Because I make videos talking about the common health problems in a myriad of breeds, people often have the question, "what is the healthiest breed?" Unfortunately, I don't have a great answer to that question as most breeds or dogs can have health issues. So instead I'm going to give you my recommendations if you are looking for a new dog.
First, consider what your goals are with this dog. Do you want to do agility? Want to go on hikes with it? Prefer to snuggle on the couch? Want a show dog? Have a keen interest in potty training (I mean, do you only want a puppy)? Knowing what you plan on doing with your new furry bestie is important to set yourself up for success in finding the right dog for you.
I think there are two great options depending on what you are looking for: rescue and buying from a responsible breeder.
Let's start with rescuing a dog. Did you know that about 6.5 million pets enter animal shelters each year?
Rescue dogs can be truly wonderful pets. There are no guarantees of health for them, so they may only need a yearly checkup, vaccines, and some joint supplements down the road or they could be quite the conglomeration of health issues.
Let the shelter workers know what your goals are for the dog so they can help you find the best fit for you and your family. If your hoping for a lower energy dog, adopting a middle-aged to older dog
may be perfect for you!
If you have your heart set on a pure-bred dog, that's cool too!
Again, make sure you know what your goals are for the dog before talking to breeders. The American Kennel Club (AKC) has a dog breed selector and breed comparison tool which help guide you to a breed right for your family based on activity level, yard size, noise tolerance, safety with children and more! After selecting a breed that you think will work well for your lifestyle, its time to learn about their health.
A great resource for breed health is your veterinarian. You can book a consultation with them to go over the common health conditions in the breed you are interested in. Let them know what breed you are looking into when booking a consultation so you can both be prepared! Another wonderful resource on breed health is the Orthopedic Foundation of Animals (OFA). They created the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) which allows you to search by breed for the genetic diseases and conditions that should be tested for by your breeder. When all of the recommended tests have been completed and the results are released to the OFA heath database, the dog is assigned a CHIC number and certification (searchable on the OFA's website).
Lets do an example:
We will say you completed dog breed selector and it suggested that a Labrador Retriever would be a good fit for your family. After doing some more research on the breed, you agree. You look on the OFA's website and see that they require testing for hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, an eye examination, an exercise induced collapse DNA test, and a D Locus DNA test. They also recommend a DNA test for centronuclear myopathy, a cardiac evaluation, and prcd-PRA DNA test. You'd like to learn more about some of those tests so you schedule a consultation with your veterinarian to tell them you want to learn more about the inherited diseases in labradors. Now that you're more comfortable with the common diseases in the breed, you go to the AKC marketplace and search for Labrador Retriever. There are puppies available from a breeder in your area and they claim health testing has been done on their dogs! Just to make sure, you search the registration numbers of the parents in the OFA database and find that all of the tests were normal. Time to contact the breeder and meet the parents and puppies!
If you are getting a new dog soon, congratulations! If you have any questions about researching before getting a new dog, feel free to send us an email or fill out our contact form.
If there are any topics in pet care or veterinary medicine that you want to learn more about, please fill out our contact form. We look forward to hearing from you!