Common Health Problems in Large Dog Breeds

We all want our canine best friend to live happy, healthy lives forever. But the truth is, the large/giant breed dogs are more prone to health issues – giving them a shorter lifespan. To shed some light on this, we have put together a list of the top 10 common health problems in large dog breeds for you.

1. Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) – As large/giant breed dogs grow, they may experience laxity of the hip joint causing instability. Eventually the dog suffers from degeneration of the hip joint, pain and arthritis.

2. Elbow Dysplasia – Excess wear and tear due to deformities in the elbow joint resulting in joint inflammation and osteoarthritis. Genetics and unnatural fast growth are major contributors.

3. Arthritis – Can affect any dog’s joints and bones, especially in seniors. However, large/giant breeds are more susceptible to due to their patterns of growth and weight. Arthritis causes moderate to severe pain and stiffness, limping, and mobility trouble.

4. Cervical Spondylomyelopathy (CSM) – Known as Wobbler syndrome, this cervical spine disease affects the vertebrae alignment resulting in compression of the spinal cord and cervical pain.

5. Dilated Cardiomyopathy – A common heart disease in large/giant breed dogs where the heart becomes weak and unable to sustain enough blood flow to the body; resulting in weakness and intolerance to exercise, breathing difficulty and coughing, and possibly a distended abdomen due to fluid build-up.

6. Hypothyroidism – A condition that occurs when the release of T-4 and T-3 hormone productions are lowered by the thyroid gland frequently seen in medium to giant breed dogs. Hypothyroidism can affect mood and activity level, weight gain and  hair loss – including scaling and skin infections.

7. Bloat (GDV) – Gastric Dilation and Volvulus Syndrome (GDV) or gastric torsion/bloat is a canine disease where the stomach dilates, then twists around in short radius. This prevents the dog from belching, vomiting and severs necessary blood supply to the stomach and spleen quickly leading to shock and death. Breeds that are deep barrel and narrow chested are more likely to contract the disease.

8. Entropion – A part of the eyelid is transposed, or flipped inward known to be a genetic condition.

9. Ectropion Eyelid deformity causing the edge of the eyelid to roll outward, exposing inner eyelid tissue.

10. Cherry Eye – Pink mass which projects from the eyelid usually linked to congenital weakness from the gland’s appendage to the eye and can occur in just one, or both eyes.

The average lifespan of large breed dogs can range from 6-14 years, depending not just on the breed but many factors including; genetics, living conditions, environment and overall care provided throughout their lifespan. Every dog is as different as its individual situation. Even dogs that are genetically prone to a condition or disease does not necessarily mean it is written in stone they will inherit the problem – much less die from it. If you have a large/giant breed dog, you should take preventative steps to have their health monitored regularly and treated accordingly.

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