Dogs have been well and truly domesticated by humans. Living beside us for centuries, we have slowly transformed the dog into many different forms far removed from their original hardy wolf ancestors to suit our preferences and need for certain functions. These alterations, along with poor breeding, can come at a cost, and as vets we are finding common health issues in specific dog breeds.

Pet insurance takes this into account with some common health issues in specific dog breeds not being covered, so it’s important to understand the type and level of cover required early on in your dog’s life before symptoms present themselves.

Pugs have changed considerably over the past 100 years, with their faces becoming increasingly more flat. This can lead to various issues affecting the airways, eyes and ears.

I treat a lot of pugs and some Shih Tzu’s with a condition known as oversized palpebral fissure syndrome which just means overly large eyelid openings! Not all pugs suffer from this syndrome but affected dogs can become blind if left untreated. Treatment involves surgery to reduce the size of the eyelid opening as well as long-term eye drops.

Cavalier Kind Charles Spaniel dogs are super placid and one of my top picks when people ask me about child friendly breeds. They are however over represented when it comes to heart disease (mitral valve insufficiency) and dry eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca).

These two conditions can be managed with dry eye carrying an excellent prognosis provided treatment, in the form of eye drops, is continued long term. Heart disease often progresses slowly and may only require medicating later in life. Yearly visits to your veterinarian can ensure that any of these issues are ruled out or treated promptly if required.

Labradors are extremely popular as family pets and working dogs and with the happy, carefree attitude it’s obvious why but they can be prone to cruciate ligament injury as well as hip and elbow dysplasia. I also see a lot of ear infection in this breed.

Staffies are robust bundles of muscle and a pleasure to treat owing to their tolerant and stoic personalities. They can be prone to anxiety and destruction if left alone or bored and I do tend to treat many Staffies for dermatitis and itchy skin.

Whilst I have discussed a few breeds here, it is important to understand that most pure breed dogs have a list of illness that are over represented amongst their breed or to which they are genetically predisposed.

Not all dogs of a particular breed will be affected by these illnesses but if your pooch does suffer from a breed related illness then it’s better to be forewarned and aware of the symptoms before they occur, and to ensure you are protected with the appropriate level of pet insurance cover.

Chatting to your veterinarian about these possible illnesses when your dog is a puppy is an excellent start.    You can also learn more about pet insurance here.


About the Author: Dr Melissa Meehan BVSc (Hons), MANZCVS (Int Med)
Dr Melissa Meehan is a highly experienced and respected veterinary surgeon with over 14 years experience. Dr Melissa obtained her Members in Small Animal Medicine through examination in 2008 and now runs her own veterinary ophthalmology service www.vetophthalmology.com.au