Dog Breeds and Their Health

Cavaliers like Samantha are susceptible to heart problems. She gets regular checkups at the vet.

Jan Glenn’s | Pawsitively Purrfect –

One day, my pal Susan Hulburt was telling me about her dog, Samantha, who is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. She always has an interesting “tail” about their latest adventure. She keeps me up to date on the Cavalier breed and some of the health issues Samantha might have.

The main health problem with the Cavalier concerns the heart. In mitral valve disease, the valve between the left atrium and ventricle doesn’t close tightly, allowing the blood to leak backward when the heart pumps. Although heart problems are common in small, elderly dogs, Cavaliers can develop issues early on, and symptoms include coughing and lethargy.

Some of my past pooch pals were rescues and others were pure breeds. I don’t think I was on top of some of their health problems. My Pomeranian, Studley Dudley Moore, had a tendency to lose his hair and eventually died of a collapsed trachea, which is a health issue in toy breeds. Poms are also predisposed to an adrenal gland disease called alopecia X, causing hair loss.

Studley Dudley Moore died of a collapsed trachea at the age of 13.

Bridget Bardot Dog was a Maltese, a breed that is susceptible to little white shaker syndrome. This funny named condition is just what it sounds like: tremors in small dogs that are white. An inflammation in the cerebellum causes shaking in dogs, and they can barely walk. Luckily, Bridget escaped this.

Dogs come in all shapes, sizes, colors and temperaments, and this diversity has been achieved through selective breeding. Unfortunately, this practice occasionally causes undesirable results in a given breed:


Poodles are one of a handful of breeds that are at increased risk for glaucoma, which is a buildup of fluid in the eye and causes pressure, pain and eventual blindness.

Miniature Schnauzer
Any dog can develop diabetes, but the Miniature Schnauzer seems to be at higher risk. Diabetes is a serious condition, but with insulin and diet changes, this breed can lead a normal life.


Like all dogs with those adorable smashed in faces, bulldogs can suffer from breathing problems. The bulldog’s small nostrils, elongated soft palate and narrow trachea are the reasons why he probably snores.

With their bulgy eyes, pugs are at risk for eye problems. The most serious is an eye popping out of its socket. This can happen if a pug gets into an accident or a dog fight.

Epilepsy, a brain disorder that causes seizures, seems to be more common in Beagles than in other dog breeds. Frequent seizures can be helped with medications.

Because of their long bodies, Dachshunds are at higher risk for back injuries and spinal disk problems. The best way to keep your dachshund feeling its best is to keep it at a healthy weight.

Cocker Spaniel
Dogs like Cocker Spaniels with floppy ears are prone to ear infections.

Yorkshire Terrier
Portosystemic shunt (PSS) is a blood vessel birth defect that is common in small breeds like the Yorkie.

Golden Retriever
Unlike people, dogs don’t sneeze when they are allergic to something. Instead, they tend to get itchy skin. Frequent licking, scratching and chewing can lead to hot spots.

My hubby and I are happy parents of a rescue pooch named Crazy Gracie. We think she is a combination of schnauzer, Maltese and poodle. That would make her a “schmoodle.” According to health issues of those breeds, we might be dealing with the diabetes of the schnauzer, the white shaker syndrome of the Maltese and the glaucoma of the poodle. Crazy Gracie gets regular visits to the vet and is in great health. However, we have decided she will go to doggie heaven from the exhaustion of chasing the neighborhood squirrels, a few lizards and birds before she succumbs to any problems from her different breeds.