Did you know that the average life expectancy for dogs is 8 to 12 years? The average life spans of “giant” breeds, such as Great Dane, can be a short as 6 years! There are also certain diseases and conditions that are more common in certain breeds than in others, some of which can be circumvented if owners learn to identify key dog health symptoms.
According to the American Kennel Club, the four most popular dog breeds in the United States are the Labrador Retriever, German Shepherd Dog, Golden Retriever, and the Beagle. While each of these breeds typically live at least 10 years, each one has potential canine health issues that vary from breed to breed. This is not to say that Labs cannot develop epilepsy, but statistics show that epilepsy is one of the more common dog health problems in Beagles. At the same time, Labs have a greater propensity for developing eye problems, such as cataracts, as do Beagles.
Not to leave the other breeds out, one of the more common dog health issues found in German Shepherds is hip dysplasia. At the same time, hip dysplasia is also common in aging Labrador retrievers. However, when the disease is present in German Shepherds it is more likely a negative, and controversial, consequence of breeding, as certain dog shows consider a downward sloping back as a key characteristic of the breed “ideal.” Fortunately, steps are being taken to rectify this harmful notion.
The above example is one of the more troubling aspects of breeding show dogs. Appearance often becomes more important than the long term health of dogs. Additionally, since many people desire pure bred dogs, inbreeding can result in the perpetuation of health problems like congenital heart problems, certain types of cancer, and eye disease. While there is nothing that dog owners can do about the genetics of their dogs, they can utilize tools such as pet symptom checkers to identify the tell tale signs of specific conditions like cataracts or hip dysplasia.
It would great if there were a way that breeders could assure us that our dogs will never becomes seriously ill, and will live long and healthy lives. Since we cannot do that, at least we have online pet symptom checkers to answer our questions. After all, if we are able to identify key symptoms, it is more likely our dogs will live long, healthy lives.