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This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.

You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.

Pet Insurance companies are in a unique position to provide accurate actuarial evidence on veterinary diseases. In a recent report from Sweden the dog breeds with the highest risk of developing certain diseases were identified.

Pet Insurance companies can quickly build up a searchable database of information regarding pet health and the risks associated with various disorders. In a recent report by Egenvall and colleagues (The Veterinary Record Vol 146, No19, p551- 557 May 6th 2000) The following breeds were found to have the highest risk of developing diseases of the following systems :

Breed At highest risk** to develop diseases of the following systems
Bernese Mountain Dog Orthopaedic disease
Bichon Frise Urinary tract disease
Boxer Eye disease, Gastrointestinal Disease, Genital disease, Orthopaedic disease
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Cardiovascular disease
Chihuahua Respiratory disease
Chow Chow Eye disease, Orthopaedic disease
Cocker Spaniel Ear disease *(English and American)
Dachshund Orthopaedic disease (long-haired)
Doberman Pinscher Gastrointestinal disease, Skin disease, 
Great Dane Cardiovascular disease, Respiratory disease, Skin disease
Greyhound Orthopaedic disease
Hovawart Endocrine disorders
Irish Wolfhound Cardiovascular disease, Orthopaedic disease, Respiratory disease
Keeshond Endocrine disorders, Genital disease
Maltese Terrier Gastrointestinal disease
Norfolk Terrier Urinary tract disease
Norwich Terrier Respiratory disease
Old English Sheepdog Genital disease
Pekingese Cardiovascular disease, Eye disease, Gastrointestinal disease, Orthopaedic disease, Urinary tract disease
Pug Eye disease
Pyrenean Mountain Dog Orthopaedic disease
Rhodesian Ridgeback Ear disease
Rottweiler Orthopaedic disease
Saluki Respiratory disease
Samoyed Endocrine disorders
Schnauzer Endocrine disorders (Giant), Genital disease (Standard and Giant), Skin disease (Standard and Giant), Urinary tract disease (Miniature)
Scottish Terrier Endocrine disorders, Urinary tract disease
Shih Tzu Eye disease
Springer Spaniel Ear disease * (English)
St Bernard Cardiovascular disease, Orthopaedic disease
Welsh Terrier Ear disease, Gastrointestinal disease

**The Top 5 breeds for most systems. The Top 10 breeds for Orthopaedic diseases

 * Mainly otitis externa

NB These results were derived from a population of dogs Insured by a Pet Insurance company (Agria Insurance) in Sweden. Some disorders are excluded from cover under their Insurance Policies and so they will not have been included in the analysis ..for example dogs with hip dysplasia will have been excluded, so breeds with a high risk for developing that condition (eg German Shepherd Dogs) will not appear in the above results.

Most of these findings are not surprising because they simply confirm the clinical impressions that most veterinarians have, and the results that clinical studies have reported. However, they are important findings because over 200,000 animal records were used in the analysis, and the population involved included normal healthy animals as well as ill animals. Most populations of animals reported in clinical studies are biased because they consist of animals attending veterinary first opinion practices...or, more frequently, second opinion referral centres.

In the future we should be able to  look to actuarial evidence to confirm (or refute) many other clinically-relevant statistics including reduced morbidity as a result of preventative strategies in earlier life such as vaccination, worming, disease screening and eradication (through controlled breeding programmes) or gene therapy.


Updated January 2016