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Top 6 Most Common Genetic Diseases in Dogs

It’s not surprising that DNA can play a role in dog diseases. After all, DNA affects everything from a dog’s physical characteristics to his propensity to develop a wide range of dog diseases over his lifetime. While certain diseases are associated with purebred dogs, medical issues are associated with multiple breeds with similar statures or conformations. 

When considering adopting or purchasing a new dog, it is crucial to research the breed and breeder (if applicable). Some dog breeds are naturally healthier than others because they have fewer medical issues.

Genetic Disorders in Dogs

Learn more about the hereditary and congenital conditions in dogs, which breeds are predisposed to them, and how to treat them:

Heart Disease

Several dog breeds have a history of inherited heart problems. Myxomatous valve disease can affect Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Dachshunds. These hereditary condition in dogs cause pressure to build up within the heart chambers. Coughing, weakness, abdominal distention, poor appetite, difficulty breathing, and collapse are all symptoms of heart failure.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is the most common musculoskeletal disorder and hereditary condition in dog affecting mixed-breed and purebred dogs. Small dogs with hip dysplasia do not usually display the same pain and discomfort as larger dogs, demonstrating a size-weight relationship to clinical presentation. The ventrodorsal view or distraction index is used to make a radiographic diagnosis.

Allergic Skin Disease

In clinical practice, the most common presentations are manifestations of allergic skin disease. These symptoms are common in mixed-breed and purebred dogs, with some breeds being more prone than others.

The heritability of a topic dermatitis in Golden and Labrador Retrievers was 47%, indicating a significant environmental contribution. In a molecular genetic study, they discovered a chromosome 28 segment associated with atopic dermatitis in German Shepherd dogs.

Urinary Bladder Stones

Another hereditary congenital condition in dogs are urinary bladder stones. Although bladder stones can be an unexpected incidental finding on radiographs, many dogs experience discomfort and significant clinical problems due to stones in their urinary tracts. Urinary accidents, blood in the urine, and increased frequency of urination are all symptoms.


It’s frightening and disturbing to see your pet have a seizure. Dogs typically stiffen and fall to the ground during a grand mal seizure, salivate, paddle their legs, and some lose control of their bladder and bowels or vocalize. A seizure occurs when brain cells become overly excited and exceed what is known as a “seizure threshold.” If no underlying cause is found, the presumptive diagnosis for recurrent seizures is idiopathic (unknown cause) epilepsy.


While mutations in tumor cells cause all cancers, some are thought to be spontaneous or environmental. In contrast, others are thought to be caused by inherited predisposing factors. 

The most common congenital conditions in dogs are lymphoma/lymphosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, mast cell tumor, and osteosarcoma. Malignant melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, transitional cell carcinoma, mammary tumors, and histiocytic sarcoma are other cancers with genetic predispositions.


Dogs with genetic disorders should not be bred. Because the majority of these genetic disorders are complexly inherited, determining a prospective breeding dog’s genetic risk for carrying disease-liability genes should be based on information about the existence of clinical disease or normalcy in first-degree relatives.

Carriers of testable recessive disease-liability genes can breed with mates who test normally, and their offspring can mate with offspring who test normally. You should replace dogs with testable dominant disease-liability genes for breeding with normal-testing relatives.

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