Unhealthiest Dog Breeds

unhealthiest dog breeds

The easiest way to raise a healthy dog is to choose one free of genetic defects. Unfortunately, some breeds, such as the English bulldog shown above, seem to have a disproportionate share of medical problems. This is very well documented, and beginning to get a lot more attention.

The average lifespan of an English bulldog is just a little more than six years. This is half the time you can expect the average Cocker Spaniel to live. Bulldogs are also prone to breathing problems that may require surgical correction.


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People who choose to own a bulldog, now one of America’s most popular breeds, should also expect larger-than-usual veterinary bills. One vet interviewed in the New York Times¬†Magazine warns new owners that they should take out pet health insurance.

I’m pretty sure the article also said something to the effect that if you have one of these dogs love it as much as possible. Because it probably won’t be around too long.

If I owned one of these dogs, and wanted it to keep it around as long as possible, I’d certainly be taking a holistic approach, which would include, at the very least, non-toxic flea control.¬†These dog’s bodies are already stressed, due to selective breeding that makes the mere act of breathing a chore.


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If it were me, I’d also make sure to treat my lawn naturally. Dogs absorb lawn chemicals when they venture outside. I’d also think about feeding my bulldog USDA-certified organic food. Although I have no proof this will help extend the lifespan, it’s one of those things that can’t hurt and might help.

Bulldogs really do have a short life span. Our neighbors have had three, during the same time we’ve had one Cocker spaniel. Granted our 16-year-old dog has even outlived his own breed. But still, if you get a bulldog, you may not get to love your pet for many years.


Unhealthiest Dog Breeds


Some of the other breeds that also seem to need a lot of medical help, above and beyond the usual, include:

  • Pugs. These cute little dogs suffer from some of the same breathing issues as English bulldogs. Neither breed does well in the heat, so extra effort is needed to prevent them from getting heat stroke.
  • Doberman Pinschers. These dogs are very prone to digestive issues, which can include a frequently fatal condition known as “bloat.” This occurs when gas fills a dog’s stomach, squeezing his or her vital organs. St. Bernards also seem to be at greater risk for developing this condition.
  • Chihuahuas. These tiny pets often battle hypoglycemia early in life, and some do not outgrow this condition. Dog owners may be advised to feed their pet frequently.
  • English Setters. Dangerous gastric bloat can also a problem with this breed. Canine cancer has reached epidemic levels across the board, but these setters seem to have a higher-than normal incidence of certain types of malignancies, such as lymphoma.
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs. Many of these beautiful multicolored dogs have a genetic defect that leaves them at risk for a type of cancer known as histiocytosis. Breeders are trying to reduce and remove this trait.
  • Golden Retrievers. This very popular breed also seems to have more than its share of malignancies. One online vet admitted that this dog is sometimes referred to, at least in veterinary circles, as “the cancer retriever.

For More Reading

English Bulldog Life Expectancy

Unhealthiest dog breeds