Your dog is not just your pet. He is your family member and life companion. You treat them like your children, fussing over every cut, scratch, and bruise, and often, taking more care of them than you do yourself! It is devastating when you learn they have a genetic disorder, and it is even more devastating if you realize it too late.

If you know the most common genetic conditions in dogs, you can look up their history if available to take preventive measures. If you don’t have their history available, you can keep a lookout for signs of these diseases and speak to your vet about treatment from the moment they start manifesting.

So What Are the Most Common Genetic Diseases in Dogs?

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is most common in large and giant breeds and is a hereditary condition. Here, the joints in the hips either don’t develop properly or do not work together correctly. It is a degenerative disease, which means it progresses over time. Your dog’s lifestyle, diet, exercise, and other factors can make this condition worse.

If your dog has suddenly started showing signs of distress during movement or is reducing exercise or playtime, you should keep a strict eye on him. Other symptoms of hip dysplasia you can look out for is the loss of muscle mass in the thigh, compensating enlargement of the muscles in the shoulder, a limping gait, and discomfort during walking or running.

Treatment will include medications and holistic approaches like controlled exercise and environments. If your dog is a young pup who is less than ten months old, your vet might suggest surgery to correct the damage. Older dogs also have the option of hip replacement surgery if the damage is extensive, and the quality of life can be improved.

Congenital Heart Disorders

Congenital heart disorders cover a wide variety of conditions. Since it does not have too many outward symptoms and share symptoms with other diseases, genetic heart conditions are often missed during diagnosis. This condition affects breeds of all sizes and dogs of all ages and is not breed specific.

If your dog is coughing or has difficulty breathing for no apparent reason, you should ask your vet about congenital heart disorders like congestive heart failure. Your dog can appear to be tired, refuse to exercise, and have gums that look blue. Your vet can manage this condition with medicines like Vetmedin for CHF in dogs.

Depending on the severity of the condition, it can be treated and managed. Your vet might ask you to keep your dog on a low-sodium diet and keep him at a healthy weight and activity level. You also might need to give your dog daily medications for the long term.

Skin Diseases

Over 45% of Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers have genetic skin allergies! While skin allergies are not limited to any breeds, some are more prone to it than others. West Highland Terriers, Irish Setters, Dalmatians, Cairn Terriers, and English Setters all have a high prevalence of inherited skin allergies.

Symptoms would be irritated and inflamed skin. Your dog will be itching all the time and might even get ear infections over and over again. They will keep chewing on their paws because it is itchy and licking their groin to the point it will get rashes. If you can find no specific trigger for these, you should speak to your vet about genetic skin allergies.

Skin allergies can also be triggered by food allergies. You should investigate what exactly is causing atopic dermatitis before you think of treating it. Common food allergies include beef, dairy, corn, wheat, and gluten. You could try eliminating these from your dog’s diet before trying other treatments.


Yes, hypothyroidism can occur in dogs too! Just like with skin diseases, there are some dog breeds where the incidence of hypothyroidism is much higher than others. You should be hyper-vigilant about this condition if you have a purebred dog of the following breeds – Havanese, English Setter, Boxer, Polish Lowland Sheepdog, and Old English Sheepdog.

If your dog is losing fur on his body and his coat is thinning for no reason, you should investigate his thyroid function. You can also notice that he’s gained a lot of weight, he’s become lethargic, and is looking to keep warm much more than before. Thankfully, this is an entirely treatable condition. Your dog will likely have to be on medication for the rest of his long, healthy life!