PET ADVICE: Looking Beyond Those “Take-Me-Home” Puppy Eyes

While there is no guarantee your dog will live a long, healthy life, there are some breed-related conditions you might want to look out for before buying or adopting a new dog.

As stated in part one of this article, you want to avoid puppy mills at all costs. You are almost guaranteed to run into breed-related problems if your pup comes from one of these disreputable breeders.

Generally speaking, Cocker Spaniels, Pekingese and Beagles are among the top breeds for health problems and genetic conditions, along with English Bulldogs, Doberman Pinschers, Irish Setters, Dalmatians and any of the giant breeds, such as Neopolitan Mastiffs, St. Bernards and Great Danes.

For the most part, smaller dogs live longer than larger breeds who are often prone to hip or elbow dysplasia. Breeds with broad chests can develop a potentially life threatening condition known as bloat, in which the stomach distends and twists. These breeds include Akitas, Basset Hounds, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes and Labrador Retrievers.

Golden Retrievers and Rottweilers, along with other similar purebreds, often suffer from hip dysplasia, which leads to osteoarthritis and can eventually cause lameness. Although this condition can be seen in mixed breeds, it is rare.

With small dogs, like Beagles, Chihuahuas, Miniature Pinschers, and Yorkshire Terriers, you could encounter a condition known as a luxating patella, or dislocation of the kneecap. The symptoms can range from mildly annoying to severely painful and when the latter occurs, surgery may be necessary.

Breeds with pushed-in faces (Brachycephalic breeds), such as Boston Terriers, Boxers, Bulldogs, Pekingese, Pugs and Shih-Tzus, can have multiple problems, including:

  • Dental problems
  • Eye and eyelid problems
  • Heat stress, exhaustion or stroke
  • Labor difficulties
  • Respiratory issues
  • Skin fold infections

Ask your breeder for references. Checking with other buyers will help you ascertain the health of other dogs in the same bloodline.

Of course, not every Shih-Tzu is going to have to spend countless hours at the vet’s office, and not all Golden Retrievers are going to limp around your house, yelping in pain every time they rise. As a matter of fact, more often than not, you will never encounter any of the problems mentioned here. But knowing what you might face ahead of time is always a good idea. Just like you research cars before you buy them, it never hurts to learn as much as you can about the breed of dog you are considering before you invite one into your home.

Click here for more information about breed-predisposed conditions.


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