The humble and heterogeneous wolf has given rise to an astonishing variety of dog breeds, and each of those breeds of dog have been further specialized, both to meet the needs of their particular jobs and to meet our standards of beauty. While many of those changes have been positive, others have been harmful, and it is important for dog owners to be on the lookout for any breed specific health problems, as well as health problems often associated with large or small dogs.
Dog breeds run the gamut when it comes to weight, with some breeds weighing only a few pounds while others weight as much, or even much more, than the average person. Each type of dog can have its own unique health challenges, related to its conformation, its breeding and its own unique circumstances. Large dogs, however, can suffer from some of the most serious of health complications, and it is important for dog owners to inform themselves of these challenges and be prepared to confront them.
One of the most common problems in many breeds of large and medium sized dogs is known as hip dyslplasia. This genetic defect takes place when the socket and the hip bone fail to fit together properly, and it can range in seriousness from merely annoying to debilitating painful. While the problem can occur in any breed, it has been most closely associated with German Shepherds, and responsible breeders are doing what they can to breed this defect out of their puppies. Anyone in the market for a German Shepherd puppy should obtain a guarantee from the breeder that the parents have been tested for this genetic defect.
Although not generally as dangerous or potentially life threatening as hip and joint problems, simple obesity is a rising problem when it comes to large dogs. Many large breeds of dogs have been bred to work at hard jobs, like herding sheep, guarding livestock or even pulling carts. When these historically working breeds are brought indoors to live a life of leisure, obesity and related health problems can result. It is important for owners of large breed dogs to take the time to exercise their canines, perhaps with a daily walk or run around the neighborhood. This exercise can help reduce stress for both dog and human, as well as help to ward off any potential health complications.
This is particularly important, since veterinarians are beginning to see all sorts of health problems, from heart disease to diabetes, in their four legged patients. These diseases are becoming quite prevalent in dogs and cats, and it is up to every pet owner to do what he or she can to keep these cherished family members happy and healthy.
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