Study finds purebred canines are not more prone to health problems


Investigators examined owner-reported condition data for more than 27,000 dogs, and found the health of mixed-breed and purebred canines to be similar.

Study on dog purebred and mixed-breed conditions

Photo: Viktoriia/Adobe Stock

Investigators at the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (VMBS) have found the frequency of health condition diagnoses of purebred and mixed-breed canines are mostly equal. Results of their new study were recently published in the Frontiers in Veterinary Science.1,2

According to the investigators, it’s a common belief that purebred dogs are more prone to disease than mixed-breed dogs, but their study results debunked this myth. Research also found that certain canine breeds are prone to specific diseases, despite frequency equality in purebred and mixed-breed health condition diagnoses.1,2

“There are several well-known diseases that frequently occur in specific dog breeds,” Kate Creevy, DVM, MS, DACVIM (SAIM), chief veterinary officer of the Dog Aging Project— a collaborative, community scientist-driven data-gathering research initiative—and a professor in the department of small animal clinical sciences at VMBS, said in a news release.1 “This has helped perpetuate the misconception that all purebred dogs are more prone to disease, but that is not the case.”

Investigators with the Dog Aging Project surveyed the owners of 27,541 companion dogs of which 50.6% were mixed-breed dogs and 49.4% were purebred dogs.2 The research revealed that some of the most common diagnoses such as ear infections or osteoarthritis (OA) occur in both purebreds and mixed-breed dogs. “Out of the 53 medical conditions that owners reported, 26 did not differ significantly between mixed-breed and purebred dogs,” Creevy said.1

According to the study data, 25 breeds make up about 60% of the purebred dog population within the Dog Aging Project. Those breeds include, in order of popularity in the study, Labrador retriever, golden retriever, German shepherd, poodle, Australian shepherd, dachshund, border collie, Chihuahua, beagle, Pembroke Welsh corgi, boxer, Shi Tzu, miniature schnauzer, pug, Havanese, Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Great Dane, greyhound, Boston terrier, Siberian husky, Shetland sheepdog, English springer spaniel, Australian cattle dog and Doberman Pinscher.1,2

Fifty-three unique medical conditions make up the top owner-reported medical conditions within the top 25 breeds in the study. “The medical conditions reported by owners of purebred dogs varied considerably,” Creevy said.1 “However, some conditions appeared frequently in the top 10 reported health conditions by breed.”

Across the 25 most popular breeds, those 10 conditions were: dental calculus, dog bites, extracted teeth, Giardia, OA, seasonal allergies, ear infection, heart murmur, fractured teeth and cataracts.1,2

For mixed-breed dogs, the most common reported conditions were highly similar, with cataracts and heart murmur being replaced by torn or broken toenail and chocolate toxicity. Additionally, some conditions, such as dental calculus and OA, appeared with roughly the same frequency in both purebred and mixed-breed dogs. Other conditions were more common in one than the other; extracted teeth and dog bites were more common in purebreds vs ear infections in mixed-breed dogs.1,2

Ultimately, one of the most important findings from the study is that dog breed is only one aspect of pet health to consider when creating a pet’s care plan or researching what kind of dog to adopt. “People should consider many factors when choosing a dog, including environment, lifestyle, social interactions and physical activity that will be available to the dog,” Creevy said.1 “Planning for both preventive veterinary care and medical care as the dog ages is also prudent. Dog owners should also talk with their primary care veterinarians about the kinds of medical problems to which their new dog might be particularly prone based on breed, size, sex, etc.”

The study also showed that some of the most common reasons owners take their dogs to the veterinarian have little or nothing to do with breed. “Dental disease, allergies and osteoarthritis are among the most common conditions for all dogs,” Creevy said.1 “Owners should work with their primary care veterinarians on a plan to manage dental health. Regular exercise and maintaining lean body weight may help delay, prevent or lessen the impact of osteoarthritis.”

Although the study is one of the largest cross-sectional studies of canine health, researchers at the Dog Aging Project are not finished with examining its findings. “We were surprised by the number of owners who reported that their dogs had experienced a bite from another dog,” Creevy said.1 “More investigation is needed to determine what this means and what particular factors might put an individual dog at risk.”


  1. Price C. New study dispels myth that purebred dogs are more prone to health problems. News release. Texas A&M University. April 30, 2024. [email]
  2. Forsyth KK, McCoy BM, Schmid SM, et al. Lifetime prevalence of owner-reported medical conditions in the 25 most common dog breeds in the Dog Aging Project pack. Front Vet Sci. November 23, 2023. Accessed April 30, 2024.
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