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25 Unhealthiest Dog Breeds (With the Most Health Issues): Vet Reviewed Facts

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By Nicole Cosgrove

english bulldog

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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There are few things in life quite as rewarding as owning a dog. However, the downside is knowing that you’ll eventually have to watch as your best friend suffers from health problems in his autumn years.

Personally, we’d prefer to delay that problem as long as possible, but that may not be an option with the breeds on this list.

Below, we’ve listed 25 of the dog breeds that have the most health issues. They’re still great dogs, of course, but they’re also expensive, and it’s simply heartbreaking to watch them suffer.

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The 25 Dog Breeds With the Most Health Issues

1. Bernese Mountain Dog

two vets checking on a bernese mountain dog
Image Credit: LightField Studios, Shutterstock

First up on our list of most unhealthy dog breeds is the Bernese Mountain Dog. These big pups are very nearly the perfect pet — if it weren’t for their ridiculously short lifespans, that is. Due to generations of inbreeding, cancer runs rampant in their genes, and many Berners can only expect to live 6-8 years as a result.

2. English Bulldog

English Bulldog
Image Credit: artellliii72, Pixabay

You know how English Bulldogs have that adorably smushy nose? Yeah, well, that nose is terrible for their health. It makes them prone to all sorts of respiratory issues, and they’re also likely to suffer from obesity, hip dysplasia, and skin allergies.

3. Weimaraner

Image credit: Ella_87, Pixabay

These gorgeous dogs are prone to a rare condition that prevents their blood from clotting properly, so regular bumps and bruises could prove to be incredibly dangerous. Weimaraners also suffer from spinal problems and hip dysplasia.

4. Cocker Spaniel

golden cocker spaniel
Image Credit: Katrina_S, Pixabay

Next up on our list of most unhealthy dog breeds is the Cocker Spaniel. These small dogs can have a serious array of health problems, including glaucoma, patellar luxation, and chronic hepatitis. Intervertebral disc disease is also a common health issue in Cocker Spaniels, and they are among the dog breeds predisposed to developing dilated cardiomyopathy.

5. Doberman Pinscher

Doberman Pinscher Dog Breed Info
Image Credit: patstatic, Pixabay

These missile-shaped mutts often suffer from cancer, gastric torsion, hip dysplasia, hepatitis, and more. Dobermans are also among the breeds with a predisposition to developing dilated cardiomyopathy.

6. Bloodhound

bloodhound dog lying on grass
Image Credit: XYLA, Pixabay

Like English Bulldogs, the Bloodhound’s most adorable trait is also his Achilles’ heel. This breed’s droopy eyes are incredibly prone to diseases like dry eyes, glaucoma, and eyelid deformities.

7. Toy Poodle

toy poodle walking on grass
Image Credit: bongbabyhousevn, Pixabay

These incredibly intelligent dogs aren’t quite smart enough to figure out how to stay out of the vet’s office. Toy Poodles are known to suffer from bladder stones, Cushing’s disease, and skin cancer.

8. Newfoundland

Image Credit: YAN WEN, Shutterstock,

Newfies are huge and lovable, but they can have significant health issues, including bloat, dilated cardiomyopathy, osteosarcoma, and arthritis, as well as hip dysplasia and other issues that big dogs commonly suffer from.

9. Goldendoodle

Image Credit: Josh Fields, Pexels

This relatively new designer breed may be popular due to the fact that it’s considered hypoallergenic, but many owners are learning the hard way that Goldendoodles are prone to a heart condition called Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis, which can be fatal if not treated.

10. Boxer

boxer dog lying on autumn leaves
Image Credit: larstuchel, Shutterstock

Like many snub-nosed dogs, Boxers suffer from a host of respiratory conditions. Unfortunately, they’re also likely to suffer from lymphoma and mast cell tumors. Luckily, these dogs are natural-born fighters.

11. Shih Tzu

veterinarian doctor examining Shih tzu dog
Image Credit: Orawan Pattarawimonchai, Shutterstock

You wouldn’t think it, given how low these dogs are to the ground, but they have very unstable kneecaps, so orthopedic surgery is common among the breed. Shih Tzus also have a host of eye issues, including corneal ulcers and glaucoma.

12. Pit Bull

pitbull dog with leash lying indoor
Image Credit: Andrew P Attilio, Shutterstock

These dogs can have thyroid and heart conditions, and joint issues are common. A much less serious but no less pesky condition that many Pit Bulls struggle with is skin allergies, which run rampant in the breed.

13. Siberian Husky

Siberian Husky sticking its tongue out
Image credit: Kateryna Babaieva, Pexels

Given how often these dogs work out, you’d think they’d live forever. However, Siberians are plagued by a number of conditions, including cataracts, hypothyroidism, and progressive retinal atrophy.

14. Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever with ball
Image credit: Julissa Helmuth, Pexels

These lovable pups are unfortunately prone to cancer, and they can also struggle with hip dysplasia, skin diseases, and thyroid conditions.

15. Rottweiler

Rottweiler standing in the ground covered with snow
Image Credit: K L, Pixabay

Next up on our list of the most unhealthy dog breeds is the Rottweiler. These dogs aren’t necessarily prone to health problems on their own, but since they steadfastly refuse to turn down food, they can quickly become obese. As a result, structural issues like hip dysplasia are common in Rottweilers. Eyelid problems and cancer are also fairly common in this breed.

16. Basset Hound

Basset Hound sitting on dry leaves
Image Credit: Marry Kolesnik, Shutterstock

You have to be careful when feeding these dogs, because they have a tendency to suffer from bloat. Basset Hounds also have weak joints, and their floppy ears need lots of TLC to prevent issues from forming deep inside the canal.

17. German Shepherd

German Shepherd
Image credit: GoranH, Pixabay

You may have noticed that German Shepherds’ backs are unusually low to the ground near the tail. This leaves them prone to all sorts of spinal issues, as well as problems with their hips and femurs.

18. Pug

Image credit: MishuHanda, Pixabay

If you’ve noticed that there are several flat-nosed dog breeds on this list, you get a cookie. If you’re a member of a flat-nosed dog breed, you get respiratory issues, problems with strenuous activity, and a propensity to develop infections in the muzzle. Oh, and if you’re a Pug, you can add painful eye bulging to the list, too.

19. Chow Chow

Chow Chow
Image Credit: Marius Kristensen, Pixabay

Chow Chows are so fluffy that it can be hard to tell when they’re actually fat, too. As a result, they suffer from a host of orthopedic issues, like hip and elbow dysplasia and patellar luxation.

20. Labrador Retriever

Black Labrador Retriever
Image Credit: Mark Thornton, Pixabay

Next up on our list of the unhealthiest dog breeds is the Labrador Retriever. While these dogs may seem invincible, that idea can get them into trouble, as they can suffer from a condition called Exercise-Induced Collapse. It’s exactly what it sounds like, and it can be fatal, so it’s important to have your Lab screened before letting him run as much as he wants to.

21. Saint Bernard

Saint Bernard sitting in meadow
Image Credit: rokopix, Shutterstock

Like all giant dogs, these pups can suffer from structural issues like hip dysplasia and back problems. Saint Bernards also have higher-than-usual rates of cancer and immune disorders, too.

22. Shar Pei

Image Credit: Andrés Carlo, Pixabay

The cutest thing about Shar Peis is all the wrinkles on their faces. Don’t get too close, though, because those folds are hotspots for bacterial infections. These dogs are also prone to entropion and swollen hock syndrome.

23. Irish Setter

irish setter dog lying on sand
Image Credit: Jurijus Petrulis, Pixabay

If you do a lot of cross-breeding in a small country like Ireland, you’re bound to run into some genetic issues. These Setters are known to suffer from hereditary conditions like quadriplegia, epilepsy, and seizures.

24. Great Dane

a female great dane standing on long grass
Image Credit: David Pegzlz, Shutterstock

It’s an unfortunate fact of life that the bigger the dog, the more likely they are to have serious health problems. Dogs don’t get much bigger than Great Danes, and these pooches often suffer from bloat, cancer, and a cervical spine disease called Wobbler’s Syndrome.

25. Maltese

Cute maltese dog sitting on the rock
Image Credit: Sadovnikovrn, Shutterstock

These miniature mutts have some intense health issues, including lots of dental and eye problems. Most disturbingly, though, they can suffer from portosystemic shunt, a condition that can cause the bloodstream to become toxic.

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What Should You Do if You Have a Dog That’s Prone to Health Issues?

It’s important to note that even if a breed has a tendency to suffer from a certain condition, that doesn’t mean that your individual dog will. However, knowing the breed’s weaknesses can alert you to what to look out for, and you can talk to your vet about how to prevent some of the most common ailments.

Ultimately, no dog is completely safe from health issues. If your pet’s breed is on our list of the unhealthiest dog breeds, though, you may want to start setting aside a little bit of money to handle any vet bills that are in your future.

Related Read: 12 Dog Breeds Prone to Skin Problems

Over time, visits to the vet can really add up. If you're looking for a good pet insurance plan that won't break the bank, you may want to look at Lemonade. This company offers adjustable plans customized to your pet's needs.

Featured Image Credit: AndreiTobosaru, Shutterstock

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