Hidden diseases and defects in dogs

hidden defects dog

What is a latent defect?

The true definition of a latent defect is that of a defect not detected during a first examination. In dogs, some hidden defects are known as redhibitory defects.

However, certain dog breeds often seem to be predisposed to certain diseases. Despite this, not all specimens of the same breed are necessarily affected by the same health issue.

While choosing the breed when buying a puppy, it is therefore often the case that certain breeds of dogs are known for their hidden vices, thus diminishing their chances of being adopted.

Breeds mainly affected

Certain breeds are predisposed to develop certain health problems. There are more than 500 hereditary diseases that can condemn certain dog breeds.

List of hidden defects by breed

German Shepherd DogHip dysplasia
Gastric torsion (deep thorax)
Maltese BichonHeart disease
BoxerIncreased risk of cancer
Bernese Mountain DogOrthopaedic problems (elbow and hip dysplasia, shoulder osteochondritis)

Breathing difficulties (flattened face and nose)
Eye problems (KCS and entropion)
Skin infections (many skin folds, follicular scab)
Joint problems (especially elbow)
Difficulty giving birth (pelvis too narrow for puppy's head)
ChihuahuaHeart disease
CockerRepeated ear infections
DobermanGastric torsion (deep thorax)
Wobbler syndrome (long neck and wide head)
Golden RetrieverHip dysplasia
Great DaneGastric torsion (deep thorax)
Wobbler syndrome (long neck and wide head)
BeijingBreathing problems (flattened face and nose)
Pug PugBreathing problems (flattened face and nose)
Saint-HubertChronic eye irritations (drooping lower eyelids)
Shar-PeïSkin infection (many skin folds)
Eye problems
DachshundHerniated disc
Boston TerrierBreathing problems (flattened face and nose)

List of hidden defects of breeds by categories

Heart disease

  • Boxer (Boxer cardiomyopathy)
  • Standard Poodle
  • Cocker
  • Doberman
  • Irish Greyhound
  • Saint Bernard
  • Newfoundland

Skin diseases

  • Bull Terrier
  • Dalmatian
  • Rottweiler
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Shar-Peï
  • West Highland White Terrier
  • Boston Terrier

Neurological diseases

  • German Shepherd Dog
  • Pug
  • Scottish Terrier

Eye diseases

  • Bichon Frise
  • Cocker
  • Husky
  • Malamute

An imperfect world

Since the adoption of an animal is for life, at least for the duration of the animal's life, it is important to think carefully before adopting a nice and cute puppy.

The Bulldog, for example, is adorable with his pretty little “face” and “sulking” look. However, with his many skin folds, narrow pelvis and for various other reasons, the breed is often associated with several diseases.

It is therefore very important to take the time to assess whether, despite possible health problems, the race is well suited to the family's lifestyle and activities.

The selection of the right breed might suggests discrimination against other dog breeds. Selecting the right dog may seem unfair, but since a dog's illness can lead to stress and extra expense, it is best to be aware of this from the start to maximize the chances of a successful family relationship.

Breeds of dogs without problems

Nothing is perfect in this world, so whether the dog is purebred, cross-bred or other, it is impossible to guarantee a breed without any problems. Nowadays, more and more studies are being carried out to allow breeders to limit the risks of spreading diseases.

In 2011, in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, the University of Georgia in the United States published a study using information collected from a data repository of 27 North American hospitals. The study covers a 20-year period and analyzed the cause of death of more than 75,000 dogs from 82 different breeds.

Certain assertions were then confirmed by this study:

  • Maltese and Chihuahuas are more likely (or unlucky) to die of heart problems than other breeds.
  • Small breeds are more often affected by endocrine diseases such as Cushing's disease or diabetes.
  • Large breeds are more affected than others by musculoskeletal and gastrointestinal problems, dysplasia, gastric torsion and cancer.
  • The Golden Retriever has a 50 % higher risk of suffering from cancer than all other breeds of dogs, followed very closely by the Boxer, Bernese Mountain and Bouvier des Flandres.


Like humans, dogs are not perfect, but what they bring to a family goes far beyond the problems they encounter in their lifetime.

Nevertheless, it is essential to properly evaluate all aspects of a breed before adopting him in order to better prevent and prepare the family for these eventualities. A crush is often the origin of an adoption, but the trend is gradually changing.

In order to avoid having to part with their four-legged companion one day for the wrong reasons, people get to know all breeds of dogs in greater depth, to guide their choice and maximize the length of time they spend together with these adorable companions.

A well-informed choice is therefore not a form of discrimination but a form of prudence to ensure the success of a wonderful long-term association for both dog and human.

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