The best dog companion is a happy and healthy one. Despite claims that mixed-breed dogs have fewer health conditions than purebred ones, an extensive 15-year study showed that the most common disorders occurred equally in both. While some conditions occur more frequently within specific breeds, others experience fewer major health issues overall. Finding a healthy dog starts with a reputable breeder who documents and routinely tests for genetic vulnerabilities within their historic lines.
Explore lists on dog-fan sites, and most of them will list the Australian cattle dog as one of the healthiest breeds. These compact, muscular canines are super-intelligent and resilient with high levels of energy. Access to lots of physical activity keeps them healthy. Breeders recommend that veterinarians screen puppies for congenital deafness between six and eight weeks of age and hip or elbow dysplasia when they’re two years old. Older Australian cattle dogs sometimes develop eye disease.
Healthwise, these are sturdy, “barkless” dogs that require regular daily exercise and rarely have any health complications. Keeping them fit and lean is crucial to their overall health. The basenji’s body is similar to a deer’s — strong, agile, and lightly built — yet they are more cat-like in their grooming habits. They also don’t like being in the rain. Hip or elbow dysplasia and hypothyroidism can occur as they age if it is present in their lineage.
Known for being small but mighty, beagles were originally bred to be part of a hunting pack. Originating in Great Britain over 200 years ago, they would track rabbits while their hunters would follow on horseback. Although they're excellent working dogs, they also make loyal companions. With an average lifespan of 13 to 15 years, beagles need to remain active and consume a proper diet. That is because one of the most common health problems associated with beagles is obesity. Since this health concern can be managed from day one, daily exercise is also imperative.
The gentle English foxhound is an athletic, beautiful, and elegant breed, with a huge amount of stamina and high energy levels. Although they're robust and healthy, this deep-chested canine is at a higher risk for bloat, a potentially life-threatening condition. Taking steps such as avoiding elevated food bowls, waiting an hour after exercise before feeding them, and providing multiple, smaller meals instead of one large one lowers the risk.
Strong and confident, the Belgian Malinois also ranks high on the list for breeds with the fewest number of health issues, although they aren’t the greatest pick for families with children or other pets. Like other larger dogs, hip and elbow dysplasia can develop as they get older, although breeders who have followed selective practices have helped decrease the number of affected dogs. Between the ages of two and five, some Belgian Malinois have shown signs of epilepsy, although a few dogs have exhibited symptoms as early as six months. These are working dogs, with above-average intelligence and a 12-14 year life span.
What this tiny breed lacks in size, it makes up for with its “big dog” personality. The Chihuahua may look fragile at first glance, but in reality, they're quite robust. Potential genetic issues include heart conditions, eye disease, idiopathic epilepsy, and loose kneecaps. Although these genetic issues occur within the breed, it doesn’t mean all Chihuahuas will develop them. Regular veterinary screenings, a healthy diet, and regular exercise are key to ensuring that they live a long and happy life.
The German Pinscher is both elegant and strong. Admired for their beauty and intelligence, this breed is often chosen for working dogs, guard dogs, and welcomed into homes as loving family dogs. Since they have so much energy, they require plenty of exercise. The German Pinscher isn't troubled with any major or minor health problems; therefore, these dogs live an average of 12 to 15 years.
Don’t let those fancy haircuts fool you. Poodles are not the fragile aristocrats some people believe them to be. They’re athletic, smart, and extremely versatile dogs. Plus, they’re quick learners and excellent swimmers. Bloat is an issue for the breed. Idiopathic epilepsy, von Willebrand’s disease, and orthopedic problems are possible issues, although breeders have had excellent results in lowering their occurrences within their lines.
This strikingly beautiful breed is also one of the most healthy around. Siberian huskies are friendly and good-natured but tend to be a tad strong-willed and difficult to train. One of the few health issues they tend to experience is juvenile cataracts. Owners should have their dog screened for the condition starting at 12 months of age. Most huskies live to be between 12 and 15 years old and require a great deal of exercise for both their mental and physical health.
Their big eyes, luxurious coats, and funny personalities are features that attract most fans to the breed. Although they don’t tolerate heat very well and they aren’t very good swimmers, the Shih Tzu experiences few health issues. Slipped kneecaps or hip dysplasia are possible. Eye issues, such as cataracts and retinal atrophy or detachment, have also been an issue in some breeding lines. These sweet little companion dogs generally have lifespans of around 15 years.
Another sturdy pooch with excellent roots, this intelligent, tough herding dog became a much-loved partner on American ranches and rodeo circuits following World War II. This is an excellent breed choice for people with non-sedentary lifestyles. Overall Australian Shepherds have outstanding health, although vet exams usually include hip and elbow dysplasia screenings. Idiopathic epilepsy has historically been an issue within the breed.
Scottish shepherds and farmers originally developed the eager, agile, and exceedingly smart border collie. These dogs are herders extraordinaire and love working, so they require a lot of physical activity to keep their bodies healthy. Breeders’ efforts to rid genetic lines of hip dysplasia and inherited eye problems have been pretty successful. However, owners should have their pets checked for signs of these issues through regular veterinary exams.
German shorthaired pointers are commonly used in hunting. They are high-energy dogs that need a lot of exercise. Although their short hair rarely sheds, making them great for indoor living, they need to remain active. That is why they do best when owners spend plenty of time outdoors with them. While they can develop hip dysplasia and some cancers, they typically live 10 to 12 healthy years.
Some of the healthiest dogs are actually those that are of mixed breeds. This is because of their large genetic pool, making them less prone to hereditary issues and recessive disorders. Unlike other breeds, that have been interbred and over-bred, mixed-breed dogs tend to be healthier as a whole. One study looked at the medical records of 27,000 dogs. It found that 42% of genetic disorders were significantly greater in purebred dogs compared to just 4% in mixed-breed dogs. To ensure the longest possible lifespan, a balanced diet is crucial.
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