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Which Dog Breeds are Most Prone to Joint Problems?

Written by Anna Hollisey


Majestic Great Dane with ear flopped back

While all kinds of dogs can get stiff as they grow older, some breeds are more likely to develop hip dysplasia or osteoarthritis. Are large breeds at greater risk? Yes and no – several smaller breeds are predisposed to arthritis, too. Read on to learn about identifying and protecting against arthritis in your dog. 

Do Joint Problems Affect All Dogs?

Like humans, canines can suffer from arthritis/learn/dog-health/caring-for-dogs-with-arthritis and there’s no hard rule about who will and who won’t. Larger dogs are more susceptible to hip dysplasia/learn/dog-health/what-is-hip-and-elbow-dysplasia-in-dogs and arthritis – carrying additional weight can exacerbate the problem. 

Here’s a list of the dogs which are most frequently affected with joint problems:

  • Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers. They have a big, lolloping gait and marvellous work ethic – but they’re at high risk for developing arthritis. Enthusiastic, active retrievers are especially prone to hip dysplasia or dislocated knees. 
  • Great Danes. Their great weight puts extra burden on the joints, so these lively dogs are at high risk of osteoarthritis. 
  • German Shepherds. Appearing at the ‘very high’ end of the risk spectrum, large, active German Shepherds are often used as working dogs. 
  • Bulldogs. Their muscular stature, combined with a tendency to become overweight, increases the risk for this endearing breed. 
  • American Cocker Spaniels. Spaniels of most types appear under high—to-medium risk as they’re usually active and historically tend to suffer from joint damage when they get older. 
  • Saint Bernards and Old English Sheepdogs. These beautifully huggable breeds are carrying a lot of extra weight. 

    Medium risk: the following breeds should also be monitored for joint problems – they don’t typically carry as much weight but there’s a genetic risk. 
  • Boxers 
  • Huskies 
  • Airedale 
  • Basset Hounds 
  • Border Collies & Australian Shepherds 
  • Beagles 

What are the Symptoms of Osteoarthritis?

If you’re the owner of a dog from one of the breeds listed above, it’s worth knowing the symptoms of osteoarthritis so that you can take early measures to relieve pain. So, what are we looking for?

  • Stiff legs after walks. You’re the one who knows your dog best. As soon as you detect them slowing down, have a chat with your vet. Consider lessening their exercise regime to keep your dog healthy but not overstretched. 
  • Tiredness and reluctance to walk. It’s one of the saddest sights but a dog with joint problems will gradually become less enthusiastic about getting into their leash. 
  • Chewing or licking the joints. It’s DIY pain relief – so if you notice persistent leg-chewing, have a little check for swollen joints. 
  • Visible swelling at joints. The damaged ligament can become inflamed. Your vet can prescribe an anti-inflammatory to help reduce this and prevent pain. 

What Causes Joint Problems in Dogs?

Their joints are cushioned or ‘hinged’ with ligaments (fibrous tissue). When ligaments are worn or damaged, the movement of the bone is affected, and worsened by continued use; this causes pain. So arthritis can be a result of injury or gradual wear-and-tear

How to Improve your Dog’s Joint Health

If you own one of the breeds which are prone to joint problems, you can take preventative measures right now. Select low-impact terrain for their walks (sandy dunes and muddy woods are great). Choose a supplement containing joint-builders like Glucosamine/learn/dog-supplements/glucosamine-for-dogs and Chondroitin/learn/dog-supplements/the-benefits-of-chondroitin-for-dogs. Omega-3/learn/dog-supplements/fish-oil-for-dogs-what-do-i-need-to-know is helpful in reducing inflammation, for those dogs whose legs are starting to ache a little after walks. 

Fortunately, we added all these – plus some other incredible stuff – into our universal canine supplement/products/the-one, designed to support healthy hearts, legs and brains. Read some of our reviews to learn how many owners have improved their dogs’ joint health using our supplement, The One!