How puppy behaviors can be linked with health issues


Nationwide analyzed data to see which breeds are more susceptible to injuries because of behavioral traits

 24K-Production /

24K-Production /

Nationwide analyzed its own data from more than 22 million pet insurance claims to observe how certain breeds are prone to more health issues like injuries, trauma, and/or ingesting foreign objects. The insurance company also noticed from this data that several claims came from accidents that are usually more likely to occur with puppies. Puppies can be more prone to getting hurt because their natural curiosity often leads them into situations in which they are unaware can be dangerous. However, experts at Nationwide noticed these carefree behaviors and “getting into trouble” tendencies were also happening with adult and senior dogs.

To explain this further, Nationwide’s chief veterinary officer, Jules Benson, BVSc MRCVS, AVP, said in release, “When we looked at the results for the highest-risk conditions across the life stages of certain dog breeds, we noticed the data was telling a particular story. Some dog breeds continue to submit claims for what we might think of as ‘silly puppy’ conditions – including trauma, foreign body ingestion, and toxicity – well into their mature and even senior life stages.”1

So, according to Nationwide, dogs who tend to maintain their “puppy-like” behavior well into adulthood and beyond, can also be more at risk to injury. Nationwide found the top 3 breeds most likely to submit a foreign body ingestion claim as mature adults to be:

  1. English Bull Terrier (2.6x more likely than all other dog breeds)
  2. Bernese Mountain Dog (1.9x)
  3. American Bulldog (1.6x)

According to the release, Samoyeds are 10x likely to ingest a foreign object as a puppy, but claims for this condition decrease significantly as the breed matures. Experts at Nationwide found these results to be surprising, since most expected Labrador retrievers to be at the top of this list.1

The top 5 breeds most likely to submit a trauma claim as mature adults are:

  1. Greyhound (3x more likely than all dog breeds)
  2. Belgian Malinois (1.9x)
  3. Airedale Terrier (1.8x)
  4. German Shepherd (1.6x)
  5. Weimaraner (1.6x)

On the flip side, the Nationwide team observed that the trend of "eternal youth" was not evident among felines. Although certain breeds experienced foreign body ingestion incidents during their young adult years (notably, the Siberian breed ranked highest with a risk 2.8 times greater than others), no cat breed exhibited such incidents beyond this life stage into adulthood. Notably, British Shorthair, Persian, and Sphynx breeds did not rank for any life stage regarding foreign body, trauma, or toxicity incidents, suggesting a notable level of sensibility among them.1

“Could we draw the conclusion that cats seem to be more sensible (or risk-averse!) in general? Perhaps,” said Benson. “At the very least, the Pet HealthZone can inform those breeds’ pet parents that they can likely focus on other concerns. We hope that by making these pet health insights free and easy for everyone to understand, we can impact the way pets receive care, both at home and in the veterinary clinic.”1


Peter Pan Pups: Unveiling lifelong health risks in canine breeds with persistent puppy behaviors. News release. Nationwide. 2024. Accessed April 24, 2024.

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