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The love and care we give our dog daily will influence their health over a lifetime. But there are certain breeds who are more predisposed to inheriting and developing hereditary health problems than others.
“Now that we can look closer at our dog’s DNA, it is easy to see which breeds are more likely to inherit certain diseases” says Veterinarian Dr Steph Wenban. “There are databases available, like the Canine Inherited Disorders Database, which collects DNA information from breeds around the world to help us see these genetic patterns clearer.”
Below is a round up of the top 15 dog breeds least likely to develop a heritable disease:
15. American Water Spaniel
This high-energy spaniel has a natural love of the water and is bred for hunting — with a distinctive brown curly coat that hardly sheds. There are only a few heritable disease concerns with this breed, including hip dysplasia, growth hormone responsive skin disease and pattern baldness. Be sure to find a puppy from a reputable health-tested breeder and support their ongoing active lifestyle with daily joint supplements to really help this breed thrive.
Known as a quiet, gentle and affectionate dog — the delightful greyhound can often be found curling up in front of the fireplace or napping in the sun. These gentle giants are predisposed to only a few inherited health conditions, including bleeding disorders and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome — a disease of the connective tissue. But as with all heritable conditions, a breed predisposition is no guarantee that your dog will go on to inherit or develop the disease.
13. English Setter
This lively, intelligent breed was originally bred in the UK to hunt game birds. A friendly and affectionate breed, the English Setter is prone to a few heritable conditions including deafness, allergies and hip dysplasia — so be sure to health screen before breeding. Careful feeding and exercise as a puppy can help reduce the chance of these wonderful dogs developing joint concerns in later life.
12. Chesapeake Bay Retriever
A loyal companion, these retrievers just love to be active and in the water. Well suited to an outdoor lifestyle, these dogs are predisposed to only a few heritable diseases, including eye problems, hip dysplasia and Von Willebrands disease. You can reduce the chance of buying a puppy affected with these conditions by looking for health tested parents.
11. American Bulldog
Taller and leaner than their British cousin, the American Bulldog has significantly fewer health concerns. Extremely loyal and fiercely intelligent, this breed are prone to heritable conditions such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and skin conditions. But careful breeding, early support in younger years and daily supplementation can help reduce the risk of joint concerns causing problems for these loveable dogs in later life.
10. Belgian Malinois
Often mistaken for a smaller German Shepherd, this easily-trained working breed makes for excellent guard dogs. They are prone to inheritable health concerns including hip dysplasia and retinal atrophy. But choosing a puppy from health tested parents, and ensuring this active breed gets a careful start in life can reduce the potential for developing problems for these fun and active family dogs.
9. Coton De Tulear
A member of the Bichon family, this breed is originally from Madagascar and is thought to have arrived on our shores from a shipwreck! This playful and affectionate breed is known for its soft, cotton-like coat and is prone to only a handful of inherited health conditions. Be sure to check any potential parents are screened for hip dysplasia, luxating patellas (sliding kneecaps) and eye conditions such as progressive retinal atrophy.
8. Giant Schnauzer
The Giant Schnauzer is a gentle, kind and loyal companion. Originally from Germany, the largest member of the Schnauzer family is predisposed to only a few heritable diseases — including hip dysplasia, cataracts and bladder stones. As with all purebred dogs, health screening parents is essential and balancing their lifestyle with supplements can help to reduce long term problems.
7. Norfolk Terrier
This fearless little dog is the smallest terrier breed and likes nothing more than attention and companionship. Known for their stubborn streak, these little dogs can be more challenging to train, but suffer with few heritable health concerns. Breeders are advised to screen for eye diseases such as cataracts and glaucoma, plus like all small breeds, luxating patellas (sliding kneecaps).
Originating from Cuba, the Havanese has a long, glossy double coat and chippy personality. Alert and attentive, this breed is prone to very few heritable disease concerns — but breeding dogs should be checked for eye diseases such as glaucoma. This breed is prone to other conditions affecting all small breed dogs, such as Legg-Calve-Perthes disease and luxating patellas (sliding kneecaps) so a clean bill of health before breeding is essential.
5. Shiba Inu
With its plush double coat and ability to steal the limelight, the Shiba Inu is still the most popular dog breed in its native Japan. Known to be wary of strangers, this breed is often described as ‘cat-like’ and suffers from very few heritable disease concerns. Breeders should test for allergies and hip dysplasia to avoid potential problems in puppies.
4. Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen
The charming scent hound has short legs like their Basset Hound cousin, and is a curious and inquisitive breed. A breed used to tracking, these dogs require mental stimulation and are not afraid to make their voice heard! The Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen suffers from few hereditary conditions, but parents should be tested for eye diseases, including retinal dysplasia before breeding.
3. Italian Greyhound
Full of energy and grace, the Italian Greyhound is the smallest member of the greyhound family and enjoys a similar need for exercise as their larger cousins. This delicate and fine coated breed are prone to feel the cold, as well as to hereditary diseases of the eye. As with all purebreds, genetic testing before breeding will help to avoid the inheritance of these health problems.
2. Australian Terrier
Known for their happy-go-lucky nature, this little terrier is very low on the list for heritable disease concerns. Much like any small breed, they could still develop luxating patellas (sliding kneecaps) so be sure to check the parents have been health screened before buying a puppy.
This Hungarian sheepdog requires daily grooming to tame their dense, wooly dreadlocks. A loving and affection breed, the Puli has strong herding instincts and if untrained can be prone to barking. Occasional family lines of this breed have a tendency to pass on heritable disease such as hip dysplasia and deafness, but due to screening this is becoming even less common.
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