dogs
  • Pyoderma – A bacterial infection of the skin
  • Degenerative Myelopathy – Degeneration of the spinal cord that leads to weakness and eventually the inability to use the rear legs

Golden Retrievers

  • Gastric Torsion
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism – Occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t function properly
  • Lick Granuloma – Occurs when a dog lick an area excessively until a raised, firm ulcerated lesion is formed
  • Diabetes


  • Dermatitis – Inflammation of the skin caused by allergies, infections, and even parasites
  • Epilepsy
  • Intervertebral Disk Disease – Occurs when disk material between the vertebrae moves out of position and can lead to pain, difficulty walking and eventual paralysis
  • Chronic Hepatitis – Chronic inflammation of the liver that leads to the replacement of normal liver tissue with scar tissue
  • Lymphosarcoma – A cancer arising in the lymphoid system

English Bulldogs

  • Heat Illness – Occurs when exposed to excessive heat and unable to dissipate heat quickly enough
  • Brachycephalic Syndrome – A group of facial abnormalities leading to trouble breathing and snorting
  • Dystocia – In females, difficulty giving birth due to the large heads of puppies
  • Cryptorchidism – Occurs when one or both testicles fail to descend into the scrotum and remain in the abdomen
  • Eye problems – Cherry eye, entropion, distichiasis, etc.

Yorkshire Terriers

  • Patellar Luxation – Occurs when the patella (kneecap) no longer glides along in the groove in the femur.
  • Urolithiasis – The formation of stones in the urinary tracts
  • Hypoglycemia – Low blood sugar
  • Cataracts – An opacity in the lens of the eye
  • Portosystemic Shunt – Abnormal communication between blood vessels which causes the blood to bypass the liver


  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Boxer Cardiomyopathy – Condition arising from electrical misfiring in the heart muscle, resulting in extra contractions
  • Aortic and Subaortic Valvular Stenosis – A thickening of the aortic valve, making the heart work harder to pump blood.


  • Addison’s Disease – Insufficient production of adrenal fluid by the adrenal gland
  • Gastric Torsion
  • Cushing’s Disease – A hormonal problem and can result in hair loss and thinning of skin
  • Tracheal Collapse – Weakening of rings in the trachea that can lead to coughing when the dog is excited.
  • Entropion – Occurs when the eyelids fold into the eye


  • Gastric Torsion
  • Osteochondrosis – A joint condition that can result in pain, limping and arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Parvovirus – A gastrointestinal condition that afflicts unvaccinated puppies
  • Hip Dysplasia


  • Ruptured or Prolapsed Vertebral Disks
  • Cataracts
  • Congenital Deafness
  • Hemorrahgic Gastroenteritis – A condition characterized by the acute onset of bloody explosive diarrhea
  • Pyoderma

Shih Tzus

  • Proptosis – Displacement of the eyeball out of the eye socket
  • Cataracts
  • Cormeal Ulcers
  • Intervertebral Disk Disease
  • Tracheal Collapse


  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Wobbler’s Sydrome – A narrowing or malformation of the neck vertebrae which can lead to un-coordination
  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy – A heart condition characterized by difficulty breathing, coughing, exercise intolerance and a swollen abdomen
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease – A disorder which causes bleeding due to poor clotting ability

Miniature Schnauzers

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Atopy – An itchy skin condition caused by allergies
  • Melanoma – A form of cancer that arises from skin pigment cells
  • Glaucoma – A condition in which increased pressure in the eye can lead to blindness
  • Cataracts

French Bulldogs

  • Dermatitis
  • Cataracts
  • Food Allergies
  • Distichiasis – The growth of extra eyelids from the glands of the upper or lower eyelid
  • Urolithiasis

German Shorthaired Pointers 

  • Gastric Torsion
  • Otitis Externa – Ear infection
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Hot Spots
  • Lick Granuloma

Siberian Huskies

  • Laryngeal Paralysis – Occurs when nerves and muscles of the voicebox function abnormally
  • Corneal Dystrophy – Appearance of spots on the surface of the eye
  • Testicular Tumors
  • Degenerative Myelopathy
  • Hypertension – High blood pressure

Great Danes

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Demodectic Mange – A parasitic skin disease caused by mites
  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy
  • Cataracts


  • Hydrocephalus – Caused by an excessive accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Luxating Patella
  • Urolithiasis
  • Tracheal Collapse


  • Chronic Eye Discharge
  • Cryptorchism
  • Atlantoaxial Subluxation – A condition in which the first two cervical vertebrae are not firmly attached
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Testicular Tumors

King Charles Spaniels

  • Syringomyelia – A condition in which fluid-filled cavities form within the spinal cord, characterized by excessive neck scratching
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Deafness
  • Cerebellar Strokes
  • Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome – Breathing difficulties caused by the size and shape of the dog’s head


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