Looking for a Long-Term Relationship? Check out the 10 Dog Breeds With the Least Health Problems.
Updated December 15, 2022
Reading time: 7 minutes
Feeding your dogs a healthy diet, giving them plenty of exercise, and taking them to the vet for regular checkups are all essential for keeping them healthy and ensuring they live a long life. But even with top-quality care, some dog breeds are more prone to health problems than others.
If you’re planning on adding a new dog to your family, it’s important to take the time to research the breed thoroughly. You’ll want to be sure it fits your lifestyle and that you can take care of it properly.
While there’s no hard evidence pointing to one breed as being the healthiest, some dogs tend to have fewer health issues than others. If you’re in search of a dog with minimal health issues, consider the following 10 breeds.
Beagles were originally bred as hunting dogs, so they love to bark, howl, and run around. These compact dogs have droopy ears and boundless energy. A beagle is ideal if you lead an active lifestyle and don’t mind giving it a lot of attention and training. With proper diet, exercise, and routine care, beagles can live for up to 15 years.
Australian cattle dogs, as the name suggests, are cattle-herding dogs. They’re an active, assertive breed with excellent problem-solving skills. They’re born with a white coat that eventually turns red or blue-gray and features specking patterns. If you’re seeking a smart, playful dog with a lifespan of up to 16 years, an Australian cattle dog might be a good fit.
Learn More: How Much Does the Vet Cost?
Known as sled dogs, Siberian huskies are medium-sized dogs with distinct almond-shaped eyes. They’re naturally clean and admired for their gentle temperament. If you have young children, your family may benefit from a husky’s friendly and gentle demeanor. Huskies typically live between 12 and 16 years on average.
Chihuahuas are the smallest dog breed in the world, but they can live for up to 20 years, thanks to their diverse makeup. Though typically no more than five pounds, chihuahuas are very active and love attention. If you have the time and energy to devote to a chihuahua, this breed can make a wonderful companion.
Havanese are Cuban dogs with big, brown eyes and beautiful silky coats. If you’re in search of an adorable, affectionate watch dog that doesn’t need much space, a havanese should be on your radar. They’re generally cheerful, easy to train, and can live for 14 to 16 years.
Also known as barkless dogs, basenjis are smart, energetic, and strong-willed. They’re unique in that they groom themselves and keep their short-haired coats clean and odorless. Basenjis require a lot of patience relative to other breeds, so they may be worth exploring if you’re an experienced dog owner and don't mind the challenge. The average lifespan of a basenji is 13 to 14 years.
In 2021, more than 3.25 million dogs were covered by pet insurance, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association.
Australian shepherds are all-purpose sheep and farm dogs with lots of energy and relatively no skin, fur, or bone problems. These dogs are happiest when they get the chance to exercise, play, and challenge themselves. With ample activity and mental stimulation, Australian shepherds can live for up to 15 years. If you have plenty of space and older children, they can make the perfect family companion.
Poodles are highly intelligent and love to spend time with humans. Though they’re hypoallergenic and generally healthy, they do require daily grooming. Thanks to their active nature, standard-size poodles can live for up to 16 years while miniature and toy poodles can live up to 18 years. Poodles are a great option for people looking for a friendly, family dog.
Greyhounds are fast runners with muscular bodies who can live for up to 13 years as long as they maintain a healthy diet and go on daily walks. Though low energy, they’re obedient and affectionate, making them a solid choice if you prefer a calm house pet. Just keep in mind that some greyhounds can be quite stubborn and require adequate training when they’re puppies.
Check Out: How Much It Costs to Spay or Neuter Your Dog
Originally bred to herd sheep, border collies are medium-sized dogs with almond-shaped eyes and thick, weather-resistant coats. As long as they get plenty of exercise and mental stimulation, they can live for up to 14 years. If you’re fairly active and could benefit from a playful, highly intelligent dog, a border collie might make sense‚ especially if you live in a rural area with a larger backyard.
While every dog is unique, many share common health issues, including the following.
Canine arthritis is a common health problem in dogs that leads to joint pain and inflammation and can restrict mobility. Common signs of this condition include limping before and after walks, behavioral changes, and licking on tender areas. Fortunately, arthritis can be treated with medication, physical therapy, and natural remedies.
Hip dysplasia loosens the hip joint, causing pain and dysfunction as well as symptoms like decreased activity and range of motion. It’s typically seen in large dogs and is often the result of improper weight, poor nutrition, and certain types of exercise. While some dogs show signs of hip dysplasia at a very young age, others may develop it with osteoarthritis as they get older. The most common treatments include weight loss, physical therapy, and joint supplements.
The American Kennel Club says these are common symptoms of hip dysplasia:
Decreased activity and range of motion
Stiffness or limping
Hind end lameness
Difficulty rising, jumping, running or climbing stairs
Loss of muscle mass in back legs and enlarged shoulders on front legs
If your dog is itching, there’s a good chance it has a skin issue, such as allergic dermatitis, folliculitis, or impetigo. Other signs of skin problems include redness, rashes, dryness, sores, and hair loss. Treatment depends on the particular condition but often involves antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications, medicated shampoos and sprays, and antifungal medications.
Also known as UTIs, urinary tract infections can make it difficult and uncomfortable for your dog to urinate. If you notice they only pass a small amount, urinate frequently, have blood in their urine, or have urine with a strong smell, they might be dealing with a UTI. The most common treatment for a UTI is an antibiotic, which can provide quick relief.
Parasites can be internal or external. Common external parasites include fleas and ticks, while common internal parasites include intestinal worms and heartworms. A parasite can easily enter your dog when they come into contact with another animal that has one or if they eat something contaminated. The most common signs of parasites are weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, and changes in coat or appearance. They’re usually treated with oral medications.
More than 55% of dogs in the U.S. are considered overweight or obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. Although a dog may be considered obese, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s eating too much. Lifestyle factors and hormonal imbalances can also contribute to the issue, which can lead to serious conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Dogs must reduce calorie intake and increase physical activity to treat obesity.
Learn More: Pet Insurance for Pre-Existing Conditions
You can determine if your dog is healthy in various ways, including:
Shiny coat: Your dog’s coat should be nice and glossy, free of excess oil and dandruff. It’s also important that its skin is smooth without redness, dryness, or scabbing.
Fresh breath: While your dog’s breath might not be the best, it should have a fairly clean smell. Fresh breath usually means there’s no plaque, tartar buildup, or other dental issues.
Clean ears: If you look inside your dog’s ears and notice a light pink color with a bit of yellow or brownish earwax, there’s a good chance it’s healthy. Excess wax or crust, odor, or redness, on the other hand — or frequent scratching of the ears — may indicate a problem.
Bright eyes: When your dog looks at you, its eyes should be shiny and bright with minimal mucus or tears. Redness or inflammation might be a sign of eye issues.
While a purebred dog has two parents of the same breed, a mixed-breed dog or a mutt is made up of two or more breeds. Mixed breeds are believed to be healthier because they’re at lower risk for certain genetic conditions than purebreds due to purebreds’ limited gene pool.
Despite this, research has shown that even though some health problems are more common in purebred dogs, it’s possible for just as many issues to appear in mixed breeds. You should choose a breed that suits your lifestyle and that you’re confident you can take care of properly, rather than based on their genetic makeup.
The following tips can help you save money on pet ownership no matter what kind of dog you own:
Annual check-ups: It’s a good idea to take your dog to the vet for an exam at least once per year. By doing so, you can be proactive about its health and prevent serious issues that are expensive to treat.
Pet insurance: Pet insurance can help you avoid hefty, out-of-pocket pet care costs. Spend time researching a policy that works well for your budget and needs. It’s a good idea to compare pet insurance quotes from multiple companies.
Shop around: Whether you need pet food, pet accessories, or anything else, don’t settle on the first option you find. You can save big if you comparison shop, join a pet loyalty program, or buy pet products in bulk.
Save: Some pet expenses can pop up when you least expect them. That’s why it’s a good idea to have dedicated savings to fund any sudden expenses.
Anna Baluch is a Cleveland-based personal finance and insurance expert. With an MBA from Roosevelt University, she enjoys writing educational content that helps people make smart financial decisions. Her work can be seen across the internet on many publications, including Freedom Debt Relief, Credit Karma, RateGenius, and the Balance. Connect with Anna on LinkedIn.