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10 Common Genetic Disorders in Dogs

10 Common Genetic Disorders in Dogs

Critter Culture Staff



Owning a loving canine is one of life's great joys. You have a friend who will always stay loyal and will provide you with many moments of entertainment. But, just like any furry friend, dogs have unique health requirements, some of which result from genetic disorders.

Knowing more about the common genetic disorders in dogs is an excellent way to prepare yourself to care for your pet should illness develop.


Hip dysplasia

dog with hip problems adomer / Getty Images

Much like humans, dogs rely on having healthy hip joints to move. Their joints need to provide enough room to fit the head of their femur. Hip dysplasia is a condition where the hip joint is too shallow for the head of the femur.

When your vet catches it and treats it early, dysplasia shouldn't cause too many issues. However, if it goes untreated, it causes arthritis and may make it painful for your dog to walk. Hip dysplasia typically affects larger breeds.



dog on the floor experiencing a seizure huettenhoelscher / Getty Images

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder where the signals in your dog's brain don't fire as they should. Sometimes those misfires result in seizures, which can include muscle spasms and contractions. Some dogs develop epilepsy following an accident that harms their brain, whereas others have a genetic predisposition.

When a dog has epilepsy, stress and extreme temperatures might trigger seizures. The condition can affect all breeds, but golden retrievers and labrador retrievers are at a higher risk than other breeds.


Heart disease

dog at vet SaevichMikalai / Getty Images

Many dog breeds are prone to heart disease, including dilated cardiomyopathy and mitral valve disease. Dilated cardiomyopathy is a condition where the heart grows larger, eventually leading to heart failure. Dilated cardiomyopathy is more common in male dogs than female dogs.

Mitral valve disease involves the mitral valve degenerating and becoming thicker, which makes it harder for blood to move from one heart chamber to the next. It may result in heart failure, but vets can prescribe medications to help manage it.


Degenerative myelopathy

Dog's mobility problems concept. Dog with disabilities on a walk in wheel cart. Disabled paralysed french bulldog walking in wheelchair Iryna Mylinska / Getty Images

Degenerative myelopathy is a progressive neurological disease. It causes a wearing down of the myelin sheath—the layer that surrounds nerves and allows signals to transmit smoothly. When the myelin sheath wears down too much, dogs may experience weak limbs and become paralyzed.

Breeds that are most likely to develop degenerative myelopathy include German shepherds and boxers.


Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS)

dog lying down Rebecca Nelson / Getty Images

Some dog breeds, such as Boston terriers and pugs, have a shortened skull shape and suffer from brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS). Dogs that have BOAS may find it difficult to breathe properly. They also develop exercise and heat intolerance, which calls for additional care during warm weather. In extreme cases, BOAS may result in the dog's larynx collapsing.


Patellar luxation

vet looking at Pomeranian dog nensuria / Getty Images

Small and toy dogs may inherit patellar luxation. The patellar or knee bone usually moves smoothly within its joint and allows dogs to walk and run without any discomfort. With patellar luxation, the knee bone moves slightly outside of its joint and may eventually cause lameness.

As a result, dogs with patellar luxation may limp or walk stiffly. Breeds most like to develop the condition include Yorkshire terriers and Pomeranians.



english bulldog Puppy Scratching fleas Carol Yepes / Getty Images

Allergies arise when something causes an allergic reaction. A certain dog's immune system may overreact to allergens such as pollen, flea-bite saliva, and some foods. Dogs experiencing an allergy may have itchy and flaky skin, stomach upsets, and they might sneeze more than usual.

It's possible to use blood tests to diagnose an allergy, and medications like antihistamines are available to treat them.

english bulldog Puppy Scratching fleas


Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)

blind dog carried by owner JulPo / Getty Images

In order to maintain excellent eyesight, your dog relies on a functioning retina, the tissue at the back of the eye that sends nerve signals to the brain. Various genetic mutations can cause their retina to slow atrophy, making it smaller. As a result, their eyesight becomes less reliable.

Unfortunately, there's no dependable treatment for PRA.



golden retriever eating fury123 / Getty Images

Dogs, like humans, rely on steady thyroid hormone levels to maintain a state of normality throughout their bodies. When those levels are low, a dog might gain weight, feel fatigued, and struggle to regulate their temperature. Some also develop skin problems, including eczema.

Hypothyroidism affects all dog breeds, but it's most common in golden retrievers and dachshunds. It's usually possible to treat hypothyroidism using medication.


Von Willebrand's disease

Vet doctor examining cute poodle dog with stethoscope at clinic ThamKC / Getty Images

Von Willebrand's disease prevents your dog's blood from clotting correctly. As a result, dogs with the condition who experience injuries might suffer from poor wound healing or heavy blood loss. They might also experience bleeding gums and nose bleeds, especially after spending a lot of time in hot conditions.

Von Willebrand's is the most common clotting disorder in dogs, and breeds that are prone to it include poodles and Doberman pinschers.


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