By Richard Gray
What breed of dog has the least health problems? Well, everybody wants to have a dog that is healthy and lives a long and happy life. We don’t want to worry about constant visits to the local veterinary practice, right?
In this post, we identify what are the 19 breeds of dog with the least health problems.
We have broken down the most common health issues affecting small and medium/larger breeds.
Identifying a breed with the least health problems is a good place to start.
To do this, there are certain steps and information we recommend you know.
To begin with, you should know what hereditary conditions may affect your chosen breed. Here, we outline the specific hereditary diseases each of the 19 healthiest breeds could suffer from. We have carefully researched authoritative scientific and veterinary sources to find this information for you.
Secondly, ask the breeder you have selected to provide you with a medical screening of the parents of a potential puppy. Healthy breeding practices including genetic testing, can in some cases eliminate a disease from a breed, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. 
Then, when you go and view puppies, look for signs of possible hereditary problems. Look for signs a pup is unhealthy. Discharge from nose and eyes, poor skin and dull coat, coughing and wheezing are signs to look out for.
You should observe the full litter of pups and see how the mother interacts with them. This will help you to judge whether she is the real mother.
We recommend you read the PDSA guidelines on ‘Getting a Puppy‘ before viewing a puppy.
Now, please read on about our 19 healthiest dog breeds, the genetic health issues that could affect the breeds and general health problems that small and larger breeds are prone to.
Small Breed Health Issues
1. Tracheal Collapse
The majority of dogs suffering this condition are middle aged or older. Some puppies may have it. It is a collapse of the rings that surround the windpipe and as a consequence can cause difficulty breathing. Look out for persistent dry coughing, which can be worse at night or when your dog is excited. Be careful not to pull your dog back with a lead and cause the collar to yank the windpipe. “Small breed dogs are most commonly affected with the disease, particularly Yorkshire terriers, Pomeranians, Poodles and Chihuahuas.” 
2. Patellar Luxation
This orthopedic condition of the knee is diagnosed in 7% of puppies and is more common in small breeds. It particularly seems to affect Boston terriers, Chihuahuas, miniature poodles, the Pommeranian and the Yorkshire terrier. In young puppies, with a severe case, their rear legs may seem bowed. As the American College of Veterinary Surgeons says “Most dogs affected by this disease will suddenly carry the limb up for a few steps (“skip”), and may be seen shaking or extending the leg prior to regaining its full use. As the disease progresses in duration and severity, this lameness becomes more frequent and eventually becomes continuous.” 
3. Mitral Valve Disease
It is a common cardiac disease with 30% of adult dogs over 10 years known to be sufferers. The cause is not clear, but it is suspected to be genetic. Degenerative Mitral Valve Disease is most common in small breeds. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are particularly susceptible. Often the symptom of the disease will show as a heart murmur on examination by a veterinarian. 
4. Dental Disease
Dental Veterinarian Dr. Jan Bellows in an American Kennel Club Foundation podcast says that some breeds are more liable to have dental health problems than others. A major problem is periodontal disease. This affects the support, bone and gum around a tooth. Dr. Bellows states “The smaller the breed, the greater chance the animal is having periodontal disease.” Warning signs for the onset of the disease are bad breath. Later a dog may be agitated and paw at its mouth. Later still, blood may appear on food and toys the dog has tried to chew. 
Obesity can be an issue in small breeds (as it can be in larger dogs). Keep your dog in good shape, or heart problems and skeletal issues are a possibility. Watch those canine calorie intakes! 
Healthiest Small Breeds
Basenji are a small and strong dog breed. They are full of energy and they stay in good shape. Their expected lifespan is 12 -14 years.
Fanconi syndrome (a disease of the kidneys) affects around 7% of the breed aged between 4 to 8 years. Owners should insist on a test by breeders that shows ‘probable clear’ for both parents. Eye problems can also be an issue. Basenji retinopathy is a condition that affects 25% of the breed over the age of 8. Dogs affected will have vision difficulty in darkening conditions first. Blindness in light conditions is rare and does not normally happen until late life. 
The Bichon Frise is another generally healthy dog breed that rarely suffers serious health conditions. They will live for 12-15 years, normally.
Watch your Bichon’s weight. Obesity can lead to heart disease. Also play close attention to dental health with regular check-ups. Pay attention that he doesn’t develop food allergies, skin, or ear infections. 
Although they can suffer from some of the issues outlined in our small breed health issues, this toy breed is one of the healthiest small breeds. They can live up to 15 years.
You should be especially vigilant with a Chihuahua’s dental care. 13.5% suffer from dental disease and problems with baby teeth retention. Obesity is another potential health issue that can cause heart problems. 
The Havanese is a healthy breed that lives up to 14 years.
They can be prone to eye conditions such as cherry eye and develop cataracts. Health conditions affecting the legs can be prevalent – patella luxation where the knee cap comes out of joint as well as hip dysplasia can occur. 
They are energetic and full of life and muscular too. This makes for a healthy dog breed. The Royal Veterinary College, London says the miniature schnauzer is a good choice as a healthy dog. “Many popular breeds are prone to life-threatening and distressing conditions related to their breeding. Our study suggests that the miniature schnauzer should be considered as a relatively healthy breed.” 
Keeping your pet on a healthy diet and at a controlled weight are key. As with so many small breeds, monitoring dental health is a must.
They can be healthy dogs with few health issues and live from 12-16 years if well cared for.
At around 7-9 years it’s advisable to have frequent veterinary checkups. A well-balanced diet high in calcium can help prevent the propensity of the slipping kneecaps of patellar luxation. Tracheal collapse can also be an issue and using a harness instead of a collar is a good idea. Hyperthyroidism can occur with poms. A diet that is high in fiber and one that includes vitamin A, B, and zinc can reduce the risk of hyperthyroidism. 
Poodles are small, energetic, and athletic dogs that will live from 10 to 16 years. They are considered a very healthy breed.
In older age they can be subject to joint problems and they can be prone to Addison’s disease, a condition of defective adrenal glands. Bloat can also afflict small poodles. It is a serious potentially life-threatening condition. Avoid strenuous exercise after feeding and feeding smaller meals 2 or 3 times a day is recommended to minimize the risk of bloat. 
Larger Breed Health Issues
Common complaints relate to eye diseases, hereditary related heart murmurs, issues with joints and skin complaints.
1. Eye Diseases
A hereditary condition that can occur in younger dogs. The most obvious sign is a dog bumping into things. Look for a whiteness or white spot on the pupil. 
‘Cherry eye’ or eyelid protrusion is a common disease where the inner corner of the eye has a red mass and weeping occurs. 
2. Heart murmurs
They can be just the consequence of growth or extreme excitement or stress. But signs that there is structural disease of the heart can be lack of appetite, weight loss, slow growth as a puppy, breathing difficulties and coughing, poor exercise tolerance and collapse. [16, 17]
Degenerative mitral valve disease afflicts Cavalier King Charles Spaniels more than other breeds. Medium sized breeds known to suffer with the mitral conditions are the standard Dachshund. 
Boxers can suffer from a genetic condition that involves fatty cells being deposited in the right chamber of the heart called arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC). 
3. Joint problems
Hip dysplasia can occur in medium sized breeds as well as large dog breeds. Basset Hounds, English and French Bulldogs, and corgis are at risk. Canine Hip Dysplasia happens when there is a different growth rate of the ball and socket joint of the hip. Signs to look for are difficulty climbing stairs, loss of muscle in the hind legs, swelling at the hips, lack of interest in exercise, limping and lameness. 
4. Skin Complaints
Medium to larger sized breeds known to suffer skin complaints are spaniels (in the ear and on the folds of the lower lip). American bulldogs can suffer from allergies and canine ichthyosiform dermatoses. This is a rare genetic skin complaint that can be seen when they are puppies. Other breeds particularly susceptible to skin problems are English bulldogs, pit bull terriers, and standard poodles. 
Healthiest Medium to Larger Breeds
A breed bred to do what its name suggests, hunt foxes. So, traditionally they are fit and strong. Today, they are often bred as family dogs. They are good-natured and get on with children. They generally are very healthy and active dogs and live from 11 to 14 years.
They can suffer the hip dysplasia of other mid-sized breeds and can suffer with hyperthyroidism. American foxhounds are predisposed to a blood platelet disorder called thrombocytopenia. Watch for blood in the stool and nosebleeds and excessive bleeding from any cuts and grazes. Early detection and the condition can be managed well. It is recommended to clean the teeth daily to avoid dental issues. 
American Water Spaniel
This medium-sized working breed is generally very healthy. They live for 10-12 years with only minor health problems. They have strong muscular legs and of course enjoy spending time in water.
Their hairy ears should be checked regularly for infection. The most serious health issue that they are predisposed to is the heart condition mitral valve disease. 
This athletic, energetic, and intelligent watchdog is very healthy and lives on average from 12 to 14 years.
Regular visits to a vet for hip and eye tests are a good idea as they can suffer hip dysplasia and cataracts. German Pinschers are predisposed to a genetic condition called Von Willebrand’s disease. This is a protein blood clotting disorder where there is excessive bleeding. 
German Shorthaired Pointer
They are an active sporting dog breed that loves to run and this keeps them a generally healthy dog. They live for 12 to 14 years.
They can suffer from the serious condition, bloat. So, minimize the risk by avoiding exercise after eating. Hip and elbow dysplasia can also be an issue, as with many larger breeds. Paying close attention to nutrition needs, exercise routines and an ideal weight can minimize the risk. 
They are a dog that most clearly resembles a wolf, so this shows the least interbreeding in this breed. They are a robust, strong working dog that is genetically used to harsh cold conditions. They generally live up to 13 years.
They are prone to eye problems. Cataracts, corneal dystrophy and retinal atrophy are the three most genetic conditions, in that order. According to the Siberian Husky Club of America: “Out of 1345 Siberian Huskies examined, a total of 107 dogs had inheritable cataracts (8%), a total of 44 dogs had corneal dystrophy (3%), and 4 dogs had progressive retinal atrophy (less than 1%).” A yearly eye examination is necessary. The SHCA guidelines say a dog that is going to be used for breeding should be examined by a veterinarian certified by the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmology. 
This healthy active breed needs mental stimulation and exercise to stay happy, healthy and trim. They live from 10 to 13 years.
Avoid overfeeding as obesity can accentuate inherited canine hip dysplasia. An Airedale can be at risk of bloat, as it has a deep and narrow chest. 
This breed is thought to have its roots in England and is like the Border Collie in appearance and temperament. This means they are great herding dogs with an amiable temperament with kids and adults. They are easy to train and live between 13 to 15 years.
As with all medium-sized breeds, regular screening for hip dysplasia and eye problems is recommended. Like the Border collie, epilepsy can be another health issue. 
Australian Cattle Dog
They are known to be one of the healthiest dog breeds. They are athletic and strong and love the outdoors. They have a strong herding instinct and need at least 2 hours of exercise a day to burn their energy and to stay healthy. They live for an average 12 to 16 years.
Although they are a hardy breed, they can be prone to hereditary eye problems and hip/elbow dysplasia. 
They are a medium to large herding breed that are energetic and intelligent. So, they enjoy mental and physical exercise. They enjoy an active life and are suited to an active family. They live for 10 to 14 years.
Like many breeds who live a long time, cancer can become a health hazard. It’s a good idea to ask a breeder to do tests for hip elbow dysplasia and eye conditions before buying a pup. Other possible health issues are bloat (they have a deep, narrow chest), epilepsy and hyperthyroidism. 
They are energetic, patient, good-natured dogs and happy with children. They are also a healthy breed that has a long lifespan of 12 to 15 years. They are of course a herding breed and will chase sheep!
The American Border Collie Organization recommends screening both prospective parents to identify if heritable diseases will be transmitted to a pup. When you are considering buying a pup that is already born, health examinations should take place on a pup before 12 weeks old. Hip dysplasia, eye complaints and epilepsy are some common conditions in Border collies. [30, 31]
Beagles tend to be a healthy breed that live on average for 13 to 15 years. They are friendly and good with the family. They can bark a lot when left alone.
You should clean your beagle’s ears and teeth regularly. Health screening is recommended before getting a beagle pup. Medical complaints can include eye issues (particularly cherry eye), epilepsy,hyperthyroidism and back problems. 
They are an even-tempered, good-natured and intelligent breed. They live for up to 15 years. In a hip dysplasia study by the Orthopedic Study of Animals “there were virtually no known cases of dysplasia in Greyhounds.” 
They do have the deep narrow chest associated with bloat and this is a condition that can afflict the breed. Keep their dental hygiene in top shape as they are prone to periodontal disease. 
Keep in mind these following tips and keep a watchful eye on your dog’s health…
- Always monitor your pet and look for them to be alert and aware.
- Check that their breath does not smell bad and that their ears and teeth are clean and in good condition.
- The dog’s coat should be well maintained and shiny.
- Monitor your dog’s weight and make sure it is the correct weight for the breed.
- Finally, your dog’s stool and urination habits should be healthy and regular.
Consult a veterinarian without delay if you suspect your dog is suffering a health issue.
What to do next?
We hope you found this article helpful and informative. Check out our additional post for further information on Life Expectancy of Dog Breeds.
Which breeds go to the veterinarian the most?
1. Bernese Mountain Dogs.
Is bloat common to all dog breeds?
Any dog can suffer with bloat, but it is more common in deep chested, large breeds. In a recent study the top 3 breeds found to be at risk were: 1. Great Dane, 2. St. Bernard, 3. Weimaraners