Owning and caring for a pet dog is one of life’s great pleasures – and a pleasure that nearly a third of households enjoy in the UK. You may or may not be a part of that club; you may be looking to add another member to your family, or your children may be old enough to start begging for their first pet. Whatever the reason, you may find yourself in the market for a fresh young pup to join the household.
Before you come home with a dog to call your own, though, it is important to understand the serious interrelationship between breed and dog health. There are a number of unfortunate factors that can render certain popular breeds more illness-prone than others – but what are the most susceptible breeds, and what should you know before you bring one home?
German shepherds are a noble breed, often chosen for their intelligence and gentle, protective demeanour. They are also, unfortunately, unusually prone to a number of health issues – particularly relating to their musculoskeletal health.
Hip dysplasia, wherein the hip joints become loose and unstable early in a dog’s life, is a particularly common affliction amongst German shepherds. This is a problem linked to poor breeding practice, but can also be somewhat met with proper nutrition and care by owners.
Bulldogs and Pugs
Bulldogs and pugs are perhaps the most infamously afflicted of all dog breeds, having made headlines for the commonality of their health issues and the ethical problems associated with their breeding. Pugs and bulldogs alike have been selectively bred for their most recognisable features, including their ‘flat’ squashed-nose faces – which lead invariably to breathing difficulties and the increased risk of pneumonia.
Bulldogs are also victims of chondrodysplasia, which impacts cartilage growth and increases the risk of arthritis or other joint injuries. The selective breeding of these designer breeds has been rightfully condemned by pet charities, as many pugs and bulldogs are unfortunately enough to suffer debilitating and life-impacting conditions. Where a pug or bulldog has been adopted through a rescue programme, pet insurance would be a wise move to cover the potentially large costs associated with rectifying or treating these conditions.
Labradors are an innocuous entry on this list, given their inoffensiveness as a breed and their widespread popularity amongst dog owners in the UK. However, the Royal Veterinary College has recently conducted research on health conditions in labradors, finding them to be at higher risk for 12 out of 35 different health issues.
Amongst these health issues, arthritis is found – which has nearly three times more risk of afflicting labradors than other breeds of dog. Labradors are also 1.5 times more likely to suffer ear infections than other breeds.