10 Healthiest Dog Breeds

PetMD Editorial
By PetMD Editorial
Published: February 18, 2014
Image: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH / Shutterstock

Healthiest Dog Breeds

By Jessica Remitz


Although it’s nearly impossible to predict which breed of dog will live the longest or be the healthiest, there are certain breeds that seem to have lower instances of genetic diseases, bone-related injuries and conditions relating to their skin and coat. Take a look at which breeds are thought to be among the healthiest and how to help your dog live a long, healthy life, below.

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Australian Cattle Dog

While there’s no way to prove which breed is the healthiest, some working breeds, including Australian Cattle Dogs, may be among those with the least number of health-related issues.


“Unfortunately, there’s no hard data that provides a scientific answer,” said Jennifer Coates, DVM in Fort Collins, Colorado and veterinary advisor to petMD.com. “In my experience, dogs that are still being bred to do a job tend to be the healthiest.”


Australian Cattle Dogs have been traditionally used for cattle herding and have remained popular working dogs because of their intelligence, problem solving skills and soft but assertive bites with cattle. With a lifespan of about 10 to 13 years, Australian Cattle Dogs make excellent companions to high-energy families or on-the-go owners. Major health concerns include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and deafness.


Learn more about Australian Cattle Dogs.

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Another working breed listed as one of the healthiest by Coates, Foxhounds have been primarily used for foxhunting and, because of their working dog genes, may be healthier than dogs bred for show.


“When breeders focus on function instead of just good looks, they naturally weed out the dogs that develop debilitating illnesses or injuries,” Coates explained.


With a lifespan of 11 to 13 years, Foxhounds make an excellent choice for families who live in rural areas or on large farms and are not prone to many major health problems. They require moderate daily exercise in the form of a walk or jog and need minimal grooming aside from an occasional brushing.


Learn more about American Foxhounds.

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German Shorthaired Pointer

An all-purpose hunting dog known for its intelligence and proficiency with many different types of game and sport, the German Shorthaired Pointer is another healthy breed, according to Coates. With an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years, German Shorthaired Pointers are prone to health concerns like hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia and gastric torsion. A high-energy breed that requires plenty of daily exercise, German Shorthaired Pointers will need plenty of access to the outdoors and, like all breeds, require mental stimulation throughout the day.


“Providing dogs with mental stimulation, physical exercise and maintaining them at a healthy weight will go a long ways towards keeping any dog healthy, regardless of its breed,” Coates shared.


Learn more about German Shorthaired Pointers.

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Border Collie

Another high-energy breed renowned for its agility, intelligence and obedience, Coates lists the Border Collie as one of healthiest. With a lifespan of 10 to 14 years, Border Collies are prone to health problems including seizures and hypothyroidism. A breed that is eager to please with a high level of trainability, Border Collies should be provided with plenty of daily exercise as well as regular access to the outdoors.


Learn more about Border Collies.

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Mixed Breed

With a unique genetic markup and a lower level of inbreeding, mixed breed dogs are generally among the healthiest, Coates said.


“A recent study showed that mix breed dogs were significantly less likely to develop ten genetically based diseases, including some types of heart disease, musculoskeletal problems, allergic skin disease and hyperthyroidism,” she added.

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Known for being the smallest breed in the world, Chihuahua’s are loyal, intelligent, and among the healthiest breeds, according to Denise Petryk, DVM and director of veterinary services at Trupanion pet insurance. With an average lifespan of 14 to 18 years, Chihuahua’s are known to suffer from health conditions including hypoglycemia, patellar luxation and pulmonic stenosis, a heart valve disorder. A smooth-coated Chihuahua requires minimal grooming while longhaired varieties require brushing two to three times a week. Because of their size, Chihuahuas require minimal exercise beyond a short walk. 


Learn more about Chihuahuas.

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Compared to other dogs of the same size, Petryk also lists the Havanese among healthy breeds. A popular friendly pet known for its friendly demeanor, Havanese live between 12 to 14 years and suffer from health problems including patellar luxation, deafness and elbow dysplasia. A non-shedding breed that requires brushing several times per week to prevent tangles, the Havanese breed requires short walks to meet their exercise needs.


In addition to keeping your pup fit, Petryk also recommends offering your dog high quality food and treats to help them stay healthy.


Learn more about Havanese.

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Australian Shepherd

With relatively few claims for bone-related injuries as well as conditions related to the coat and skin, Australian Shepherds are also relatively healthy, according to Petryk. An all-purpose farm dog, Australian Shepherds are intelligent, obedient and agile and require regular exercise and mental stimulation. With an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years, the breed is prone to health issues including hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism and Collie Eye Anomaly, an inherited congenital eye condition. Australian Shepherds require minimal grooming beyond an occasional combing and, as with all dog breeds, Petryk recommends giving your dog regular, high quality flea and tick prevention with products recommended by your veterinarian to maintain its health.


Learn more about Australian Shepherds.

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A popular mixed breed that is a cross between a Labrador Retriever and a Poodle, Petryk lists Labradoodles among those with relatively few claims for bone-related injuries and conditions related to the coat and skin. The breed’s coat should be shampooed and brushed regularly and trimmed at least twice a year. They may suffer from health conditions commonly seen in its parent breeds including hip dysplasia, Addison’s disease and eye disorders including progressive retinal atrophy.


To ensure your dog lives a long, healthy life, Petryk recommends establishing a relationship with a veterinarian you like and keeping up-to-date with any preventative vaccinations they suggest. She also advises pet owners to schedule annual physical examinations for their dogs, including dental assessments.


Learn more about Labradoodles.

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Siberian Husky

A medium-sized dog renowned for its abilities as a sled and racing dog, the Siberian Husky is relatively healthy compared to other breeds of the same size, Petryk said. While the breed is still used as a working dog, it has also become a loving pet for active families and those who love the outdoors. With a lifespan of 11 to 13 years, Siberian Huskies may suffer from health problems including progressive retinal atrophy, hypothyroidism and cataracts.


In addition to establishing a relationship with a veterinarian you trust, Petryk suggests becoming familiar with you local emergency and specialty hospitals, learning to provide pet first aid and getting pet insurance to prepare yourself in case your dog has a health-related emergency.


Learn more about Siberian Huskies.