5 common genetic diseases of dogs

Genetic diseases are the health problems that are generated by the changes in genetic material (DNA) of living beings. The common perception is that genetic disorders are present in the human race only, but the fact is, animals are equally prone to these diseases. Dogs are no exceptions; there are several genetic diseases of dogs they suffer from. It is seen that most of the genetic disorders in dogs are associated with purebreds only. Mixed breeds seem to be more resistant to these hereditary diseases.

The best thing associated with genetic disorders is that it is possible to anticipate them. The prediction of genetic disease before time enables us to respond rapidly when the symptoms appear. This attribute also helps us in choosing the healthier dog breed as our pet, as some breeds are less predisposed to genetic problems than the others. Here is the list of the five most common genetic diseases of dogs that you need to know as a dog lover.

Brachycephalic Syndrome

The term brachycephalic means “short-headed”. It refers to the dogs that have smushed faces such as Pugs, an English bulldog, French bulldog, Pekingese, Shih Tzu, and Boston terrier. These dog breeds are the most popular one these days but their conformation resulted in difficulties in breathing for them. The problems present in brachycephalic syndrome include deformed trachea, everted laryngeal saccules and narrowed) nostrils. Along with respiratory problems, these breeds are also more heat sensitive and have trouble exercising.

Medical examination and surgical procedures at an early age can help to reduce respiratory problems. Owners of these dogs should avoid their exposure to extreme temperatures.

Hip Dysplasia

This disorder is more predominant in larger breeds of dogs such as German shepherds, Saint Bernard, Neapolitan Mastiffs, Golden Retrievers, and Rottweilers. The incidence of hip dysplasia is highest in bulldog (73.6%) and Pug (61.7%). These large dogs grow fast and put a lot of muscle mass that results in malformation of the hip joint. Dogs with this disease experience difficulty in climbing stairs, jumping on furniture or into cars and walking.

Surgical and medical treatments are available to treat hip dysplasia. Pain medication, cold laser treatments, physical therapy, and stem cell therapy are the treatment options depending upon the condition of your dog.

Degenerative Myelopathy

Degenerative Myelopathy is a condition in which neurons of the spinal cord degenerate. The dogs that are affected more by this disorder are usually German Shepherds, Corgis, Pugs, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, and Bernese Mountain Dogs. The symptoms of this disease appear in senior dogs when they are in their old phase of life. These dogs suffer from weakness in the hindlimbs and difficulty in standing and urination that finally lead to paralysis.

There is currently no cure for this disease, the dogs experience no pain due to nerve degeneration but this condition has psychological effects on both pet owners and the dog.


Epilepsy in dogs is as painful as in humans. It is a neurological disorder of the brain. While having a seizure, the dog stiffens and falls on the ground, the head is drawn backward and the legs start paddling. Muscles of the body are not in control and move erratically. A single seizure is not dangerous most of the time, but if a dog has several seizures in a short period, the dog may develop hyperthermia which is quite dangerous. Current research has shown that German Shepherd, Beagles, Belgian Tervurens, Keeshonds, Dachshunds, and Labrador Retrievers are more likely to suffer from epilepsy.

Anticonvulsant medication like phenobarbital and potassium bromide is used to decrease the frequency of seizure but there is no permanent cure for epilepsy.

Kidney stones

If your dog is having difficulty in urinating, is urinating very frequently or has blood in his urine, he may be suffering from kidney stones. Although any dog is susceptible to have stones in his kidney or urinary bladder, some dogs such as Dalmations, Newfoundlands, the Bichon Frise, and Miniature Schnauzers have more chances to develop these stones than others. Kidney stones may go undetected for a long time; your veterinarian can test the presence of these stones using ultrasound or sonograms.

Treatments of kidney stones include surgical removal of these stones, laser lithotripsy, and cystoscopy. If you have a dog breed that is more prone to developing kidney stones, give him a healthy diet and have regular meetings with your veterinarian to prevent this disease.

There is a long list of genetic disorders of dogs, only the most common and frequently observed genetic diseases and listed here. If you love the purebred dogs, do your research on your breed of interest and make sure to find a reputable and reliable breeder. Ask him all the questions you have in mind regarding the health problem associated with your favorite breed, no need to be hesitant about it.