Humans have been breeding dogs since they first domesticated wild wolves thousands of years ago. Today there are over 400 different kinds of dog breeds to choose from—including the most-coveted purebreds. Unfortunately, all those centuries of gene pool tampering and inbreeding have led to health issues in these premium breeds. If you are thinking of getting yourself one, you must first know the common genetic diseases and disorders in pedigree dogs.
1. Congenital deafness on white-haired breeds
There are various causes for deafness in dogs. Some are temporary or partial due to wax build-up or old age, while some are permanent due to untreated infections and severe trauma. Another reason is faulty genes—which seem to affect breeds with white fur the most. Dalmatians are the most affected with 29.9% being born completely deaf just a few years after being born.
2. Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome
Some dog breeds with shorter and flatter noses like the Pekingese have a hard time breathing. This condition is called Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome (BAOS). It alters their respiratory system which causes the throat and windpipe to be squashed. Dogs with BAOS cannot exercise and are prone to heatstroke due to overheating.
3. C-Sections only for Bullpups
We all love bulldogs because of their adorable and oversized heads. But did you know that their large domes are a product of inbreeding? And it comes with a price. Pregnant bullies have difficulty giving birth because their pups are too big to pass through the birth canal. Vets have to perform C-sections to ensure the safety of both the puppy and the mother.
4. Golden Retrievers are prone to cancer
The golden retriever is the most popular dog breed in the U.S and is considered to be the poster dog for the ideal American family. However, its average lifespan has significantly dropped over the last 50 years due to genetic mutations caused by selective breeding. This means 60% of golden retrievers are likely to get bone cancer, lymphoma, and other cancers during their lifetime.
5. Neck and back pain on Spaniels
Are you planning to get a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel? You should know that this breed is prone to a genetic condition known as syringomyelia. This happens when cavities form in the spinal cord and become filled with fluid. This can occur to any kind of animal but is more prevalent in dog breeds with very small heads. Syringomyelia can cause severe neck and head pain.
6. German Shepherd back problems
The German shepherd’s impressive physique is a product of years of selective breeding for cosmetic reasons. Unfortunately, their sloped backs cause their hips and knees to be closer to the ground. This can lead to lower back pain, hip dysplasia, spinal problems, and severe walking issues down the line.
7. Heart disease in large dogs
Big dogs like German shepherds, Rottweilers, and golden retrievers are breeds that are most likely to be afflicted with aortic stenosis. This is a congenital disease where the aortic valve narrows, causing the heart to become thicker. Dogs who have this condition are at risk of losing consciousness, breathing problems, and heart failure.
8. Hip issues and arthritis in big breeds
Hip dysplasia is another common genetic disorder in large dog breeds. Experts still cannot pinpoint the exact cause but they agree that it is a genetic defect causing increased sizes due to selective breeding. Hip issues can lead to severe pain in the legs and sockets as well as arthritis and mobility problems.
9. Blood loss
Selective breeding can also lead to blood conditions such as Von Willebrand disease. Dogs who suffer from this lack an adhesive glycoprotein that stops blood from binding together to form clots. The disease can manifest from simple bruising and nosebleeds to severe bleeding from the extremities and bodily waste.
10. Eye problems in small pups
Are you fond of small-faced breeds? These toy breeds are prone to genetic eye problems like entropion. Dogs who are bred to have smaller heads and faces have short eyelids and ligaments forcing their eyelids inwards. This can lead to irritation, which in severe cases, can lead to infections and wounds that could seriously damage their vision.
Breeders’ failure to test for genetic diseases has led to a variety of debilitating illnesses—one of which is progressive retinal atrophy. It affects the dog’s eyesight and becomes more severe over the course of its lifetime. Most dogs afflicted with this condition will show symptoms early on by losing their ability to see in the dark until they eventually go completely blind.
12. Urinary bladder stones
All dogs can develop stones in their urinary tracts, but breeds like Dalmatians, Newfoundlands, Bichon Frise, and Miniature Schnauzers are more predisposed to it than others. Its symptoms include frequent urination and blood in the urine.
There are still lots of studies needed, but experts agree that canine epilepsy is most common in breeds like German Shepherds, Beagles, Dachshunds, and Golden and Retrievers. Dogs with this condition will fall into seizures and lose control of their motor skills and bowel movements. Since there are no known cures to epilepsy, it is managed with anticonvulsant medications and therapy to decrease its frequency and severity.
14. Degenerative Myelopathy
Degenerative Myelopathy or DM is a slow and progressive neurological illness caused by the deterioration of nerve fibers and myelin sheath within the spinal cord. This is an inheritable disease most common in breeds like the German Shepherd, Bernese Mountain Dog, Boxer, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Kerry Blue Terrier, and Pug. Symptoms include leg weakness, difficulty bathroom posture, and then eventual paralysis when they reach old age.
15. Allergic Skin Disease
Finally, we will conclude this list of common genetic diseases and disorders in pedigree dogs with skin allergies. This is present in mix-breed and purebred dogs, with some breeds like golden retrievers and German shepherds having a higher incidence. Manifestations include chronic inflammatory otitis, recurrent hot spots, and pruritus. If you suspect your pets of having any of these symptoms (or the other conditions mentioned above), schedule a vet appointment right away.