Healthiest Dog Breeds: 7 Dogs With The Least Health Problems

Mix breed

This really is a topic of great debate for many – breeders will argue with you that mutt’s are far less healthy than a purebred. After all, they are breeding all the dogs that do not have the conditions you are trying to avoid – how could mutt’s, bred usually on accidental occasion even come close to competing with the health of a purebred?

On the other hand you have owners and even many veterinarians saying that their mutt’s have been healthier and lived longer lives than many purebred dogs they have owned. I myself had a mutt that lived to be fourteen years old – I honestly don’t have a clue what he was a mix of, but he was a beautiful dog and the most loving guy ever!

Mix breads

Unfortunately, there really is no specific scientific testing that states this either as fact or not – it is simply rumor that Mixed Breed dogs are healthier. Many vets would like to point out, however, that with a mix breed it is like a genetic lottery, one litter could live long, full and healthy lives while another litter may suffer from one or more of the conditions we talked about in the other breeds.

No matter which dog you choose, there will always be potential health risks. You should always, always, always have a back-up or emergency vet fund in case your dog gets sick or injured. Almost every dog will have at least one or two emergency visits to the vet in his lifetime, so from the beginning know this is a possibility.

If you are adopting a mix breed from a shelter you will know ahead of time if your dog has special needs – and he can be tested for many genetic diseases before you bring him home. If this is the route you choose, you will likely know if you have a sick dog before you bring him back to your house.

If you are planning to buy a purebred, always make sure that you go to a reputable breeder. Your breeder should be willing to answer any and all questions about your dog’s health, including the history of health defects in the dog’s lines. An honest breeder would tell you if one or 2 dogs had hip dysplasia while the other 10 in the line were perfectly fine.

There is no breed that is the “ultimate healthy dog”. Sadly, genetics doesn’t work that way and even a puppy whose linage shows no sign of genetic defects can be the one where the gene is dominate. On the other hand, it is true that some dogs are just known to be in overall better health for their breed and who live long lives, while other breeds may have a shorter time with you. Of all the breeds though, these seven seem to have the fewest health problems overall.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

  • Angela Pickles

    After losing two dogs to cancer and another one due to hip injury, I’d like to ask your opinions on what dog breed are the healthiest? I’d really like a dog with long life and not at all sickly. It would be nice to have a companion in my old age. Any help will be appreciated! :)

    • Hi, Angela,

      I would be able to help you more if you can identify the dog breeds that you’ve had in the past. There are a lot of healthy dog breeds out there, and some can easily conform with your lifestyle requirements. But in general, Poodles, Havanese, Keeshond, and of course the Golden Retriever can make good companion dogs.

  • Paul

    According to a poll and some research I’ve done myself, the Rhodesian Ridge-back is said to be the healthiest, strongest dog. What do breed would be the greatest rival for this dog?

    • I would have to agree that this is one of the healthier dog breeds, however, being one of the strongest can be quite tricky depending on what aspect of strength you are looking for. Thanks to its very limited pedigree, it managed to sustain its healthy roots from the ancient ridgebacks to the Rhodesian Ridgebacks that we have today.

  • Benjamin

    I have a Gold Sable Shepherd who is a great and strong dog. I have heard that these are more athletic and healthy than the standard black and tan German Shepherds, is this true?

    • I am not completely convinced on how a coat color variation and dominance can determine a dog’s health and vigor. German Shepherds are generally healthy dogs, regardless of their coat color. However, the variation broadens in temperament and overall demeanor because some lineages have more aggressive or protective strain than others.

  • Erica

    Great article! I am quite astounded by the amount of ‘shepherd’ dogs in this list. Is there any specific reason why these dogs dominate the health front?

    • There are some breeds that benefit from a long yet untainted breeding process. This saves them from genetic-associated illnesses that pass from generation to generation. The less tainted a lineage is, the less chances of health problems arise.

  • Quentin

    The Golden Retriever is probably one of the most loved dog GLOBALLY they are great dogs to have. I’ve heard of a lot of them struggling severely with lumps and cancer. Is this true? Is it hereditary?
    I really love the German Shepherd as well, and in my mind it seems to be a healthier dog that the Golden Retriever, anyone who can help me out?

    • Some pedigrees are more susceptible to cancer and hereditary illnesses, which is very important to identify whenever you’re getting not just a Golden Retriever or a German Shepherd. You must ensure that its lineage is generally healthy other than the predisposing illnesses that are common in the breed.

  • Carrie Phelps

    A buddy of mine has an Australian cattle dog on his ranch back at Austin, very active and cheerful dog, he is about 7 years of age, and although he hasn’t shown any signs of PRA, I was wondering if there is a possibility of it occurring in the future? Or is he just lucky?

    • Wyatt Robinson

      Why they are quite a cheerful dog, and a bundle of energy! He must be quite a dog I’m sure. He may be 7 with no manifestations for PRA, but it should also be considered that manifestation happens can happen at an early age but can develop between three to five years of age. If he hasn’t shown any symptoms, that is absolutely wonderful! Still, have your friend check his wonderful dog to ensure that his vision is A-game.

  • Gwen Hanson

    nice read! I noticed that most dogs are prone to hip dysplasia, however after reading this I think I might start looking into the border collie? Looks like a very decent and obviously beautiful dog. If I adopt a collie that’s more than 12 weeks old, can I still take it for a CEA test?

    • Wyatt Robinson

      Such a smart breed of dog! Collies are absolutely fantastic! It has been suggested that CEA test should be done at about 7 weeks to eliminate the possibility of the collie having it but this should not stop you. So yes, you may still go and have your future collie checked.

  • Iris Cohen

    A friend of mine recommended a beagle and when I saw the name pop up on this article I was quite impressed! They look like a really good breed! About the ear infections, is there a way this can be totally averted?

    • Wyatt Robinson

      Beagles are definitely great! Active and full of energy! For ear infections, ensure you regularly check for any discharge, mites, dirt, and scratches. Sniff to ensure that there is no unpleasant odour. Clean the ears once a month and keep them dry.

  • Virgil Chandler

    hello John, I got into an argument with some of my friends about dogs, and according to them the smaller the dog size, the healthier the dog, is this true? As I feel it’s just like saying the shorter a human, the healthier they are!

    • Wyatt Robinson

      This is a good question and it has been thrown back and forth for quite sometime. A dog’s health is dependent on the how it is taken cared of and the nutrients it consumes from their food. Though of course you have to take into consideration that each breed of dog have their own health risks, in general it all boils down to how well they are cared for by their humans, now matter their size.

  • Kelly Yates

    I think mutts are a really fine breed of dogs! I am looking at getting a designer dog, however after losing two dogs in the past to cancer, I do not want to go through that ordeal gain. If you were to recommend a designer dog, which will be your pick?

    • Wyatt Robinson

      So sorry to hear about your loss. It can be devastating and I am sure your next dog will be loved as much as your other ones. Before picking a new dog irregardless if they are of breed or designer one, choose the dog that will be best fit to your lifestyle and the space the dog will be in. There are designer dogs of various sizes from Labradoodle (Labrador and Poodle) or a Yorkiepoo (Yorkie and Miniature Poodle). I have an active lifestyle, would get an Airdale and Labrador mix called Lab’Aire.

  • Iris Cohen

    Wyatt do you think that switching a dog from a meal to another could cause stomach upset? I recently changed my pups diet and since then she has been releasing horrifying gas and has diarrhea. I am a little worried as she is barely a year old.

    • Wyatt Robinson

      Yes, it is possible. Any change in diet can cause an upset stomach, may it be a puppy or an adult dog. When switching diet or food, introduce the new food gradually. Suggested serving could be a quarter of the new food mixed with the current one for about three days, and gradually increase the new diet until she is able to get used to the new food. Hope this helps!

  • Carrie Phelps

    Dr Robinson, what do you think of the norm of dogs wanting to eat grass? Is this normal? My dog sometimes runs off to hunt down grass he can eat. A friend told me that it is normal for them to eat grass to cure stomach upset. Is this true? I will like more insight on the issue.

    • Wyatt Robinson

      Hi Carrie! It is quite common for dogs to want to eat grass and does not cause any problems. There are various reasons why dogs eat grass, but no proof that it’s solely because of upset stomach. Some studies also shows that some dogs who eats grass are not even unwell. It is suggested that grass eating may be a behaviour inherited from dogs’ wilder ancestors. Hope this answers yours question.