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Just like any member of your family, you want your dog to live a long, happy, and healthy life. Selecting a breed that faces fewer health issues and diseases can give you peace of mind while you care for your pooch—and save you trips to the vet.
You can consider how long a certain breed typically lives, but lifespan is just one element of what makes a dog breed healthy. Genetic predispositions to certain ailments as well as a dog’s tendency to stay active throughout their lifetime can also contribute to physical health.
“Purebred dogs in general have more issues because they tend to have less variety in the genetic pool,” says Liz Trepp, DVM at Banfield Pet Hospital in Clive, Iowa. “If you are looking for a truly healthy breed, you might pick the mid-sized hound from the shelter because it is a mix of breeds.”
Missy Matusicky, DVM, MPH, DACVPM, and assistant professor at Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, agrees. However, Matusiky notes that reputable breeders screen for many health issues. “A responsible breeder does pre-breeding health checks on both the mother and father prior to breeding them,” she says.
Dog owners should do their research and think about what type of dog would be most compatible with their family and lifestyle. Taking a look at the Breed Club of America for your favorite breed can be a valuable source of information, and always check out the breeder to make sure they’re legit before bringing home your new best friend.
“Know what you’re getting into and why you want that particular dog breed,” Matusicky says. “Certainly some dog breeds have less known health conditions than others. So, it really depends on what an owner is willing to handle.”
Every dog is an individual. Talk to your vet to find simple ways—including proper diet and care—to help ensure your pooch has a long, healthy, and happy life, regardless of breed.
If you are hoping to spend less time in the veterinarian’s office and more time playing fetch in the backyard, read on for 10 generally healthy dog breeds to research.
everydoghasastory / Adobe Stock ACD’s hardiness and coloration is all thanks to their unique dalmatian, collie, and wild Australian dingo lineage.
Healthiest Longest Living Dog Breed: Australian Cattle Dog
When it comes to longevity, the Australian cattle dog reigns, living on average for 12–16 years. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the longest living dog ever recorded was an Australian cattle dog named Bluey who lived to the ripe old age of 29. These active dogs—a key trait for general doggie wellbeing—not only stay relatively healthy, they are also medium-sized making them a good fit for many homes. Trepp noted that if you plan to add them to a family with children they must be properly trained and given a lot of exercise.
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Healthiest Small Dog Breed: Chihuahua
The smallest dog breed of all also happens to make the list for healthiest dog breeds. Chihuahuas, usually weighing in at about 6 pounds, not only have plenty of spunk and personality, but can also live for anywhere from 12–18 years. Content to be carried around, snuggle on your lap, or bouncing around the house, they are loveable dogs that remain generally healthy and happy when cared for properly. Do keep in mind that although small dogs are less likely to deal with issues common in big dogs like bloat or hip dysplasia, according to the Chihuahua Club of America Chi owners are encouraged to work with their vets to keep an eye out for cardiac issues, patellar luxation, and eye conditions, especially in old age.
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Healthy Medium-Sized Dog Breed: Australian Shepherd
When it comes to medium-sized dogs, the Australian shepherd is a great pick for a breed with fewer health concerns thanks to their boundless energy. If you’re an active, experienced dog owner, Aussies make dynamic companions even as they age; they’re always up for a run, hike, long walk, or even swimming.
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Healthy Large Dog Breed: Greyhound
Greyhounds are the cheetahs of the dog kingdom. With their phenomenal musculoskeletal condition and athleticism, they can run up to 45 miles per hour, making them the fastest dog breed in the world. These big pups are generally disease-free other than those conditions commonly seen in all large breed dogs, but they can develop congenital heart disease and osteosarcoma.
If you’re looking for a large breed to bring home, remember that bigger dogs with more weight to carry can be prone to certain health conditions because of their size. According to Matusicky, large breed dogs are prone to neurological or musculoskeletal conditions and any medications they need tend to be more expensive due to needing larger dosage.
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Healthiest Dog Breed That Doesn’t Shed: Poodle
If you’re looking to add a dog to your home that will not only live a long, healthy life but also not shed all over your furniture and clothing or irritate your allergies, a poodle makes an excellent choice. Not just poofy and pretty, poodles are active and highly intelligent dogs that love to play games. Typically living to be between 12–15 years—longer than most larger dog breeds—poodles face few health issues.
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Healthiest Hunting Dog: German Shorthaired Pointer
Many hunting dogs, thanks to all their time spent running around outdoors, are healthy breeds when given plenty of exercise. The German shorthaired pointer (or GSP for short) is one of the healthiest. They are a great addition to active families as they are highly trainable and energetic. They also don’t shed much thanks to their short coat, making them an ideal companion both inside and outside.
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Healthy Dog Breed for Cold Weather Climates: Old English Sheepdog
It’s no surprise that the Old English sheepdog can handle the cold, what with their heavy, shaggy coat. This weather-hardy breed loves to romp in the snow. But be sure to supervise your pup at all times and never push them too hard when exercising or playing, as this breed can experience a genetic condition called exercise-induced collapse (though responsible breeders will test for this).
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Healthiest Dog Breed for Warm Weather Climates: Havanese
If a sunny climate is more your speed, consider a Havenese to keep you company. These small, smart pups hail originally from Havana, Cuba, so they can typically adapt to warmer temperatures. However, all dogs need a break from the heat every now and then, so making sure your pooch has plenty of shade, cool air, and easy access to water to stay hydrated are essential for any breed. And when the weather is too cold or too hot to go outside, it’s better to find indoor games to play together.
Living on average for 14–16 years, Havanese dogs are great companions because they are very social as well. Being a small breed dog, liver and kidney disease are often more observed than in larger dogs, but these lively pups are otherwise a healthy, long-lived breed.
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Healthiest Family Dog Breed: Basenji
For a pup that has few health conditions to worry about and will be a great fit for playing with the kids, look no further than the Basenji. With their roots in ancient Egypt, this breed went from being hunters to domestic companions. According to the Basenji Club of America, Basenjis can acquire a disease called Fanconi syndrome, a kidney and urinary tract disorder, but responsible breeders often screen for this condition per the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals’ (OFA) recommended tests.
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Healthiest Hound Dog Breed: Beagle
Sometimes being healthy means being easy to care for. That describes the beagle perfectly. They enjoy long, slow walks—on the beach, in the woods, on a hike, or anywhere they can sniff—and are known for being gentle with their owners. They typically live to be 10–15 years old, and their smaller stature for a hound makes them a good fit for a range of different homes.